November 17, 2017

Subscribe to SLJ

Young Adult Titles of Tragedy and Triumph | Fiction Grades 9 & Up

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

SLJ1408w_BK-fic9up

See our complete list of
August 2014 SLJ Stars.

redstarBassett, Kate. Words and Their Meanings. 360p. Flux. Sept. 2014. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9780738740294.

Gr 9 Up –When 17-year-old Anna O’Malley’s “bruncle” (uncle raised as her brother) Joe dies, she suppresses her grief and refuses to open up about him. She embodies Patti Smith circa 1973, writing daily Patti verses on her forearm and conducts morning corpse yoga where she lays absolutely still in her bed. Anna also gives up her promising talent for writing. Throughout the year following Joe’s passing, Anna blames herself for tragic family events including his death and her parents’ divorce. Her family and best friend are at a loss as to how to help her move on and are afraid of awakening past destructive and suicidal grief responses. While seeing her ninth psychologist in under a year, Anna strikes a “deadaversary” bargain with her family to return to normalcy to avoid “crazy Bible camp” in Hell, Michigan. As she starts to comply with the bargain, the teen’s life begins to move on with a new job, a love interest, and a glimmers of happiness. But more family secrets and tragedies unfold. Eventually, the protagonist’s attempts at suppression lead to an increase in self-destructive tendencies that spiral out of control until she can no longer hold back. Bassett’s debut novel scores a hat-trick of literary merit in a strongly crafted and complex plot, deeply drawn characters with palpable grief, and beautifully woven and rich prose. This title will appeal most to readers of realistic fiction, especially those looking for a deeply engaging, emotional story.–Adrienne L. Strock, Teen Library Manager, Nashville Public Library

redstarQuintero, Isabel. Gabi: A Girl in Pieces. 378p. Cinco Puntos. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781935955948; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955955; ebk. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955962. LC 2014007658.
Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez has a lot to deal with during her senior year. Her best friend Cindy is pregnant; her other best friend Sebastian just got kicked out of his house for coming out to his strict parents; her meth addict dad is trying to quit, again; and her super religious Tía Bertha is constantly putting a damper on Gabi’s love life. In lyrical diary entries peppered with the burgeoning poet’s writing, Spanglish, and phone conversations, Quintero gives voice to a complex, not always likable but totally believable teen who struggles to figure out her own place in the world. Believing she’s not Mexican enough for her family and not white enough for Berkeley, Gabi still meets every challenge head-on with vulgar humor and raw honesty. In moments, the diary format may come across as clunky, but the choppy delivery feels purposeful. While the narrative is chock-full of issues, they never bog down the story, interwoven with the usual teen trials, from underwhelming first dates to an unabashed treatment of sex, religion, and family strife. The teen isn’t all snark; there’s still a naiveté about whether her father will ever kick his addiction to meth, especially evident in her heartfelt letters to him. When tragedy strikes, readers will mourn with Gabi and connect with her fears about college acceptance and her first sexual experience. A refreshing take on slut- and fat-shaming, Quintero’s work ranks with Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick, 2013) and Junot Diaz’s Drown (Riverhead, 1996) as a coming-of-age novel with Latino protagonists.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

  redstarWalrath, Dana. Like Water on Stone. 368p. further reading. glossary. maps. Delacorte. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385743976; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375991424; ebk. ISBN 9780385373296. LC 2013026323.

Gr 8 Up –Thirteen-year-old Armenian twins Shahen and his sister, Sosi, live in the 1914 Ottoman Empire with their loving parents; younger sister, Miriam; and older brothers Misak and Kevorg. A Christian like the rest of their family, their 19-year-old sister, Anahid, is married to Asan, a Kurd, and is expecting a baby. Life is pleasant in their mixed religious community where their family makes its living as millers. However, when the cruel and hateful leaders of the Ottoman Empire decide at the start of World War I that the Armenians are “traitors” and should be eliminated, genocide ensues. Anahid is hidden by her in-laws at the risk of their own lives. Forced to leave their parents and brothers behind to certain death, Shahen, Sosi, and little Miriam barely escape and make a harrowing journey across the mountains, hoping for rescue and to somehow reach their uncle who lives in America. As Ardziv, an eagle, soars above, he adds a note of magical realism and a sense of omnipresent poetic narration to the authentic voices of the family members as he witnesses their joys, shock, and heartbreak. This beautiful, yet at times brutally vivid, historical verse novel will bring this horrifying, tragic period to life for astute, mature readers who enjoy books in this format or genre such as The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle (Holt, 2008) and Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys (Philomel, 2011). A cast of characters, and author note with historical background are thoughtfully included.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

redstarWOLITZER, Meg. Belzhar. 352p. Dutton. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525423058; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101600276.

Gr 9 Up –Devastated by the death of her first love, 15-year-old Jam Gallahue is having difficulty moving on with her life. After nearly a year of being mired in grief, her parents send her to a boarding school in rural Vermont that specializes in “emotionally fragile” teens. Once there, she is surprised to have been one of five students selected by the legendary Mrs. Quenell for a class called Special Topics in English. It seems that the entire semester—Mrs. Q’s swan song before retirement—will be devoted to the works of Sylvia Plath, and the students are given special red leather journals in which to record their reactions to the assigned readings. Jam is unenthusiastic at first until she realizes that these are no ordinary journals. When she and her classmates, all of whom have endured debilitating losses, begin to writing in their pages, they are transported to their former lives, at least for a while. The teens bond over their experiences in what they call Belzhar, and are able to share their stories and look out for and protect one another. As the semester progresses and the notebooks begin to fill up, they must each confront some inner demons and make some tough choices about their future paths. Wolitzer spins a smart and engrossing tale of trauma, trust, and triumph. She is respectful of the intelligence and sophistication of the teens while acknowledging their vulnerability and lack of life experience. Their voices ring true and the emotional truths are authentic—even for those readers unwilling or unable to embrace the magical realism. Exploring the themes of self-reflection and the recurring notion that “words matter” make this title a perfect choice for book groups and discussions.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

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

Adornetto, Alexandra. Ghost House. 320p. (The Ghost House Saga: Bk. 1). ebook available. Harlequin Teen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211302.

Alender, Katie. Famous Last Words. 320p. Scholastic/Point. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545639972; ebk. $18.99. ISBN 9780545639989.

Alten, Steve. Sharkman. 276p. Taylor Trade. Oct. 2014. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781630760199; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781630760205.

Anjelais, M. Breaking Butterflies. 272p. Scholastic/Chicken House. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545667661; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545667678.

Aronson, Marc & Charles R. Smith Jr., eds. One Death, Nine Stories. 160p. Candlewick. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763652852; ebk. ISBN 9780763670832. LC 2013957275.

Blount, Patty. Some Boys. 336p. Sourcebooks Fire. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781402298561; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781402298578.

Blumenthal, Deborah. A Different Me. 261p. ebook available. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807515730.

Boone, Martina. Compulsion. 448p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481411226.

Camden, Steven. Tape. 368p. HarperCollins/ Harper. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780007511204; ebk. $13.99. ISBN 9780007511211.

Clarke, Judith. Three Summers. 264p. Allen & Unwin. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781742378275; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9781742695921.

Daley, James Ryan. Jesus Jackson. 278p. Poisoned Pen Pr./Poisoned Pencil. Aug. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781929345069; ebk. $5.99. ISBN 9781929345076. LC 2014938496.

de Gramont, Nina. The Boy I Love. 288p. ebook available. S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442480568.

Delaney, Joseph. A New Darkness. 352p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062334534; ebk. ISBN 9780062334558.

Demetrios, Heather. Exquisite Captive. 480p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062318565; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062318589.

Edwards, Tanille. Broken. 300p. ebook available. Fire Flies Entertainment. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780978730215. LC 2006908892.

Farizan, Sarah. Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel. 304p. ebook available. Algonquin. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781616202842.

Fitzpatrick, Becca. Black Ice. 400p. S. & S. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442474260; ebk. ISBN 9781442474284.

Gaither, Stefanie. Falls the Shadow. 352p. ebook available. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442497535. LC 2013035560.

Gillies, Isabel. Starry Night. 336p. Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374306755; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780374306762.

Hall, Sandy. A Little Something Different. 224p. ebook available. Feiwel and Friends/Swoon Reads. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781250061454.

Hannah, Andrea. Of Scars and Stardust. 336p. ebook available. Flux. Oct. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738740829.

Hart, Amber. Before You. 302p. Kensington/KTeen. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781617731167; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9781617731174.

Hart, Jeff. Undead with Benefits. 416p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062200365.

Harvey, Alyxandra. Whisper the Dead. 397p. (Lovegrove Legacy: Bk. 2). Bloomsbury. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802737502.

Hiaasen, Carl. Skink No Surrender. 288p. Knopf. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780375870514; lib. ed. $21.99. ISBN 9780375970511.

Hill, Chelsie & Jessica Love. Push Girl. 240p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Bks. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250045911; ebk. ISBN 9781466846050.

Hogarth, Ainslie. The Lonely. 312p. ebook available. Flux. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738741338.

Hopkins, Ellen. Rumble. 560p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Aug. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781442482845; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442482869.

Kain, Jamie. The Good Sister. 304p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250047731.

Kamata, Suzanne. Screaming Divas. 208p. ebook available. Adams Media/Merit Pr. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440572791. LC 2013045567.

Kelly, Nikki. Lailah. 352p. (The Styclar Saga: Bk. 1). Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250051516; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781250064240.

Kelly, Margo. Who R U Really? 240p. Adams Media/Merit Pr. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440572760; ebk. ISBN 9781440572777.

Kiem, Elizabeth. Hider Seeker Secret Keeper. 280p. ebook available. Soho Teen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616954123.

Kincaid, S. J. Catalyst. 432p. (Insignia: Bk. 3). ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062093059.

Kriegman, Mitchell. Being Audrey Hepburn. 321p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Bks. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250001467; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781250013491.

Kulper, Kendall. Salt & Storm. 416p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316404518; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316404501. LC 2013041664.

Lewis, R. C. Stitching Snow. 336p. ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781423185079. LC 2013046571.

Ludwig, Elisa. Coin Heist. 302p. Adaptive Books. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780996066600; ebk. ISBN 9781632950161.

Maas, Sarah J. Heir of Fire. 565p. (A Throne of Glass: Bk. 3). ebook available. Bloomsbury. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619630659.

McBride, Lish. Firebug. 336p. Holt. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805098624; ebk. ISBN 9781627791601.

MCCARRY, Sarah. Dirty Wings. 224p. St. Martin’s. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250049384; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781250027115; ebk. ISBN 9781250027108.

McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers: The Novel. 206p. Annick. 2014. lib. ed. $21.95. ISBN 9781554516483; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781554516476.

Magoon, Kekla. How It Went Down. 336p. ebook available. Holt. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805098693.

Marriott, Zoë. The Name of the Blade. 368p. Candlewick. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763669577; ebk. ISBN 9780763674168. LC 2013955946.

Maxwell, Lisa. Sweet Unrest. 336p. Flux. Oct. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780738740812.

Meyer, L. A. Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life and Times of Jacky Faber. 368p. (A Bloody Jack Adventure: Bk. 12). Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544217775; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780544374263.

Nadol, Jen. This Is How It Ends. 320p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781481402101; Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481402118.

O’Brien, Caragh M. The Vault of Dreamers. 432p. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596439382; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781596439399.

Pattou, Edith. Ghosting. 392p. Amazon/Skyscape. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781477847749; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781477897744.

Phillips, Linda Vigen. Crazy. 320p. Eerdmans. Oct. 2014. pap. $9. ISBN 9780802854377. LC 2013048058.

Qitsualik-Tinsley, Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley. Skraelings. illus. by Andrew Trabbold. 89p. (Arctic Moon Magick: Bk. 1). Inhabit Media. Oct. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781927095546.

Rosen, Suri. Playing With Matches. 256p. ECW. Sept. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781770411821.

Shaw, Tucker. Oh Yeah, Audrey! 256p. Abrams/Amulet. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419712234. LC 2014001456.

Sheerger, Sarah Lynn. The Opposite of Love. 272p. ebook available. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807561324.

Shepard, Sara. The Perfectionists. 336p. (The Perfectionists: Bk. 1). ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062074690.

Shoup, Barbara. Looking for Jack Kerouac. 202p. ebook available. Engine Bks./Lacewing. Aug. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781938126475.

Shraya, Vivek. God Loves Hair. illus. by Julia Neufeld. 110p. Arsenal Pulp. Sept. 2014. pap. $18.95. ISBN 9781551525433; ebk. ISBN 9781551525440.

Simukka, Salla. As Red As Blood. tr. from Finnish by Owen Witesman. 227p. (The Snow White Trilogy: Bk. 1). Amazon/Skyscape. Aug. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781477847718.

Sun, Amanda. Rain. 320p. glossary. Harlequin Teen. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780373211111.

Wells, Robison. Dead Zone. 384p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062275028.

Graphic Novels

Dalrymple, Farel. The Wrenchies. illus. by Farel Dalrymple. 303p. First Second. Sept. 2014. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781596434219.

Guarente, Gabe. Satan’s Prep. illus. by Dave Fox, et al. 112p. Sky Pony. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781628735925.

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

Share
A Day-Long Celebration of Fandom-Beloved Stories and Characters
Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our inaugural LibraryCon Live! We’re excited to offer this day-long virtual festival for book nerds, librarians, and fans of graphic novels, sci-fi, and fantasy. Network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you’ll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. You’ll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.