February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Highly Anticipated Titles from Printz-Winning Authors | Fiction Grades 9 & Up

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



redstarArnett, Mindee. Polaris. 432p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062235626; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062235640.

Gr 9 Up –Picking up where Avalon (HarperCollins, 2014) left off, this novel has Jeth Seagrave, along with his newly discovered sister and his crew, the Malleus Shades—a bunch of teen outlaws working jobs for an intergalactic crime lord—on the run from the ITA, who are still holding his scientist mother captive. Long-thought dead, she had been imprisoned for years by the galactic organization because she and her unborn child were radically changed by their time in deep space, gaining the ability to manipulate time and space mentally. Jeth’s otherworldly sister Cora holds the key to restoring the failed Metadrives that hold the Confederation together. In order to reunite his family, and ensure their continued freedom, Jeth must rely on his crew and enter into an extremely dangerous partnership with the galaxy’s newest crime lord, as he takes the fight to the heart of the ITA itself. While Arnett’s previous volume in the series bore some similarity to Joss Whedon’s TV show, Firefly, her extremely exciting follow-up finds its own voice and spirit. With its high-octane plot, multidimensional characters, witty banter, and lots of heart, Polaris will appeal to fans of science fiction and action/adventure alike.–Ryan F. Paulsen, New Rochelle High School, NY

redstarBrooks, Kevin. The Bunker Diary. 264p. ebook available. Carolrhoda Lab. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467754200.
Gr 10 Up–Linus is a 16-year-old runaway living on the harsh English streets who wakes up one day in an unfamiliar underground bunker with no water or food while under constant surveillance by an unknown kidnapper. As each day passes, more people are kidnapped and are subjected to the same brutal conditions. When Linus and the rest try to escape and find out more about their situation and their kidnapper, they realize that, with their options dwindling, they may have to resort to the ultimate horror to survive. Brooks’s controversial Carnegie Medal-winner is truly a psychologically disturbing book that will leave readers with a deep sense of unease. Linus’s first-person narrative will make teens ask themselves what they would do in his situation. It’s not a title for everyone: some may be unsettled by the harsh realities the protagonist faces, while others will be fascinated by the simple complexity of Brooks’s prose and truly effective storytelling. A unique choice that will get teens talking.–Christopher Lassen, Brooklyn Public Library

redstarGardner, Scot. The Dead I Know. 208p. ebook available. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544232747. LC 2013050162.

Gr 9 Up– Aaron has trouble connecting with people. He suffers from recurring nightmares—horrific memories of a dead woman—that have been locked away, and most nights he sleepwalks away from his home and into a caravan park where the majority of residents are drug addicts. When the teen gets a funeral director apprenticeship with Mr. Barton, it is not the dead bodies that make him nervous, but Mr. Barton’s family and the grieving mourners instead. As his dreams become more intense and his Mam’s undiagnosed dementia becomes increasingly dangerous, Aaron must learn how to rely on the living if he wants to save his grandmother and himself. First published in Australia, this is a dark, psychological coming-of-age drama with memorable characters and believable dialogue. Gardner continuously keeps readers emotionally invested in the protagonist. Despite the heavy topics explored in the novel, including Aaron’s realization that his recurring dreams are actually repressed memories of a horrible event, and Aaron being the sole caretaker of his sick grandmother, Gardner writes with sensitivity and in a way that is accessible to teens. With humorous interactions and their unwavering belief that Aaron is worthwhile, Mr. Barton and his daughter, Skye, help him appreciate life in the midst of death and tragedy. A darkly funny book with a male coming-of-age story similar in theme and tone to My Life and Death (Peachtree, 2002) by Susan O’Keefe.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

redstarLake, Nick. There Will Be Lies. 400p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619634404.

Gr 9 Up –“I have no words to describe how I am feeling—it’s like grief, maybe, but grief for myself. I was living my life, and then something came along and killed me, erased me.” Seventeen-year-old Shelby Jane Cooper’s world begins to come apart after she is hit by a car in Scottsdale, AZ. Her overprotective mother takes them on the run, and a coyote (who used to be a boy) begins to bring her into the Dreaming, a magical place where Shelby is no longer deaf and the animal inhabitants believe she can save them from an evil witch. What’s real, this world or the Dreaming? What are the “two lies” that Coyote warns Shelby about? What is the one truth? Lake’s new novel is perplexing and disorienting, full of the rich language and heady epiphanies readers have come to expect from the Printz-award winning author of In Darkness (Bloomsbury, 2012). The plot draws on Native American mythology and the haunting vastness of the Southwest landscape. The battles between elks and wolves, narrow escapes from authorities, and the looming mystery (Who is Shelby?) will make teens want to tear through the pages. Encourage them to temper this impulse lest they miss a single one of Shelby’s heartrending revelations that happen on her journey to save the Dreaming and herself.–Chelsey Philpot, Boston University

redstarLarbalestier, Justine. Razorhurst. 280p. Soho Teen. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616955441; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781616955458.

Gr 9 Up –Larbalestier’s latest features gritty historical fiction with a paranormal twist. The grim tale takes place in 1932 in a fictionalized version of Surry Hills neighborhood of Sydney, Australia. The neighborhood is dominated by two rival gangs, but because guns are illegal, violence is done using razor blades and gruesome scars are a common sight. The novel takes place over the course of one day and tells the story of two very different young women: Kelpie, a feral child raised by ghosts, and Dympha, a prostitute with a violent past who seems older than her years. Razorhurst introduces a historical period with which many North American readers may not be familiar. Though some of the events and character backstories border on improbable, the short chapters and multiple viewpoints keep things interesting. The ghosts are mostly peripheral to the story, though their presence emphasizes the bloody nature of the time period and provides occasional humor.–Eliza Langhans, Hatfield Public Library, MA

redstarLord, Emery. The Start of Me and You. 336p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633599. LC 2014014376.

Gr 7 Up –Aspiring screenwriter Paige Hancock is determined to redefine herself one year after her boyfriend, Aaron, drowned. Paige creates a checklist of tasks that she intends to accomplish during her junior year to finally shake off the label of “the girl whose boyfriend drowned” in small-town Oakhurst, Indiana. With the support of a solid core of best friends, Paige succeeds in her “plan to become normal again.” The crew also helps her recover from the devastating loss of her beloved and supportive grandmother and to cope with her divorced parents dating each other. She also finds a budding romance in an unexpected place—with Max Watson, nerdy cousin of heartthrob Ryan Chase. The positive and healthy relationships in the novel—between Paige and her friends, Paige and her parents, and Paige and Max—provide subtle modeling for young adults, while still remaining believable and not coming off as preachy. In sharp contrast to darker, more issue-driven YA books, this title keeps truer to the problems that most teens face. The protagonist’s upbeat attitude will inspire readers to persevere even during the low points in life.–Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT

redstarNiven, Jennifer. All The Bright Places. 400p. Knopf. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385755887; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780385755894; ebk. ISBN 9780385755900. LC 2014002238.

Gr 10 Up –Violet Markey is on the ledge of her school’s bell tower, six stories up, and frozen in terror. Theodore Finch, the Freak, stands on the ledge nearby. Before she can panic, he calms her down and gets her back on solid ground. He even lets everyone think she’s the one who talked him out of jumping. Violet, until recently, was a popular cheerleader and Finch has a well-earned reputation for being manic, violent, and unpredictable. But Finch won’t let their encounter rest. He’s suddenly everywhere Violet goes and even signs her up as his partner on a “Wander the State” school project. As the two drive around Indiana, Violet begins to see the lame tourist attractions through Finch’s eyes, and each spot becomes something unique and special. He pushes and challenges the protagonist, and seems to understand the effect her sister’s death made on her. But though Violet begins to recover from the devastating grief that has cocooned her for almost a year, Finch’s demons refuse to let go. The writing in this heartrending novel is fluid, despite the difficult topics, as Niven relays the complex thought processes of the two teens. Finch and Violet, with their emotional turmoil and insecurities, will ring true to teens. Finch in particular will linger in readers’ minds long after the last page is turned. Give this to fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park (St. Martin’s Pr., 2013), John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012), or Jennifer Hubbard’s The Secret Year (Viking, 2010).–Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL

redstarSedgwick, Marcus. The Ghosts of Heaven. 256p. Roaring Brook. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626721258; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781626721265.

Gr 7 Up –Like his Printz Award-winning Midwinterblood (Roaring Brook, 2013), the prolific Sedgwick’s latest work consists of individual tales spanning centuries of time connected only by a single thread—in this case a shape; the spiral. From a mark scribbled in the dust by a girl of prehistoric times to the strands of the rope used to hang a medieval girl accused of witchcraft; from a poet plagued by madness who finds the spiral with its never-ending pattern horrifying to the one person left awake to watch over a ship full of sleepers in a state of suspended animation as they spiral through the universe looking for a new earth, each story carries a message of loss and discovery. Tying all four stories together is this one mysterious symbol, which can be found throughout nature in the shells of snails, the patterns of birds in flight, the seeds in a sunflower, and the strands of the double helix of DNA and comes to signify in these tales, a dance of death (and life). At once prosaic and wondrously metaphysical, Sedgwick’s novel will draw teens in and invite them to share in the awe-inspiring (and sometimes terrifying) order and mystery that surround us all.–Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

redstarShabazz, Ilyasah with Kekla Magoon. X: A Novel. 384p. bibliog. chart. chron. ebook available. Candlewick. Jan. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763669676.

Gr 8 Up –Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little. The story opens with his departure from Michigan as a teen, though there are flashbacks to his younger years. It follows Malcolm through his time in Boston and Harlem, culminating with his conversion to Islam and his decision to change his name while in prison in 1948. The story does contain some gritty situations, most notably the use of the “n” word, non-graphic sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior. This was the reality of Malcolm X’s early life, and make the later scenes that more authentic. While the novel stops prior to his rise as a civil rights leader, the excellent back matter provides historical context, bibliography, time line, family tree, and a note from the author (who is also the third of Malcolm X’s five daughters). This is an eye-opening look at an important historical figure. The author’s honesty about his early troubles serves to convey that it is possible to rise through adversity to make a positive difference in this world. A worthwhile addition to any collection.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

redstarWagner, Laura Rose. Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go. 272p. Abrams/Amulet. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419712043.
Gr 9 Up–When a natural disaster strikes, what happens after the telethons, after the donations, and after the media attention has disappeared? This powerful debut novel follows Magdalie in the two years following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as she grieves for her manman, adapts to life in the tent camps, and tries to find a place and a community that feels like home. Magdalie seeks to live a normal life in an impermanent society where “my memories are out to get me.” People she loves appear and disappear, her home is made of plywood and plastic tarps, she ducks for cover at the slightest sound, and she has no hope of returning to school. She faces the tenuous circumstances with her beloved cousin Nadine, but then must brave them alone after Nadine is granted a U.S. visa. Wagner creates a portrait of post-earthquake Haiti that is a study of contrasts—hopeful and bleak, warm and lonely. Magdalie searches for connections and solutions, but is also afraid of loving anybody when they might disappear at any moment. There have been literary works that highlight the devastation of the earthquake, but Hold Tight Don’t Let Go is unique in that it highlights the two years after—what international aid really looks like, how temporary situations become permanent, and the how profound losses affect those who are left. Wagner also effectively highlights the nuances of urban poverty and rural poverty. The book ends with a sweet, optimistic epilogue that provides happy endings, but detracts from the power of the novel.  Wagner provides a helpful glossary and brief history of Haiti. A worthy companion to author Nick Lake’s In Darkness (Bloomsbury, 2012).–Susannah Goldstein, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

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


Abrams, Amir. Caught Up. 336p. ebook available. Dafina/Kensington. Dec. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780758294784.

Amato, Mary. Get Happy. 256p. Egmont USA. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781606845226; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9781606845233.

Arnold, Elana. Infandous. 200p. ebook available. Carolrhoda Lab. Feb. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781467738491. LC 2014008998.

Bell, Cathleen Davitt. I Remember You. 320p. Knopf. Feb. 2015. lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780385754569; Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385754552; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385754576. LC 2014004789.

Boucher, Sarah E. Becoming Beauty. 256p. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater. 2014. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781462114559.

Bredes, Don. Polly and the One and Only World. 336p. Green Writers. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9780989983891; ebk. ISBN 9780996087247.

Brennan, Sarah Rees. Unmade. 384p. (Lynburn Legacy: Bk. 3). Random. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375870439; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375970436; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780375979965.

Conway, Celeste. Unlovely. 256p. ebook available. Adams Media/Merit. Dec. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440582790.

Cousins, Dave. Waiting for Gonzo. 288p. Flux. Jan. 2015. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780738741994.

de la Cruz, Melissa & Michael Johnston. Stolen. 304p. (Heart of Dread: Bk. 2). ebook available. Putnam. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399257551.

Demetrios, Heather. I’ll Meet You There. 400p. ebook available. Holt. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805097955.

DeStefano, Lauren. Burning Kingdoms. 320p. (The Internment Chronicles: Bk. 2). ebook available. S. & S. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442480643. LC 2013041618.

Devine, Eric. Press Play. 368p. Running Pr. Teen. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780762455126; ebk. ISBN 9780762455539. LC 2014937889.

Doyle, Catherine. Vendetta. 352p. Scholastic/Chicken House. Feb. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545699822; ebk. ISBN 9780545699839. LC 2014020255.

Ellison, Danielle. Follow Me Through Darkness. 368p. (Boundless Trilogy: Bk. 1). Spencer Hill. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781939392145; ebk. ISBN 9781939392688.

Furniss, Clare. The Year of the Rat. 304p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481420990; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481421010. LC 2014025392.

Hall, Maggie. The Conspiracy of Us. 336p. ebook available. Putnam. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399166501. LC 2014015540.

Harris, Rachel. The Fine Art of Pretending. 256p. Spencer Hill. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781939392282; ebk. ISBN 9781939392275.

Harrison, Cora. Debutantes. Bk. 1. ISBN 9781447205944.

––––. Debutantes in Love. Bk. 2. ISBN 9781447205951.

ea vol: 320p. (Debutantes). Pan Macmillan. Dec. 2014. pap. $9.99.

Hensley, Joy N. Rites of Passage. 416p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062295194.

Jones, P.T. Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly. 272p. ChiTeen. 2014. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781771481731.

Jordan, Sophie. Unleashed. 368p. (The Uninvited: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062233714; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062233684.

Kahler, A.R. Martyr. 384p. Spencer Hill. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781939392787; ebk. ISBN 9781939392794.

Kaymer, Lin. Who Is Mackie Spence? 240p. ebook available. Adams Media/Merit. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440584602.

Kern, Peggy. Little Peach. 208p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062266958.

Kurti, Richard. Monkey Wars. 416p. ebook available. Delacorte. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744416.

Landers, Melissa. Alienated. 352p. Bk. 1. 2014. Tr. $16.99. ISBN 9781423170280. LC 2013032977.

––––. Invaded. 368p. Bk. 2. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9781423169499.

ea vol: (Alienated). ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Feb. 2015.

Langston, Elizabeth. I Wish. 328p. Spencer Hill. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781939392237; ebk. ISBN 9781939392244.

Lee, Stacey. Under a Painted Sky. 384p. ebook available. Putnam. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399168031. LC 2014015976.

Littman, Sarah Darer. Backlash. 336p. Scholastic. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545651264; ebk. ISBN 9780545651271.

Liu, Liana. The Memory Key. 368p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062306647; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062306661.

McGann, Oisin. Rat Runners. 319p. Open Road. Jan. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781497665804; ebk. ISBN 9781497665729.

McStay, Moriah. Everything That Makes You. 352p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062295484.

Matthews, Owen. How to Win at High School. 528p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062336866.

Meadows, Jodi. The Orphan Queen. 400p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062317384; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062317407.

Meehan, Gary. True Fire. 416p. Quercus. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781623658311; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781623658328.

Metcalfe, Stephen. The Tragic Age. 320p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Mar. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250054418; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466857353.

Mills, Wendy. Positively Beautiful. 368p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633414.

Moskowitz, Hannah. Not Otherwise Specified. 304p. ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481405966; pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781481405959.

Oseman, Alice. Solitaire. 368p. HarperCollins/ HarperTeen. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062335685; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062335708.

Reedy, Trent. Burning Nation. 432p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545548731; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545548762.

Rich, Juliann. Searching for Grace. 264p. Bold Strokes. 2014. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781626391963.

Rock, Maya. Scripted. 336p. ebook available. Putnam. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399257339. LC 2014015073.

Rodriguez, Cindy L. When Reason Breaks. 304p. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619634121. LC 2014009109.

Ruby, Laura. Bone Gap. 368p. HarperCollins/ Balzer & Bray. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062317605; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062317636.

Saeed, Aisha. Written in the Stars. 304p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399171703.

Schrock, Marissa. The First Principle. 240p. Kregel. Jan. 2015. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9780825443572.

Seigel, Andrea & Brent Bradshaw. Everybody Knows Your Name. 352p. Viking. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670015627; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101631621.

Simmons, Kristen. The Glass Arrow. 336p. Tor Teen. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765336613; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466828780.

Stokes, Paula. Liars, Inc. 368p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062323286; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062238450.

Thomas, Rhiannon. A Wicked Thing. 352p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062303530.

Watson, Renée. This Side of Home. 304p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781599906683.

Weil, Cynthia. I’m Glad I Did. 272p. Soho Teen. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616953560; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781616953577.

Yee, Lisa. The Kidney Hypothetical: or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days. 272p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545230940; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545633994.

Graphic Novels

PEETERS, Benoît. The Leaning Girl. tr. from French by Stephen D. Smith. illus. by François Schuiten. photos. by Marie-Françoise Plissart. 176p. ebook available. Alaxis Pr. 2014. pap. $29.99. ISBN 9781628472271.

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

Diversity and Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA

Do you want to ensure that your library’s collections are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and well-read?

Do you want to become a more culturally literate librarian and a more effective advocate for your community?

We've developed a foundational online course—with live sessions on February 28 & March 14—that will explore key concepts essential to cultivating and promoting inclusive and equitable collections.