The Stone Rainbow

 A book about coming out, falling in love, and self-acceptance

Seventeen-year-old Jack Pedersen is finding life complicated ever since he came out to his mom. Even though she’s been doing her best to be understanding, it’s obvious to Jack that his mom still wants to cry every time she says the word gay.

Complications go into hyperdrive when a new student arrives at school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he’s never allowed himself to feel before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes that it’s time to stop hiding from himself and everyone around him.

Caterpillars Can't Swim

Two boys look to the water for escape, but for very different reasons.

For sixteen-year-old Ryan, the water is where he finds his freedom. Ever since childhood, when he realized that he would never walk like other people, he has loved the water where gravity is no longer his enemy. But he never imagined he would become his small town’s hero by saving a schoolmate from drowning.

Jack is also attracted to the water, but for him it’s the promise of permanent escape. Disappearing altogether seems better than living through one more day of high-school where he is dogged by rumors about his sexuality. He’s terrified that coming out will alienate him from everyone in town—and crush his adoring mother.

Ryan saves Jack’s life, but he also keeps his secret. Their bond leads to a grudging friendship, and an unexpected road-trip to Comic Con with Ryan’s best friend Cody, the captain of the swim team. They make an unlikely trio, but each of them will have the chance to show whether he is brave enough to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define him by.

“In Caterpillars Can’t Swim, [Liane Shaw] examines the prejudices people exert on those who are different – whether those differences are perceived or real – and crafts a plot that ensures understanding and acceptance…. By casting Ryan, whose cerebral palsy defines him for so many, in the role of hero, Shaw changes up the expected narrative.” – Quill & Quire

“This is a strong addition to the canon of literature in Canada that works within realms of sexual diversity and disability. A thought-provoking and compelling narrative that teenage fans of character-driven books will definitely enjoy. Recommended.” – CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“Shaw has written a compassionate, well-crafted story about two boys dealing bravely with challenges and finding support in friendship.” – Booklist

“A coming-of-age story that encourages celebrating one’s differences … Caterpillars Can’t Swim is an encouraging story about what’s possible if teens choose to accept the people around them.” – Foreword Reviews

“Set in a small town, the story zeroes-in on the difficulty of fostering self-worth in a hostile environment.” – Winnipeg Free Press

The Color of Silence

Two girls, both without a voice. One refuses to speak, and the other is trapped in a body that won’t let her.

At seventeen, Alex feels as if her life is over. She will never recover from the trauma of the car accident that took the life of her best friend, Cali. All joy left when Cali died, including their shared love of singing. Why even bother speaking? Alex blames herself for the accident, and no one would want to hear what she has to say anyway.

Ordered by a judge to do community service, she must spend time at a hospital with a girl named Joanie, who has minimal control of her body and no speech. Never having known another way of being, Joanie has an extraordinary internal life. She has been listening and watching as the world goes on around her, but Joanie is so full of words, thoughts and images that if she could ever figure out a way to let them loose, they would come swirling out in a torrent of syllables. 

Complications go into hyperdrive when a new student arrives at school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he’s never allowed himself to feel before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes that it’s time to stop hiding from himself and everyone around him.

“The story starts slowly but builds to a strong emotional climax and gives readers a sense that Alex will recover from her trauma as her world slowly regains color.” – School Library Journal

“Liane Shaw’s poetic novel of grief and friendship examines the vast difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.” – Quill & Quire

“(J)ust as she did in Fostergirls (Second Story Press, 2011)… Liane Shaw demonstrates that perspective is everything and nothing is the same for everyone.” – CanLit for Little Canadians

“With no words between them, they build a friendship and connection that resonates and lets them express themselves louder than talking. The Color of Silence is a strong pick for youth novel collections, highly recommended.” – Midwest Book Review

Sensitively written with amazing insight into the mind of a person with multiple challenges, as well as a teen who is suffering from trauma and guilt, this book will keep the reader enthralled until the very end.” – Good News Toronto

Don't Tell, Don't Tell, Don't Tell

A compelling new novel for teens told from the perspectives of a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome and a teenage girl dealing with sexual assault.

Sixteen-year-old Frederick has a lot of rules for himself. Like if someone calls him Freddy he doesn’t have to respond; he only wears shirts with buttons and he hates getting dirty. His odd behavior makes him an easy target for the “Despisers” at school, but he’s gotten used to eating lunch alone in the Reject Room.

Angel, in tenth grade but already at her sixth school, has always had a hard time making friends because her family moves around so much. Frederick is different from the other kids she’s met – he’s annoyingly smart, but refreshingly honest – and since he’s never had a real friend before, she decides to teach him all her rules of friendship.

But after Angel makes a rash decision and disappears, Frederick is called in for questioning by the police and is torn between telling the truth and keeping his friend’s secret. Her warning to him – don’t tell, don’t tell, don’t tell – might have done more harm than good.

“Both Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell and Everyday Hero… give middle-schoolers and young adults the opportunity to open their minds to other possibilities.” – Quill and Quire

“It was a fascinating look into someone else’s mind, and Frederick’s way of thinking gave me things to think about. The end. It was amazing.” – Inside Toronto

“This compelling read explores the nuances of Asperger’s Syndrome through 16-year-old Frederick, whose odd behaviour makes him an easy target and renders him friendless at high school.” – City Parent

“A consistently compelling novel by an imaginative and skilled storyteller, ‘Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell’ is an especially recommended addition to high school and community library YA Fiction collections.” – Midwest Book Review

Shaw does an excellent job of giving us two lost and somewhat lonely individuals who benefit from their unusual companionship.” – Canadian Children’s Book News

Time Out

A former teacher’s no-holds-barred account of her year with a class of “behaviour” boys.

Before she began writing books for teens, Liane Shaw was an elementary teacher. She brings her gifts for storytelling and humor to this account of her journey into the lives of emotionally challenged students. With little in the way of experience or resources, she found herself thrust into the most challenging kind of teaching imaginable.

From the moment Shaw meets her first two boys, as they sit teetering precariously on top of a bookshelf while swearing at the principal, she is both fascinated and terrified. Funny yet sad, strong yet vulnerable, these boys are both the bullies and the bullied. All from different backgrounds, the one thing they have in common is that the odds are against them and that the myriad efforts of the adults involved in their lives often do more harm than good. Shaw moves from frustration to determination. Readers will root for her to succeed, as invested in the success of these kids as she is. Students and teachers continue to face the same challenges, and our education system is still struggling to cope with its most vulnerable students. Shaw’s wish in sharing her story is clear – that as adults we can help children with mental health issues heal and succeed, and that stories like hers can be moved to the history shelf.

Fostergirls

Here comes trouble… She’s a fostergirl.

Her name is Sadie, but she might as well be called Fostergirl. Grouphomegirl. That’s how everyone thinks of her. Sadie doesn’t care. In fact, she’d be happier if they didn’t think of her at all. Her goal is to go unnoticed, to disappear. Nothing good comes from being noticed, especially if you’re a fostergirl.

Another new high school, another new group home. This one is lucky number 13, but who’s counting? Except this time, there’s a girl at her school named Rhiannon who won’t let Sadie be invisible. In fact, she insists on being her friend. This friendship, and the dawning feeling that she finally belongs, might be able to restore Sadie’s belief in others, and — ultimately — herself.

“Strong character development and believable situations provide a robust foundation for her excellent, ultimately hopeful tale. Sadie’s edgy account of finding a real place for herself in the world will keep readers thoroughly engaged. ” – Kirkus Reviews

“I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book, but it surpassed my expectations big time. I can say that Fostergirls will be counted among my favourite reads of 2011.” – Library of Clean Reads

“Sadie, though tough as nails, narrates her story with an amusing edginess that works…For readers seeking an honest account of how a girl without parents survives, this story delivers.” – Publishers Weekly

“From the very first chapter Shaw had me interested in the point of view with this description of the school system… This is an important novel for anyone to read.” – Libraries and Young Adults

thinandbeautiful.com

Maddie finds a dangerous “thinspiration” online.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie has always felt a hole in her life, but she has finally found a way to fill it with her quest to mold her body into her ideal, thinnest shape. When she comes across the world of “thinspiration” websites, where young people encourage each other in their mission to lose weight, she quickly becomes addicted. Finally, she has found a place where she is understood and where she can belong.

Maddie becomes a part of a group of friends who call themselves the GWS, “Girls Without Shadows”, on the pro-anorexia website thinandbeautiful.com. Here she finds the respect and support she feels she doesn’t get from her family and friends in the so-called real world. Now in a rehab facility where they are trying to fix a problem she doesn’t think she has, Maddie is forced to keep a diary tracing how she arrived at this point. Angry that she is barred from accessing her online friends, Maddie refuses to believe she needs help. Will a tragedy change her mind?

“With well-developed characters in the mix of family and friends who engage with this young woman, teenaged readers have the opportunity to enjoy a strong story while at the same time learn about an illness that may hit close to home.” – National Post

“Liane Shaw, who has battled anorexia herself, spins Maddie’s treatment – as she progresses from delusions to tough realizations – into an absorbing psychological drama…through clear and unflinching storytelling, Shaw takes her readers deep into the labyrinthine psyche of a young girl battling an eating disorder.” – Quill & Quire

“… a brave book that succeeds in both being a compelling read and a great tool to spark a dialogue among teens around beauty, media pressure and the effects it has on us all.” – Canadian Bookseller

“With well developed characters in the mix of family and friends who engage with this young woman, readers have the opportunity to enjoy a strong story while at the same time learning about an illness that may hit close to home. Highly recommended.” – Saskatoon Star Phoenix