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!
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 +.
After the death of his mother, Albie feels even more alone. His father is an international scientists / tv personality, kind of like Bill Nye or that British guy I can't remember the name of. Anyway, his dad has little time for Albie.
Using his father's own logic, Albie decides that there must be a parallel universe out there where his mother is still alive. Using a banana, a cardboard box, his mother's laptop and the crazy neighbour's psychotic cat, Albie builds a machine to travel between universes.
Each world is slightly different than the one he knows. Well, there is that one world where dinosaurs don't exist. No, he doesn't land in a creationist museum, it's a completely different universe.
When I was a kid I loved Calvin and Hobbes, and this book has a very Calvin & Hobbes feel - when Calvin would build cloning devices and time machines, all out of cardboard boxes. I really liked Albie's determination and DYI attitude, there is a punk rock element to his actions.
There was also a movie with a young Ethan Hawke called The Explorers where a group of friends build a space rocket in their backyard. That movie was dripping with a sort of melancholy, just as Albie Bright does as well, for obvious reasons.
The Many Worlds of Albie Bright is also full of scientific facts, it's teaching you guerrilla style while you fly through the pages hoping this kid will find his mother. I really recommend it, you'll be better off after reading it.
I recommend this book for Years 7 and up!
Catrina and her family are moving from the hot, desert-like conditions of Southern California to a location further north. Catrina's sister, Maya, is ill and the northern climate is thought to be better for her.
Catrina doesn't want to go, she misses her friends, she misses her old place. She tries her best not to complain, but she's a teen and that's what teens do.
One their first night, Catrina and Maya decide to explore the town a little. They find a seemingly abandoned arcade. It's dark, creepy, and a awesome at the same time. It's here that they discover one of their neighbours, and he drops a bombshell on them.
The town they just moved to is haunted.
Younger Maya is thrilled to learn this. Catrina? Not so much.
Is this a hoax, or is there something true in the chilling words of their neighbour?
Filled with humour and heart, Ghosts is a story about facing your fears and coming to terms with change. I think anyone aged 9-90 would love this story. I read it quickly, and then went back to admire the beautiful illustrations.
Raina's stories are always a huge hit in the high school library that I work at. I try hard to put her books in the hands of students that I feel are reluctant readers or give me the dreaded "I hate reading" song and dance.
It's also a great book to promote for Halloween, so if you're in the position of recommending books to students, don't forget this!