Every teen should read this book.
A superb anthology of stories and poems by diverse authors that touches upon issues like terrorism, OCD, depression, loss, cultural appropriation and simply trying to survive being a teen in the modern world.
"Marionette Girl" dives deep into the suffocating bubble that teens with severe OCD experience on a daily basis. It looks at how people without OCD can often brush it aside as "acting up" or "taking things too far" when in reality it's an all encompassing nightmare.
"We, Who?" is a brilliant peek at having someone you consider a good friend suddenly post racist garbage on their Facebook page. It's startling, blunt and very real. How do you cope when you realise you don't really know someone at all?
"Hackney Moon" examines teens finding out who they really are, the pressures to conform and how it feels to experience real love for the first time.
There are many more stories, each like a jolt of electricity to the spine. We need more books like this, more of these stories for teens to connect with. I'm going to champion this book for a long time in the library.
Ever wonder what your toys get up to when you go to sleep? Take that premise and blur the lines between reality and hazy dream world and you'll get the Land of Neverendings.
When Emily's sister Holly dies, Emily is struck by the little things that she misses, particularly Holly's toy bear, Bluey.
Emily would spend countless hours making up stories about Bluey and his adventures in the magical world of Smockeroom to make Holly happy.
Now, it's all gone, as is the magic that Holly seemed to bring with her.
Emily's only companion is her neighbour Ruth, who lost her son when he was a teenager. Together they share the grief that only those who have lost a close family member can understand.
Then, one night, Emily experiences a vivid dream in which toys visit her in the night and tell her that not only is Smockeroom real, that Bluey is there and happy. Initially, Emily shakes it off as a simple but weird dream. But when Ruth confesses to her that she's been having the same kind of dreams, things start to get really weird.
Emily & Ruth are soon thrust into a world of magic and make-believe, adventure and danger. The Land of Neverendings reads like something you catch out of the corner of your eye when you're young and sick in bed with a high fever. I mean that as a compliment, it's dreamy, odd and sad yet Emily is a feisty character that any young teen will look up to. Highly recommend this great novel!
The future sound of London is an air raid siren.
Lex lives on The Strip. No not the area of Las Vegas which according to everyone who goes there "has been ruined since the mob left".
The Strip is what's left of London after a series of brutal wars between the government and an organisation known as The Corps.
To the government, The Corps are terrorists, plain and simple. To those in The Corps, the government's 24-hour drone surveillance, lies and disorder has left them no choice but to fight back.
Lex's father is a member of The Corps, and therefore a target. Their family does their best to survive in an anxious, bombed-out reality.
Lex wants to do something meaningful with his life, but he doesn't know what that means yet.
Alan is climbing the government ladder, he controls a surveillance drone and watches Lex's father for any suspicious activity. Alan lives with his mother, who disapproves of his career choice. Alan's plan is to make enough money to move out and never see his mother again.
Although Lex and Alan never meet in person, their lives are tied together through government policy and fear and the horrible nightmare that is everyday life in The Strip.
We See Everything is a tight thriller that is all-too real given the current climate in the United States and around the world. It's a book about choosing which side you're on when you don't really want to choose a side at all. It's about trying to survive the ignorance of those who hold power in our world and it's about protecting those that are important to you.
I really enjoyed this novel, check it out!
It's the early 1900's in the UK and women still can't vote.
That's the reality that I hope teens take away from this novel right away. It's something I constantly stress in the library when I teach responsible researching skills to students using WWI as a backdrop.
Speaking of research, Nicholls has done hers and in the process created a thrilling and engaging tale about a topic I've never before come across in a YA novel: the plight of the Suffragettes and women's rights in general during World War One in the UK.
Seventeen year old Evelyn comes from a wealthy family but is filled with frustration at the fact that she can't go to university. Women were expected to stay at home and raise families, and although she could apply to go to Oxford, her father forbids it. Evelyn decides to join the Suffragettes and is immediately plunged into a dangerous and exciting world filled with police brutality, hunger strikes, protests and serious jail time.
Fifteen year old May comes from a Quaker background, already part of the Suffragette cause, she rallies against violent protests that some parts of the movement get involved in. When May meets Nell, a girl who has known nothing but hardship her entire life, something awakens in May that she never knew was there before.
Nell has always known she was different, she dressed, looked and acted unlike any of the other girls she grew up with. Her life is taking care of her siblings in their tiny flat in London. Starvation and extreme poverty is always on the horizon. With May, Nell finds a temporary release from the misery.
Set against real-life events that changed the lives of women everywhere, Things a Bright Girl Can Do will anger you, bring you to tears and enlighten you to the extreme hardship brought to the UK because of the foolhardy decision to engage in a ridiculous war that nobody won.
Nicholls also brings to life the effects of PTSD on soldiers that returned home and the pain, confusion and frustration felt by those left at home to pick up the pieces.
I can't wait to talk about this book to teens at the library, it's an important topic that has been handled with grace, wit and a razor sharp insight into history.
Lucy Hannsson life is falling apart.
Her mother's cancer reappears, forcing her to question her faith and her relationship with her long-time boyfriend.
Usually, Lucy works at the Christian children's camp every summer. Her dad is a pastor and Lucy has been heavily involved in the church ever since she was born.
However, at the insistence of her mother, Lucy takes a job at the summer camp a mile away called Daybreak.
Daybreak is a camp for children who have had hard times in their lives. While there, Lucy's eyes are opened to the brutal reality of some people's existence.
At first terrified, Lucy starts to get to know her co-workers, who are open and frank and real and everything that Lucy isn't.
It isn't long before Lucy falls in love with Daybreak, the children there and her newfound friends.
However, Daybreak holds secrets that will directly affect Lucy's relationship with her family and her faith.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book,, Lord has created a realistic summer camp atmosphere (having spent time in some in Canada myself) and the situations and experiences fly off the page as genuine. I was interested in Lucy's in and out relationship with her faith as it is not something that is often tackled in YA fiction in my opinion. The writing is sweet yet realistic and frank at times.
I know the teens at my library will really eat this one up as they will be fascinated with the summer camp setting and the twist at the end, great stuff!
The Call is my worst nightmare.
In a good way.
I devoured this novel in a few hours while waiting for a plane. I loved it.
It's a world where the adolescences of Ireland can be "Called" at any moment by the Sídhe, a race of fairies that live in a parallel universe that resides "underground."
The Sídhe aren't your run of the mill fairies that sprinkle dust around and attend tiny balls and sit on toadstools all day.
They are truly terrifying monsters, and when they "Call" a youth to their land, they rarely let them live. in fact, they ensure that they are hideously tortured and maimed. When a child is "Called", they simply vanish from thin air, leaving nothing but their clothes behind. They stay away for three minutes and four seconds, but in Sídhe it's much, much longer.
The land of the Sídhe is Dante's Inferno combined with something from Joe Hill's Locke & Key series. Twisted, depraved and sadistic, the Sídhe love to torture anyone they "Call". The creatures that don't adhere to the Sídhe's rule are usually ravenous and simply want to eat the children.
Those that survive the Sídhe are never the same, they are either disfigured or suffering from PTSD so severe they can't properly function.
Luckily, Ness and her classmates have been training for years, gleaning any information they can from the survivors so they can endure a "Call" and outlive the Sídhe's hideous land.
The Call is a pedal to the metal gore-fest that pits students against each other as they try to train rigidly enough to survive a horrible ordeal. All of them know that at any moment they can be "Called" and that they most likely won't survive. The anxiety and fear the students face are palpable in this novel and the horrors the Sídhe dish out are truly disturbing.
With a large group of students who love horror, I know that The Call is going to be one of our most popular books in the coming year!
While driving home one evening with his parents, Kofi sees something on a roundabout. It's dark and furry and rolled up in a ball.
He thinks it might be a hurt animal, although his gut tells him it's not, and he's right.
At first, Kofi thinks it's an alien, but after he speaks and introduces itself as Rorty Thrutch, Kofi isn't so sure.
As Kofi gets to know Rorty, he realises that Rorty possess extraordinary powers, like copying things with his mind and making them appear out of thin air.
Since Rorty can copy things, he can also delete them. After Kofi takes Rorty in, it becomes clear that dangerous people are hunting him. Kofi and his friends must devise a plan to keep Rorty hidden and uncover where exactly he's from before it's too late.
I enjoyed this novel, I thought the description of the bullying and back and forth between Kofi and the other school children was genuine. I know the school children I work with will really enjoy the adventure and friendship elements of the Starman and Me. If you're looking for a book with a lot of heart with children outwitting the adults, this is for you!
Four children, Fred, Con, Lila & her little brother Max are on a small plane back to England when it crashes in the Amazon.
The plane is destroyed and the pilot is dead. Frantic, afraid, starving and exhausted, the four children must work together in order to survive their ordeal.
As they progress through the jungle, they realise they have almost no idea what to do and death seems like a very likely possibility.
Then the children discover objects in the jungle that they didn't expect: a used sardine tin, a penknife and a map.
This gives them hope, and when you're lost in a place like the Amazon, hope is worth its weight in gold.
Upon discovering the Amazon river, they decide to build a raft and try to steer downstream. It's here that they discover a secret that will change everything.
I loved this book, the characters are deep and full of life. Fred, obsessed with heroic tales of explorers of old, feels the weight of the world on his shoulders as he tries to work out the best possible route. Con is fiery and brilliant and works together (and sometimes against) Fred as she learns to survive in the jungle's harsh climate. Lila's goal is to take care of young Max, who is far too young to be faced with such an ordeal. Lila becomes one of my favourite characters as her confidence and insight grows throughout the novel.
The Explorers is like the Goonies in the jungle, it's Heart of Darkness with children looking for Colonel Kurtz to save them from the world. It's Stand By Me on a river, it's all of those things and a lot more. It's also a story about what's important in life and how you will look back at your time on earth when, as Yeats put it, "you are old and gray and full of sleep."
If you enjoy stories with real heart, that are about characters that you want to hang out with for a long, long time, check out The Explorer!
To say Chipper is a smart dog is like saying the internet had a small impact on society.
Chipper is a product of a top-secret and nefarious program developed by a shady organisation known only as The Institute.
The Institute implants chips and programs into dogs to turn them into super-spies. Imagine Lassie working for the Inner Party and you get the idea.
The problem is despite all of the efforts on the part of the Institute, Chipper is still too independent and portrays too much of a "regular" dog personality.
Therefore they make the decision to put Chipper down and cut their losses.
Chipper has other ideas. Using his newfound super-smarts, he breaks free from the Institute and runs away.
Meanwhile. Jeff Conroy is working for his taskmaster aunt at her lakeside business where she rents cabins to weekend fisherman and people just trying to forget the daily grind for a while. Jeff's parents were killed in a tragic plane crash and even though she doesn't appear to possess one ounce of parent skills, Jeff's aunt took him in anyway and put him to work at the camp site.
Little does Jeff know that his life is about to be thrust into warp-speed when he and Chipper meet and find themselves on the run from the Institute's hired guns.
This fast-paced thriller is going to be a huge hit with our reluctant readers at the high school library I work at. It has non-stop action, memorable characters and a huge twist that will have teens crawling for the sequel. Loved it!
This book is like a slug to the guts that stays with you for days.
I finished it in one sitting and it's still there, gnawing away at the back of my brain.
Jo is on his way to see his brother Ed, whom he hasn't seen for ten years.
Jo's got a good reason to finally see his brother. Ed is on death row for murdering a policeman. Ed swears he didn't do it, Jo just wants to finally see Ed and try to get some answers.
Jo and Ed's life was a rough one, their dad died when Jo was three, their mom is a drunk that's incapable of raising them. Even worse, she seems uninterested in raising them when she isn't drunk.
Together with their sister Angela, they are raised by their Aunt Karen, a Bible thumper with strict rules but not enough time or energy to punch in to raise three poor kids from the wrong side of town.
While Ed is visiting Jo, he becomes a regular at a greasy spoon where he meets Nell. Jo finds some solace in Nell, but as the clock ticks on Ed's sentence, Jo isn't sure he can face reality on his own.
Told in short, poetic burst like pumping heartbeats, Moonrise rages against a the fetid swamp that is the American justice system, specifically the death penalty. It's a story about forgiveness, hope, letting go and moving on. It will scoop out your guts, it will make you cry, it will compel you to put it into the hands of anyone who loves books because if they don't love it they have a burnt wasps nest for a heart.