Bookmarked, our teen review group, comes up with three terrific titles to recommend, each one completely different from each other, but all with compelling stories. While Andrew Winston Winter struggles with anger issues in Charm & Strange, Holly Kim tries to balance respect for her Korean heritage with her hilarious outlook on high school life in Since You Asked. Ezra Faulkner sees tragedy as the end, but may soon realize that it is just a door to The Beginning of Everything. Get these on your library shelves —your teens will thank you for it.
KUEHN, Stephanie. Charm & Strange. St. Martin’s Griffin. June 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250021946.
Gr 8-12—Andrew Winston Winters knows there’s a wolf living inside him, and it is a pure manifestation of evil. From a young age, he has tried desperately to control his random fits of rage or loneliness, helped by his older brother and little sister, only to be the cause of his family’s slow deterioration. Or so it seems to him. But there are other dark forces at play that have nothing to do with magic or transformations, and more to do with the truth of a past Andrew and his siblings are not yet willing to face. He will do anything, from changing his name to leaving his home to escape the monstrous identity he truly believes runs through his veins.
A breathtaking psychological struggle of a world many of us are blessed not to have experienced, Charm & Strange is, without a doubt, one of the best novels I have ever read. With chapters that periodically shift points of view from that of a younger to a present Andrew Winters, Stephanie Kuehn’s novel sets up readers for an emotional, ominous journey climaxing with a vivid reality both Andrew and I could hardly grasp. The book’s beautiful theme is incredibly executed.—Abrania M. age 16
GOO, Maurene. Since You Asked. Scholastic Pr. July 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545448215.
Gr 8 Up—Holly Kim is just an average teenager except that her family is Korean. She is trying hard to get used to her Korean ideals and still be American. Holly Kim is one of those girls who regularly butts heads with her mother who is always on her case about keeping her grades up and being a respectful member of her Korean family. Holly is one of the editors for her school’s newspaper. But after making a silly mistake that she thought would get her into huge trouble, she actually was made a columnist, which means everyone gets to hear her talk about her problems with her school every month.
I loved Holly’s voice because it is crazy and hilarious. Throughout the book, Holly is in for it—she deals with a secret admirer, is forced to interview the school’s biggest jock, stands accused of bribery, and endures family issues—everything a normal teenager goes through, right? Wrong. In this book Maurene Goo takes a look at how a teenage girl tries to fit in at her high school while dealing with family drama on the side. It sounds just like my life, only different.—Gabby Y., age 14
SCHNEIDER, Robyn. The Beginning of Everything. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. August 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062217134.
Gr 8 Up—Ezra Faulkner had it all: he was a tennis star, had a hot girlfriend, and made good grades. That is, until his “tragedy” happened. Ezra has this thing about tragedies—he thinks everyone has one tragedy, and that it is a defining moment in his or her life. His moment is the car accident that shatters his leg and takes away his status as “king” at school. But maybe that isn’t his tragedy, though—maybe it is the one event that will change his life in some of the best ways.
The Beginning of Everything is one of my favorite books this year. It is a book about life—it has romance, humor, and even death. Not only is it about life, it is a realistic depiction of it. The characters are teenagers I could relate to and imagine meeting now. The twists and turns of high school and decision making are what this book bases itself around, and that is something I connected with immediately. I loved every character, even the ones I shouldn’t have, if only because of Schneider’s realistic depictions of every day teens.—Destiny B., age 15
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