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.
Zoe needs a change, and a change she is going to get.
She's seventeen & had a very rough year. Her father died while exploring a cave and her neighbours have vanished from their home.
When the mother of all blizzards hits her hometown and her mother is trapped in a grocery store, she sets off on her own to find her brother Jonah and their two dogs who've gotten lost in the woods.
After finding Jonah, things somehow get worse when a creep called Stan the Man appears, attacks Zoe & Jonah and attempts to kill their dogs.
They are saved by what Zoe thinks is an angel. A shirtless teenage boy who appears out of the blue and with a click of his fingers sends a river of fear flowing through Stand and in turn changes the colour of the snow around them.
The boy is called X. Well, that's what Zoe calls him at least, and he's no angel. In fact, he's from Hell. Except it's not called Hell, it's called the Lowlands and it turns out X is a bounty hunter, sent to capture evil souls that roam above ground. The rules of the Lowlands are strict, and although Zoe finds herself falling for X, she knows it's not meant to be.
Soon, she's swept up in X's world and the dangers that inhabit it. And it's not just her that's in danger, it's her entire family. The Edge of Everything is a great modern-fantasy romance with a twist that will be gobbled up with glee by both boys and girls and the high school I work at, and that's a great thing!
I recommend it to ages 14 and up!
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!
In 1970 Alaska, you grow up slightly differently than other people.
The Smell of Other People's Houses is the tale of four different teenagers whose lives intertwine in the stark yet beautiful backdrop of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Ruth has survived a family tragedy and has a secret that will send her away from her friends, possibly forever.
Alyce wants to stop working on her father's fishing boat and become a dancer but when her and her dad witness something extraordinary while fishing one day, their lives change forever.
Dora is living day to day, trying to escape the brutal reality that is her drunken, abusive father. She finds solace in her friends and other people's parents but she isn't sure how much longer she can last.
Hank and his two brothers decide to run away from Fairbanks but nothing ever really goes to plan.
I loved this book, the dialogue is fast yet dreamlike and even though I have no idea what it was like to grow up in Alaska a decade before I was born, I still connect with the setting. I grew up in a small Canadian town of 250 people, There were hunters, drinkers, drug abusers, racists that hated First Nations and African Canadians, and mixed into that were people that would break the Earth in two for you if they could.
It was rough and beautiful, dangerous and serene, boring and thrilling all at the same time. I think Hitchcock has completely nailed the way a town like that can seep into your bones and never let you go. Highly recommend it!
Things are gonna get rough.
Beck is the product of a loveless and brief encounter between his poor mother and an African sailor in Liverpool in the early 1900s.
After his mother dies Beck is sent to Canada to a group called The Catholic Brothers which is just as terrifying as it sounds.
Abused at the home, Beck is sent to work as a farmhand where he's treated like one of the animals.
Beck powers through, though, and what follows is a beautifully written tale of extreme hardship and true grit.
Eventually, Beck finds Grace, a woman that understands at least part of his hardships. With Grace Beck finds a glimmer of hope in what has been a cruel and heartless world.
I loved this book, even when it was hard to read sometimes. Peet creates a character that survives against all odds and projects volumes without barely saying a word.
There's been a lot of controversy about this being nominated for the Carnegie Award and the graphic description of abuse and sex. I get that, I wouldn't hand this to an 11 year old. It's for older teens in my opinion. Some have said it's just for adults and I disagree. If an older teen reads this they'll still be here in the morning and they'll be better off for reading it. An amazing tale that should not be missed.
Griffin has just lost the love of his life.
HIs best friend and soul-mate, Theo, has drowned in a horrible accident. Now Griffin is left to pick up the pieces, starting with the realisation that one of the only people that can help him cope with this tragedy is Jackson, the boy Theo grew to love after he left Griffin and moved to California for school.
Griffin's suffering doesn't end there, his OCD has gone into warp speed since Theo's death, and he can feel himself quickly unravelling. In order to survive his grief, Griffin has to be honest with himself, and unleash the secrets that are tearing him apart.
Written from the perspective of Griffin when Theo was alive and after he died, we slowly learn the things that Griffin has kept hidden from everyone he loves. I've never read Adam Silvera before and his writing is truly unique.
Griffin is consumed with grief the entire novel, fading in and out between hopelessness and not-quite hopelessness as he retraces his time with Theo, remember the things that made them special as a couple. When his OCD rears its ugly head it's easy to imagine Griffin's world crumbling around him as he tries desperately to make the pieces fit in his mind.
It's a brutally honest look at dealing with grief, teen angst, teen love and loss of all kinds. I recommend this book to ages 16 and up!
A few pages into The Leaving I told my secretary to hold all my calls. Then I realised I didn't have a secretary and that I was talking to the toaster.
The point is, The Leaving is so engrossing, you won't want to have anyone or anything distract you from the end.
It's tense and dreamy with an air of mystery on every page. Six children, all five years old, vanish out of thin air. There are no witnesses, other than someone that says they saw a small bus parked behind the school the day they went missing.
Eleven years later, five of the six children return, dropped off on the side of the road. They have no memories of where they have been or who they're supposed to be.
Their parents and friends have been spending eleven years trying to move on, so it's an understatement to say that their sudden return is a shock.
The police are called, psychiatrists are called, the news hounds their every move. The teens remember nothing, not even each other. However, slowly but surely, little pieces of what happened to them starts to emerge.
It's difficult to write any more without spoiling the entire thing. I found this novel very easy and fun to read, it kept me guessing until the last few chapters and I enjoyed the characters. Dealing with a missing child is a parent's worst nightmare and I feel the reaction of the adults was well thought out. I'm not sure the teens would be more interested in who kissed who while they were missing but maybe they would, I don't know, I'm not a teenager. Overall I think this book will be very popular with the teens at my school.
I recommend The Leaving to Years 10 and up!
Mana is having a rought night.
First of all, she's just consumed a little bit of coffee which everyone knows she shouldn't because she's either allergic or has some sort of other weird reaction to it that makes her act completely out of control.
Second, in the middle of her cheerleader routine at her high school, she sees Dakota, the boy she has a crush on, being kidnapped.
Terrified, she still manages to run into the locker room after Dakota to try and help.
This is when Mana's night becomes very, very strange.
Yes, Dakota is being kidnapped, but the person she once knew as Dakota is now an acid-spitting alien with an elongated tongue. Standing over her is a Man in Black who calls himself China. China claims that Dakota is evil and needs to be exterminated.
In shock, Mana runs away, desperate to find her mother and inject some reality into an ultra crazy day.
The problem is, Mana returns home to find it trashed, her mom gone and a creepy, lizard-like alien in the bathroom ready to devour her.
With the help of her friend Lyle and the strange yet protective China (whom she can't figure out if she can trust) Mana embarks on an epic mission to find her mom and figure out what the heck is actually going on.
Chalk-full of snarky commentary and high octane action scenes, Flying is a great adventure story that teens will love!
I recommend it to ages 15 and up!
Lizzie Summersall is gone.
Not just gone, she's dropped off the face of the earth. Vanished, poof. Nobody's seen hide nor hair of her for ages.
Aiden Kendrick has been spending a lot of time trying to forget about Lizzie, but what he can't forget is the day the police knock on his door and start asking him questions about her.
Scared to death, Aiden recruits the help of his friend Scobie to try and track down Lizzie. Rumours swirling around school say that she was meeting strangers through Facebook, that she might have run off with one of them.
To make matters worse, Lizzie's sister appears unfazed about her disappearance. The star of a reality tv show, she seems to be using Lizzie's disappearance as a way to further her career. However, as Aiden is about to find out, nothing is what it seems.
I really enjoyed Follow Me Back. It's got sharp dialogue that kicks you in the gut as you live through the Aiden's anxiety of being questioned by the police. On top of that, I genuinely had no idea what had actually happened to Lizzie right up until the very end.
If you're a fan of Gone Girl or GIrl on the Train you'll enjoy sinking your teeth into this one, I promise.
I recommend Follow Me Back to ages 15 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!