Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
While stationed in Iraq, Private Matt Duffy is injured while out on patrol. He remembers he and his squad chasing a vehicle, then continuing on foot into an alley. He remembers gunfire, and a rocket-propelled grenade hitting the wall behind him.
After that Matt remembers nothing. TBI the doctors call it, traumatic brain injury where his mind shuts out any other details of the event, as well as his ability to recall simple everyday words and actions. As he works to regain cognitive functions, Matt begins to get flashes of what else may have happened in that alley that day. He slowly realizes that he may have killed a civilian, a child. Or did he? His memory is still fuzzy and unreliable, leaving Matt struggling to learn the truth.
McCormick creates an interesting story, really generating a feel for what day to day life may be like for an injured soldier in Iraq, emphasizing that what the rules are and what is really acceptable can be two very different things.
Earthgirl by Jennifer Cowan
Everyone should want to protect the environment and save the world, right?
That’s the outlook of budding activist Sabine “Bean” Solomon. While riding her bike, Sabine is hit with a leftover McDonald’s meal tossed from an SUV that is idling in the bike lane. After a slight altercation with the driver that ends up being posted on You Tube, Sabine begins to realize that there is something seriously wrong with the world, and maybe it’s time that she did something about it.
However, not everyone is willing to embrace Sabine’s newfound environmental and consumer consciousness. Her parents won’t buy organic food from the local co-op (where Sabine now works after having quit her job at the corporate hole that is The Gap). Her friends scoff at carrying resuable bags. Her sister even joins the Girls Intelligence Agency, a marketing group that gathers polls teens in order to find the next big consumer trend. Sabine finds herself frustrated as she slowly alienates everyone around her.
Until she meets Vray. Vray is smart, gorgeous and is completely dedicated to “the cause”. The seem perfect for each other, with Vray teaching and guiding Sabine about what it means to be an activist. But where is the line between being dedicated and being a radical? Does the end justify the means, so long as it benefits and draws attention to “the cause”? What kind of activist is Sabine?
This is a timely and eye opening book, focusing heavily on issues that are not often found in teen literature, making for a great read for anyone who wants to get involved in responsible living.
Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith
Jack Osbourne has always lived a normal, suburban life with his parents and sister. Until the night he is woken up in the middle of the night by men who threaten to kill him, his mother and his sister if they don’t do exactly what they say. That was the night that changed everything. The night his father was arrested for drug trafficking, forcing he, his mother and sister into the Witness Protection Program. The night he became Zach Granger.
The Grangers live in a tiny town in Nevada’s Ruby Mountain, where everyone knows everything about everybody. Zach and his sister “Wanda” have made new friends, and their mother is on her way to opening a bookstore right in the center of town. Things are finally starting to look up. Will Zach’s family be safe here in their new haven, or is it just a matter of time before the danger from their past catches up to them?
Zach’s Lie is a great suspense thriller, perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series; I can’t wait to read the sequel, Jack’s Run.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo, diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome is happy in his comfortable life, guided by his organized and familiar routine. He hears music in his mind that noone else can hear, he has a deep desire to learn about religion and he loves his school, Paterson, where he works as a stable hand tending to the ponies. However Marcelo’s father Arturo does not believe that anything is really wrong with his son. He feels that Marcelo ‘s mother and doctors are being over indulgent and protective and that Marcelo needs to grow up, attend the public high school in Oak Hills and learn to get along in the “real world”.
In order to prove that he is right about his son, Arturo makes a deal…instead of spending his summer working at Paterson with the ponies, Marcelo will come to work in the mailroom of his lawfirm, where if he learns to interact with “normal” people and completes his tasks satisfactorily, then he will be allowed to choose which school he will attend in the fall. If he fails, he will automatically have to go to Oak Hills High School. After careful consideration, Marcelo realizes that if he wants to stay at his beloved school, then he must accept his father’s deal. Besides, three months isn’t that long, is it?
And so begins Marcelo’s journey into the “real world”. He befriends his beautiful mail room co-worker Jasmine and learns more than he cares to know about life from Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns not only about anger, jealousy and beauty, but also that life is not always black and white, that it is full of moral ambiguities of which not even his father is immune.
Stork has created a wonderful story for older teens, told from a unique perspective it shows the different ways of interpreting what what the “real world” is really like and it means to grow up.
Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
Being fat isn’t easy. Clothes don’t fit you. People stare at you or pretend that you are not there; they feel uncomfortable around you. They whisper, wondering if you know how big you are and, if so, why don’t you just do something about it?
Jamie Carcaterra knows how it feels first hand how it feels to be fat, and frankly she is sick of how people act around her. She knows she is overweight. She is fat. In fact, she is Fat Girl, author of the Fat Girl features in her school newspaper, The Wire. Started as a way to win a journalism scholarship, she uses her column to explore what it’s like to be fat in such a weight obsessed, skinny world, as well as to dispel myths such as “Poor Fat Girl needs to be educated about her problem” and “all Poor Fat Girl wants to do is lose weight”.
However, column and her life take an unforeseeable turn when her boyfriend Burke decided to undergo a risky gastric bypass surgery. Now Jamie is forced to think about the questions that really matter. Will Burke still love her when he’s thin? Is being fat all she is? Is she really committed to being the “fat girl activist spokesperson”? And why does it seem like Heath, her co-editor on the paper, might like her as more than just a friend? Doesn’t he know she’s fat?
Although at times a bit predictable and preachy, Vaught has written a funny yet thoughtful look at what it’s like to be a Fat Girl in today’s world.
It’s that time of year when romance is in the air…check out First Loves and Crushes: Romance Books For Guys & Girls.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
High school student Nick O’Leary, member of a rock band, meets college-bound Norah Silverberg and asks her to be his girlfriend for five minutes in order to avoid his ex-sweetheart.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Greene
Colin tends to fall for girls named Katherine. He goes on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, realize his true genius, and win him the girl.
The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper
When Kate wins an essay contest that sends her to Verona, Italy, to study Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, she meets both American and Italian students and learns not just about Shakespeare, but also about star-crossed lovers–and herself.
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
Seventeen-year-old Vince’s life is constantly complicated by the fact that he is the son of a powerful Mafia boss, a relationship that threatens to destroy his romance with the daughter of an FBI agent.
Check out the whole list on the SKPL Teen Booklist Page.
Peeled by Joan Bauer
Which is more important…the truth or printing stories that sell? That is one of the key questions facing high school student Hildy Biddle.
“Danger to all ye who enter”
“You didn’t think it was safe, did you?”
When signs start appearing on the old Ludlow house, the location quickly becomes an addition to the “Top Ten Spookiest Places in Upstate New York” list. Reported ghost sightings start to rise, a break-in is reported and when a man dies in front of the house it seems certain that the town of Banesville is haunted.
At least that is how it is being reported in the local paper, The Bee. Hildy though, is not so sure. Is it really news if there are no hard facts or evidence? The more questions she asks, the less things make sense. What is really happening at the old Ludlow house? Could it actually be haunted? Or are there human forces at work, creating fear among the people in town?
This was an interesting and timely story about the world of journalism, the importance of finding the truth in a story and standing up for what you think is right.
The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante
The story is told through the alternative views of Agnes and Honey, who live in the religious commune in Connecticut named Mount Blessing. The “True Believers” life a very strict life following the religious teachings of Emmanuel (the commune’s father) and Veronica (the commune’s mother). Kids are separated from their parents when they are 6 months old until they are 7, during which time they live in a separate nursery. Everyone must where blue robes, pray several times a day and never eat red or orange food (it is the symbol of the devil). With no technology or outside contact with the rest of the world, everyone strives to live a life of sainthood. If you commit a sin, or do not follow the rules, Emmanuel takes you to a place noone speaks of, the Regulation Room, where you can be retrained from your evil ways.
Not everyone though is happy with this life. While Agnes is accepting and loyal (even creating self imposed penances for her perceived sins and shortcomings), Honey longs to escape and see what life is really like. When a tragedy strikes and a discovery is made during an unexpected visit from Agnes’s grandmother (Nana Pete), questions arise about the commune’s practices and the safety of the children living there. Honey and Nana Pete are forced to make a decision that will change the lives of everyone involved.
I think that teens will truly enjoy this story. It gives a view of a world that many of them may have heard about in the past few years in the news. As the story unfold and more is learned about the commune, the reader feels equal parts shock, bewilderment and concern about the True Believer’s lives. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down, anxiously holding my breath waiting to see what would happen to the girls and their family.