Thank you to Book Riot for recognizing my book, Everything Grows, in this great list of books.

10 Great YA Books Set in the 1990s

Hannah VanVels Oct 13, 2020

1990s satin scrunchies and rose gold watch on top of a book

Holiday House.

June, 1993. Claire is dumped in rural Indianola, Texas, to spend vacation taking care of mean, sickly Grammy. Indianola seems unremarkable, but Claire quickly realizes there’s something not right in this tiny town . . . Memories change. Lizards whisper riddles under the pecan trees. People disappear. And worst of all, a red-lightning storm from beyond our world may wipe the town off the map, if Claire and her maybe-girlfriend Julie can’t stop it. Surprising, brilliant, and full of all the 90’s references your Alanis Morissette-loving heart could want, Forget This Ever Happened is a sci-fi thriller at its finest, featuring an OwnVoices Queer romance and dark, dazzling world-building.

Everything old becomes cool again, and the 1990s are definitely no exception. While I definitely appreciate choker necklaces, mixtapes, and scrunchies, I’m even more excited to have YA books set in the ’90s that give me all the nostalgia from a bygone era. Whether you deem YA books set in the 1990s “historical” or not, there is undoubtedly a sentimental for many older YA readers.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

Hours before her parents’ death in a car crash, Cameron Post kissed a girl. She’s forced to move in with her conservative aunt and grandmother in Montana, where blending in with this strict religious family is the key for survival. But when a beautiful cowgirl named Coley moves to town, feelings that Cam had pushed down start to emerge once more. Cam’s aunt sends her to conversion therapy to try to “fix” her niece, and Cam faces the struggle of what her religious community tells her and the truth that she knows deep down.fireworks cover

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

The popularity of boybands and girlbands is one of the defining features of the 1990s. When a producer holds auditions for a new music group, Dana tags along with her best friend Olivia, ready to cheer her on for her audition and sing backup. When Dana is discovered along with Olivia, they both join the group and start training to be pop stars even though fame was the last thing on Dana’s mind. But there’s only room at the top for one girl.Let Me Hear a Rhyme cover

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

In 1998 Brooklyn, Quadir and Jarrell’s best friend, Steph, is murdered, but they aren’t about to let Steph’s music remain unknown and forgotten. Teaming up with Steph’s younger sister Jasmine, they hatch a plan to promote Steph’s music under the name the Architect and pretend he’s still alive. Before long, the Architect’s demo tape makes its way to a rap label, and the pressure to keep their secret grows for Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine. With everything riding on Steph’s fame, the trio is forced to reckon with Steph’s loss and learn that they knew less about his life than they thought.the mall cover

The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Cassie is looking forward to spending the summer of 1991 working at the Parkway Center Mall before she heads off to college in NYC in the fall with her boyfriend. Everything is part of The Plan. But The Plan is thrown away when Cassie comes down with a bout of mono that leaves her in the hospital for weeks. Soon she loses her job, her boyfriend, and her home life starts to disintegrate. Throughout it all though, Cassie finds unexpected friendships, love, and discovers that sometimes it’s okay when everything doesn’t go according to plan.the black kids cover

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

In 1992 L.A., Ashley is finishing up her senior year of high school and looking forward to sunny days and a typical summer. But in April, four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a Black man, Rodney King, half to death, and violent protests erupt all over L.A. Even as the city burns, Ashley tries to continue life as usual at her elite private high school, but she’s no longer just a pretty, rich girl; she’s one of the Black Kids now.skunk girl cover

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

High school is tough enough, but when you’re the younger sister of a supernerd and the only Pakistani American girl in your mostly white class, it’s just a little bit harder, especially for Nina Khan. Nina’s parents encourage her to stay true to her Muslim values, and Nina wants nothing more than to keep them happy, but when Asher moves to Nina’s town from Italy, Nina becomes preoccupied with getting Asher’s attention and mustering up the courage to ask out the new Italian boy—regardless of what her parents might think.rani patel in full effect cover

Rani Patel In Full Effect by Sonia Patel

Rani Patel lives with her Gujarati immigrant parents in a remote Hawaiian town, where Rani is isolated by her peers because of her strict culture. After Rani catches her dad cheating on her mom, she shaves her head and embraces her dream of starting a rap career. She’s helped along by the much-older Mark, who introduces her to an underground hip hop group—and other dangerous things she’s never done.rebel girls cover

Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan

Athena’s love of punk rock and her staunch feminist viewpoints don’t exactly help her fit in with the rest of her peers at her conservative Catholic high school, St. Ann’s. When a malicious rumor that Helen, Athena’s popular and pro-life sister, had an abortion over the summer, Helen risks getting expelled from St. Ann’s. It’s up to Athena and her sister to convince the rest of the school and the administration that it shouldn’t matter what Helen did or did not do—even if it risks Athena and her rebel girls getting expelled.those who prey cover

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett

After her first semester in college, Emily expected to find friends and belonging, but unfortunately she found none of that. But the Kingdom, an exclusive campus group, finds her and offers Emily everything she wanted from her college experience, including friends and a missional internship in Italy. But the trip is much more than Emily ever bargained for when her disciplining partner turns up dead. Emily realizes that the Kingdom is not what she thought it was at all. It’s much more sinister and dangerous than she ever could have imagined.everything grows cover

Everything Grows by Aimee Herman

Eleanor’s bully James died by suicide, causing a ripple effect in Eleanor’s life. When Eleanor’s teacher assigns a project for students to write a letter to someone who could never receive it to get their feelings out, Eleanor chooses James—the guy who bullied her, taunted her, spit on her, and even threw frog guts at her once. As Eleanor writes to James, she begins to understand herself better…and James, too.


The marvelous co-editor/co-director of Three Rooms Press, Kat Georges, will be hosting a discussion and reading in celebration of queer love and sex in literature today. I’m looking forward to joining other great Three Rooms Press writers, Meagan Brothers, Alvin Orloff, Aaron Hamburger, and Julia Watts.

You don’t even need to leave your home! Make some popcorn or dip your largest spoon into a container of peanut butter (my favorite snack!) and celebrate love love love and books books books with me!

The discussion will explore: How love in literature has become more inclusive during recent decades; How each author addresses love in their writing and opens doors to acceptance of love without boundaries; Why literature can provide inspiration in times of loneliness and heartbreak; Different levels of love: from friendship to red-hot lust.
Following the discussion, authors will field questions from the livestream audience.  The event will be livestreamed via Youtube at bit.ly/feb13-lovelovelove-youtube and Facebook via Three Rooms Press Group page at facebook.com/groups/threeroomspresss.



Thank you to Golden Crown Literary Society

Today, my novel, “Everything Grows” published by Three Rooms Press won two awards presented by the Golden Crown Literary Society: Debut Novel and Young Adult.

Thank you for honoring me with two Goldie awards! Thank you to Three Rooms Press for believing in my words! This book is for all the queer ones who are still searching for the shape and language of their queerness, of their wild, of their magnificence. And thank you to the writers out there who inspire me to write: Audre Lorde, Kathy Acker, June Jordan, Lidia Yuknavitch, Carmen Maria Machado, and so many more who live on my bookshelf.

Out there, somewhere, is a book that will change your life.

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. And Zami too.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker

I could keep going but then I would be taking up your time that you could be reading books! I believe there is a book out there (I’d argue many) that are written just for YOU. Books which lead you to see yourself and others in illuminating ways, that help you to find your language, that lead you to question and feel and perhaps even want to write your story down.

My novel, Everything Grows, was recently awarded a FOREWORD Review INDIES Silver Winner for Young Adult Fiction. Thank you to Foreword Review and Three Rooms Press for believing in this story!

Maybe THIS is the book that will…….gasp……too much?……change your life. Or at least, make you think, make you feel, make you smile.


One year ago…..

One year ago, my best friend Rebecca arrived from Colorado to celebrate the release of my new novel, “Everything Grows”. It was a very different time then and perhaps I didn’t appreciate the ease of which we had to walk around together, browsing in the local thrift shop for something to wear and sharing a meal of crepes together at the place across the street from where I live.

We will forever live in BEFORE and AFTER now, but that is life, right? These BEFOREs and AFTERs have marked us in ways we don’t always have words for. Before I was sober. Before I fell in love. Before I really fell in love. After I came out. After I moved away. Before I joined the workforce. Before I lost my job. After I graduated. After we fell out of love. Before I got married. Before I moved to Brooklyn. Before I relapsed. Before that panic attack. After I finished my novel. Before after before before before.

Ten (and some) years of writing inclusive of many starts and stops, and many, many rejections until a YES from an independent press called Three Rooms Press and suddenly dreams were coming true.

With Rebecca here, we adventured and caught up, reminding each other the magnificence of friendship.

On the evening of my book release, I draped myself in polyester and mismatching colors, and tried to combat the immense anxiety of letting go of this story that was just mine for so many years.

These days, my words arrive much slower. Sometimes, barely a sentence. Other days, I can write pages. I do my best to be kind to my brain, my thinning imagination, knowing that these are times of great grief and uncertainty. Just getting through a day feels like a triumph. I tell my students that we must accept–without judgement–who we are now and what we are capable of, even if it feels so small, or not enough. I took a shower. I changed my socks. I read an article in the newspaper. I walked my dog. I slept through the night. I graded a student’s paper. I smiled.

On this anniversary of the publication of my novel, I celebrate all that grow from sadness, from death, from mourning, from loss, from uncertainty. It is beautiful and it is tragic and it is magnificent and it is exhausting. If you haven’t read this book yet, what better time to lose yourself in someone’s else’s words? Purchase it HEREOr I can mail you a copy as well. If you can’t afford one, privately email me (aimeeherman@gmail.com), and I will make sure you get one.

mountains before mountains were mothers

The first time I was ever published was about twenty years ago and it was by a small press called Butcher Shop Press which published a chapbook of my poems. Butcher Shop Press encouraged me to keep writing and I will forever be thankful to all the wonderful small presses which followed who have supported my work. These presses and the editors who work tirelessly to keep them up are such an important part of the writing and reading community. They aren’t looking to be millionaires or thousandaires or even hundredaires. They publish the work of others to encourage writers and allow their words to spread. My books have all been published by independent presses and in this extremely difficult time, I only hope we as readers and writers can continue to support them. Thank you to BlazeVOX booksgreat weather for MEDIA, and Three Rooms Press who have supported my words enough to publish me!

Speaking of excellent presses, hard-working editors and great journals…..Thank you so much to the Cream City Review journal for publishing my poem (and asking me to read it as well!). mountains before mountains were mothers was Runner-Up of the 2019 Poetry Prize selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil!




Everything (still) Grows

Thank you to Barnes & Noble for celebrating my novel, Everything Grows as a B&N readout. Check it out below.

Everything Grows: A Novel

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The story of my first haircut is legendary. Or at least it is in my family. It has circulated over Thanksgiving meals, in synagogue after prayer time is over and all that is left are slightly stale cookies to munch on during Oneg, and even when my grandfather was slowly dying in the hospital.

It was just after my third birthday. My thick, curly hair had gathered into more knots than a brush could untangle, so Dad grabbed the scissors from the coupon drawer and started cutting. Shirley (my mother) was too distraught to do it. After the first cut, I started to scream.

“You’re hurting her,” Greta, who was five at the time, yelled.

And then—according to this well-circulated story—I yelled: “You’re killing it,” meaning my hair. I guess I thought my hair, like everything else on my body, was alive. I didn’t understand why my dad would try to cut a piece of me away. So, he stopped and I wouldn’t let anyone near my hair again until I was almost six. By then, my head resembled a blond abandoned squirrel’s nest.

I’m fifteen now, so of course I understand that hair is dead. My strands don’t scream out when I’m at the hair salon. Though of course, Henny, who has been cutting my hair since I was eight, knows the story too.

Here is what my hair looked like before. It was beautiful, like shampoo commercial hair where the woman throws her head around and each strand glistens as though weaved with tiny suns. Strangers have even stopped me at the grocery store. Or they’d stop Shirley and tell her what gorgeous hair her daughter has. Grandma (Dad’s mom) used to ask for my scraps after a haircut. Her hair was thin and straight. No one really understood where my curls came from. But apparently, I was blessed. This word was also used a lot to describe my hair. Anyway, it was long and thick and beautiful and then I cut it.

I don’t believe I’m unusual. What I mean is, how else should a teenager react when they find out a classmate has committed suicide? Oh, maybe I should start from the beginning, though I’m not sure where that would be. Beginning of me? Beginning of when I started to realize things out about myself that made me feel different than others? When does this story begin?

We were in second grade together. He sat behind me. Also fourth grade, where I got my first ‘D’, which I don’t think was fair at all, and seventh grade science class, and he is was in my English class this year. It’s not like we were friends. Hardly. He was my bully. Threw frog guts at me in seventh grade during dissection. He called me “screen door” and “mosquito bites” in front of the whole class, and yet the teacher didn’t even notice. Maybe he had a whole roster of people he bullied, but it sure felt like he had his hatred aimed straight toward me. But who cares about any of that now? He’s dead.

I was down the block at Dara’s house. Her mom (who knows everything about everyone) got a phone call (not sure from who) and went down to the basement where we were playing and asked if we knew him. I don’t even remember saying goodbye. I just ran home, rushed upstairs to my bedroom, grabbed the scissors on my desk and started to cut my hair. When someone dies like that, things just stop making sense.

Of course, I understand why I was so upset. So, maybe that is where this story starts? But first let me explain what happened after the first cut. Again, I’m fifteen. I don’t understand everything about the body, but I get that if I cut my finger, I will bleed and maybe cry, but blood and pain doesn’t come out of a haircut. And yet, it was like I could feel every hair being pulled out of my scalp. I just stood in the middle of my bedroom, away from my mirror, because I didn’t want to watch what was happening, and cut. The sound was like a slow rip. Not like paper, but well, like something else. My neck itched from the hairs falling against it and the floor caught my curls, creating a puddle of me. I just cut and cut, trying not to imagine him. Trying not to think about why a fifteen-year-old boy would want to kill himself. Trying not to think about Shirley and how I know about the time she tried to kill herself last May, but not about the other times, and there must have been more. Trying not to think about having to visit her on the weekends at that hospital. Angry about what she did, but still trying to be nice to her because she was in a mental hospital that smelled like rotten bandages. I used to call her Shirley in my head, though I’m not sure why. After she tried to leave us, I started saying it out loud.

I threw the scissors down on my bed and slowly walked to my mirror. My hardwood floor was now covered with my hair. Actually, it was really just a messy pile, but it felt like a lot. My hair had reached past my shoulders. The mirror now revealed my new ‘do.

“Eleanor!” screamed Shirley.

Well, I couldn’t hide in my room forever.

“What did you do to yourself?”

“I cut my hair,” I said, plainly.

“I see that. Why?”

“I . . . I don’t know. I needed to—”

“Francine just called me. She said you ran out of the house. She also told me about the boy in your grade.”

I took a deep breath. Greta was the one who found Shirley, not me. But I had to help get her to throw up. She had swallowed too many of her pills. Greta was incredible. She called for an ambulance, tried to calm me down, took care of things. It’s like she knew exactly what to do. I felt paralyzed. I didn’t understand what was happening.

Some words, questions and (hopefully a bit of) hope

Thank you to Denise-Marie McIntosh from Fairy Tale Access at Nashua, New Hampshire Public Access for asking such thoughtful questions and for giving me space to speak about my novel, “Everything Grows”.


Rainbows Everywhere

On Saturday, October 12th, I will be signing copies of “Everything Grows” at the Rainbow Book Fair at 2pm at Three Rooms Press’s table.

Join me at the LGBTQ Center located at 208 W. 13th St. in NYC and celebrate LGBTQ writers and publishers. There will be poetry readings and panel discussions too!


Today, I get to celebrate poetic theatrics and Brooklyn’s Book Festival.

First, BOOG Poets Theatre Festival
@ Bowery Poetry Club / 308 Bowery NYC
*I will be performing alongside the magnetic Trae Durica in a poetic movement I wrote called “The Forgiveness of Lightening Bugs”, which explores the end of a friendship and a yearning for forgiveness.
Meet me at the Brooklyn Book Festival 
I will be signing copies of my novel, Everything Grows, at 4pm.
Find me at Three Rooms Press’s booth 333.