Looking for titles to share for the summer reading crowd? There’s nothing like angsty but resonant realistic fiction and spine-tingling thrillers to fill beach totes, stack on TBR piles, and pore through until late into the night. The following picks will intrigue teens looking for their next YA fix, whether it be the latest in science fiction, graphic novels, DIY guides, or heartbreaking true stories.
Andreu, Maria E. The Secret Side of Empty. 336p. ebook available. Running Pr./Teens. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780762451920. LC 2013950819.
Gr 9 Up –Monserrat Thalia, known as M. T., describes herself as pale white with blondish hair. It’s easy for her to hide the fact that she’s an undocumented immigrant whose family came from Argentina to New Jersey. M. T. keeps this secret from everyone, including her best friend and her eventual boyfriend. As she watches her friends prepare for the next steps of their lives, the teen grows increasingly hopeless, uncertain how anything positive will come of her life as long as she remains in the country illegally. She doesn’t fit anywhere—too American for her parents, but removed from the American culture around her. Her father’s physical and verbal abuse increases as she begins to lash out at her family and withdraw from her friends. Told over the course of her senior year, the story reveals a captivating look at the life of one young immigrant and the challenges so many like her face. Andreu deftly captures the protagonist’s desires, despair, and determination in this peek at a side of American life not often seen in YA literature.
Armstrong, Kelley. Sea of Shadows. 416p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062071248.
Gr 9 Up –Twins are exceedingly rare and often destined for brutal death in the Empire. Luckily, 17-year-old Moria and Ashyn have sacred powers and are revered instead. Fierce, knife-wielding Moria, along with the help of her spirit beast (a large catlike creature named Daigo), is the “Keeper”—guardian of the village of Edgewood. Quiet and peaceful Ashyn, with her mystical canine Tova, assists the spirits of the dead in her role as “Seeker.” The girls are still in training when Edgewood is invaded by an army of the undead. They get separated, leaving Moria paired with Gavril (a surly but attractive young guard) and Ashyn with Ronan (a prisoner sentenced to exile in the bordering Forest of the Dead). The vicious zombielike shadow stalkers kill nearly every adult in the village, turning them into undead creatures like themselves–including the sisters’ father. As Ashyn and Moira continue their separate but long and dangerous treks through “the Wastes” to the nearest village of Fairview, their journeys are wrought with terrifying and legendary beasts; their loyalties are constantly tested. The first book in a series, Armstrong’s tale offers a fascinating mythical world filled with danger, monsters, and betrayal at every turn. Fantasy fans will enjoy the complex world but the ending may feel too abrupt considering the time spent reading this long tale.
Aslan, Austin. The Islands at the End of the World. 384p. maps. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Aug. 2014. lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375991455; Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744027; ebk. ISBN 9780385374217.
Gr 9 Up –Destruction descends upon Hawai’i. Not from the volcano-goddess Pele, but from a mysterious force that cripples one of the world’s pillars, technology. This occurs while Leilani, who suffers from epilepsy, is on O’ahu. Along with her father, they journey across the islands searching for home, supporting each other through every difficult step. Tension builds at a steady pace as the magnitude of the situation reveals itself. The former paradise faces depleting resources, looting, martial law, and chaos. Hawaiian mythology is explored through numerous stories and elements of their journey. Despite her love for her home, Lei feels like she does not belong, partly because she is half Hawaiian, but mostly because of the disease that prevents her from having a “normal” life. Aslan’s debut is a riveting tale of belonging, family, overcoming perceived limitations, and finding a home.
Bergren, Lisa T. Remnants: Season of Wonder. 304p. (Remnants: Bk. 1). Blink. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780310735649.
Gr 7-10 –This fantasy is set in a distant and barely recognizable future, in which faith is a dangerous thing to have. A prophecy foretold the coming of the Ailith, or the Remnants—believers with special abilities sent to help the faithful fight against the demonic forces that plague humanity. The story begins as protagonist Andriana, one of gifted teens born on the seventh day of the seventh month, begins her first assignment as a Remnant. Complete with adventure, danger, swordplay, and even a little romance, this action-packed series opener told from a first-person point of view will engage young fantasy and dystopian fans. Readers will be caught up in the suspense, especially as the truly scary villains chase after the superpowered Remants on their journey.
Betts, A. J. Zac & Mia. 304p. ebook available. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544331648.
Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Zac is recovering from a bone marrow transplant when a loud new patient moves into the room next door. While Zac thinks he knows all there is to know about cancer—how to navigate the physical responses to his leukemia treatments and discuss every detail of his bodily functions and fluids without hesitation—Mia’s arrival proves that he does not know everything. The two develop a friendship and learn to see beyond their own sickness and circumstances. Told from each teen’s perspective over several months, this story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Zac and Mia are strong and multifaceted protagonists. Secondary characters add heart to the narrative, and the plot unfolds steadily, which is satisfying without feeling calculated. While comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012) are inevitable, Zac & Mia holds its own as a smart, well-crafted story about the importance of friendship and feeling understood.
Deriso, Christine Hurley. Thirty Sunsets. 240p. Flux. Jul. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738739915.
Gr 9 Up –Rising junior Forrest Shepherd really wants to have a boyfriend, but is having absolutely no success with that endeavor. Mix in the weirdness of her mother inviting her older brother’s yucky girlfriend to the beach house with the family, and the summer is looking really glum. Enter Scott—a suave heartthrob—who promises to watch 30 sunsets on the beach with Forrest and the summer seems to have taken a definite turn. Only Scott has a lot more in mind than hand-holding. What starts out as a feel-good romance turns into issue-filled YA novel that packs a big wallop, as it wrestles with rape, teen pregnancy, and the unearthing of family secrets. Readers of Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (Candlewick, 1993) will find similar intensity here.
DeWoskin, Rachel. Blind. 416p. Viking. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670785223.
Gr 9 Up –Emma Sasha Silver’s life changes when she loses her eyesight in a freak accident at the age of 14. A year after the accident, Emma is still learning how to negotiate her large family, school, and everyday tasks when one of her classmates in the suburban town of Sauberg is found dead. As she struggles to make sense of this sudden death and her own drastically changed life, Emma wonders if losing her sight means she has also lost her chance at a bright future. Emma is a capable heroine who manages her disability with realism and grace.
Diaz, Stephanie. Extraction. 416p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250041173.
Gr 9 Up –Unless you’re fortunate enough to be born in the Core, survival on planet Kiel is extremely difficult and life expectancy is short. Spunky, clever 16-year-old Clementine is a resident of the Surface where a field protects the destroyed planet from the moon’s toxic acid. She has managed to not only survive without a family, but has also thrived in her education. Because the teen has proven to be obedient, intelligent, and strong, she and other young people from various sectors are selected for “Extraction” and will be sent to live in the Core. Clementine is torn about leaving her best friend, Logan, who will be “replaced” in three years after hard labor on the Surface, and is determined to convince the top Commander to allow Logan to join her. With its selfless, likable heroine and themes of oppression/hope/rebellion, Extraction will appeal to fans of dystopian fiction.
Duyvis, Corinne. Otherbound. 400p. ebook available. Abrams/Amulet. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419709289. LC 2013029536.
Gr 9 Up –High school can be a confusing and difficult time for any teen, but it has been exceptionally hard for Nolan. While his family and his doctors insist that he has been experiencing chronic seizures, comas, and incredibly detailed hallucinations, the truth is that every time he closes his eyes, his consciousness is transported into the mind of Amara, a servant girl living in the Dunelands, a realm where mages and magic are commonplace. It has been several years since he started seeing through Amara’s eyes, but in all of that time, he has only been a silent watcher, unable to even let Amara know he is there. Even worse, Nolan has endured great pain in both Amara’s world and his own, as Amara had been chosen by a mage to protect a crown princess in hiding after her family was usurped in a violent revolution. Everything suddenly changes when Nolan begins to gain control over Amara’s movements, forcing the two to work together in order to discover the truth behind the revolution that led to the princess’s exile. While Duyvis’s debut is an exciting take on the fantasy genre, as it alternates between our world and that of the Dunelands, the true strength of the novel is in its positive portrayal of LGBT issues.
Fiore, Kelly. Just Like the Movies. 280p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633544.
Gr 7 Up –High school senior Marijke Monti is beautiful, popular, and an all-star track athlete dating Tommy Lawson, the most swoon-worthy boy in school. Lily Spencer is an extraordinary event planner and wallflower who is rarely recognized for her hard work let alone noticed by her forever crush, motocross-god Joe Lombardi. After a series of unfortunate events, the girls accidentally meet at The Coffee Grind and, after sharing their pain, form a pact: With Marijke’s impulsiveness and Lily’s impeccable organization, the girls will secure both boys as boyfriends and prom dates in the next three weeks. Love isn’t always eternal, and that harsh truth is cleverly juxtaposed with the girls’ humorous schemes for the perfect ‘80s movie love story. Fiore’s latest novel is sweet enough to make readers want to revisit Lloyd Dobler’s iconic romance in the seminal teen film, Say Anything, and plan their own grand gestures of love.
Fisher, Catherine. Circle of Stones. 304p. ebook available. Dial. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803738195. LC 2012033348.
Gr 8 Up –Long ago in ancient Briton, a leper king named Bladud was cast out by his people and later healed in the hot springs of the goddess Sulis. Bladud founded a city around the springs and built a great stone circle to honor his goddess. In 1740, a young nobleman with too many debts worked for an English architect on a development of townhouses called the King’s Circus, based on the design of Bladud’s stone circle. In the present day, a girl with no name lives there. She is hiding and knows too much. The girl has lived in more cities than she can count. But when she comes to the place that was once known as Aquae Sulis, now called Bath, the young woman feels at home. An exiled king, an architect’s apprentice, and a girl on the run: three corners of a triangle come together as three related but distinctly stylized narratives. Fisher intricately weaves a haunting story about choices, perception, and greed. A well-researched novel that is unlike anything else on the young adult market.
Giles, Gail. Girls Like Us. 224p. ebook available. Candlewick. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763662677. LC 2013944011.
Gr 8 Up –Quincy and Biddie are “speddies” (special education students). They have just graduated high school and must live out in the world on their own. After being matched together by their teacher, they are given adult responsibilities: Quincy works at a supermarket while Biddie cooks and cleans for the older woman who is boarding them. The teens must learn how to fend for themselves in a world that is unfamiliar. They have both experienced physical, mental, and sexual violence, and must rely on each other to come out stronger than they were before. Girls Like Us is filled with genuine relationships that develop over time and feel authentic. There is humor and heart throughout, making the severity of the protagonists’ situations more accessible to readers. The one- or two-page chapters alternate between Quincy and Biddie and are told in voices that are genuine to their experiences but never sensationalized. A powerful novel that teens will enjoy wholeheartedly.
Herbach, Geoff. Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders. 311p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402291418.
Gr 9 Up –This is the account of 16-year-old Gabe Johnson, aka “Chunk,” as told to his lawyer. It all started when Gabe decided to investigate the sudden price increase of his favorite soda from the vending machine. Further digging reveals that the vending machine profits, originally used to subsidize the school band, were being funneled to the cheerleaders, leaving the entire band program in financial crisis. Outraged, Gabe convinces his fellow musical geeks to take on the jocks, cheerleaders, and the administration. The conflict eventually escalates, resulting in Gabe’s arrest. The protagonist is funny, honest, and an utterly likable narrator; his character growth and the decisions he makes are believable and his refusal to be a victim is refreshing. Give to anyone who has felt like an outsider or just wants a fun, fast-paced book with depth.
Howe, Katherine. Conversion. 448p. ebook available. Putnam. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399167775.
Gr 9 Up –Howe skillfully blends a modern medical mystery based on real events with the historical Salem Witch panic to create an engaging story. The prelude begins with Ann Putnam arriving at her minister’s house in Salem, Massachusetts in 1706, finally ready to confess her part in the Panic more than 12 years before. Ann’s tale continues in between glimpses into the life of Colleen Rowley, a senior at the exclusive St. Joan’s High School of Danvers, Massachusetts in 2012. The pressure in the final semester is intense for Colleen and her classmates, who are all competing for places in top colleges. Her usually uneventful morning is disturbed, first by an apparent seizure of the very popular Clara Rutherford, and then by the unexplained replacement of the young AP History teacher. As the semester continues, more girls fall victim to a panoply of symptoms. Meanwhile, Colleen begins work on a research paper for the history substitute on an actual person absent from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Howe’s use of red herrings and the “ripped from the headlines” narrative will keep readers guessing until the final reveal.
Ireland, Justina. Promise of Shadows. 384p. ebook available. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442444645. LC 2013002959.
Gr 7 Up –After murdering her sister’s killer, Zephyr Mourning lands herself in Tartarus—a section of Hell—serving an eternal sentence. Feces rains from the sky and the Centaurs on guard have a tendency to kill unruly prisoners, but Zephyr has a few things going for her: she’s a Harpy, which is a half-human, half-god warrior vættir, and she only recently discovered she can unwittingly control and use dark magic. The teen used this forbidden power to avenge her sister Whisper’s death, and it is this same ability which identified Zephyr as the much-revered and prophesied Nyx. Legend has it that the Nyx will protect and save all vættir from the Æthereals—gods who subject the vættir and other lesser mythical creatures to indiscriminate terror. With the help of her handsome childhood friend Tallon and his brother, Zephyr escapes Tartarus, along with fellow inmate Cass. The fast pacing and dynamic plot will engage readers. The snappy, hilarious dialogue between the protagonist and her friends balances the ominous apocalyptic story line, which will also attract fans of “The Hunger Games” (Scholastic), “Divergent” (HarperCollins), and underdog heroines.
Johnson, Erin. Grace and the Guiltless. 272p. (Wanted: Bk. 1). ebook available. Capstone/Switch Pr. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781630790011.
Gr 7-10 –Johnson remains faithful to standard Western lore in this historical fiction novel: a young person seeks revenge on outlaws. The story opens with a shocking scene that paints a vivid picture and will capture readers’ attention. Grace witnesses the death of her entire family at the hands of the Guiltless Gang. After realizing that the sheriff is in cahoots with the Guiltless, the teen wastes no time hopping onto her trusty horse and heading into the wilderness on their trail. The author creates a likable and relatable character in the protagonist. After eating poisonous berries and almost dying, Joe, a young traveling preacher, finds her and brings her to the Ndeh tribe who nurse her back to health. In Joe, Grace finds a kindred spirit and burgeoning romance. A revenge epic in the vein of True Grit.
Kenneally, Miranda. Breathe, Annie, Breathe. 304p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. Jul. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402284793.
Gr 9 Up –Despite her intense dislike of running, Annie hopes to complete Nashville’s Music City Marathon to honor her track boyfriend, Kyle, who died in an accident. The six months of intense training leading up to the event are transformative for her. She connects with her trainer’s brother, Jeremiah, a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie. Despite knowing that she “needs white bread, not hot sauce,” the feelings between Annie and Jere are something that neither of them can resist. And while she will always hold a special place in her heart for Kyle, through reflection she begins to relieve herself of guilt surrounding. Kenneally does a good job of building readers’ curiosity surrounding the circumstances of Kyle’s death, not providing the exact details of the accident until the very end. The protagonist’s drive and commitment to finish the race despite various physical and emotional setbacks as well as her ability to push past tragedy and “feel again” will prove to be inspirational and motivational for readers.
Kiernan, Celine. Into the Grey. 304p. ebook available. Candlewick. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763670610. LC 2013952836.
Gr 7 Up –Set in Ireland in the early 1970s, this story stars twin brothers Patrick and Dom Finnerty, who have their world turned upside down when their house and all they possess is burned to the ground. Displaced, the family moves into their summer seaside cottage. Now in the middle of winter, the cottage seems dull, bleak, and quite eerie. Suffering from horrible nightmares, the boys’ bond of brotherly love is put to the test when they discover that the “goblin-boy” is not just a dream. When Patrick tries to rid them of the ghostly creature, it takes possession of Dom instead. Patrick realizes that in order to save his brother’s life he must befriend this ghost and figure out what it wants and why before time runs out. The protagonist’s journey of self-discovery uncovers numerous family secrets, forges unlikely allies, and proves that the power of friendship, loyalty, and love are far stronger than he ever imagined. Kiernan’s beautiful and haunting novel is full of mystery and suspense with continuous plot twists and turns. A captivating read that combines Irish history with the supernatural.
Kuderick, Madeline. Kiss of Broken Glass. 224p. ebook available. websites. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062306562.
Gr 9 Up –This novel in verse offers snapshots of a teen girl’s thoughts and experiences while under mandatory psychiatric watch after being caught in the school bathroom cutting herself. As she struggles to come to terms with whether or not her problem can be classified as an addiction, Baker tries to put her situation in perspective by comparing it to those of the other teens she meets in the hospital psych ward. In flashbacks, readers witness her strained family relationships and her difficulty in finding a group of friends at school, all triggers leading up to her self-harm issues. Each word of the narrative is carefully chosen and the imagery is vivid and descriptive, offering readers a moving story about a serious issue.
LaMarche, Una. Like No Other. 347p. ebook available. Penguin/Razorbill. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595146748.
Gr 9 Up –Jaxon and Devorah inhabit different worlds despite living in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, but a fateful combination of a birth, a storm, and an empty stomach trap them together in a hospital elevator. For Devorah, who isn’t allowed to talk to boys—and forget about non-Jewish black boys—this is a stressful test of her obedience to her faith, family, and Hasidic community. She doesn’t want to be a rebel, but she doesn’t want to be rude to the friendly (and very cute) boy who is trying everything to get them out of the elevator. From Jaxon’s point of view, fate has given him the opportunity to talk to a beautiful girl who would normally terrify him. As it often goes in these stories, Devorah and Jaxon are opposites destined to be star-crossed in love, but the voices and characters are fresh and interesting enough to keep readers engaged until the end. LaMarche alternates between the two perspectives, prefacing each chapter with a date and time stamp, underlining how time expands and contracts in odd ways when one is in love. Their time together is forbidden and precious, making each moment simultaneously infinite and too short.
Lloyd-Jones, Emily. Illusive. 416p. Little, Brown. Jul. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316254564; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316254588.
Gr 7-10 –Fans of Divergent (HarperCollins, 2011) will devour this fast-paced dystopian novel. In 2017, a vaccine was hurriedly administered to counter the spread of a fatal plague. Only later do people realize that .003 percent of the immunized population have developed X-Men type characteristics. The U.S. forcibly recruit these superpowered citizens for government work. People wanting to avoid mandatory servitude become criminals. Teens Ciere and Devon work for a levitas, who carefully plans their jobs. Teaming with a mentalist, they must avoid the feds, a terrorist group, and a mob syndicate as they attempt to find the supposedly destroyed vaccine formula. Meanwhile, Daniel has been captured and is helpless to resist the mind-controlling powers of a dominus who is also after the formula. Multiple plot twists and the present-tense narrative heighten Ciere, Devon, and Daniel’s sense of paranoia as they struggle to survive in a world in which it is often difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys. A thrilling read.
Lonergan, Jesse. All Star. illus. by Jesse Lonergan. 184p. NBM. 2014. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781561638352.
Gr 9 Up–High school baseball star Carl Carter has everything going for him, from girls to friends to a full-ride college scholarship. One afternoon, instead of going home with his brother to chop wood for their father, Carl heads out with a friend and ends up making one wrong decision after another. Lonergan offers a simple coming-of-age story that teens will find relatable. Drawn in simple black-and-white sketches, the detailed artwork depicts the timeless tale of an entitled athlete who takes his talent and all of its benefits for granted. Though the references to 1998 popular culture may go over the heads of some teens, the significance of these events give an added layer to this graphic novel for mature readers.
Longo, Jennifer. Six Feet Over It. 352p. ebook available. Random. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780449818718; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780449818725. LC 2013026249.
Gr 7 Up –Instead of returning home at the end of a summer spent with their grandparents, Leigh and her older sister Kai receive two one-way bus tickets to Hangtown, CA. Their father has bought a graveyard and the family is moving. For the past three years, Leigh has been a stalwart support system for Kia while she battled cancer, and although the cancer is now in remission, Kai’s health feels tenuous. And there’s Emily, Leigh’s best friend, who died over the summer. Longo has crafted a complicated and multilayered narrative, the root of which is the story of a young girl who feels that death follows her. Leigh’s worst fears are confirmed when Dario, the 20-year-old Mexican immigrant who works at the cemetery (and Leigh’s crush), tells her that her birthday, November 1st, is the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Dario says she is like La Caterina, patron saint of the dead. It is through Dario’s friendship, Kai’s love, and the intrepid perseverance of Elanor, a girl who desperately wants to be her friend, that Leigh emerges from her grief and solidly joins the world of the living. An impressive debut novel—simultaneously hilarious, clever, and poignant.
McGarry, Katie. Take Me On. 416p. Harlequin Teen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211180; ebk. ISBN 9781460326657.
Gr 8 Up –Bottling up her emotions has become Haley’s way to deal with her problems from her dad losing his job, to the family living under authoritarian rule at her Uncle’s house, and her violent act of hitting back after her ex-boyfriend hits her first. West, on the other hand, has problems controlling his emotions while dealing with his tumultuous relationship with his parents, blaming himself for his sister’s terrible accident and paralysis, and getting in one too many fights at school leading to his expulsion. Haley and West’s lives and narratives intertwine after West nearly hits Haley with his SUV and it results in a conflict with her ex-boyfriends younger brother. To protect West and her family from retaliation, Haley trains West to battle it out with her ex in the octagon. That decision means she’ll have to face the reason she gave up kickboxing. With likable characters and a tensely building romance, this book will not disappoint fans.
Moracho, Cristina. Althea & Oliver. 384p. Viking. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670785391. LC 2013041135.
Gr 9 Up –This richly satisfying debut defies simple description. On its surface, it is about teenage best friends, a boy and a girl, who have complicated and messy feelings. Friends since they were six, the teens have grown up doors apart, both in single-parent families in Wilmington, North Carolina. Althea, who has anger issues, is in love with Oliver, which would be complicated enough even if Oliver didn’t seem to be a modern-day Rip Van Winkle, falling into a strange, deep sleep at random moments and not waking up for weeks or months. Oliver’s mom, Nicky, finds a doctor in her home city of New York who is conducting a study of this disorder, called Kleine-Levin Syndrome, and Oliver grudgingly agrees to participate. Althea tells her dad that she’s taking a road trip to visit her mom in New Mexico, but then heads to New York City to find Oliver. Instead, she falls in with a collective house of crusty punks in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, who are perfectly described with deep familiarity instead of exotic detachment. The novel is set in the mid-1990s, which is vividly re-created with plenty of drinking, sex, and rock and roll, but it is the exquisitely created and painfully real, pitch-perfect characters who make it so memorable.
Ockler, Sarah. #scandal. 412p. ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481401241.
Gr 9 Up –Despite her reservations, Lucy Vacarro gives in to best friend Ellie’s request that she stand in as Cole’s prom date, while Ellie is at home sick. Though she’d rather be at home slaying zombies instead of in a poofy dress, Lucy spends a momentous night with Cole, whom she’s been secretly in love with for years. The pair shares a few drunken kisses and the next day a picture of their faux pas is posted on Lucy’s Facebook, along with photos of her classmates’ indiscretions. Now persona non grata, the protagonist is pulled in for cyberbullying counseling and branded a homewrecker. She sets out to clear her name with the help of a quirky group of technophobes, her starlet sister, and the British import school newspaper editor. This engrossing novel ties together important themes of friendship, celebrity worship, and slut-shaming. Teens will happily tag along as Lucy tries to uncover the identity of not only the true perpetrator, but also who’s behind the Gossip Girl-type blogger who collects the high school’s scandals. The classic “I’m in love with my best friend’s boyfriend” story with a 21st-century twist and lots of heart. School Library Journal
Patterson, James. Homeroom Diaries. illus. by Lisa Papademetriou. 252p. Little, Brown. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.00. ISBN 9780316207621.; ISBN 9780316207638; Audio ISBN 9781478953661. ebk. LC 2013016061.
Gr 7-10 –After a brief stay at a mental institution, Cuckoo Clarke is back in school and living with Mrs. Morris, her foster parent. Her best friends are a band of lovable misfits and they come up with a plan to unite the various factions of the student body (the jocks, stoners, mathletes, activists, Tolkien freaks, etc.) Even after some setbacks, they bring people together for a “Scream Out,” an event that allows everyone an opportunity to open up, release tension, and ultimately discover that they have more in common than they thought. Despite the fact that serious issues (a negligent mother, an attempted sexual assault, and an incident of cyberbullying) are at play, the lighthearted tone adds levity to the work. The novel is fully illustrated with humorous artwork that contributes to the story in a meaningful way. Fans of the popular “diary fiction” genre (as well as those simply looking for an approachable and quick read) will find much to enjoy here.
ROSENFIELD, Kat. Inland. 400p. Dutton. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525426486; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698140615.
Gr 9 Up– When she was a child, Callie watched her mother drown in the Pacific Ocean. Her father, unwilling to stay in the family’s seafront home, moved inland with Callie, where, for nine years, she’s experienced inexplicable and debilitating lung problems. That changes when her father takes a job on the Gulf Coast, and Callie finds herself breathing better and finally able to live a normal teenage life; her illness is no longer a barrier between forming friendships and taking part in school activities. Her mother’s sister Nessa, a free-spirited surf instructor, visits and teaches her to swim, and Callie feels something awaken inside herself. Its voice is at times overpowering, impacting her worldview and decision-making. Is she suffering a break with reality or is there really something within her that’s calling her into the ocean? This often eerie novel that toes the line of fantasy is a delight. Readers won’t be sure just what it is that has consumed Callie—her own madness, or perhaps, something altogether inhuman—but they’ll keep turning pages in hopes of finding out. Library Journal
Sarn, Amélie. I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister. tr. from French by Y. Maudet. 160p. Delacorte. Aug. 2014. lib. ed. $18.99. ISBN 9780375991288; Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780385743761; ISBN 9780385370202. ebk.
Gr 7 Up –In France, 18-year-old Sohane—the “intelligent one,” and her 16-year-old sister, Djelila—the “beautiful one,” are as close and as opposite as can be. Since their family is Muslim, Sohane tries to dress modestly, follow the rules, respect her faith, and obey their parents while Djelila questions authority, wears modern fashions, drinks alcohol and smokes, and stands up against the neighborhood Muslim boys’ ongoing, angry confrontations in which they accuse her of insulting Islam. At first, Sohane is secretly glad that the bullies are trying to put Djelila in her place. Then, Sohane decides to stand up for herself in her own way. Although head scarves are forbidden by law in schools, she begins wearing one, gets expelled, and chooses correspondence studies. Soon, Djelila’s bullying turns horrifying and deadly when one hateful boy sets her on fire. In smooth translation from French to English, and in seamless chapters transitioning between present and past, this short, fast-paced, tragic story contrasting two clearly drawn Muslim sisters explores similar contemporary cultural and religious issues portrayed in Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Does My Head Look Big in This (Orchard, 2007), though without the humor.
Sheff, Nic. Schizo. 272p. Philomel. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399164378.
Gr 9 Up –Sheff’s novel reveals the painful and confusing world of teenage schizophrenia through the experience of Miles. Hes is consumed by guilt at the kidnapping or death of his little brother Teddy on the same day he had his first extreme breakdown in a beach bathroom. Two years before, Miles believes, he destroyed his family. If he can just track down Teddy, he can restore their happiness and perhaps move forward himself. His plan is complicated by the return of Eliza, a close childhood friend whom he came to love and who rebuffed him just before her family moved away for two years. She missed his diagnosis and tentative re-entry to high school, plagued by the effects of his medication and suffering through frequent visits to a psychiatrist his family can’t really afford. Miles is distracted by Eliza when he needs to focus on Teddy’s kidnapper. Readers fascinated by the dark side of the human mind in realistic fiction will enjoy this deft portrayal of a brain and a life spiraling out of control.
Shinoda, Anna. Learning Not to Drown. 352p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781416993933.
Gr 8 Up –Great SAT scores, a summer lifeguarding job, and good friends are not enough to keep deep family secrets from ruining Clare Tovin’s life. The high school junior is shadowed by Skeleton, a sardonic and mocking presence always reminding her that her beloved older brother, Luke, cannot be trusted. Ignoring Skeleton, Clare follows her mother’s lead, at first, excusing Luke’s criminal activities that land him in prison as, “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Myopic and unreasonably strict with Clare, her parents are quick to ground her for minor infractions, a double standard never enforced with the boys. When Clare’s mother yanks her away from her friends and job to visit her grandmother, and later withdraws all of the savings from Clare’s bank account to bail Luke out of jail, the teen finally stands up for herself. The addition of Skeleton, and flashbacks, as literary devices, is clever and allows Clare to learn the truth about her stifling home life, and conflicting emotions about Luke, at a realistic pace. Multilayered and suspenseful, this novel is a page-turner.
Skilton, Sarah. High and Dry. 272p. Abrams/Amulet. 2014. Tr $18.65. ISBN 9781419709296.
Gr 9 Up –Charlie Dixon, a last semester senior, floats through his life not caring about anything since he broke up with his girlfriend, Ellie. He has a drinking problem thanks to his grandfather, and spends much of his day slightly drunk. When he shows up uninvited—and drunk—to a choir party to confront Ellie about why she broke up with him, an ex-girlfriend drives him home. His keys are taken and when a camera catches his car dropping someone off at the hospital, he is set up for almost fatally drugging a girl with LSD. Thanks to his ex, he has an alibi, and she gets him involved in the search for a flash drive that contains her college essays. When he gets numerous messages from others willing to pay for the object, he realizes that there’s more on the drive than essays. As Charlie gets knee-deep in shady dealings, he must start taking responsibility for his own actions. With a strong subtext about the dangers of test-driven curriculua, this novel will find an audience in most high schools.
Stone, Juliana. Boys Like You. 304p. Sourcebooks Fire. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402291470.
Gr 9 Up –Nathan and Monroe are both attractive, well-adjusted teens with involved families and all the right friends. Their story begins some months after they are each knocked out of their pleasant lives through direct involvement in separate tragedies. Monroe’s parents send her from New York to Louisiana hoping that a summer with her grandmother will pull her out of her malaise. Nathan spends the summer working for his contractor uncle at the home of Monroe’s grandmother. When they meet, they can’t ignore the spark between them, despite their private grief. Over the summer they fall in love and help each other come to terms with their pasts. Chapters alternate their first-person perspectives. The story handles challenging subjects like sex, drunk driving, and faith after tragedy in a sensitive and age-appropriate way without veering into melodrama.
Sullivan, Kiki. The Dolls. 384p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062281487; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062281494.
Gr 9 Up –Eveny Cheval’s life is turned upside down when she and her Aunt Bea move away from their New York home just before her 17th birthday. Eveny hasn’t set foot in Carrefour, Louisiana since her mother’s suicide 14 years earlier. Returning now, she is stunned by the stately old houses and the pristine gardens. Even her new classmates are flawlessly beautiful—so much so that most people call them the Dolls. But beneath the wealth and charm, Carrefour is hiding a secret, one that leads to murder and dark turths about Eveny and her past. Sullivan capitalizes on the Southern setting here to spine-tingling effect as the story moves in a surprising direction involving voodoo magic and sinister forces at work around Carrefour. Sure to be popular with fans of the “Vampire Academy” (Razorbill), “Hex Hall” (Hyperion), “Caster Chronicles” (Little, Brown) or “Pretty Little Liars” (HarperCollins) series.
Tanemura , Arina. Phantom Thief Jeanne. tr. from Japanese by Tetsuichiro Miyaki. illus. by Arina Tanemura. 258p. (Phantom Thief Jeanne: Vol. 1). Viz Media. 2014. Tr $10.99. ISBN 9781421565903.
Gr 7 Up –Maron Kusakabe’s secret identity is Phantom Thief Jeanne; she is the modern reincarnation of Joan of Arc, and her job is to find paintings that have been possessed by demons. The teen then extracts the evil from the paintings in order to help God and fight Satan. The problem is that to everyone else, it appears that she is just a criminal who steals paintings. Maron’s real-life crises and conflicts bleed over into her secret identity—her best friend is the daughter of the policeman who is trying to capture Jeanne, and the handsome new boy in town has a secret identity of his own. Tanemura’s artwork is filled with fun details, like how Jeanne’s perpetually flowing hair points up over her head like a pair of cat ears. And the panels are broken up in different ways, reflecting the humor and energy of the story with extreme close-ups and hilarious reactions. Readers looking for a book about magic, secret identities, and romantic tension will enjoy this book.
Toor, Rachel. On the Road to Find Out. 320p. Farrar. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300142.
Gr 7 Up –In this debut novel, readers met Alice as she goes for her very first run on New Year’s Day. Two weeks prior, Alice, very much a perfectionist, was thrown into shock and depression when Yale rejected her early action application. For her entire life, Alice has focused solely on academics, assuming it would be enough to get her into the college of her choice. When not studying, she prefers to spend her time with her pet rat, Walter. Through her rejection and subsequent decision to begin running, she meets Miles and Joan at the running store, both of whom help her grow as a runner and as a person. Teens who are feeling the pressure of college applications will relate to this character who finds that she is tougher than she thought she could be.
Triana, Gaby. Summer of Yesterday. 256p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jul. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781481401302; ISBN 9781481401319. ebk.
Gr 9 Up –Where better to fall in love than the Happiest Place on Earth? Where better to travel back in time than the Magical Kingdom? Seventeen-year-old Haley would much rather be at summer camp with her best friends Eva and Brianna, but her dad insists that she accompany him, his new wife, and their preschool-aged twins to Fort Wilderness, a campground that is part of Disney World. Haley is feeling less than magical until an ill-advised scavenger hunt takes her into River Country—the abandoned water park where her parents met in the eighties. One seizure later, Haley awakens to River Country in its heyday, along with all of the cultural references and feathered haircuts that went with the 1980s. As Haley attempts to piece together the events that led to her time travel, she must also sidestep park security and figure out how to survive for as long as it takes to get back into the 21st century. Jason, the adorable towel boy, comes to her aid and, little by little, she finds herself falling in love not just with him but also with the water park that holds so much history for her parents. This is a cute coming-of-age romance that deals with grown-up feelings of love and loss.
Vaught, Susan. Insanity. 300p. Bloomsbury. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781599907840; ebk. ISBN 9781599908397.
Gr 7 Up –The spirits living at Lincoln Psychiatric Hospital in Never, Kentucky, are restless, creepy, and memorable. They don’t play nice with the four teen employees who each tell a different story. Forest meets a dead teen whose job is to help others cross over; Darius, haunted by the words of his grandmother, must defeat the ghost of his murdering grandfather; Trina, a witch, is at odds with her father who is out to exterminate those with Madoc blood; and Levi, a lost soul, helps connect the four stories. The secrets that lurk in the tunnels of the hospital are revealed throughout. Readers will appreciate the way that Vaught has brought the four tales together to an overall climax, but first brings each story to its own conclusion. Teens looking for an eerie ghost story will want to check this one out.
Vega, Danielle. The Merciless. 288p. Penguin/Razorbill. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595147226; ebk. ISBN 9781101631317.
Gr 10 Up –Sofia just moved to a new town. With a mom who works for the military, this is nothing new. What sets this particular move apart is when three of the prettiest, most popular girls in her new high school befriend her. While Sofia may not share the ultra-Christian values of her new comrades Riley, Alexis, and Grace, it doesn’t prevent her from forming a strong bond with them shortly after meeting. The trio confide in her about Brooklyn, the punkish, rebellious girl whom they fear may be possessed by the devil. When Riley takes the drastic step of kidnapping Brooklyn to exorcise the demon she fears is inside of her, Sofia first fights for what she believes to be right before being pushed into a battle for her very survival. This pulse-pounding, debut novel creates a wickedly creepy atmosphere where mean girls quickly turn homicidal. It’s a perfect book to give to older teens in need of satiating their potentially voracious horror appetites.
Vernick, Shirley Reva. The Black Butterfly. 226p. Cinco Puntos. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781935955795; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955801.
Gr 9 Up –Penny has put up with a lot of bad behavior from her mother in the past, though being dropped off at a haunted hotel off the coast of Maine for Christmas is a new low. Confronted with two ghosts as well as a burgeoning love interest, her holiday seems to get more complicated, and more life-threatening as the days go by. Can she bring peace to the inn’s residents, human and spectral alike? Vernick’s variety of likable characters makes this a solid read for young adults. For a book that involves a ghost in a love triangle, the thoughts and actions of the protagonist are relatable and realistic. The book successfully sells both Penny’s fragility as well as her grudging, growing love for the inhabitants of the hotel. Fans of Adele Griffin’s Tighter (Knopf, 2011) will appreciate this slightly lighter take on a girl’s experience with the ghosts of Maine.
Ward, Rachel. The Drowning. 272p. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545627719; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545627726. LC 2013025788.
Gr 9 Up –It’s a summer filled with thunderstorms when Carl, his brother Rob, and his brother’s girlfriend Neisha head to the lake for a swim. A sudden storm blows up and in the wind and rain, all three struggle to stay afloat. Rob doesn’t make it. When Carl becomes conscious in the hospital, he can’t remember what happened, just how his drowned brother looked as he was zipped into the body bag. As Carl’s memories begin to surface, so does the terrible haunting by his dead brother who claims that Carl “owes him.” Carl becomes convinced that he drowned his brother. He remembers a robbery attempt that he and his brother were involved in that results in death. Tension runs high as Carl believes that Rob is trying to force him to kill Neisha—even as his relationship with Neisha turns romantic. Ward has penned a suspenseful tale with a protagonist that teens can relate to.
Wilkinson, Kerry. Reckoning. 368p. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250053534.
Gr 7 Up –In the far-off future of England, Silver Blackthorn is ready for her Reckoning, the annual event in which 16 year olds are assigned their lifelong role in society. Silver should be happy. She is assigned the role of Offering to the king, the most honorific assignment. What does the role entail? No one knows because it is kept a secret from year to year. Wilkinson creates a haunting and all-too-believable backstory in which England has forged a new existence in the wake of a nuclear war. This England is a surreal mix of high tech and the medieval. Technology is advanced but used only so the king and his men can monitor the people and their thoughts, purchases, and locations. The monarch keeps the people docile by instilling fear, paranoia, and strict control over food and heat distribution. One by one, the teens succumb to the king’s capricious, sadistic cruelty. Silver resolves to escape. Her skill with electronics will get her only so far and she must forge an uneasy alliance with a few of the other Offerings. False starts, red herrings, and narrow escapes keep the pace moving briskly and the resolution a big question mark right until the end. In a crowded market of apocalypic YA fiction, this title stands out.
Williams, Carol Lynch. Signed, Skye Harper. 304p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481400329. LC 2013040091.
Gr 9 Up –Winston was four years old when Momma left to become a movie star, leaving Winston to be raised by Nanny. Now, it’s the summer of 1972 and Winston, age 15, is working to be as good a swimmer as her idol, Mark Spitz. Momma’s infrequent letters have taken an ominous tone. She has finally given up on her dream. Winston has mixed feelings. Things have been going along just fine without Momma (aka Skye Harper). But Nanny is on a mission to get her own baby girl back home, and the two set off in a neighbor’s “borrowed” RV toward Las Vegas, only to find out many miles later that the boy Winston has a crazy crush on, Steve, is asleep in the back. Nanny is determined that Winston will not repeat the same mistake that as she and Skye had committed by becoming single teen moms. Although Winston has no plans to take things that far, she’s tempted by Steve’s sweet, intoxicating kisses. Terrific pacing, an engaging plot, believable dialogue, and well-developed characters.
Yang, Gene Luen. The Shadow Hero. illus. by Sonny Liew. 176p. First Second. Jul. 2014. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781596436978.
Gr 7 Up –Award-winning author Yang and artist Liew tackle a lesser-known aspect of history, breathing new life into the Green Turtle, a 1940s comic book hero. According to lore, the Green Turtle was originally drawn to be Chinese, but publishers quashed artist Chu Hing’s plans, and Hing rebelled by drawing his hero so that his face was never visible. The Green Turtle is cast as an unlikely 19-year-old young man, Hank, the son of Chinese immigrants who own a grocery store in 1940s America. When his mother is rescued by a superhero, the loving but overbearing woman decides that it’s Hank’s fate to become a hero himself, and she does everything in her power to push her son in that direction. Though Hank initially shies away from assuming the role of caped crusader, when tragedy strikes, he’s eventually inspired to call himself the Green Turtle, and fight back against gangsters who have been intimidating his family and many others in Chinatown. Liew’s scratchy, action-packed illustrations have a nostalgia-tinged vibe ideal for the gritty/hard-boiled setting, and Yang plays expertly with clichés and stereotypes about Chinese culture without ever becoming heavy-handed or obvious. A creative take on the superhero genre. School Library Journal
For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as Russian history, duct tape projects, and the impact of Saturday Night Live.
Aretha, David. Malala Yousafzai and the Girls of Pakistan. 64p. (Out in Front). bibliog. chron. index. notes. photos. websites. Morgan Reynolds. 2014. lib. ed. $27.45. ISBN 9781599354545; ebk. ISBN 9781599354552. LC 2013044510.
Gr 7 Up –By the time she was 11, Malala Yousafzai was blogging under a pseudonym about education for the BBC Urdu website. She wrote candidly about the Taliban and their efforts to block girls’ access to schools. Two years later, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize but less than a year after that she was shot in the face by a Taliban assassin, an attempt on her life that she had feared as the Taliban threats on her life grew. Yousafzai’s eventual recovery and continued activism is a demonstration of bravery and conviction and perhaps the most impressive and inspiring aspect of Aretha’s biography. To give additional context, Aretha includes inserted spreads on Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s first female prime minister; the Taliban; and facts about being a woman in Pakistan. The extensive use of colorful photos will help readers visualize this teenager’s world. Readers will find well-sourced information that will be a good starting place for research.
Dotson, Alison. Being Me with OCD: How I Learned to Obsess Less and Live My Life. 142p. further reading. index. websites. Free Spirit. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781575424705. LC 2013044768.
Gr 9 Up –Dotson shares her personal story of a lifetime struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in this honest, often-humorous title. The author suffered with an obsession about religion and with a fear of harming others, as well as depression, for more than a decade before she was diagnosed. By sharing her story, she aims to reassure teens with OCD that they aren’t alone and to encourage them to get help as soon as possible so that they can lead richer, fuller lives. The book not only includes Dotson’s personal story but also covers practical information about OCD, steps to getting help, therapy and medication, and checklists of symptoms. Stories from other young adults diagnosed with OCD interspersed throughout break up the text and add alternate perspectives.
Fleming, Candace. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. 304p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Random. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780375867828; lib. ed. $21.99. ISBN 9780375967825; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780375898648. LC 2013037904.
Gr 9 Up –The tragic Romanovs, last imperial family of Russia, have long held tremendous fascination. The interest generated by this family is intense, from debates about Duchess Anastasia and her survival to the discovery of their pathetic mass graves. A significant number of post-Glasnost Russian citizens consider the Romanovs holy to the extent that the Russian Orthodox Church has canonized them. This well-researched and well-annotated book provides information not only on the history of these famous figures but also on the Russian people living at the time and on the social conditions that contributed to the family’s demise. The narrative alternates between a straightforward recounting of the Romanovs’ lives and primary source narratives of peasants’ lives. The contrast is compelling and enhances understanding of how the divide between the extremely rich and the very poor can lead directly to violent and dramatic political change. This is both a sobering work, and the account of the discovery of their bones and the aftermath is at once fascinating and distressing. A solid resource and good recreational reading for high school students.
GALBRAITH, Patrick W. The Moé Manifesto: An Insider’s Look at the Worlds of Manga, Anime, and Gaming. 192p. photos. Tuttle. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9784805312827.
Gr 9 Up– The author of The Otaku Encyclopedia (Kodansha, 2014) returns with another look at the Japanese subculture that holds such a strong appeal to American audiences. The idea of moé goes even further than the general idea of fandom, specifically referring to the strong sense of emotional attachment that fans feel for their favorite characters. The book opens with an introduction that gives an overview of what moé means. The remainder is filled with a series of interviews with various experts on the topic of moé, including a professor of cultural sociology, those who work in the manga and anime industries, fans, critics, and even a psychiatrist. Readers will learn about extreme examples of Japanese fandom, from people dressing up as their favorite characters on the streets of Harajuku to those fighting for the right to marry fictional characters. This title is lavishly illustrated with colorful artwork and photographs and contains a glossary, which will help readers understand terms such as “bishojo,” “cosplay,” and “lolicon.” This is an eye-opening, fascinating, and sometimes disturbing look at fandom that will resonate with anyone curious about Japanese culture.
Hamilton, Bethany with Dustin Dillburg. Body & Soul: A Girl’s Guide to a Fit, Fun, and Fabulous Life. 160p. chart. further reading. photos. Zondervan. 2014. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9780310731054.
Gr 6 Up –Hamilton, a professional surfer who lost her arm after a shark attack but who returned to the sport to win a National title only a month later, is back with a new book about how to be fit, fun, and fabulous by eating healthy, exercising, and finding your inner self. Right from the start, Hamilton makes her religious background clear, but even though one whole chapter is devoted to faith, the overall focus is on inspiring her audience, not on preaching religious views. Tween and teen girls will enjoy the writing, which makes readers feel as though they’re having a one-on-one conversation with the author. Each chapter has tips and tricks on how to stay on task, as well as a Q&A session with Hamilton. The chapters on exercise and healthy eating are supported by a certified athletic trainer and a nutritionist and are easy to follow, and the step-by-step pictures of each workout make them accessible. This title will inspire girls to gain self-confidence and make better choices in their own lives.
Kaplan, Arie. Saturday Night Live: Shaping TV Comedy and American Culture. 64p. bibliog. ebook available. further reading. index. notes. reprods. websites. Twenty-First Century. 2014. RTE $33.27. ISBN 9781467710862. LC 2013039469.
Gr 5-8 –In its 39 seasons, NBC’s Saturday Night Live has both shaped and skewered American pop culture and politics, transformed little-known comedians into household names, and inspired the development of similarly edgy sketch comedy programs. Launched in 1975 by producer Lorne Michaels, the show has changed the way we think about comedy, television, and ourselves. Kaplan presents an overview of the late-night show by focusing on its more memorable characters, the ongoing challenge of cast diversity, its satirical political commentary, and its career-launching capacity. Including SNL content as recent as January 2014, this title provides a too-brief look at the show’s rich history, highlighting recent cast members and characters whom the intended audience will be sure to recognize. The book design is attractive and accessible and features pertinent photographs and useful sidebars that expand the narrative. Kaplan’s slim volume provides currency and may encourage young fans to seek out more information about this cultural and comedic phenomenon.
MALETSKY, Sophie. Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects. 240p. Zest. Jul. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781936976546.
Gr 5 Up– It looks like the duct tape craze is here to stay, and Maletsky proves that here. She provides easy-to-follow directions to help tweens and teens make colorful accessories and fabulous fashion statements, from wallets and handbags to headbands and bowties. Crafters will find useful information about types of duct tape and how to set up a workstation equipped with all the essential tools they’ll need to make these projects. Chapters include information on necessary tools, basic information, and types of different crafts (“Quick Crafts,” “Wallets,” “Wearable Duct Tape”), and more. A great feature of the book are the templates that kids can use for the different crafts, and the quick tips and photographs on each page make projects easier and more fun to create. An enjoyable crafting title.
Romero, Jordan & Linda LeBlanc. No Summit out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits. 368p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781476709628. LC 2013031296.
Gr 6 Up –At the age of 15, Romero became the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits, the tallest mountain on each continent. He set this goal for himself at age nine, when he saw a mural on the wall of his elementary school and wondered what it would be like to stand on each of those peaks. Other parents might postpone such lofty aspirations, but Jordan’s father and stepmother, extreme adventure racers who compete all over the world, encouraged him. From their first climb, Mount Kilimanjaro, where he set the record as a 10-year-old, to Everest at a record-setting 13, each peak presented unique and more difficult challenges. LeBlanc has written about mountaineering and of Everest, but Romero’s voice comes through, as he excitedly describes, in first-person narrative, his emotions, hardships, occasional doubts, and reactions to foreign countries and cultures. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to attempt and to persevere in the face of such an overwhelming task, and it is obvious that Romero has the bravado to do what many critics told him he couldn’t. An easy read and will appeal to adventure seekers.
Sher, Abby. Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery. 240p. websites. Barron’s. Jun. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781438004532.
Gr 8 Up –This moving title explores the world of modern day slavery and sex trafficking through three varied stories of women who were forced into sexual slavery but who escaped and are now working to help others in similar situations. Through straightforward, compassionate prose compiled from interviews with her subjects, Sher shows the amazing strength of Somaly Mam, who was taken from her village in Cambodia as a child and ended up in a brothel in Penh Phnom; Minh Dang, who was raped by her father at age three and then prostituted by her parents at 10; and Maria Suarez, a Mexican immigrant tricked into captivity. Dang’s heartbreaking story in particular will resonate with readers and remind them how close to home the issue is, as the California teenager lived a double life, attending high school and playing soccer even as she was enduring such violence and abuse. Sher’s journalistic narratives will be approachable to struggling readers and serve as an accessible bridge into a subject matter not often discussed. While these emotionally stirring accounts are painful to read at times, Sher manages to avoid sensationalizing her subjects, keeping them human and relatable while appealing to teens’ compassion and sense of social justice.
Van Wagenen, Maya. Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek. 272p. photos. Dutton. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525426813.
Gr 7 Up –The bright and perceptive Van Wagenen wanted to boost her popularity in middle school. As a self-defined “Social Outcast, the lowest level of people at school who weren’t paid to be there,” the eighth-grader had quite a climb ahead of her. Her modus operandi was intriguing: she used a 1950s teen etiquette book that her father found at a thrift store as a guide to climb the social ladder. The clash of eras and cultures is funny—the author wears a girdle, hat, and pearls to class; learns how to apply makeup; improves her posture and poise; and tries a diet. But the best lessons she learns from Fifties teen model Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide are about how to talk to and understand the people around her. Bravely visiting all the various cliques in the lunchroom and making conversation with her secret Sunday school crush, she becomes even more sensitive and aware—and yes, more popular. While overall this light memoir provides plenty of fun, it has a grittier backdrop than the cover and description might suggest. Her school, in Brownsville, TX, near the Mexican border, commonly experiences lockdown drills and warnings against gangs, and she casually mentions that smoke from a drug war in Matamoros, Mexico, is visible from her house. Library Journal
And from SLJ’s Adult Books 4 Teens blog, the following titles are perfect for teens looking to cross over to adult books.
ABBOTT, Megan. The Fever. 240p. Little, Brown. June 2014. Tr $26. ISBN 9780316231053.
Abbott’s provocative new novel masterfully dissects mass hysteria brought on by a community’s collective revulsion toward female sexuality. The trouble begins when Deenie Nash’s best friend, Lise, has an unexplained seizure–in full view of her high school classmates–that lands her in the hospital in a semi-conscious state. Soon, other girls, first close friends, later total strangers, begin exhibiting similar symptoms, and school, parents, and students alike believe they are in the grip of a full-blown epidemic. The fact that doctors cannot explain what the disease is or why it only affects girls only encourages gossip, which quickly coalesces around accusations that the “fever” is a result of the HPV vaccines that all high school girls have been required to take. The novel alternates viewpoints among Deenie, her brother Eli, and their father, who is a teacher at their school. And even though none of the Nashes believes the vaccine rumor, even Deenie and Eli begin to believe that the source lies with what they see as the troubling sexual behaviors of the afflicted girls. Abbott’s prose is a smoldering slow burn, allowing each excruciating minute of unease to unsettle into readers, even as the author carefully lays down clues to the ultimate solution. And her indictment of the mindless panic of a community leads readers to wonder just who is afflicted by the fever of the title. Teens will be drawn to the mystery trappings, the high-school setting, and the frank discussion of the sometimes-quite scary terrain of sex.–Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA
BREZNICAN, Anthony. Brutal Youth. 416p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Bks. Jun. 2014. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9781250019356. LC 2014008498.
At St. Michael High School’s open house, prospective freshman Peter Davidek huddles behind a car on the parking lot, watching a deranged student topple statues of saints off the rooftop. Nearby, one boy has been hit, blood pooling under his head. When Davidek decides to brave a rescue attempt, he is joined by Noah Stein, who thus becomes Davidek’s sole friend and ally at this terrifying and surreal high school. Stein, marked by a scar covering the side of his face, seems to know no fear. While the entire freshman class suffers from the school’s traditional yearlong hazing rituals, Stein takes pleasure in baiting upperclassmen and teachers alike. Stein’s weakness is his love for Davidek and for Lorelei Pascal, a classmate whose beauty earns her especially vicious torment from older girls. Breznican’s debut novel is filled with tortured characters, from the devious Father Mercedes, gambling away precious school funds, to the despised Hannah Kraut, who has a notebook reputedly filled with everyone’s secrets. Davidek serves as our bewildered navigator through a story that confidently rips through tangles of high school insanity. The author molds real characters out of high school stereotypes, most notably the misfits, all struggling for a humble slice of dignity within St. Michael’s wretched, bleeding walls. The satiric narrative is as brilliantly hilarious as it is poignant and heartrending.—Diane Colson, Nashville Public Library, TN
DOERR, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See. 544p. Scribner. May 2014. Tr $27. ISBN 9781476746586.
Marie-Laure and Werner are brilliant, resilient children displaced by the madness of World War II. Marie-Laure, 11, lost her sight at age six and has learned to experience the world with her other senses. Her father, a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, builds miniature replicas of her neighborhood so that Marie-Laure can memorize her way to the baker, the grocer, the delicatessen. Often, the models are intricate puzzles that unlock to reveal a special treat. When the Nazis occupy Paris, Marie-Laure and her father flee to the fortress town of St. Malo on the Breton coast. With them, hidden in one of her models, but unknown to Marie-Laure, they take a legendary diamond from the Museum, a treasure the Nazis desperately want to possess. Werner, an orphan in Germany, has a precocious talent for repairing old radios which earns him placement in a special, but brutal, Nazi youth camp where he learns to use his talent with math and electronics to target enemy positions for artillery. Near the end of the war, Werner, Marie-Laure, and the obsessed Nazi hunting the rare diamond have a harrowing encounter. Doerr, nesting his tender tale within a time-jumping, page-turning yet subtle thriller, brilliantly portrays the brutality and emotional chaos of war and its impact on the innocent who, ungrounded, must find a way to make sense of and survive the experience. In that way, it will remind readers of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and will have similar appeal among teens.—John Sexton, Greenburgh Public Library, NY
The original reviews of the above works appeared in SLJ’s June print magazine.
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