In young adult novels, coming-of-age stories often are often set in high school hallways. In reality, the formative freshman year is often where teens...moreIn young adult novels, coming-of-age stories often are often set in high school hallways. In reality, the formative freshman year is often where teens take their first unaided steps into adulthood. Rising author Rainbow Rowell tells the story of Cath’s freshman year at a large midwestern university using a clever novel within a novel within a novel treatment. Cath brings more baggage than her laptop and collection of Simon Snow t-shirts to college. Her twin, Wren, is at the same university but is going her own way, leaving Cath to contend with an upperclassman roommate, Reagan, and Reagan’s puppyish boyfriend Levi. Cath needs to deal with Wren’s new lifestyle, her manic-depressive dad and unresolved issues with her deadbeat mom. And she’s under pressure as the secret author of "Carry On, Simon", a fanfiction serial about magical teens followed by thousands. Roswell revives elements from "Eleanor & Park", notably the heartbreakingly hilarious dialogue and keen descriptions of first love. Especially recommended for teens anticipating their next step after high school, older Harry Potter fans and nostalgic young adults.
Read-alikes: Try the caustic wit of YA author John Green (less)
This spot-on teen romance is so funny, so sad, so real, so fantastic. Eleanor and Park might be outsiders, but teens will have no problem relating to...moreThis spot-on teen romance is so funny, so sad, so real, so fantastic. Eleanor and Park might be outsiders, but teens will have no problem relating to these characters. Rainbow Rowell captures the teen perspective perfectly thru Eleanor & Park's view of the world and tricky family and outside relationships.(less)
Overall, it was OK. I liked the stock characters, as well as the characters that were a bit more unique. The ending did not fit the carefree, adventur...moreOverall, it was OK. I liked the stock characters, as well as the characters that were a bit more unique. The ending did not fit the carefree, adventuring mood of the rest of the book.
YA novel of a family trapped in a physically and emotionally abusive household led by the enigmatically flawed father, told by 15 year old girl Kambil...moreYA novel of a family trapped in a physically and emotionally abusive household led by the enigmatically flawed father, told by 15 year old girl Kambili. The plot was just OK, but the setting of contemporary Nigeria is intriguing.(less)
Young adult fiction novel told in two parts. Part I is told from the perspective of Dana, the outside child of James Witherspoon and Part II is told b...moreYoung adult fiction novel told in two parts. Part I is told from the perspective of Dana, the outside child of James Witherspoon and Part II is told by Bunny, James' legitimate daughter. The girls are contemporaries, growing up in close proximity in 1970's Atlanta.(less)
Vera Brosgol is an animator by training and trade. She is also the artist behind Anya’s Ghost, a debut graphic novel. Brosgol first thought of the boo...moreVera Brosgol is an animator by training and trade. She is also the artist behind Anya’s Ghost, a debut graphic novel. Brosgol first thought of the book’s protagonist, Anya, the “disgruntled, superior schoolgirl”, for another project. She enjoyed the character of Anya and “The rest was written like everything else gets written: pulled out of whatever weird space ideas come from, a weird mishmash of my own life and made-up stuff” (Brosgol on her blog Verabee).
Brosgol was born in Russia, and moved to America as a young child. Similarly, the character of Anya Borzakovskaya is a first-generation Russian-American teen. In the novel, Anya is doing her best to fit into her New England private school. She’s doing a pretty good job of staying under the radar, but then she falls down an abandoned well and befriends a ghost. With a new ghost friend comes new situations, and Anya is forced to decide where her allegiances really lie and to assert herself.
There is so much to enjoy in Anya’s Ghost. First and foremost is the realistic female protagonist. Before Anya meets Emily, the ghost, she is self-absorbed and discontented. She is struggling with her identity: she has a strong desire to fit in, a negative body image, is unsure how to deal with her emotions, and is just starting to assert her independence. When Emily escapes from the well along with Anya, we get an especially good look at Anya’s struggle with interpersonal relationships. She is typically respectful and affectionate to her family, her mother and a younger brother, but has a tendency to shirk family responsibilities. She has a hard time knowing who her friends are, and how to treat them. After Emily gets Anya into a party with her crush, Sean, and his girlfriend, Anya starts understanding that relationships can be complex. Unfortunately, Emily is not enlightened by the same experience
Brosgol’s work as a storyboard artist has taught her to efficiently draw fluid shapes that clearly communicate to her audience. This is especially true as the reader views Anya’s facial expressions and the subtle shifts in Emily’s appearance. The illustrations are rendered mainly in black and white, with subtle shades of grays and blues. This creates an appealing visual experience. It also helps create mood as the story becomes darker.
Finally, Anya’s Ghost presents an unique storyline with supernatural elements, suspense and a plot twist. The clear drawings and steady pacing of this mid-length novel will keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens.
Anya’s Ghost has won a number of accolades. It has popular appeal, winning the 2012 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Young Adults, Ages 12-17. The Eisner Awards, sponsored by Comic-Con International to raise awareness and appreciation of comics, have been called the ‘Oscars’ of the comics industry. In addition, it has garnered praise from library professionals. It was named a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal, a Horn Book Best Fiction Book, and an ALA Notable Book for Children.
This book may have special appeal to young women, and/or teens who have experienced social barriers. This graphic novel is a wonderful addition to any collection serving teen readers.
In introspective verse, Josie Wyatt explores her family and world, and her place in it. Joseph is a seventh grader, shut off from her classmates by he...moreIn introspective verse, Josie Wyatt explores her family and world, and her place in it. Joseph is a seventh grader, shut off from her classmates by her cerebral palsy. Her mom’s impatient manner and hectic schedule leaves little time for Josie. Her gran is her rock, or more correctly to Josie, her elm tree: present, strong and reassuring. This former farm family has had to let go of their 1,000 acre farm in Virginia and reimagine their life on a remaining five-acre spread that blooms with Gran’s gardens. But the starter mansions behind their old farmhouse yield a precious surprise, Josie’s new friend Jordan.
Zimmer’s free verse poetry is replete with plant analogies and references to nature, highlighting Josie and Jordan’s fascination with science and the natural world. The story takes place over the course of a year. The beginning of the book shows Josie following Gran’s lead; the end of the book shows Josie as a determined member of the Wyatt household of women.
The free verse format makes this novel accessible to readers beginning in grades 3-5, while subtle layers of meaning make this novel enjoyable for middle and high school readers, too. (less)
Novel told from the alternative perspectives of the two main characters, Puck & Sean. Great Celtic setting, horses, romance - what more could a gi...moreNovel told from the alternative perspectives of the two main characters, Puck & Sean. Great Celtic setting, horses, romance - what more could a girl want in a fantasy novel?(less)
This “unforgettable” novel by Loretta Ellsworth twists a realistic teen romance tale into a unique exploration of a true medical phenomenon. Our hero,...moreThis “unforgettable” novel by Loretta Ellsworth twists a realistic teen romance tale into a unique exploration of a true medical phenomenon. Our hero, Baxter Green, is a typical lovesick fifteen-year-old. This would be challenging enough, but Baxter also has a secret. Previously known as “the memory boy”, his photographic memory is not something he wants to advertise in his new Minnesota home, where he has just moved with his mother to escape a dangerous past. A strong sense of place pervades this story that includes evocative details of life on the Iron Range, particularly the issues of working and living near a taconite plant. Written from Baxter’s point of view, Ellsworth’s finely crafted tale includes a realistic narrator’s voice and a convincing circle of friends. A perfect compliment to a high school American Literature course, Ellsworth’s powerful allusions to The Great Gatsby brings this cast of characters to life and provides an alternate perspective of Baxter’s troubles.(less)
T.J. was a great hero, especially for male teens. He often had to overcome his anger for his own survival, he was athletic but self-motivated, the aut...moreT.J. was a great hero, especially for male teens. He often had to overcome his anger for his own survival, he was athletic but self-motivated, the author did a good job of explaining his visceral need to help others, and he had a great support system in his parents, Simet, Georgia Brown, and his girlfriend.
I had a feeling of overload with the bulk of the characters dealing with major problems. T.J.'s dad is most profoundly affected by his past, but that made sense to me because it defines his character, and sets the stage for the ending. For me, there is too much, too neatly tied together, in 220 pages of fairly large print. But for a teen who relates strongly to the Mermen swimming team, the plot is probably just right.(less)
In Incarceron, novelist Catherine Fisher has created two incredible fantasy worlds. We meet Claudia in the outside world, where the populace lives in...more In Incarceron, novelist Catherine Fisher has created two incredible fantasy worlds. We meet Claudia in the outside world, where the populace lives in a strictly controlled ‘Era’ that resembles Elizabethan England, complete with court intrigues and rudimentary living conditions for the majority. As the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, Claudia has a high place in society, and must follow strict protocol as the young woman betrothed to the future King.
Those deemed unfit for the Outside were permanently locked into a prison called Incarceron. The outside world has been led to believe that Incarceron is still the utopia created by a group of wise men known as the Sapienti to reform the prisoners. Instead, it has turned into a terrifying world of brute rule and limited resources for the descendants of the original prisoners. Additionally, the prisoners are subject to the caprices of the Prison itself; this experiment gone awry is a self-contained entity that ekes out rewards and punishments as it sees fit.
Inside is the mysterious Starseer, Finn, and his oathbrother Keiro. Unlike other prisoners, Finn sees visions that make him believe that he was born in the outside world. They’ve found a crystal key that they hope will lead them out of Incarceron. Outside, Claudia has stolen a matching key from her father. Claudia and Finn find they can communicate through the keys, and each is shocked by the revelations of the other.
As young adult literature, the overall agreement by critical and casual readers is that Incarceron is a worthwhile reading experience for fans of fantasy. The elements that were most often positively reviewed were the dual protagonists, the interesting plot line that includes one major and several minor twists, and the well-developed setting. (less)
This dystopian novel for young adults is equal parts creative and creepy. Award-winning writer M.T. Anderson tells the tale of star-crossed lovers Tit...moreThis dystopian novel for young adults is equal parts creative and creepy. Award-winning writer M.T. Anderson tells the tale of star-crossed lovers Titus and Violet, in futuristic American slang against the backdrop of a society without remorse. Romeo & Juliet had a better chance of making it.
August, September, October, November. Four months. Do you remember what happened (know what will happen) to you in those four months when you were (ar...moreAugust, September, October, November. Four months. Do you remember what happened (know what will happen) to you in those four months when you were (are) fourteen? For fourteen-year old Mattie, everything changed. BOOKTALK
Life was normal when Mattie woke up on that hot, August morning. Her mother was rushing her to wake up and start work in the family’s coffeehouse. All Mattie wanted was just a few more minutes of sleep. But Philadelphia was waking up. This was the nation’s capitol - people had things to do! They needed their coffee.
So Mattie got up, and started working alongside her mother and Eliza, the coffeehouse cook. Polly, the regular serving girl, hadn’t shown up for work, so Mattie had twice as much work as usual. And then, they got the news. Polly hadn’t shown up for work, because...in the night...she had died...from the fever. That was August.
By September, “the church bells of Philadelphia tolled without cease” to announce the dead. Mattie’s mother had fallen ill. Mattie was being sent to the countryside to escape the disease.
In October, the fever still raged, and people were praying for the killing frosts that would end the epidemic. Finally, the frosts came. Slowly, life was returning to normal. But one in ten people in the city had died. What will life be like for Mattie come November?
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (LOR-EE HALTZ ANDERSON) is the imagined story of Mattie Cook during the real yellow fever epidemic that swept through Philadelphia. (less)