May 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Novels in Verse, Literary Street Lit, and High-Interest Nonfiction | What’s Hot in YA

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Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down (Holt, 2014), about a black teen who is shot by a white man, is especially timely with recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and just the right title for young adults grappling with the headlines streaming in every day. And, a new book from the queen of verse novels, Ellen Hopkins (Rumble), will entice fans of the format, while Dana Walrath’s lyrical historical fiction work about the 1914 Armenian genocide (Like Water on Stone), will illuminate and win new ones. The following fiction and nonfiction titles for teens will be perfect for late-summer reading and back-to-school shelf-browsing.

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

Gr 7 Up –Chloe Kennedy has just lost her mother. The teen is upset and unnerved by her mother’s death, as she was a source of comfort, wisdom, and stability. She also taught Chloe that ghosts shouldn’t be feared, but simply told to go away. And she was correct—right up until her death. Chloe and her brother Rory have been sent to stay temporarily at their grandmother’s newly renovated estate in England to allow their father time to recover. Chloe soon encounters Alexander Reade, who died more than 150 years ago, but has not passed over. From their first meeting, Alexander and Chloe are drawn together. However, it is not just the earthly divide that separates the two, but also the presence of the evil specter Isobel, Alexander’s sister-in-law and former lover. Isobel will stop at nothing, even murder, to prevent Alexander from moving on. A final, interesting twist revealed on the very last page should spark readers’ anticipation for the next installment in this gothic romance series.–Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

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

Gr 8 Up –Willa’s new stepdad, Jonathan, is a movie director, which is how she finds herself transplanted to Hollywood from suburban Connecticut. On the plus side there’s Marnie, a new friend at school, and Reed, Jonathan’s cute, young assistant who seems to like Willa as much as she likes him. Unfortunately, there’s also a murderer, aka the Hollywood Killer, on the loose who enjoys re-creating iconic scenes from classic movies, such as the final attack scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds. Wyatt, Willa’s unfriendly chemistry lab partner at school, seems oddly obsessed with the crimes. As if that weren’t enough, Willa’s new house is haunted. The ghost is desperate to tell her something; Willa thinks it might have something to do with the Hollywood Killer. The plot moves at a breakneck pace as Alender has jam-packed her latest novel with murder, ghosts, and romance. Fans of the author’s “Bad Girls Don’t Die” series (Disney-Hyperion), as well as readers who enjoy suspense and supernatural elements with their romance, won’t be disappointed.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY

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

Gr 8 Up –As the result of a car accident caused by texting while driving, Kwan Wilson is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic. His mother died during the crash and his overbearing father cannot forgive Kwan and sends him to live with his grandmother. He agrees to volunteer at an aquatic stem cell research center once he sees that he will be able to spend time with a lovely assistant. Kwan’s guilt and frustration help him to justify his willingness to risk his life by injecting himself with shark stems cells and Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Kwan’s crippled body not only heals, but continues to evolve into a body builder’s physique with hyper senses, allowing him to once again be a basketball superstar. His adaptations spiral out of control and he develops the physical characteristics and predatory instincts of a bull shark. The conclusion—like the rest of the novel—is a fun ride once readers suspend disbelief when it comes to the over-the-top action sequences and the main character’s remarkable cunning. The novel is packed with scientific information on topics such as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), diving, and shark physiology, making it a great addition for collections promoting STEM fields.–Sherry J. Mills, Hazelwood East High School, St. Louis, MO

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

Gr 9 Up –The childhood dreams of two women who have been friends since they were little girls have mostly come true. One has a boy named Cadence and the other has a girl named Sphinx. The young mothers planned for their offspring to marry each other, and when brilliant, handsome Cadence and sensitive but plain Sphinxie are teens, the pair seem to be following that path. However, the older Cadence gets, the clearer it becomes that he has serious emotional issues that prevent him from actually connecting with another person. But Sphinxie and all who meet him are drawn to the young man, even when he physically and psychologically threatens and hurts those who love him. This is a suspenseful and well-written exploration of mental illness and how it affects friendships, families, and relationships. The private moments between the two teens will leave readers worried, agitated, and eager to keep reading.–Sarah Jones, Clinton-Macomb Public Library, MI

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

Gr 9 Up –Kevin Nicholas, a popular high school football player, has committed suicide, though readers don’t know that at first. In fact, through nine stories, each told by a different author and from a different point of view, readers come to know only a little about Kevin himself. Instead, readers observe the reactions of Kevin’s sister, his best friends, people who barely knew him, even of the funeral home workers who handles his body. Each chapter deals with the process of initiation, acceptance, growing up, and moving on even in the face of death. The authors included are all well-known young adult writers, such as Ellen Hopkins, Rita Williams-Garcia, and A. S. King, and it is clear that they know and understand their audience. Despite the differing perspectives and characters, the writing is remarkably consistent in tone. The vignette feel of each section may appeal to reluctant readers who can manage a narrative in small chunks without losing the arc of the story itself. More enthusiastic readers will devour it whole.–Katherine Koenig, The Ellis School, PA

Bassett, 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. 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. 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.–Adrienne L. Strock, Teen Library Manager, Nashville Public Library

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

Gr 9 Up –If you saw Grace Collier walking down your high school hallway you’d likely step out of her way. With her “ass-kicking” studded boots and leather wristlets people think of Grace as a girl who can take care of herself. Which is why no one believes her when she claims Lacross star and ultra-popular man on campus, Zac, raped her at a party. Some Boys starts roughly one month after Grace is assaulted, and is told through her perspective and that of Ian, Zac’s best friend. When Grace and Ian are thrown together to complete a Breakfast Club—style spring break detention, the two are both forced to relive the events of the party. What starts out as mutual hatred quickly turns to admiration, respect, and a touch of romance. Blount hits home with this novel, depicting rape culture without apology. Discussion questions at the back of the novel make it a great book-club choice for libraries willing to tackle the tough topics. A great addition to most YA collections.–Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR

Compulsion_zpsa31ce116Boone, Martina. Compulsion. 448p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481411226.

Gr 9 Up –After the death of her mother, and her loving caretaker Mark’s losing battle with cancer sends him to hospice, Barrie Watson makes her way from San Francisco to live with her Aunt Pru on her family’s estate on Watson Island in South Carolina. Curious about her father, who died in a fire that led to her mother’s facial scars and reclusiveness, Barrie is eager to meet relatives on both sides of her family for the first time. What she discovers is far more complicated than the open-armed reunion she’d desired. Watson Island is bound by an old curse that has kept its three founding families, the Watsons, the Beauforts, and the Colesworths, at odds with one another for years. The mysterious Fire Carrier that appears over the river outside of her window each night holds the key to some part of the curse, and the yunwi (spirits that keep watch around Watson Landing) are clearly trying to communicate something to the protagonist. She uses her gift for finding things that have been lost, with some help from dreamy Eight Beaufort, to figure out the secrets that have held her family captive. Boone’s debut mixes a Southern gothic setting with fantasy and romance for an engrossing, albeit over-the-top mystery. This book will appeal to fans of paranormal and traditional romances.–Joanna Sondheim, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

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.

Gr 8 Up –Jonathan Stiles, 14, just learned that his older, football star brother has died in a freak accident. He already struggles to understand his parents’ divorce, how to survive his first year of high school, and his ever-increasing questions about religion. The first-person narrative will easily draw readers in and through a series of flashbacks, teens will come to understand older brother Ryan’s previous role as mediator between Jonathan and their squabbling parents. Caught between their strict Catholic mom and Buddhist Dad, religion has become a bone of contention within the family. During ninth-grade orientation, Jonathan and his new best friend, Henry, take a shortcut through the woods where they find Ryan and his football buddies, and the brothers have a falling out. That’s the last time Jonathan sees Ryan alive. Jonathan is a multidimensional character who learns to make a leap of faith and must be willing to accept the consequences for his leap. An engaging, suspenseful read that teens will not be able to put down.–Julie Shatterly, W.A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC

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

Gr 8 Up –Wren and Allie, best friends since childhood start off their sophomore year at a brand-new school, Williamsport High. Wren is quickly plunged into the limelight when she discovers an alligator walking home from her bus stop. She is interviewed on the local news and soon the entire school knows who Wren is overnight. Allie, “the pretty one,” is having a more tough time and beginning her sophomore year at a new school is harder than anticipated. Allie discovers one good thing at Williamsport though—Tim Greenlaw, a junior, who she has had a crush on since junior high. The only problem is that Tim seems more interested in Wren than in her. But things are not always as they appear: Wren’s father is losing his job and her family will be losing their farmhouse and horses because they are months behind on their mortgage, and Wren don’t exactly have a romantic relationship—but she has promised to keep his secret. At a high school party, everything comes crashing down when Tim’s secret about his sexuality is revealed. In a North Carolina small town where interracial marriages were prohibited not long ago, the tension between fitting in and staying true to your identity will especially resonate with teens.–Jesten Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA

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

Gr 8 Up –The tale of Tom Ward from “The Last Apprentice” series (HarperCollins) continues. At 17, Tom is no longer an apprentice, but the Chipenden Spook after the death of his master. As a Spook, Tom’s job is to protect his territory from ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, witches, and any other beasties that threaten the villagers. Reluctantly, he takes on his own apprentice, a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, named Jenny. Jenny and Tom encounter a formidable new threat, the Kobalos. The Spook calls on his alliance with the witch, Grimalkin. The trio hopes to find out more about the Kobalos, but little does Tom know that Grimalkin has a much bigger plan. A plethora of action involving ghastly creatures, sword fights, and magic coupled with just enough backstory and description make this novel engaging enough to keep even the most reluctant reader turning pages until the end. Tom’s story has a doozy of a cliff-hanger that is sure to bring teens back for more. Delaney fans and new readers are sure to enjoy this first book of a planned trilogy.–Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UT

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

Gr 10 Up –In the far future, demonic Shadowsmen rule over a grim wasteland. They inflict adults with despair, corrupting them into zombies—or worse. Bands of fierce, foul-mouthed children fight against this oppression, and the Wrenchies are the greatest of these gangs. An ancient and arcane comic book creates a portal between our time and this bleak future, allowing a lonely outsider named Hollis to join the Wrenchies on their crusade. Together they embark on a quest to destroy the source of the world’s corruption. Kind, sensitive Hollis feels out of his depth, not born to battle like the rest of the gang. Readers will connect with his need for belonging and delight in the acceptance he finds among the Wrenchies. The plot unfolds in a stream-of-consciousness, reality blending with dreams, mystical visions, and drug-induced hallucinations. Dalrymple’s art vibrates with violent action, awash in colors alternately lush and lurid. With its abundant violence, profanity, and drug use, The Wrenchies is not for the squeamish, but offers breathtaking adventure for those with a strong heart and a stronger stomach.–Tony Hirt, Hennepin County Library, MN

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

Gr 9 Up –Leila, an Iranian American teen, attends a private high school, where her parents have high expectations for her future. She has made it to her junior year without romance complicating her life, and that’s just fine with her. Leila would just as soon not have everyone find out that she likes girls. But when beautiful, confident, worldly Saskia breezes into the narrator’s life, everything turns upside down. Saskia easily lures the innocent Leila, and confuses her with mixed signals. With a plot that unfolds naturally, good writing, and vivid character development that leaves readers alternately cringing and aching for the protagonist, teens will find a satisfying coming-of-age novel. Fragments of Persian culture are incorporated smoothly within the narrative. Books featuring gay and lesbian teens of Middle Eastern descent are rare, and this engaging high school drama fills that need.–Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library

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

Gr 9 Up –After a horrifying prologue depicting a young girl’s kidnapping and murder near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this thriller commences one year later, when 17-year-old Britt and her best friend Korbie head out for a hiking trip in the Tetons. When Britt finds out that Korbie’s older brother, her ex, will be at their family cabin too, she’s torn between trying to win him back and trying to get over him. A freak storm makes the friends lose their way. When the teens knock on the door of a cabin looking for assistance, they unwittingly become part of a plan that its handsome occupants are in the midst of concocting. Britt finds evidence that the two men may have been involved in the disappearance of several women. Convincing them to leave Korbie behind and to take her with them as a guide, the heroine tries keep them all alive during the storm, while also plotting her escape and piecing together the clues to what happened to the missing women. The mystery builds with each chapter and the writing is good enough to sustain a sense of foreboding with each page. Britt has realistically complex feelings towards her parents, best friend, and ex-boyfriend, and many teens will enjoy the mix of horror, mystery, and chick lit.–Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CT

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

Gr 8 Up –Cate Benson lost her big sister Violet at the age of 12. However, in a future world devastated by war and disease, some are fortunate enough to secure their children’s legacy through cloning. So, shortly after her funeral, the new Violet comes home complete with Violet’s memories. In fact, because of her heightened clone abilities, New Violet may be even better than the girl she replaced. She may also be a murderer. After four years, Cate is used to covering and making excuses for her replacement sister, but this time, Violet has vanished and the paparazzi and the anti-cloning faction are having a field day. Cate sets out to find her, accompanied by her crush Jaxon, and Seth, his best friend. Soon, they get too close to a secret that threatens the entire way of life that Cate has come to know. This nail-biting thriller explores the moral and philosophical ramifications of cloning, with a fair share of action, and the requisite romantic angle. Gaither has laid a solid foundation with this intriguing concept and compelling characters.–Erik Knapp, Davis Library, Plano, TX

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

Gr 7 Up –Wren has dreamed about spending the fall semester of her junior year at the exclusive Saint-Rémy art school in France ever since she first learned about the program. Wren wants to look up at the same sky and stars that influenced Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, her favorite painting. Her parents support her dream and try not to put too much pressure on her to finish the application while maintaining the grades required—Wren has a learning disability and they understand her creative process. Her father is the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she is finally invited to attend a special gala event. Even before the night begins, she can feel that this party might bring her something extra special. At dinner Wren is seated next to Nolan, the hottest guy she has ever seen up close. He’s a senior in high school, but kind of famous already because of his band. That night they make a connection that might change everything she thinks she knows about herself, her friends, and love. The conversational style will give readers the feeling that the protagonist is a close friend sharing her deepest secrets. The author’s YA debut is best as an aspirational pick for younger teens.–Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City

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

Gr 9 Up –Trevor Loomis is a slacker. His life never amounted to much before he got zapped to death by a cheap amp. Unsurprisingly, the start of his afterlife doesn’t appear to be too promising, either. As a minor, his is remanded to attending St. Lucifer’s Academy for the Hopeless and the Damned. Nicknamed “Satan’s Prep” for short, it’s not uncommon for students to be eaten before homeroom, bullied to death by demons, or be personally dissected in science class. Trevor deals with his hellish new school with the same irreverence and disinterest he did in his mortal life. After making friends with “Skeevy” Stevie and catching the eye of the beautifully mysterious Persephone Plumm, Trevor finally finds in death something worth fighting for. This graphic novel collects Guarente’s inventively demonic version of high school. A surprising cliff-hanger on Trevor and Persephone’s doomed relationship may have teens clamoring for more.–Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA .

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

Gr 9 Up –If ever two people should get together, it’s Gabe and Lea. They share a love of creative writing, watch the same TV reruns, order the same Chinese take-out on the same nights, and repeatedly wind up in the same place at the same time as if by magic. But Gabe is painfully shy and full of self-doubt, and Lea is so lacking in confidence that neither of them can give voice to the obvious chemistry that radiates between them. The magnetic pull is so strong, in fact, that everyone they come in contact with can feel it, and it is through Gabe and Lea’s interactions with others that their stories unfold. In a progressive series of month-by-month vignettes, their creative writing teacher, college classmates, roommates and friends, a coffee shop barista, diner waitress, bus driver, and even the resident park bench and squirrel relate their impressions and conversations with the protagonists as they take part in a “one step forward, two steps back” dance of attraction and avoidance. A fun, light romance that will appeal to male and female readers alike. A good choice for reluctant readers as well.–Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

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

Gr 9 Up–Richard and his cousin Malley are best friends. But while Richard is pretty levelheaded, Malley tends to get into trouble. So Richard is only mildly surprised to discover that she’s run off with a guy she met on the Internet in order to avoid being sent to boarding school in New Hampshire. Richard wants to go find her, and luckily he runs into what may be the perfect person to help him do just that: a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida named Skink. With Skink at the helm, the two set off across Florida in search of Richard’s cousin. Skink, a favorite character from Hiaasen’s adult novels, is incredibly memorable. Whether it’s diving in to a gator-infested river after a rogue canoe, getting his foot run over by a semi while trying to save a baby turtle, or hiding out in the sand to save the next turtle, Skink is always full of surprises. And like a cat with nine lives, one never knows how he’ll make it out or what will happen next. One thing’s for sure: readers will want to be along for the ride.–Necia Blundy, formerly at Marlborough Public Library, MA

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

Gr 8 Up –High school junior Kara is popular with the “right” people, has a to-die-for athletic boyfriend, and is sure to be her school’s next homecoming queen. However, when she learns that her parents are contemplating a divorce, she drives off recklessly in her car and ends up in a debilitating accident. Paralyzed from the waist down, Kara’s dreams of being a dancer are totally dashed, and her in-crowd friends and boyfriend are nowhere to be found. Instead, it is her lifelong friend Amanda (whom she has recently ignored) and her ex-boyfriend Jack who devote themselves to helping her find meaning in life once again. Star of the TV series Push Girls, Hill endured the same type of injury which her protagonist undergoes and also founded the Walk and Roll Foundation that Kara initiates in the novel to aid people with spinal cord injuries. The writing duo’s personal experiences informed the realistic dialogue and fully developed main character. Kara’s accepting her fate and the ups and downs of her relationships with family and friends will keep the attention of teens. This tearjerker is sure to be popular with readers.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI

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

Gr 9 Up –Matt’s gay brother Luke committed suicide because he couldn’t take the bullying any more. Matt blames everyone for his brother’s death: his friends, his dysfunctional parents, and the middle school teachers and counselors who did nothing to halt the torment Luke experienced daily. The protagonist’s temper is perpetually balanced on a knife’s edge, and it takes very little to push him into a rage. Matt’s only peace comes when he is with his girlfriend, Hayden. However, she seems to be pulling away to spend more time with God and her youth group, many members of whom were Luke’s worst bullies. His hatred is eating him up inside, but he can’t let it go or he’ll have to confront the real reason for his anger. Hopkins’s latest novel in verse is timely and poignant. Matt is a wonderfully faceted character that readers will alternately sympathize with and dislike. Hopkins’s realistic, truthful approach to bullying, religion, and homosexuality make this a powerful story for even the most reluctant readers.–Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL

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

Gr 9 Up –Asha and Rachel are left to grapple with their “good” sister Sarah’s mysterious death along the California coastline. Neglected by their overly lenient, flower-child mother, Asha struggles with the loss of her beloved sister and her own confusion over her relationship with her best friend, Sinclair. Rachel distracts herself with boys to avoid the guilt over sleeping with Sarah’s boyfriend before she died, and details are slowly revealed that hint at a secret reason for Rachel’s destructive behavior. Typical birth order tropes are fleshed out into believable characters that, along with an unraveling mystery, compel readers to turn the pages. Fans of emotional powerhouses such as Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002) and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007) will enjoy the novel’s insight into the complexities of sisterhood, adolescence, and the “good” and “bad” behavior therein.–Hannah Farmer, Austin Public Library, TX

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

Gr 8 Up –Just when we thought the vampire fad was overplayed and finally vanquished, Kelly slams readers with an exciting new world—three worlds, to be exact: vampires vs. humans vs. angels. The brave, heart-stealing heroine is named Lailah—or is it Francesca? She’s lived for over two centuries at the supreme age of 17 and cannot recall past lives upon her return to the human dimension. Kelly opens her debut fantasy thriller with an aside explaining how Lailah (an Angel-Vampire hybrid) was created, and readers journey with her to piece together the past, flee across continents to escape the The genuine characters are dynamic and charming regardless of where their loyalties lie. The archetypal love triangle is a messy game of tug-of-war between Gabriel, Lailah, and Jonah, driving the story and superimposing on the desperate war between realms, making this equal parts romance and supernatural adventure. Vivid and cleverly crafted, this novel will appeal to fans of Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules (Harlequin Teen, 2012) and Courtney Allison Moulton’s “Angelfire” series (HarperCollins).–Jamie-Lee Schombs, Loyola School, New York City

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

Gr 9 Up –Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe’s destiny is to become the next witch of Prince Island. It’s the 1860s and Avery is descended from a long line of witches that use their magic to keep the island’s whaling men safe at sea. When the protagonist turned 12, before fully unlocking her magic, her mother dragged her away from her training at her grandmother’s cottage to raise Avery in town to be a proper society lady without magic. A Roe witch cannot be killed but can be maimed. Avery’s once-beautiful mother was severely beaten and left with a devastating facial scar before Avery was born. To protect Avery from this fate, her mother cast a spell that prevents the girl from ever leaving town to see her grandmother. The teen has the gift of accurately interpreting dreams. After repeatedly dreaming of being a slaughtered whale, Avery knows her fate and despairs of ever escaping to fully master her magic and prevent her death. Then she meets tattooed Tane, a harpooner from an island near New Zealand, who comes looking for answers to help him avenge his murdered family. He believes his powerful magic can help Avery break her mother’s spell. Kulper’s debut seamlessly blends fantasy elements with the more realistic life of a whaling settlement during the 19th-century. –Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton

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

Gr 7 Up –Essie is the only female living in mining settlement Forty-Two and earns her keep by “stitching” or repairing junk-tech for the local miners. She is an unwelcome presence, despite her much-needed expertise, and leads a precarious and solitary existence. When a shuttle crashes, leaving a stranger named Dane without a functional ship, Essie begrudgingly agrees to help him. It turns out that Dane is on a search for Princess Snow, the royal heir who went missing eight years ago. Once he realizes that Essie is indeed the princess, he kidnaps her, intending to use her as a bargaining chip in a prisoner swap. Forced to divulge secrets that she has long guarded, Essie convinces Dane that she is no friend of the court and the two join forces. This is a superb sci-fi retelling of “Snow White.” Lewis does a marvelous job of slowly revealing the backstory of Essie’s royal childhood, her incestuous relationship with the king, and the mystery surrounding her real mother. Inventive nods to the original fairy tale, such as the seven droids Essie built and the death scene of the evil queen, are expertly done.–Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI

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

Gr 7 Up –Four teens devise an audacious plot to rob the U.S. Mint. The aspiring thieves attend a prestigious private high school, but come from disparate social groups—a football scholarship student; a cool, popular prom organizer; a science nerd, and a rock band slacker. In this novel that is The Breakfast Club meets Ocean’s Eleven, the characters are somewhat clichéd, as is their unlikely partnership. Chapters are narrated in the first person by each teen, revealing the protagonist’s strengths and inner turmoil. The teens’ voices are authentic, using a lot of American slang, and inject some sexual innuendos. Readers will increasingly sympathize with the protagonists as their backstories are developed more. This title will find a place in most collections, especially where Kiersten White’s “Kiki Strike” series (Bloomsbury) and Ally Carter’s books are popular.–Michelle Anderson, Tauranga City Libraries, New Zealand

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

Gr 8 Up – Having the ability to start fires with your mind is all fun and games until those powers are used against you. Ava’s firestarter capabilities are at the mercy of a mystical mafia called the Coterie—a group that killed her mother and is now set on assassinating one of the only people she cares for. Few have gone against the will of the Coterie and survived. McBride’s follow-up to the popular “Hold Me Closer Necromancer” series maintains her trademark dark humor and engaging, quippy characters. The book exists in the same universe, and possesses the same feeling of incredibly high stakes from the beginning. Readers looking for a fast-paced narrative will undoubtedly be satisfied with the rollicking plot and its riffs on the classic formula of rebels on the lam. Hand this to fans of her previous series and readers who enjoyed Catherine Jinks’s The Reformed Vampire Support Group (Houghton Harcourt, 2009).–Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, NJ

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

Gr 10 Up– In this lyrical and romantic coming-of-age tale of friendship, rebellion, and identity, McCarry has penned a prequel to her debut, All Our Pretty Songs (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013). Teenage Maia, a gifted pianist, has lived a sheltered life under the eye of her watchful mother, while Cassie, a free-spirited runaway, exists without rules or boundaries. When the two meet, an all-consuming friendship sparks between them, as Cassie urges Maia to shed her constricted existence in favor of Cassie’s more decadent lifestyle: punk rock concerts, goth outfits, and boys. The narrative leaps forward and backward in time, focusing on two periods: Maia and Cassie as they first meet (“Then”) and after they’ve run off together (“Now”). Though the book is presented as a retelling of the myth of Persephone and Demeter, it’s a very loose reshaping that readers who aren’t paying close attention to the clues—or who aren’t familiar with Greek mythology—may easily miss. McCarry’s hauntingly beautiful, darkly poetic language is her strength, and a sense of magical realism pervades the narrative throughout, hinting at danger lurking on the periphery. Fans of Francesca Lia Block’s works will devour McCarry’s sensual prose.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

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

Gr 7 Up –In this terrifying and shocking account based on actual events, Jacob is abducted and forcibly inducted into The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. Jacob’s life before going away to school was fairly typical. All of that changed after he went away to school. Reuniting with his old friend Paul and asked to look over the scrawny new boy Norman, the boys are unprepared when the LRA comes to their school in the middle of the night. Jacob is beaten. He awakens the next morning in time to see Tony, along with several other children, forced to kill another in order to prove their worth to their new “family.” As Jacob, Paul, and Norman fight off starvation and plot their ultimate escape, they find unlikely allies in a cook within the army as well as a deformed girl who is often ignored by the generals. As with the graphic novel of the same name, McKay does an effective job of bringing this story to life. The protagonist’s struggles are heartbreaking, but his fierce determination and unflinching will to survive will surely prove to be an inspiration to readers.–Ryan P. Donovan, Southborough Public Library, MA

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

Gr 9 Up –When 16-year-old Tariq, a black teen, is shot and killed by a white man, every witness has a slightly different perception of the chain of events leading up to the murder. Family, friends, gang members, neighbors, and a well-meaning but self-serving minster make up the broad cast of characters. The police bring their own personal biases to their investigation of the case. When all points of view are combined, the story of a young man emerges and with it, a narrative that plays out in communities across the country every day. Heartbreaking and unputdownable, this is an important book about perception and race. How It Went Down reads very much like Julius Lester’s Day of Tears (Hyperion, 2005) in a modern setting and for an older audience.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

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

Gr 6 Up –Mio Yamato has owned a beautiful and dangerous katana for most of her life, a gift passed down from her beloved Ojjichan (grandfather), meant to become hers when she turns 16. She knows she shouldn’t take it out earlier than her 16th birthday, but with her parents away on a trip and a Halloween party to get ready for, the teen takes it down just days before it was meant to be hers. To and from the party, she begins to see dark figures and omens everywhere. The Nekomata, an ancient cat monster begins stalking those close to her, and a boy she has only seen in her dreams shows up to aid her against the monster she has apparently set free. Since everything has come from the sword, Mio feels like she has to make it right, especially when the monster threatens her best friends. What follows is a crucial battle for a highly sympathetic character and a clever twist on Japanese mythology. Readers will be rewarded with unique and fun characters, a truly dire conflict, and a lifetime-spanning love story.–Heather Talty, formerly at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City

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

Gr 9 Up –A romantic ghost story, voodoo spells, and the humid-drenched Southern locale all combine for a satisfying mix of contemporary and historical fiction. When Lucy Aimes’s family moves to an old plantation near New Orleans for her history professor father’s work, she becomes plagued with vivid dreams featuring the handsome Alex and surprisingly familiar Armantine. Lucy soon learns, with the assistance of a local mystic, that the dreams are much more than they seem. Readers will be enthralled by the heady descriptions of New Orleans and mysticism. Intertwining a bit of voodoo lore with an enjoyable mystery, Maxwell produces a well-written, spellbinding, and informative story that teen readers are sure to snap up.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

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

Gr 7 Up –When five Vermont teens meet in the woods one cold night, they plan to drink a few beers and hang out. When one of the teens finds a pair of binoculars in a nearby cave, the lighthearted get-together takes a decidedly sinister turn. As the they take turns peering through the lens, each sees a haunting vision of his or her future. At first, the friends dismiss the visions as hallucinations, but as the weeks pass, the protagonists discover that the visions are becoming reality. Told from the point of view of Riley, the story keeps readers guessing as vision after vision turns into reality. When Riley looks through the binoculars, he sees himself in bed with his best friend’s girlfriend, Sarah. Riley has a crush on Sarah, but he would never betray his best friend, or would he? When Natalie looks through the binoculars, she sees her father’s murder. A few days later, when her father is found dead, fingers point to Natalie, but did she do it? Nadol weaves a tales of taut suspense and tender new romance as the teens struggle to resist the fulfilment of the visions. Each of the teens are plausible characters, likable and flawed at the same time.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

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

Gr 9 Up –This swift, free-verse page-turner follows seven teens and the events before, during, and after an evening that permanently alters their lives. Once childhood friends, they have gone their separate ways. Maxie moved away with her family and recently came back; Chloe is pretty and popular; Emma and Brendan play varsity sports; and Felix smokes marijuana to escape his unhappy family life. They are reunited (joined by Chloe’s boyfriend Anil) on a late summer night right before the beginning of school year, and a series of bad decisions lead to a terrible tragedy. The story features increasing tension coupled with first-person narration that moves the plot along rapidly as each character picks up the story line left off by another. The narration gives readers the chance to see exactly what all of the characters are thinking and a glimpse of their families and homes. After the tragic event, the characters all demonstrate personal growth and maturity. What begins as a story featuring typical teens haunted by the past, and dismayed by the present, turns into one where everyone is reminded that mistakes can be learning experiences and that people can adjust to what one character concludes is a “new now time.”–Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH

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

Gr 7 Up –“To my mother, whose fault it never was, and to my sister, my soul mate in survival,” reads the dedication to Phillip’s compelling debut novel that is loosely based on the author’s experiences growing up around bipolar disorder. It’s 1963 and 15-year-old Laura has always been told that her mother suffers from nervous breakdowns. So while other mothers are baking cookies for the PTA fundraiser and helping their daughters sew dresses for home economics class, Laura’s mother spends the day sitting in a rocking chair with a vacant stare. No one in Laura’s family, particularly her father, will discuss her mother’s frightening behavior. There’s a palpable tension in Laura’s house as everyone tiptoes around her mother, waiting for her to snap. Laura pushes away her passion for art and her best friend, for fear she will end up just like her mom. It isn’t until the protagonist finally seeks support that she sees light in the darkness of her mother’s mental illness. Told in first-person free verse, Crazy is a beautifully written and emotionally impactful novel about growing up around bipolar disorder in a time period when even doctors didn’t truly understand the ramifications of such a disease. Phillips’s poetry coupled with her personal experiences truly make this a poignant read. It should be in the hands of anyone—teen and adult—who has ever felt powerless at the hands of mental illness.–Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ

SkraelingsQitsualik-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.

Gr 7 Up –Kannujaq’s life revolves with the seasons, moving with his dog sled to follow the hunts that make life sustainable for the Inuit people. This nomadic lifestyle contrasts sharply with the villages of the Tuniit, who stay in one place in homes that cannot be moved. When Kannujaq comes upon a Tuniit village under siege by giant-men in enormous boats, he becomes drawn into their dispute and it changes his world forever. Told by a conversational third-person narrator, this novella captures the fear and wonder of the age. Heavy graphic illustrations further reinforce the gravity of the tale and an Inukittut pronunciation guide is included. Skraelings is a well-written, engaging introduction to the complex history of the peoples of the Arctic.–Sara Saxton, Wasilla Public Library, Wasilla, AK

Gabi a Girl in PiecesQuintero, 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. 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

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

Gr 7 Up –Sixteen-year-old Raina Resnick cannot catch a break. After two years as Queen Bee in her Manhattan private school, she is unceremoniously “counselled out” (read: expelled) and sent to live with her strict Aunt Mira. Her new life in a tight-knit Jewish community in Toronto is hardly the fresh start she was hoping for. Between a headmistress who is constantly scrutinizing her every assignment and an older sister (former BFF) who won’t speak to her, Raina is desperate to find her niche. A chance meeting on the bus with young, single Jewish woman helps unveil a hidden talent: matchmaking! After her success matching Tamara and Jeremy, Raina sets up the anonymous MatchMaven account and is ready for business. Things get really complicated when her sister Leah turns to MatchMaven for help finding The One after her broken engagement—a breakup for which Raina is blamed. But the more she tries to help others find love, the less her friends and family love her. Raina is well drawn, and supporting characters all add humor and poignancy to the story. This charming story of growing up and owning up, will ring true with readers, particularly those who share her cultural traditions.–Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service

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

Gr 8 Up –Rose and Chase are an unlikely pairing, until you compare their home lives. Rose is a wild child, at least according to her strict adoptive parents. She is determined to find her birth mother, no matter the cost or time it takes. Chase comes from an abusive home and fears that his anger will be just as out of control as his father’s. Just as Rose and Chase start to trust and open up to each other, they are wrenched apart. Rose retreats from the world and Chase tries to move on. Then, a cryptic email from Rose sends Chase and their mutual friends on a race to find her before things get any worse. The time periods also shift between the present (when Rose sends her email) and the past. There are many themes running throughout the story, including teen pregnancy, truancy, drinking, smoking, and faith, all of which are handled with a gentle touch. The novel is for teens looking for a realistic story with a satisfying if not completely happy ending. –Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL

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

Gr 10 Up –Through 21 short stories, Shraya takes readers on an emotional journey with a boy who is discovering and developing a gender identity in a heteronormative environment. The tales recount the narrator’s life growing up in a Hindu family in Canada, and how his religion, ethnicity, brown skin, hair, and family’s expectations intersect. Each story is accompanied by mixed-media illustrations with comic-book appeal, that along with the work’s Indian and American pop-culture references and its intersection of race and gender, bring a fresh and vibrant addition to YA LGBT literature. Librarians should be on the lookout for this queer coming-of-age story that offers an endearing and honest voice, as well as a heartbreaking account of adolescence.–Sujei Lugo, Simmons College, MA

Theule, Larissa. Fat & Bones: And Other Stories. illus. by Adam S. Doyle. 112p. Carolrhoda. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781467708258; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467746236. LC 20130303064.

Gr 7 Up –With its light page count and atmospheric illustrations by Doyle, illustrator of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle (Scholastic) covers, Theule’s short work has sophisticated themes and artwork that could appeal to a wide range of teens. The stories, while not necessarily interconnected, all take place during the same time period on the same farm, with the same characters being referenced in multiple stories. Bones’s father, the old farmer Bald, has died, and that sets in motion the events of the various stories. Readers meet a wide-eyed mouse who endeavors to confess his feelings to the one he loves; a group of pigs who must have their hooves made into soup; and the titular characters, Fat and Bones, who hate each other for some unknown reason. All of the stories are about relationships, whether that is of enemies, friends, or lovers. The themes of tension and choices are not heavy-handed, and the artwork sustain the dark, slightly sinister mood. These stories are recommended for middle schoolers who aren’t afraid of a dark twist.–Jessica Ko, Los Angeles Public Library

Thompson, Paul B. Lost Republic. 256p. ebook available. Enslow/Scarlet Voyage. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781623240004. LC 2013048978.

Gr 7 Up –Its 2055 and the S. S. Sir Carlton is the last existing steamship in the world set to go on its final cross-Atlantic voyage. Shadowing this fateful sail is the highly celebrated maiden voyage of the Sunflyer, a solar powered luxury ocean vessel of the future. The Sunflyer’s roster is filled with the world’s A-list celebrities and society elite while the Carlton’s roster is more eclectic, reflective of a diverse group of passengers wanting to experience a moment in history. Among this group of passengers are eight teens, each believing they are on the verge of a newly promising journey to fulfill their own individual future goals. En route, the ship loses all technological contact and runs up on an undetected land mass. The Carlton survivors are thrown for yet another jolt when they are taken hostage by a group of medieval knights and are then handed over to a group of soldiers who only speak Latin, claiming to be Roman Legionnaires. This work provides vast opportunities to discuss and compare the ethical issues of a tech-dependent world vs. one dependent on natural resources. Readers will enjoy this epic time travel adventure.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA

Like Water on StoneWalrath, 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 Aremenian 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.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

WOLITZER, 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. Their voices ring true and the emotional truths are authentic. 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

For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as graphic novel memoirs, survival stories, science mysteries, and an environmental call-to-action.

ABIRACHED , Zeina. I Remember Beirut. tr. from French by Edward Gauvin. illus. by Zeina Abirached. 96p. diag. maps. Graphic Universe. Oct. 2014. lib. ed. $29.27. ISBN 9781467738224; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781467744584.

Gr 7 Up–Abirached’s companion to A Game for Swallows (Graphic Universe, 2013) reveals numerous details from her childhood in Beirut during the war from 1975 to 1990 war. “I remember” is a recurring phrase and provides a personal frame of reference for the effect of war on kids. Some are simple childhood memories of Kit Kat candy bars, bad haircuts, and her father’s obsession with recorded classical music. Many are exquisite visual packages of the trauma experienced by a young girl: documenting the series of bullet holes in her mother’s car windshield over time, spending a night at the school when it was unsafe for the students to leave, keeping a backpack of her treasured items next to her bed, and collecting war shrapnel the way some collect rocks or seashells. Most evocative are the family images: family members as playing pieces, pawns in a board game of war; holding hands as they cross the street to the “other side” of the city; the gulf between the adult author living in Paris and her family in Beirut. With her signature style of arresting graphic layouts of images in stark white and solid black, Abirached offers a pastiche of poignant memoirs from living in a strife-ridden city.–Barbara Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics. 256p. bibliog. glossary. index. notes. photos. reprods. Chicago Review. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781613746868. LC 2013047408.

Gr 6 Up –In this collective biography, Atwood chronicles the wartime exploits of 16 distinctive women from the United States, Europe, and Australia. The book is well balanced, covering women from the Central and Allied powers. Content is organized by the type of job the women performed—and there were many: resisters and spies, medical personnel, soldiers, and journalists. Their great contributions are made more vivid with Atwood’s engaging narrative. She points out that while there were ideological, social, and economic differences among the women, there was also a commonality uniting them: patriotism. Readers get an idea of the intensity of these women’s fervors through the quotes from diaries, letters, and interviews. Woven throughout the stories is the larger history of the war itself—the causes, battles won and lost, and outcomes.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

ShacklteonBertozzi, Nick. Shackleton. illus. by Nick Bertozzi. 125p. First Second. 2014. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781596434516.

Gr 7 Up –Ernest Shackleton is most famous for his plan to cross the Antarctic by foot, which was a miserable failure (their ship Endurance was crushed by the ice, and the crew was stranded for months on end) and yet defied incredible odds (all of the men in the expedition survived). The story is told primarily through dialogue, which helps to personalize this chapter in history, but the informational text and maps will help readers grasp the full impact of the challenges the men faced on this expedition. The book is filled with humanizing touches, like the ways the men kept up morale with practical jokes and playing games together on the ice. Like the famous photographs of Shackleton’s expedition, Bertozzi’s black-and-white artwork captures the bleakness and the majesty of the surrounding snow and ice. An excellent choice for readers who enjoy nonfiction, graphic novels, explorers, true adventure, and impossible dreams.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

SLJ1408-BK-NFic5up-SL_FadManiaBix, Cynthia Overbeck. Fad Mania!: A History of American Crazes. 64p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Twenty-First Century. Oct. 2014. lib. ed. $34.60. ISBN 9781467710343. LC 2013034669.

Gr 5 Up –Don’t be fooled by the size of this slim volume. Inside, readers will find a collection of fads from the last 100 years that fascinated before quickly fading from mainstream American culture. Following a brief introduction to the nature of fads, each craze is presented in chronological order by decade, beginning with the 1920s and ending in the post-millennium years. While many more crazes exist than are discussed here, Bix explores the more notable ones that have dominated the past century. Audience members will be intrigued by entries on dance marathons and goldfish swallowing, but equally engaging are the specific examples, world records, and casual facts that Bix includes in each entry that provide additional support and context. Each chapter is filled with striking photographs as well as decade-specific sidebars that list the time period’s milestones, further enhancing the connections between pop culture and history. Don’t expect to see this title linger on the shelf for long.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH

SLJ1408-BK-NFic5up_BurcawBurcaw, Shane. Laughing at My Nightmare. 256p. photos. Roaring Brook. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626720077.

Gr 10 Up –Burcaw is like any other 21-year-old guy. He loves sports, video games, and bathroom humor; enjoys hanging out with his friends; and has had several girlfriends. The only thing that makes him different is that he has done all of this while in a wheelchair. Burcaw was born with a rare neuromuscular disease known as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which hinders his muscles’ ability to grow and repair themselves. Instead of growing bigger and stronger with age, he becomes weaker and smaller. As a result of the disease, Burcaw depends on his friends and family when it comes to completing everyday tasks. Throughout, he shares many humorous and touching stories about growing up and living with his disease. These tales leave nothing to the imagination, including descriptions of how he uses the bathroom or has sexual interactions, and the author occasionally employs some graphic language. Burcaw’s narrative will resonate with readers, who will laugh along with the funny stories, cringe at the awkward moments, and tear up at the emotionally charged parts.–Annalise Ammer, City of Rochester Public Libraries, NY

Campbell, Jeff. Daisy to the Rescue: True Stories of Daring Dogs, Paramedic Parrots, and Other Animal Heroes. illus. by Ramsey Beyer. 320p. Zest. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781936976621.

Gr 6 Up –Well-documented cases of animals rescuing men, women, and children are recounted with precision, organized into four divisions: domestic, trained, wild, and legendary animals. Campbell draws on opinions from professionals and anecdotal evidence, gleaned from ancient to modern times, to understand animal motivations. In an introduction, Campbell discusses whether we can ever know an animal’s motivation and how to verify the accuracy of these accounts. The author’s voice is strongly felt throughout, tinged with sarcasm, pathos, and a touch of belief mixed with skeptcism as to the existence of moral courage in these animals. Tender souls will weep over the family dog who was fatally injured saving his owner from a cougar, leaving his skull cracked and his body macerated. When the jaws of the cougar were prised from the head of the brave dog, he arose for the last time to make sure his beloved boy was safe. Similarly, Campbell describes a guide dog who led his master out of the Twin Towers, through the soot and cinders, later dying due to respiratory injuries. The documentation shines in this presentation.–Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

Fleischman, Paul. Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines. 208p. bibliog. chart. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763671020; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780763675455. LC 2013953458.

Gr 6 Up –Written in a lively style, lavishly illustrated, and timely in its subject matter, this well-researched book is a call to action: now is the time to save our environment. The author describes his technique as getting altitude, or getting above the problem, to see the big picture. Rather than simply offering a list of simple things kids can do to help the environment, he offers more complex solutions for becoming aware of the issues, such as noticing that there is a problem, becoming aware of defense mechanisms preventing people from acting, and learning about systems like capitalism that allow environmental threats to continue. Each chapter, divided into nifty topic-highlighted paragraphs, is filled with historical facts and current events, sidebars, photographs, and definitions of key terms. The presentation of facts and the author’s positive message are what shine here. An excellent and thought-provoking take on a well-worn subject.–Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community College, Mt. Carmel

Freedman, Russell. Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America. 96p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. index. notes. photos. reprods. Holiday House. Oct. 2014. Tr $20. ISBN 9780823429219.

Gr 7 Up –With the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 approaching, this book captures a significant struggle in history, focusing on the two years leading up to President Lyndon Johnson signing the act into law. Freedman gives readers the necessary context they need to understand the Civil Rights Movement and the importance of Selma, Alabama. Through short chapters, skilled, fluid writing, powerful photographs, and firsthand accounts of the clash between black and white Americans, Freedman has crafted an account of a crucial time in history. This well-organized work is ideal for research projects. Like Ann Bausum’s Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement (National Geographic, 2013), this is a strong, engaging look at the subject. A first choice for libraries looking for titles on the Civil Rights Movement.–Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX

REthinkingHill, Katie Rain with Ariel Schrag. Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition. 272p. further reading. notes. websites. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481418232; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481418256. LC 2014013051.

Gr 8 Up –Like most transgender children, Katie, who was born and raised as a boy named Luke, was aware of her difference early on, though it was years before she found the word to describe herself. Other family problems made it easy for her to withdraw into a serious depression without being noticed. When Katie finally came across the word “transgender” and read descriptions of what it meant, she risked everything and reached out to her mother, who was supportive and relieved to understand her child better. She promised to help Katie make the transition to her internally identified gender of female, if Katie promised not to kill herself. The book opens with Katie starting college. Having chosen to be an out and open transgender activist while still in high school, she decided to “go stealth” at college, a term used to describe transgender people who prefer not to be identified as such. The writing style is open and straightforward. This is a worthwhile addition, given how few transgender memoirs there are for teens.–Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library

Kaye, Megan. Do You Know Who You Are? 192p. chart. illus. DK. Aug. 2014. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781465416490.

Gr 6-9 –Teens, especially girls, will find this interactive book engaging and will enjoy reading it on their own or with a group of friends. With journal activities, quotes, and more than 60 quizzes, the book can be read cover to cover or browsed. Readers will feel as though they’re diving into a diverting combination of teen magazines and online activities. The quizzes cover a variety of topics—the zodiac, personality traits, leadership style—and are presented with illustrations, tables, and check lists. The authors invite readers to write or draw on different pages, which limits its use as a library item. Despite this drawback, this is an amusing read that should provide teens with hours of fun.–Denise Moore, O’Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD

To This DayKoyczan, Shane. To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful. illus. by Glenda Tse, et al. 72p. further reading. websites. Annick. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554516391.

Gr 6 Up –Bullying is sensitively handled in this long-form poem that originated as a spoken word poem performed by the author. Here, Koyczan uses personal anecdotes and borrows from the experiences of others to create a moving piece about the effects of bullying. The metaphors are very vibrant and relatable. This work will help young people facing similar situations. The triumphant ending lets readers know that overcoming the hatred of others is possible. The epilogue contains reactions from witnesses and victims of bullying and statistics about its far-reaching effects. Also included is a helpful list of resources for all types of bullying victims. The brightly colored, full-page illustrations by different artists stand out and can overshadow the text at times. The poem flows nicely, and is an excellent choice to read aloud. Purchase where resources about bullying for struggling preteen and teen readers are needed.–Morgan Brickey, Marion County Public Library System, FL

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd. When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival. illus. by David Perkins. 128p. further reading. index. notes. Annick. Sept. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781554516834; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516827.

Gr 4-8 –Survival stories are hot, and these true—and astonishing—tales should have no trouble finding an eager audience. A variety of survivors are described here: Juliane Koepcke, who fell from an airplane into the South American rainforest; Jimmy Sanchez, who was trapped in a Chilean mine; and Kathy Ledtke, who found herself aboard the ill-fated Costa Concordia, among others. The fast-paced writing and intriguing topic will easily attract readers. Overall, this is a thrilling, well-sourced book, ideal for research or for browsing.–Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

Lewis, J. Patrick & George Ella Lyon. Voices from the March on Washington. 128p. bibliog. further reading. index. websites. Boyds Mills/Wordsong. Oct. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781620917855.

Gr 5 Up –In this collection of 70 short poems, Lewis and Lyon introduce the 1963 March on Washington through the perspectives of those who took part. The participants, young and old, come from all over (a group of students from Spelman College, an Iowan farm girl, an unemployed college graduate, and a six-year-old riding atop her father’s shoulders), and they express a variety of feelings: wide-eyed optimism, frustration, cynicism, and apprehension. The book contains plenty of detail and references to actual people, including the organizers (A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin), the speakers, and singers Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, and Joan Baez. Many Southern marchers, accustomed to Jim Crow laws, drink alongside whites at public water fountains for the first time. The poems keep the action moving forward, as the marchers arrive, assemble, and are inspired by the significance of the peaceful demonstration. This well-crafted introduction to the Civil Rights era deserves a wide audience, as these poems, with their plain-spoken.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

SLJ1408-BK-NFic5up_MacyMacy, Sue. Sally Ride: Life on a Mission. 160p. (A Real-Life Story). bibliog. chron. diag. further reading. index. notes. photos. websites. S. & S./Aladdin. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442488540; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442488564.

Gr 5-8 –Macy’s comprehensive, admiring biography offers detail and perspective about Ride’s groundbreaking career and contributions. Her coverage of Ride’s childhood and education and pioneering career at NASA is similar to that found in dated titles such as Sally Ride: A Space Biography by Barbara Kramer (Enslow, 1998). Macy relates how Ride’s educational and sports accomplishments, hard work, and ambition and self-confidence allowed her to become an astronaut and a role model for countless girls. The strongest part of the book is Macy’s treatment of Ride’s post-astronaut career as an educator and advocate for increased education and opportunities in the sciences, especially for women. The author praises Ride’s refusal to cash in on her post-NASA fame and describes her ceaseless efforts to promote educational and public service projects. She also touches on Ride’s personal life, including the posthumous disclosure of a female life partner, putting into the context of Ride’s lifelong desire to maintain her privacy and let her work and achievements speak for her. The text will help readers put her public achievements and contributions and her quiet personal life into perspective.–Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO

Mangan, Lucy. Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: The Complete Story of Willy Wonka, The Golden Ticket, and Roald Dahl’s Most Famous Creation. 224p. bibliog. filmog. index. photos. reprods. Penguin. Sept. 2014. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9780147513489; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780698163942. LC 2014007560.

Gr 6 Up – In time for the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s classic, this work takes an in-depth look at the origins of the iconic tale of Charlie and his golden ticket. In an almost-scholarly tone, each chapter covers a distinct topic, such as the British author’s inspiration for the beloved title, the book’s impact on popular culture, and comparisons among and the reception of the various film and stage adaptations. Managan’s work explores Dahl’s tragic family history and relationships with the editors and illustrators that helped him bring his iconic story to life. This title will especially strike a chord with fans of Dahl’s work, students of classic children’s literature, and those interested in the early days of modern publishing. The thorough back matter, including archival, full-color photos; extensive bibliography and further reading lists; delightful illustrations and reproductions; and quotations from those intimately connected with the various iterations, make this a stand-out title for creative writing, English, popular culture, film, and kid lit courses. Especially useful for making comparisons across media, this book ensures that Dahl’s legacy will endure as long as an everlasting gobstopper.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Mendoza, Patrick. From Bunker Hill to Baghdad: True Stories of America’s Veterans. 170p. glossary. index. notes. Teacher Ideas Press/Libraries Unlimited. 2014. pap. $40. ISBN 9781598844665; ebk. ISBN 9781598844672.

Gr 9 Up –In this noteworthy collection of 20 stories about veterans from various wars, author and storyteller Mendoza (who died in 2012) relates the courageous and inspiring accomplishments of individuals—mainly ordinary citizens—who heeded the call of duty to serve their country. Arranged in chronological order by war, starting with the American Revolution and ending with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these highly readable and informative stories expose the ugliness of war and highlight military tactics, but mainly pay tribute to the supreme valor and sacrifices of various veterans. Mendoza has given war a human face. A Vietnam War veteran, he illustrates how individual actions can impact history. A strong and unique take on the subject.–Jeanette Lambert, Nashville-Davidson County Schools, TN

Peters, Marilee. Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics. 168p. further reading. glossary. illus. index. notes. Annick. Sept. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781554516711; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516704.

Gr 5-8 –Seven epidemics are fully explained here, starting with the Black Plague and ending with AIDS. The author gives each disease a human touch by introducing a perceived “ground zero” person who might have been responsible for spreading each disease. For example, New York City’s Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, cuts quite a tragic figure. In part because of lax government supervision, she ended up dying while under forced quarantine. The book reads like thriller, with gripping accounts of how these diseases affected people. A sense of drama permeates this volume: there are mysteries to be solved here, and the fate of the world depends on the answers. Cartoon illustrations interspersed throughout break up the text, and several pages feature an arresting red background. Extensive source notes make this a fine source for report writers and any young epidemiology enthusiasts.–Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

Prince, Liz. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir. illus. by Liz Prince. 256p. Zest. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781936976553.

Gr 9 Up –Prince knew from an early age that she was not a typical girl. The only pictures of her in a dress were from when she was a baby and could not protest. She hates dresses and all things “girly.” Fortunately, she had supportive parents who did not force her into traditional gender roles and who let her wear the kinds of clothing she wanted. Most of Prince’s friends were boys, and her fantasies and playtime were devoted to being a hero, not a princess. Her wardrobe choices made her the target of ridicule and bullying in Boston and in Santa Fe, where her family moved when she was in early elementary school. In their first neighborhood, most of her friends were boys, but she found some girlfriends after the family moved. It was the first time she found girls with similar interests in comics and Ghostbusters, and it was also when she realized that she did not want to be a boy but, rather, wanted the freedom that came with being one. Meeting a good friend of her mother’s, who encouraged her talent and interest in comics, and transferring to a very small, highly experimental high school helped her become comfortable with her choice as a tomboy. Purchase where graphic novel memoirs are in demand.–Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL

SLJ1408-BK-NFic5up_ReefReef, Catherine. Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life. 176p. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Clarion. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780547821849. LC 2013021340.

Gr 7 Up –The lives of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were marked by exceptional artistic talent, political fervor, and an all-consuming passion for each other that even outlasted their two marriages. Private and professional heartbreak and an idiosyncratic outlook on life and the world influenced the pair’s intensely personal paintings. Readers will learn much about the artists in this dual biography, including information on their numerous love affairs. Still, every relationship clarified for the couple that they couldn’t really exist or produce art without the other. Superb examples of Rivera’s and Kahlo’s paintings are reproduced in glorious full color, replete with rich Mexican-folkloric and earth tones, and the work is filled with excellently reproduced contemporary photos that place events in historical and personal context. Striking use of color elsewhere, as on chapter-opening and back-matter pages, also figure into the handsome design. A well-rounded treatment of two giants of 20th-century art, this volume tracks the separate and combined trajectories of its subjects’ lives and careers and allows for comparisons and contrasts.–Carol Goldman, Queens Library, NY

Scandiffio, Laura. Outlaws, Spies, and Gangsters: Chasing Notorious Criminals. illus. by Gareth Williams. 148p. bibliog. index. Annick. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781554516216; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516209.

Gr 4-8 –This entertaining collective biography focuses on the ever-popular subject of lawbreakers. The book begins with a profile of the Mad Trapper in the early 1930s, touching on the early uses of the two-way radio, and closes with the high profile manhunt of Osama bin Laden, when President Obama could watch the mission as it unfolded via a video feed. In between, Scandiffo provides an account of the capture of other infamous lawbreakers, focusing on different methods, such as undercover spying (which resulted in the arrest of Aldrich Ames) and the uses of collaboration between various countries and their citizens to catch international criminals, such as Manual Noriega and Adolf Himmler. In the case of the international criminals, the author briefly acknowledges that the country’s methods of capture may be controversial. The book is engagingly written, with a minimum of sidebar references, which works well for the fictionlike narrative style. It would be a welcome addition, especially in collections where high-interest, collective biographies are in demand.–Patricia Feriano, Our Lady of Mercy School, Potomac, MD

Jane AustenTodd, Janet. Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels. 112p. illus. index. reprods. Sterling/Andre Deutsch. 2014. Tr $39.95. ISBN 9780233003702.

Gr 6 Up –This book for the avid Austen fan presents information on the author’s work in the context of her own life. The book examines the relationships between Austen’s personal experiences and her profession, covering the author’s early life and works and the places and people that influenced her. Chapters include “Loves,” “The Professional Author” (where readers will find information on Austen’s fellow women writers), and “War and Peace” (a look at the influence of ongoing British wars). There are also sections on specific examples of Austen’s writings interspersed throughout. Fold-out envelopes contain copies of original documents, including Austen’s own writings, maps, and other ephemera. Each section is enhanced by drawings, paintings, and photos, some done by Austen’s own family, that illuminate significant aspects of her life. The references to movies based on Austen’s writing add to the fan appeal. A lovely title that will please readers who love her books.–Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT

The original reviews of the above works appeared in SLJ’s August print magazine.

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Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz ( is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.