May 25, 2017

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Book Review: Grades 9 & Up Fiction

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redstarAnderson, Laurie Halse . The Impossible Knife of Memory. 384p. Viking. Jan. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780670012091.

Gr 9 Up– Hayley is the daughter of a veteran, and his PTSD colors every aspect of their lives. After serving his country, Andy is trying to rebuild some stability for himself and his daughter, but each day is a challenge for them both. Hayley lives with the constant threat of her father harming himself or others while also dealing with feelings of abandonment after essentially losing her parental figures. She copes through snark and skepticism but begins to let her guard down when her charming, easygoing classmate, Finn, gives her a much-needed taste of normal teenage life. A relationship with Finn opens the door to the possibility of trusting again, but it’s not easy. Through Hayley’s tenuous search for balance, Anderson explores the complicated nature of perception and memory, and how individuals manage to carry on after experiencing the worst. Readers will be thoroughly invested in this book’s nuanced cast of characters and their struggles. Hayley’s relatable first-person narration is interspersed with flashbacks of Andy’s brutal war experiences, providing a visceral look at his inner demons. The endearing Finn and Hayley’s bubbly best friend, Gracie, add levity to the narrative, even as they, too, grapple with their own problems. With powerful themes of loyalty and forgiveness, this tightly woven story is a forthright examination of the realities of war and its aftermath on soldiers and their families. One of Anderson’s strongest and most relevant works to date.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

redstarDeStefano, Lauren . Perfect Ruin. Bk. 1. 356p. (The Internment Chronicles). S & S. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442480612; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442480629. LC 2013014392.

Gr 7 Up– The citizens of Internment don’t view their city as a prison, despite its name. Suspended in the clouds high above the ground, surrounded by a force field of wind, the people believe that they are especially beloved of the sky god. Occasionally, however, someone will attempt to breach the high fence that circles the island and jump over the edge–an act that is strictly forbidden. Morgan Stockhour, 16, has been shunned by most students at the Academy ever since her older brother attempted a jump. She tells no one, not even best friend, Pen, or her betrothed, Basil, about the dark thoughts she harbors. When a young woman is murdered and fear begins to taint the idyllic life of the floating metropolis, Morgan finds herself helping the accused murderer and questioning everything she knows about Internment. In the midst of these troubles, the romance between Morgan and Basil offers a sweet counterpart to the pall that hangs over the city. DeStefano draws out the story slowly, building the anxiety and confusion with revelations gradually coming to light. Her prose flits from straightforward to lyrical as the story seesaws between gloom and hope. Fans of speculative fiction will enjoy DeStefano’s concoction of tension and love with a cliff-hanger ending.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids

redstarHubbard, Jenny . And We Stay. 240p. Delacorte. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385740579; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375989551; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780375899430. LC 2013002236.

Gr 9 Up– Emily Beam is a new student at Amherst School for Girls. There are rumors, of course, about why she has entered the school in January of her junior year, but none of them come close to reality. The truth remains only for Emily to replay over and over, each time revealing a bit more about the circumstances leading up to the day when her boyfriend entered the school library where she was working with her class, lured her into the stacks to talk, and then shot himself in the head. (By the way, If you’re wondering why no one simply Googled Emily’s mysterious past, her story is set in 1995, perhaps for that very reason.) As the teen acclimates to boarding-school life, she keeps her story close to her chest, but reveals herself little by little through the poems she writes and ultimately shares. Emily feels an affinity for her namesake, Emily Dickinson, who lived and wrote just down the street from ASG, and draws on her spirit to pour her emotions onto paper. And We Stay is a little gem of a book. Readers learn as much about Dickinson’s beliefs and poetry as they do about friendship, first love, teen suicide, and even abortion–not an easy balancing act. Yet despite the heavy topics, the book feels sweet and poetic and never gratuitous. Budding poets may particularly appreciate Emily’s story, but there is certainly something for anyone looking for a good read with a strong, believable female lead who is working her hardest to overcome tragedy.–Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

redstarVlahos, Len . The Scar Boys. 256p. Egmont USA. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781606844397.

Gr 8 Up– Harry Jones opens his story by submitting a 250-word essay to a college admissions board–only he goes a book length over the limit. In so doing he recounts his traumatic past: the terrifying scene in which neighborhood bullies tied him to a tree and left him as a storm rolled in…and how the tree was struck by lightning, leaving him with disfiguring burn scars all over his face. He then describes his physical and mental recovery: how he formed a band that toured all over the country…and even kissed a girl. Set in the early 1980s, Vlahos’s narrative flows easily and rings true. If Brent Runyon’s The Burn Journals (Knopf, 2004) and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Pocket Books, 1999) could be melded into a single work, it might be this one. Distinguished in every way.–Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Grades 9 & Up

Arnold, Elana K. Splendor. 352p. Delacorte. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385742139; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375990434; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780307974150.

Bates, Marni . Notable. 272p. (Smith High Series). Kensington/KTeen. 2013. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780758269393; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9780758291523.

Black, Jenna . Replica. 368p. Tor Teen. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780765333711. LC 2013006332.

Blake, E. C. Masks. 384p. DAW Books. 2013. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780756407599; ebk. $9.78. ISBN 9780698142800.

Block, Francesca Lia . Teen Spirit. 240p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Feb. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062008091; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062239167.

Bracken, Alexandra . Never Fade. 507p. (The Darkest Minds Series). Hyperion. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423157519. LC 2013012607.

Carmody, Isobelle & Nan McNab, eds. The Wilful Eye. Vol. 1. 306p. (Tales from the Tower). Allen & Unwin. 2013. pap. $18.99. ISBN 9781742374406.

Chadda, Sarwat . The City of Death. 329p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780-545385183; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780-545576406. LC 2013006974.

Chappell, Crissa-Jean . More Than Good Enough. 216p. Flux. Jan. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738736440.

Citra, Becky . If Only. 240p. Orca. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781459802865; ebk. $9.86. ISBN 9781459802889. LC 2013935390.

Collins, Renee . Relic. 400p. Entangled Teen. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781622660148. ebook available.

Constantine, Robin . The Promise of Amazing. 384p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062279484; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062279507.

Corp, Carey Lorie Langdon . Doon. 368p. Blink. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780310742302.

Crilley, Paul . The Osiris Curse. 295p. (A Tweed & Nightingale Adventure). PYR. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616148577; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781616148584.

Crossan, Sarah . Resist. 368p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062118721; ebk. $8.79. ISBN 9780062118745. LC 2013011914.

Davies, Jocelyn . A Radiant Sky. Bk. 3. 368p. (A Beautiful Dark Series). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780061990694. ebook available. LC 2013008065.

Farrant, Natasha . What We Did for Love. 208p. Scarlet Voyage. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623240288. LC 2013939944.

Fluttert, Pam . Until Today. 184p. Second Story. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781927583166. ebook available.

Freeman, Shannon . High School High. 196p. (Port City High Series). Saddleback. 2013. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781622500376.

Galang, M. Evelina . Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery. 345p. Coffee House Press. 2013. pap. $12. ISBN 9781566893336. LC 2013003663.

Grove, Vicki . Everything Breaks. 256p. Putnam. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399250880; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780698135406.

Harris, Rachel . A Tale of Two Centuries. 326p. Entangled Teen. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781622660124. ebook available.

Hegamin, Tonya Cherie . Willow. 384p. Candlewick. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763657697. LC 2013946610.

Higgins, Wendy . Sweet Peril. Bk. 2. 384p. (Sweet Evil). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062265944; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9780062265951.

Jaffe, Michele . Minders. 400p. Penguin/Razorbill. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595146588.

Kiely, Brendan . The Gospel of Winter. 304p. S & S/McElderry. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442484894; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442484917.

Kontis, Alethea . Hero. Bk. 2. 304p. (Woodcutter Sisters Series). Houghton Harcourt. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544056770. LC 2013003895.

Kristoff, Jay . Kinslayer. Bk. 2. 448p. (The Lotus War Series). Thomas Dunne. 2013. Tr $25.99. ISBN 978-1-250-00141-2; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-250-02294-3.

KROKOS , Dan . False Sight . 327p. (A False Memory Novel). Hyperion/Disney. 2013. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9781423149859. LC 2013010342.

Lindsey, Julie Anne . Deceived. 320p. Merit. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440563898; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781440563904. LC 2013013932.

Lu, Marie . Champion. 384p. (A Legend Novel). Putnam. 2013. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399256776; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698135413.

McGee, Krista . Luminary. Bk. 2. 320p. (Anomaly Series). Thomas Nelson. Jan. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781401688745.

Mitchard, Jacquelyn . What We Lost in the Dark. 272p. SohoTeen. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616951436; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781616951443.

Moore, Stephanie Perry . Forever Hot/Truly Fine. Bk. 1. 320p. (Grovehill Giants Series). Saddleback. 2013. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781622506835.

Morrill, Lauren . Being Sloane Jacobs. 352p. Delacorte. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385741798; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375990243; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780375987120.

Moses, Jennifer Anne . Tales from My Closet. 304p. Scholastic. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545516082; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545518758.

Richards, Erin . Vigilante Nights. 272p. Merit. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781440562358; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781440562365.

Röder, Marlene . In the River Darkness. tr. from German by Tammi Reichel. 224p. Scarlet Voyage. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623240103. LC 2013933047.

Sandoval, John . The Witches of Ruidoso. 120p. Piñata. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781558857667. LC 2012044036.

Schrocke, Kathrin . Freak City. tr. from German by Tammi Reichel. 224p. Scarlet Voyage. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623240059.

Scott, Elizabeth . Heartbeat. 240p. Harlequin Teen. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780373210961.

Souders, J. A. Revelations. Bk. 2. 352p. Tor Teen. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765332462; ebk. $8.89. ISBN 9781466800960. LC 2013023853.

Spotswood, Jessica . Star Cursed. Bk. 2 367p. (The Cahill Witch Chronicles). Putnam. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399257469.

STANTON , Angie. Rock and a Hard Place. 304p. ISBN 9780062272546. LC 2013010977.

–––– . Snapshot. 416p. ISBN 9780062272560. LC 2013012281.

ea vol: (A Jamieson Brothers Novel). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2013. pap. $9.99.

Stein, Tammar . Spoils. 272p. Knopf. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375870620; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780307974310. LC 2012044759.

Stone, Tamara Ireland . Time After Time. 352p. Hyperion. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423159605. LC 2013018856.

Verday, Jessica . The Beautiful and the Damned. 266p. S & S/Simon Pulse. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442488359. LC 2013016758.

Wakefield, Vikki . Friday Never Leaving. 322p. S & S. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442486522; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442486553. LC 2012036386.

Walkup, Jennifer . Second Verse. 270p. Luminis. 2013. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781935462866; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781935462859; ebk. $7.95. ISBN 9781935462873.

Walters, Eric . The Rule of Three. 416p. Farrar. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374355029.

Waltman, Kevin . Next. 216p. Cinco Puntos. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781935955641; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955658; ebk. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955665. LC 2013026452.

Weatherly, L. A . Angel Fever. Bk. 3. 489p. (Angel Burn Series). Candlewick. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763656805. LC 2013943067.

Yancey, Rick . The Final Descent. Bk. 4. 320p. (The Monstrumologist Series). S & S. 2013. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442451537; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442451551. LC 2013015811.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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