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.
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!
Simon is the most hated person in school.
As the creator of a gossip app called "About That," he regularly posts school rumours that often expose people's mistakes or secrets.
When four students find themselves in detention for something they all deny doing, they aren't surprised to find Simon in there with them.
Then, the unthinkable happens, Simon dies in front of them and within minutes they are all suspects. Each student has a reason to want Simon dead.
Each student is holding a secret that might uncover the truth, and the creepiest thing? Simon's "About That" app continues to run after his death. Rumours and gossip continues to spread and as the police and news reporters swarm their lives, the students find themselves pushed to the breaking point.
One of Us is Lying is an addictive novel with classic "whodunit" plot points mixed in with a modern twists. Everyone is a suspect, everyone is lying to some degree. As the students' secrets get exposed, the plot thickens and even they start to second guess those closest to them.
I think the twist in this novel will have students guessing to the very end. We have a large contingency of students in my library that devour mysteries and good ones are hard to come by. One of Us is Lying is one of the good ones, check it out!
After an unspeakable tragedy, Alice is left with a brain injury.
Unable to express herself vocally, she uses her art (making beautiful fishing lures) and her writing to express how she feels.
Alice lives with her gram, who is suffering from respiratory troubles and requires constant care. Alice's brother Joe lives with them as well and is trying his best to keep everything running. They have no mother or father in the picture. Together they all hang on in quiet desperation as to what the future holds.
When a boy named Manny comes to their town, he is instantly taken by the beautiful and mysterious Alice who stands on the roof of her house and throws her poems out to the world. Manny has a dark past and many secrets that keep him from being who he really wants to be.
In the meantime, Joey starts to see a girl named Tilda. However, there are people in their town that don't want Joey and Tilda together. Dangerous people.
Written from Alice and Manny's perspective, The Stars at Oktober Bend is a sad, funny and thrilling read about a girl who is old beyond her years but can't express herself the way she wants to. It's about love and friendship and standing up for what you believe in. I really loved it. I recommend it to ages 12 and up!
It's post World-War Two and America is worn out.
Eleven year old Annabelle lives on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. Life is simple and quiet but set against a harsh backdrop.
When Annabelle discovers there's a new student in her class named Betty, she sees it as an opportunity to make a new friend.
Betty has other plans.
Betty is not interested in making friends. Cunning and sadistic, Betty decides, for no reason other than the sick thrill of it, to torment Annabelle and her two young brothers.
It's not long after Annabelle decides that she's had enough that two tragedies happen. One of them I'll keep quiet as to not spoil anything. The other is that Betty vanishes off the face of the earth.
The prime suspect is Toby, a forty-something year old man that survived the First World War and has the scars to prove it. Toby is a loner, he's quiet, odd and a wary friend of Annabelle's family.
Now it's up to Annabelle to protect Toby and to try and find Betty before state troopers swarm her town and hunt him down.
I really loved Wolf Hollow. Annabelle is a great narrator and the descriptions of life on a farm feel very authentic. This is a story about being honest, standing up for what you think is right and the sad truth that in small towns people often won't let you have your own life. Everyone is in everyone else's business, be it out of boredom or self hatred about their lot in life, they will burrow their noses into your life whether you want them to or not.
A great tale with nice mystery element to it, don't miss it!
Stewart is thirteen but has a brain that can rival most adults that I know. - academically at least. Socially he's a nightmare and unable to connect on a meaningful basis with most people.
After his mother dies from cancer, he and his father move in with his father's new girlfriend and her fourteen year old daughter, Ashley.
Ashley is popular, trendy, has a gaggle of frenemies and doesn't care for school. Her father has recently come out as gay and moved out - to the guest house next door. She's ashamed at her father's identity and reeling from having a new family arrive.
Needless to say her and Stewart don't get along at all, making for some very uncomfortable nights at the dinner tables.
Even worse for her, because of Stewart's academic prowess. he's put in Ashley's classes. Stewart on the other hand, just wants to survive gym class, where he's tormented by the school jock, Jared. It doesn't help that Ashley has a massive crush on Jared and will do almost anything to get his attention.
I read this book in one setting, it's an easy, fun read with lots of humour and pleasant situations. That said, there are some very dark moments in the book as well which I won't spoil but would, in my opinion, make it a very interesting point of discussion for ages 14 and up.
There's a lot of life in this book, and I know a lot of students that will really enjoy reading it.
I recommend this book to ages 14 and up!
George knows she's a girl.
An elementary student, she was born a boy but can feel every fibre in her being that she was meant to be a girl.
Nobody knows this, not her mother, her brother or her best friend Kelly.
Then the school announces that they're going to be auditioning students for Charlotte's Web.
George knows that if she can get the part of Charlotte, the kind spider, people will finally see her for who she really is.
Before that can happen, though, she has to contend with bullies, her mum and a school administration that doesn't appear overly sympathetic.
This is a short but powerful read about standing up for who you are. It's also about the power of friendship and understanding. George is a tenacious character that will stick with you for a long time. Fans of Wonder will really love this!
I recommend George to Years 7 and up!
June's life is hell.
Her stepmother Kathleen is abusive, both physically and psychologially. Even worse, she can't convice her dad to see the truth. June's stepsister, Megan, is a pawn caught in Kathleen's twisted game and goes along with the abuse.
June finds no respite in school. Her classmates bully her, frame her and treat her like garabge. Her teachers don't trust her. She's utterly alone.
One day, after escaping to the woods she meets Blister. Blister's not like everyone else, he doesn't go to school. In fact, neither does his whole family. They live slightly off the grid in a series of trailers. They welcome June with open arms, they don't judge, they don't question.
In Blister, June finds a true friend that will give her a brief release from the torment she experiences at home.
As the years pass and her homelife worsens, June's nerves reach a breaking point that will change the lives of everyone around her.
Gut-wrenching, taught and divisive, Paper Butterflies can be hard to read at times but is always engaging. I know this will be a top pick for several of our students. I recommend it for ages 14 and up!
Cameron and his mum are on the run.
Cameron's dad is a maniac, an abuser and all around psycho. That is, at least, what Cameron's been told since he was young.
After five years of jumping around, they settle on an old farmhouse in a place called Wolf Hollow.
Right away Cameron senses something's not right. He feels he's being watched from the cornfield, from the old disused barn, from the road, everywhere. He tells himself it's just his imagination, but with his mum filling his head with horror stories about his dad, he can't really be sure.
Then there's the boys at school, and the stories about the farmhouse that he's just moved into. The former owner went nuts, murdered his family and was eventually torn to pieces by his own guard dogs. Cameron can't figure out if this is true or just small town gossip.
It's when the voices come that Cameron starts to feel the ground cracking under his feet. They come at night, and they whisper of dark tales in the night.
Is Cameron losing his mind? Or is he being sent a message from beyond? It all leads to a thrilling, Shining-esque finale.
I really enjoyed this book, I felt the walls closing in on Cameron and couldn't wait to get to the end to find out what was real and what was in his imagination. I know fans of horror and mystery at my school will absolutely love this book.
I recommend The Dogs to Years 8 and up!
Libby Strout needs to start over.
Being labelled "America's Fattest Teen" and having the world watch on television as a back-hoe rips a hole in the side of your house so you can simply leave the house would make anyone feel like a fresh beginning.
Thrown in the heart-crushing reality that her mum is dead and you've got an epic level potential for depression. Still, Libby feels she's ready to go back to high school, make new friends and try new things.
Jack Masselin appears to have it all, good looks, the most popular friends and a great girlfriend. All of that's just surface trash, though. Underneath, Jack's dealing with the fact that his dad is cheating on his mum while trying to survive cancer, his brother's being picked on at school and oh yeah, he has Prosopagnosia - the inabilty to read faces.
It's not like he looks at someone and it's just a blank face, it's that he can't remember facial details. He could turn his head for a second and forget who everyone is in the room if he doesn't have the right identifiers. Yes, this is a real thing and it sounds awful. Even worse, Jack hasn't told anyone about it, he's just tried to survive without telling anyone.
Both Jack and Libby feel really alone and out of place in the world, then they meet and realise that they don't have to be.
I enjoy Jennifer Niven's writing, it's fluid and pained but still makes you want to connect with the characters. I think part of this book is about figuring out that everyone is dealing with something, nobody's life is perfect and that to really get to know someone is something special to cherish. It's also about the dangers of fat-shaming and putting labels on people, bullying and all of the nasty stuff that comes with that.
If you enjoyed her pervious work, All the Bright Places, you'll certainly enjoy Holding Up the Universe!
I recommend this book to ages 15 +.