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.
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!
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!
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!
When I was a kid I was obsessed with UFOs.
My dad witnessed the unexplained object streak across the sky at his home in Clark's Harbour Nova Scotia in 1967. It would be known as the Shag Harbour UFO incident because many locals claimed to have seen a craft crash into the ocean. Some told stories of thick orange foam covering the top of the water and Russian ships suddenly converging on the area.
Whatever it was, it was an experience shared by others and the stories remain to this day.
Encounters is all about a shared experience. Based on the Ruwa, Zimbabwe UFO incident when dozens of school children claimed to have seen silver discs land behind their school, Encounters follows the journey of six children that have their lives changed forever because of the alleged alien encounter.
The most fascinating UFO experiences that I have read about are the ones where the witnesses share some kind of collective unconscious aftermath - they have recurring nightmares that are eerily similar to each other, they daydream about the same thing and they often have an almost indescribable feeling of never being alone.
Wallace captures this experience perfectly. In Ruwa, the school children drew pictures of what they saw. The pictures that were drawn were almost identical to each other. In Encounters, The school children draw the same images and each have the itchy feeling that the creatures that they saw emerge from the ships were warning them about something.
For each of the six children, all suffering from turbulent home lives in some for or another, the warnings mean different things.
If you're fascinated with stories about people who've claimed to see UFOs, you simply can't ignore this book. Its tone is pitch perfect, a dream-like haze mingles with the boiling heat of the African sun, creating an eerie atmosphere that will stick in your guts for a long, long time.
Moonbeam is a teenager on the edge.
At 17, she's just survived a deadly invasion from the FBI & the ATF as they stormed her home - the Lord's Legion in Texas.
Now she finds herself in between the hospital and an interrogation room as the shrinks and the police try to piece together what exactly went on behind the barbed-wire fences of the strange religious compound in the desert.
What went on will send icy fingernails up your spine.
The Lord's Legion is commanded by Father John. Father John believes he is the new Prophet, the mouth of God. In his mind he must prepare his followers for the upcoming apocalypse. This includes training fourteen year olds how to shoot automatic rifles, marrying teenage girls and cracking down on the unbelievers within his "Family" with punishments so harsh they'd make Marsellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction proud.
The story rotates between Moonbeam's discussions with a psychologist and an FBI agent & her flashbacks from her time living with the Lord's Legion.
Hill acknowledges that he drew inspiration from the siege at Waco, Texas in the early '90s when over 80 people from the Branch Davidians died after a standoff with the authorities. Father John is David Koresh, Jim Jones, Alex Jones and almost a Manson-type character all rolled into one in my opinion. He never strays from the "True Path" yet abides by a separate set of rules for his own behaviour. He hands down punishments in a sadistic manner that belies his stoic appearance.
Growing up in Eastern Canada, I was obsessed with cults as a kid and early teen. There was a small group of religious militants that lived thirty minutes from me that attempted to build an ark to prepare for the end times. They never finished it and it laid stranded like a rotten wooden sea monster for years on the beach until waves of half-drunk teens destroyed it over the years.
After the Fire reminded me of them, how obsessed they must have been to get started on an endeavour like that. Hill's Legion is no different, led by Father John they blindly move towards an end that they know must come, because John says it will, end of argument.
Of course, there is a seed of dissention within the Legion, a little seed on the verge of being drowned in rhetoric and fear but it's there. If it survives is another thing, you'll have to read this startling thriller to find out!
Alex Petroski is on a mission. He and his best friend, Carl Sagan (his dog, not the actual astronomer) are headed to the biggest science and rocket festival around.
The problem is, Alex is only 11 and he's headed out on his own. His mom, according to Alex, is having one of her "quiet days" and didn't seem to mind that he left the house. Alex's older brother Ronnie lives in L.A. because he's a talent agent so he can't help either.
So, armed with a train ticket, Alex decides to head to New Mexico on his own. He's taking with him his prized possession, his Golden iPod because he's going to launch said iPod into space with the rocket that he built.
For ages he's been recording his voice into the iPod, explaining what Earth life is like so that when his iPod is picked up by aliens, they'll have a ton of information about Earth before they visit.
Along the way Alex meets a cast of characters that will eventually take him to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and back to Colorado. Alex's innocence is undercut but his inquisitiveness and general toughness as he learns things about life that no 11 year old should have to cope with.
Written primarily from Alex's perspective, we as the reader slowly become aware of Alex's situation. Although he's clever and tough, Alex can't quite come to terms with his home life.
Sweet and hard-hitting at the same time, I know fans of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and We Are All Made of Molecules will really sink their teeth into this story!
Marin is New York and feels completely alone.
After fleeing her life in California, not even her best friends or her roommate know exactly why she decided to travel east to attend university.
Now, with the Christmas holidays approaching, Marin decides to stay in the university dorm rather than return home. As the snow piles up, so does the grief, regret and anger.
Raised by her grandfather, Marin has a past that clouds her every waking second, and when she discovers that her best friend Mabel is going to visit with her for a few days, she tries valiantly to put on her "normal" face so Mabel doesn't suspect that she's still grieving.
Trapped together in a blinding east coast blizzard, it doesn't take long for Marin and Mabel to dig down to the vein and confront what is really going on with Marin.
This is a simple yet powerful novel. Marin's feelings of angst and jittery anxiousness about her impending visitor drip off of every page. She is a real and vibrant character with grit in her belly that has had to deal with way too much for someone her age.
As a school librarian I'm always looking for the kinds of books that don't pull punches and don't BS teens into subscribing to a particular point of view. We Are Okay transcends all of that because it rides a delicate balance of pain and hope, grief and overwhelming joy. I think this is the book that many students I interact with have been seeking for a long time.
I recommend We Are Okay to ages 15 and up!