Recommended Books

     100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith:  High school senior Finn is named for the main character in his father's cult-classic book.  Or is it the other way around?  Either way, the confusion adds to Finn's difficult life as an epileptic whose mother was killed in a freak accident which Finn survived when he was seven years old. During an adventurous senior year, Finn falls in love for the first time with a girl who moves to their southern California town temporarily.  But when she moves back to Chicago, Finn is at loose ends about which direction his life should take and whether he and his quirky best friend should still go on their college visit trip to Oklahoma.  Life is about to get a whole lot more adventurous for Finn as he discovers his own path outside of the character in his father's book.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie:  This book won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.  Despite great obstacles, Arnold Spirit enrolls in an all-white high school in a town 22 miles away from the Reservation.  Torn between two worlds, Arnold uses his strengths in academics, basketball and drawing, to find his way in a culture that is strange and not always welcoming.  Told with humor and illustrated with Arnold's comic drawings, this is a story of finding hope at a critical time in a teen's life.

    The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green:  Yes, that John Green.    But this is not a novel.  Or even a Young Adult book.  It is essays and musings, most of them from Green’s podcast of the same name.  If you enjoy getting into Green’s mind, and who doesn’t, then read this book. You’ll get his ratings, based on a five star scale, of everything from Halley’s Comet to the Piggly Wiggly.  I give this book 5 stars!


    The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson:  Elena is the product of a virgin birth or parthenogenesis.  So she already is considered a freak at school.  When Elena starts performing miracles her social status goes from bad to worse.  Every time she heals someone, people disappear from the face of the earth.  Is it a hoax?  Is it divine intervention? Is the world coming to an end?   Read this book by the popular author of We Are the Ants to find out.

     Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz:  Fifteen year old Ari is a loner.  He has twin sisters who are 12 years older than him and are married with children and a brother who is 11 years older than him who is in prison.  No one ever talks about his brother and Ari's father is a Vietnam veteran who never talks about the war that haunts him. When Ari meets Dante, he finally makes a real friend.  Ari and Dante learn about friendship, family and life on the cusp of adulthood.  The book is a Michael L. Printz Honor winner and is hauntingly and realistically written. 

    An Abundance of Katherines by John Green:  Colin and his only friend, Hassan (not a terrorist), go on a road trip.  They end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, a place very different from their home in Chicago.  Colin and Hassan have quite a few adventures on this road trip, meet some new friends and learn a few things about life, love and feral hogs. John Green is the Printz Award-winning author of Looking for Alaska.


    The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker:  Fans of dystopian novels will gobble up this NY Times bestseller.  Julia is on the verge of adolescence in her southern California suburban town when the earth's rotation starts slowing down. The days and nights start getting longer and longer, gravity is affected, the earth's magnetic field is impacted and nothing can be done to stop it.  Many people move away although there is no place to go. Birds are dying and crops won't grow and the government insists everyone still maintain a clock schedule.  Those who refuse are called "real timers" and they are ostracized from society. Julia's family tries to adapt - her mom stockpiles supplies while she succumbs to the illness suffered by many people due to the earth's changes. Her dad acts as though nothing is changing while harboring secrets of his own. And Julia tries her best to navigate through middle school where nothing stays the same and the future is uncertain.

    Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab:  Matisse's family moves from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to a small town in upstate New York - talk about a lifestyle change!  Will she ever be able to deal with her dad's serious illness living out here in the sticks?


    A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone:  This fast-reading book is about three high school girls - Josie, Nicolette and Aviva - who have their hearts broken by the same guy.  The girls start leaving notes about him in the back of the school library's copy of the book Forever by Judy Blume.  The notes warn other girls about going out with this boy and Josie, Nicolette and Aviva learn some hard truths about life and love.


    Before I Die by Jenny Downham:  Tessa Scott, a sixteen year old British girl, is dying of an aggressive form of leukemia.  She makes a list of the things she wants to experience before she dies. Falling in love isn't even on the list...until she meets Adam. 
    Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer:  At a private residential school in Vermont for mentally fragile students, Jam is one of five students chosen to be in Special Topics English class.  This class’s students have always maintained that the class was “life-changing” but in a very secretive kind of way – like a closed society or a secret club.  What exactly happens in that class and will it help Jam overcome the issues that caused her parents to send her to the school in the first place?

    Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi:  After a traumatic early childhood in foster care, Bitter finds solace and safety at Eucalyptus, a special residential school for the arts. But the city all around the school is engulfed in violent police brutality against social justice gatherings as the rich try to squelch any attempts at social reform. With magical realism, the warring angels of Virtue and Vengeance fight for Bitter’s soul.  Who will win?

    Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd:  Fergus lives just over the northern side of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  It's 1981 - a time of bombings and hunger strikes.  When Fergus is out early one morning digging up the dirt in the bog, he discovers a body.  It turns out to be thousands of years old.  That summer, while Fergus is studying for his college entrance exams, his life becomes entwined with the fate of the discovered body, his brother in prison and the Irish conflict.  This eerie tale will leave you with lingering questions about right and wrong, sacrifice and survival.
    Bone Gap by Laura Ruby:  Winner of the ALA’s 2016 Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature, this tale of magical realism lures you in slowly and then doesn’t let you go.  The small rural town of Bone Gap is where brothers Sean and Finn live.  A beautiful Polish girl, Roza, arrives under strange circumstances and lives with them for a while until she disappears under equally mysterious circumstances. Everyone in town has a theory and secrets of their own.  Only Finn saw her being taken away.  Will he also be the one who rescues her?  
    Born to Rock by Gordon Korman:  Leo has known since he was ten years old that his biological father is King Maggot - a punk rock legend.  Now that he is 18 and unfairly stripped of his scholarship to Harvard, he decides to let King Maggot know that he has a son.  Will Leo, a former member of the Young Republicans, survive as a roadie on a punk rock road tour?
    A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti:  Can an Israeli girl and a Palestinian boy really be friends?  Tal, a 17 year old Israeli girl, thinks the answer is yes.  She puts a message into a bottle and asks her brother, who is an Israeli soldier, to throw it into the Gaza Sea.  Naïm, a 20 year old Palestinian young man, finds the bottle and Tal and Naïm start an e-mail friendship.  Amid bombings, curfews and security checks, these two unlikely friends form a bond that is hopeful. 
    Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse:  Joseph's family invented teddy bears after seeing a political cartoon about Teddy Roosevelt in the newspaper.  Now they're so busy making and selling teddy bears that there's no time for anything else.  All 14 year old Joseph wants to do is go to Coney Island.  But he's stuck in his immigrant Brooklyn neighborhood watching his baby brother.  Will he ever get his wish to see the amazing Coney Island?  Read this historical fiction novel by the Newbery Medal-winning author to find out.

    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani: Harrowing story of a young teen girl kidnapped from her small Nigerian village by the vicious militant terrorist group Boko Haram.  The terrorists kill her father right before her eyes and then kidnap her forcing her to marry a terrorist fighter.  If you try to escape they kill you. Based on the actual experiences of young Nigerian women, who even if they managed to be rescued, were still left at risk.


    Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai:  Eighteen year old Hang endures unspeakable trauma as a Vietnamese refugee but she is determined to find her younger brother.  He was only five years old when he was taken from Hang’s arms and airlifted to the U.S. six years earlier. When she finally finds him in Amarillo, Texas he does not remember her or his old life in Vietnam.  How will Hang get to know her brother and be a part of his life?  This post-Vietnam war historical fiction has humor, romance and heart-wrenching hope.


    Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell:  Grandma Gerd's theory about life is LIM - Live in the Moment.  Vassar has many opportunities to "seize the day" as she treks through Cambodia and Laos with Grandma Gerd and Hanks - a Eurasian 18 year old cowboy who may just be worth changing her plans for.  This is a fun travel - adventure - romance novel with a little mystery thrown in.


    Character Driven by David Lubar:  Cliff is a high school senior in northern New Jersey.  His unemployed father belittles Cliff every chance he gets.  Cliff has good friends but what he really wants is a girlfriend.  He also needs to figure out what to do with the rest of his life since he is pretty certain his dad is going to throw him out of the house as soon as he turns 18.  When Jillian starts at his school, who is an artist like Cliff, he thinks he has no chance with her.  But a lot happens senior year:  bullies get their comeuppance, new friends are made, new interests and strengths are discovered, and maybe Cliff’s future is not as bleak as his father makes it seem.   


    Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne: “I got my own ideas / I got my own body / I got my own mind.” High school basketball player Skyy can stand up for herself on the court.  But off the court she struggles with living in the shadow of her confident best friend Lay Li and her mean older sister Essa.  It feels like at every turn Skyy is being told she is “less than.”  Will she ever be able to stop pretending to be strong and truly be herself?  I read this awesome novel-in-verse in one sitting. Skyy’s voice really rings true and you will be rooting for her and definitely relate to her.  


    Crunch Time by Mariah Fredericks:  Four unlikely friends in a high-achieving, highly competitive Manhattan private school form an SAT study group. When it is revealed that someone cheated on the SAT's - everyone starts doubting and wondering...was it someone from the group?  Find out by reading this fast-paced novel told in the alternating voices of Daisy, Leo, Jane and Max - four high school juniors facing the pressures of college crunch time.
    Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan:   What if you found a red notebook on the shelf of The Strand bookstore in Manhattan and in the notebook it asked you to do something and then leave the notebook in a certain place?  Would you play along?  This is a Christmas love story about two teenagers, Dash and Lily, who connect in an unusual way and get to know each other before they ever meet face to face. Poignant urban high school novel about two New York City teens who love words by the authors of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. 
    Dishes by Rich Wallace:  Nineteen year old Danny is living with his dad this summer for the first time in his life.  His dad is a bartender and he gets Danny a job washing dishes at the same bar in Ogunquit, Maine, a summer resort town. He hopes to get to know his dad and have some summer romance.  Nothing turns out the way Danny expected.
    The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart:  Lockhart hits another one out of the park with this 2009 Printz Honor book.  Frankie is a 10th grader at an elite New England boarding school.  All she wants is to be equal - to be taken seriously.  When she infiltrates an all-boy secret society at school, things get out of hand.  By the end of the book, nobody underestimates Frankie Landau-Banks.
    Dodger by Terry Pratchett:  This was a 2013 Michael L. Printz Honor - winning book.  Taking place in England during Victorian times, it is a story told with plenty of droll British humor as Pratchett's books are.  Dodger lives in London's slums where life is rough and your reputation is everything.  He has a good heart and saves a beautiful young German girl one night who was being badly beaten up.  The young lady, Simplicity, turns out to be royalty fleeing from a cruel prince to whom she is married.  Dodger, with the help of newspaper journalist Charlie Dickens and other characters, conspires to save Simplicity from being returned to her mean husband.  With many humorous twists and turns, Dodger's acting abilities and street-sense not only save Simplicity but turn Dodger into a hero.  A fun read where people see what they want to see and there are no spies, only people who "take an interest."
    Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy:  Willowdean Dickson lives in small town Texas where the biggest event in town is the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant.  Her mom, a former winner, runs the annual pageant with an iron fist.  But Willowdean, called Dumplin’ by her mom, has never been interested in the pageant.  Since Willowdean’s beloved Aunt Lucy passed away though, things are changing fast – best friends, boyfriends, how she feels about being a larger sized girl – and maybe, just maybe, becoming a beauty pageant contestant.
    Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire: Elena, from a dirt-poor Russian village, accidentally switches places with Cat, a rich, British-educated member of the Russian aristocracy. This sets in motion a chain of events which brings them on a rollicking adventure with a Faberge egg, a mythological Firebird, the Russian folklore witch Baba Yaga, the Tsar’s godson, a talking shapeshifting cat and a set of nesting Matryoshka dolls. This phantasmagorical tale is by the author of the long-running Broadway musical Wicked. Hold onto your hats!
    Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:  Rowell hits it out of the park with Eleanor & Park.  This is a story of first love between Park, a sensitive, half-Korean boy and the only Asian in their neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska and Eleanor, a redhead with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather.  The story is so believable, Rowell really nails the nitty gritty of high school life with its bullying and insider/outsider status. You will be rooting for these two to make it.  This is true love, not sugar-coated, but sweet all the same.  A New York Times bestseller and my favorite book of the 2013-2014 school year.  Also received a 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor from the American Library Association.

    Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti:  Things in Madison’s life are in transition as she struggles with her controlling mother and finding her own way after graduating high school.  Madison is swimming in the lake and comes across the body of a woman who committed suicide. The woman’s son, Billy, is grieving and when they meet, Madison doesn’t tell him she knows about his mother’s suicide.  Both Mads and Billy have the same favorite childhood book, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  They also share other interests. What happens when two broken teenagers fall in love? Are there too many obstacles or can they make it work? A wonderful book by one of Mrs. Grandstaff's favorite authors.  If you like realistic fiction check this one out.

    Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick: Nanette is a high-achieving high school senior. But when Nanette reads a cult classic book that she loves and becomes friends with the author she begins to question everything. The author introduces Nanette to Alex, a student from another school and they start going out with each other. With Alex she finds someone who feels like an outsider in his own life just like Nanette feels. Someone with whom she can rebel, but at what cost?

    Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:  Cath and Wren are twins from Omaha, Nebraska.  They write fanfiction based on a series similar to the Harry Potter books and it is very popular - they have tens of thousands of readers.  But when they go away to college in Lincoln, Nebraska, Wren wants to meet new people, try new things, not even be roommates with Cather.  They drift apart which is very difficult at first for Cather who does not like change. Cather's freshman year ends up being full of change, however, as she has to discover who she is, what her fanfiction writing means to her and she falls in love for the first time.  This is a compelling book which I could not put down.  A realistic story of freshman year of college which I recommend to 11th and 12th graders.
    Far From You by Lisa Schroeder:  Alice's stepmother has just had a baby and Alice misses having her father to herself.  She is growing closer to her boyfriend, while her best friend is drifting away from her, finding new interests.  Then Alice gets stranded in a blizzard with her stepmother and her newborn baby sister.  In their struggle to survive, she learns things about herself, her family and her mother who is watching over her from heaven.  I read this novel-in-verse in one day.  It is a beautiful, realistic story of how to make room in your heart for new people to love while still loving those who have passed away.
    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:   This is a heavy book about Hazel, a high school student with Stage 4 cancer.  She meets Augustus, a boy from the Cancer Kid Support GroupUnder these difficult circumstances, they fall in love.  The story is heart-breaking but not maudlin as these teens have lives beyond their illness.  Green is a favorite author and even though I put off reading this book because of the sad subject, I was totally won over by the writing and the story of Hazel and Augustus's humanity in the face of terminal illness.  This book will win you over as well.  It has been on the NY Times bestseller list for months.
    Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella:  As a result of being bullied in freshman year of high school, Audrey suffers from an anxiety disorder which required several weeks in the hospital. She wears dark glasses all the time and does not leave the house now except for therapy sessions. Until Linus starts coming around the house to play video games with Audrey’s older brother, Frank.  With encouragement from Linus, Audrey starts making progress and has her first romance. With lots of humor and support from her family too, things are looking up for Audrey.  This book will have you rooting for Audrey to make a full recovery.  It is the first Young Adult novel by the British author of the bestselling Shopaholic series. 

    For What It's Worth by Janet Tashjian:  It’s 1971 and 14 year old Quinn lives in Laurel Canyon, CA, the heart of the music scene. He is obsessed with music trivia and he also communicates through his Ouija board with recently deceased musicians Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. But Quinn can no longer live in his musical bubble and ignore the outside world. The Vietnam War is raging, his sister Soosie leaves for college across the country, his parents are separating and Quinn gets his first girlfriend, Caroline. Can Quinn help his sister’s draft dodger friend while still going out with Caroline whose brother is drafted into the war? This book will appeal to old-school music lovers who still like to rock the vinyl.

    Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark:  Brendan is a star varsity wrestler although he does it mainly because it looks good on college applications.  He has a beautiful girlfriend, Vanessa, who loves him and a younger sister who looks up to him.   But Brendan also knows if any of his friends or family ever discovered his secret, they would definitely not understand since he doesn’t quite understand it himself. He doesn’t know if there is even a word for freaks like him.  This powerful novel-in-verse is told in the alternating voices of Brendan and Vanessa and Angel, a transgender woman who works at a local LGBTQ youth center.
    Frida: Viva la Vida!  Long Live Life! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand:  This illustrated biography of the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, is written in free verse.  The poems evoke her passionate nature, her suffering from polio and a bus accident, and her turbulent relationship with the artist, Diego Rivera.  Frida's paintings from different periods in her life accompany the story.  This book is unique and a real artistic treat.

    Girl on the Leeside by Kathleen Anne Kenney:  When Siobhan was two years old her mother was killed in an IRA bombing. She has been raised by her uncle Kee and leading a sheltered life at their family pub in rural Ireland.  A petite girl and immersed in Celtic poetry, Siobhan has never been a part of the wider world.  But a young visiting American professor and some family discoveries are about to change all that.  If you enjoy the beauty of Irish poetry and countryside then you will love this book of a young woman’s awakening to the world.

    Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King: Glory is graduating high school in a few days. She has no post-graduation plans. When Glory and her best friend Ellie drink the pulverized remains of a dead bat, they both start to have visions of the past and the future of everyone they see – including themselves. Glory uses her mom’s old camera to take photos and develops them in her mom’s darkroom which has been locked since her mom’s suicide thirteen years earlier. This starts her on a project of discovering her past and finding out how she will move forward after high school. Is Glory going crazy? Or will visions of the past and future propel her get unstuck and have a life after high school?
    Guardian by Julius Lester:  The year is 1946 and fourteen year old Ansel knows the difference between right and wrong.  But in his small town in the Deep South, knowing the truth and acting on it are two different things.  One night of horror forever alters Ansel's life.  He will be burdened with the evil results of racial injustice for the rest of his life. 
    Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley:  Sixteen year old Solomon suffers from panic attacks.  He has not left his house in over three years.  Lisa, a high-achieving student, gets Solomon to agree to let her visit him at his house.  She wants to be friends with him so she can write about it in her college application essay and get into a top college as a psychology major.  At least that is how it starts out.  But then Lisa and her boyfriend, Clark, and Solomon all start becoming friends for real. Would it really be ethical to use a friend this way?
    The Host by Stephenie Meyer:  This science fiction novel, by the author of Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse, is full of romantic suspense.  Humans on Earth have been taken over by a species of "souls" that implant themselves into human bodies.  Melanie is one of the few remaining humans who are part of the human resistance.  She meets Jared, another human, and they fall in love.  But the Seekers catch up with Melanie and she is implanted with a soul named Wanderer.  Melanie's memories and feelings for Jared are so strong that Wanderer cannot erase them.  Two souls, one human and one alien, co-existing in the same body - talk about an unusual love triangle!  Will Wanderer follow Melanie's heart?
    How To Build A House by Dana Reinhardt:  Harper's family in Los Angeles is falling apart.  She spends the summer in Tennessee with a volunteer group rebuilding a house that was destroyed by a tornado.  The hard work and new friends that she meets distract her from her family and boyfriend problems back home.  When Harper starts going out with Teddy, the boy whose house is being rebuilt, she has someone to talk to about everything that is going on in her life.  Where will she go from here?

    I'm Being Stalked by a Moonshadow by Doug Macleod:  Fourteen year old Seth Parrot's parents are hippies and big fans of old Cat Stevens songs.  Seth starts going out with Miranda Raven, a girl he meets at the Shared Learning Center, where she takes kickboxing and he takes drama.  Macleod's wry humor will have you laughing out loud at Seth's predicament in trying to go out with the daughter of his father's arch enemy - it's the Parrot family versus the Raven family - someone's feathers are going to be ruffled!

    The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson:  High school senior Hayley's dad has PTSD from his years serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Her mom died when she was a baby so her dad is all she has and they are settled down in upstate New York after years of being on the road.  Hayley's dad is a time bomb as he is haunted by his war experinces and refuses to get any medical help.  Hayley has gotten used to taking care of him, and keeps hoping things will get better, as she goes to a regular school for the first time since kindergarten.  But what if things don't get better on their own?  What if her dad's demons threaten everything Hayley has ever known?  This is a beautifully and realistically told story about a complicated situation which is what Anderson does best.  Definitely a must-read.
    The Jewish Dog by Asher Kravitz: The Holocaust told in the voice of an exceptional dog, Caleb. When Jews are forbidden from owning house pets, Caleb’s beloved Gottlieb family must give him up and he is taken in by a Nazi family.  He lives on the streets as a stray for a while and ends up at Treblinka in the SS training program where he is reunited with the only surviving member of the Gottlieb family. Will they survive or will they perish in the camp too?  This was a best-selling novel in Israel.


    Jinx by Meg Cabot: There's good magic, black magic and romance in this fast-paced book about Manhattan private school life and a competitive cousin who will stop at nothing to get her way. Meg Cabot fans will not be disappointed.
    Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher:  In this unique novel, Alice confesses her feelings of guilt about a boy's death in letters she writes to an inmate on death row in Texas.  She cannot confide in her family (who have secrets of their own) or her friends and especially not the boy's grief-stricken mother.  Alice feels only this man facing execution can understand her "feelings which are so terrible there are no words for it in the whole English language."  This is British author Pitcher's second novel and it will captivate you with Alice's struggle to find a way to overcome the awful despair she has to live with and a way to move forward with her life.  I loved this book and read it in two days.
    Larry and the Meaning of Life by Janet Tashjian:  If you loved Vote For Larry and The Gospel According to Larry, then you'll be thrilled to see what Larry (Josh Swensen) is up to now.  He still loves the humorous footnotes.  Larry is eighteen and having an existential crisis so he starts spending a lot of time on Walden Pond.  Hey, it worked for Thoreau, so why not?  He didn't count on meeting up with a spiritual leader, his former girlfriend and a whole crazy adventure that begins to spin out of control.

    Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli:  Sequel to Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda which was made into the movie Love, Simon.  High school is winding down for Leah and her close group of friends.  Everyone is making plans for prom and college.  It’s a bittersweet time and emotions are running high.  Friendships and relationships are in flux.  Will Leah be able to keep it together when she feels like she’s falling apart inside?  This is a fabulous read even if you didn’t read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.  Characters you will really care about and be able to relate to.


    Lilydale:  Awakening by Wendy Corsi Staub:  Seventeen year old Calla's mother dies after falling down the stairs in their Florida home and Calla goes to live with her grandmonther, Odelia.  Odelia lives in the spiritual community of Lilydale, NY, where psychics, mediums and clairvoyants give readings during the summer season.    Calla gets to know Odelia and makes new friends in Lilydale.  She is initially skeptical as she discovers what mediums can and cannot do.  Calla may even have psychic abilities of her own, if she will only acknowledge them...  

    Love in English by Maria E. Andreu:  Girl and boy have a cute meet in ELL class. Boy likes girl but girl thinks she likes another boy, an American boy. American boy also likes the girl. Oh, and to complicate everything – girl and boy are English language learners. She is from Argentina and he is from Cyprus.  From their suburban NJ high school to the top of the Empire State Building they struggle to find their words and find their way in a strange new country.  Will they be able to find their way to each other?

    Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara:  New York City high school senior Wren's boyfriend dies in a car accident in which Wren was a passenger. She puts her college plans on hold and goes to live with her father in Maine.  While trying to deal with her grief and guilt over the events the night of the car accident, Wren gets to know her artist father a little better and she also meets a young man with multiple sclerosis.  Cal is also taking a break from college to deal with his condition.  The story is poetically written.  Rural, coastal Maine is the perfect setting for these two broken young people to heal and find their way forward while falling in love.

    Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson: The intertwined stories of a tortoise named Galapagos and three different girls set in Kansas in the year 2065, Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and England right after the end of World War I. Adri is an orphan in the year 2065 who is preparing to go to Mars as a colonist. She spends her last months on Earth with a very distant cousin in Kansas that she has never met before. Her cousin, Lila, is 107 years old and has early Alzheimer’s disease. Adri discovers old buried letters in Lila’s house. The letters between Catherine and Lenore are a mystery and Adri tries to discover their fate and ends up being pulled into their life stories. Readers will be pulled in as well.

    The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee:  Moody, ruminative novel written by an Australian author.  The story pulls you in and doesn't let you go - even after the last page.   Rose's mother passed away when she was a small child.  She is raised by her alcoholic, artist father who does not stay in any one town for long.  The setting is Paradise, Australia, a small village by the sea.  Rose makes her first actual friend, Pearl, who is pretty and popular.  The town's biggest event is the annual Harvest Parade and the girls spend all year planning their dresses.  Rose meets with a local eccentric woman, Edie, and they work together making the magical midnight blue dress Rose will wear for the parade.  After the parade, there is celebrating and romance, both of the girls go missing and a detective from the big city comes to investigate.  What really happened that night and will the girls be found?

    Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick:  Winner of the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.  This is a quick read and will appeal to fans of ghost stories and tales of reincarnation, vampires and mythological Vikings.  The story takes place across various time periods starting with the future and working back to ancient times.  Set on a remote island off the northern Scandinavian coast, Erik and Merle meet each other here in various lifetimes and in unusual circumstances.  There is a mysterious plant that grows on the western side of the island which seems to give people eternal life – or does it?

    My Most Excellent Year:  A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger:  Ninth graders, T.C. and Augie, have been best friends since they were six years old. Alejandra is a new student who T.C. immediately wants to get to know better.  Ninth grade turns out to be a year of exciting changes because of new friends, class plays, first kisses and a special six-year old deaf boy named Hucky.  Hucky reminds T.C. of himself at that age - the year his mother died.  Will T.C. be able to keep magic alive for Hucky?  Will T.C.'s dad finally start dating T.C.'s guidance counselor?  Will Aquaboy and Spiderman work it out?  Read this novel of three teenagers and their "most excellent year" to find out.
    Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool: The year is 1945. Jack’s mom has passed away and his dad is back home in Kansas from the war in Europe.  Jack misses his mom and his dad is like a stranger. His dad drops Jack off at a boys’ boarding school in Maine where Jack becomes friends with an unusual, quirky boy named Early. Early’s brother had been a school hero but was killed overseas in the war. Or was he? Jack accompanies Early on an adventurous quest to track down a huge bear on the Appalachian Trail. They find a lot more than they bargained for. In the deep woods of Maine, reality and fantasy, the dead and the living, become blurred as Jack and Early hone their survival skills. This book received a Michael L. Printz Honor from the American Library Association in 2014.


    The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti:  Jade is a high school senior living in Seattle.   She likes to watch the elephants on her computer from the live webcam at the Seattle Zoo.  When a good-looking guy starts visiting the elephants, Jade looks forward to seeing him on her screen.  She overcomes her nervousness and decides to try to meet him.  He turns out not to be a typical, carefree college student.  In fact, he has a secret which he cannot share with anyone, even Jade, at least not right away...
    One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke:  Lily's family is a bunch of freaks and there is lots of miscommunication.  All Lily wants is for her grandfather's 80th birthday party to come off without a hitch so her family can have just one perfect day for a change.  This book by an Australian author is a Printz Honor winner.
    P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: In this sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a photo of Lara Jean and Peter in a private moment appears on a popular gossip website.  Someone keeps spreading it all over the school. Can Lara Jean and Peter weather this storm together? Or does Lara Jean still have feelings for John, a boy whose grandmother lives in the nursing home where Lara Jean volunteers?  
    Paper Towns by John Green:  How well can you ever really know someone?  When the girl-next-door goes missing, three high school seniors set out to discover the answer.
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky:  This book is not new but I highly recommend it.  Charlie is a high school freshman who turns 16 on Christmas Eve.  The book is written in letters to an anonymous person about the unsettling events of Charlie's freshman year.  He is an extremely sensitive and perceptive young man and a group of seniors take him under their wing.  Having close friends for the first time in his life, Charlie starts to remember things from childhood which his memory had suppressed.  A very poignant coming-of-age novel.

    The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo:  This novel-in-verse draws you into the conflicted life of high school sophomore Xiomara Batista.  A daughter of Dominican immigrants, Xiomara’s mother is deeply religious and strict.  Xiomara does not feel like her voice is heard or that she is safe to express herself in the male-dominated world of her community.  Until she joins poetry club at school and her words are set free.  You will be rooting for Xiomara, or Poet X as she calls herself. The author of this book is a National Poetry Slam Champion and the book won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  An excellent read, I loved this book.

    The Rhyming Season by Edward Averett:  Boys' high school basketball is BIG in the tiny mill town of Hemlock, Washington.  Brenda is in her senior year and is on the varsity girls' team but obstacles seem to be piling up.  The new coach is their fuddy-duddy English teacher and through poetry he inspires the girls to outshine the boys and make it all the way to the state championships.  The plot is a little predictable and the writing bogs down at times but the book is a pleasant read.

    Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki:  Monty has two moms so she feels very threatened by an evangelical preacher’s campaign to save souls and abolish gay families. Monty’s two best friends from her Mystery Club seem to handle the situation a lot better than she is able to.  When Monty orders an Eye of Know online, strange things start happening whenever she has the stone with her.  Is the stone really magical?  And is the preacher’s son like his father or not? Read this thoughtful and honest book to find out.

    See No Color by Shannon Gibney:  Sixteen year old Alex is black but was adopted as an infant and raised in a white family.   Her dad is a former Major League baseball player and coach of Alex’s team.  Her role as her dad’s star baseball player has always been her whole identity.  Her parents and brother claim to not see color at all but her sister, Kat, starts asking questions and Alex’s first boyfriend is also black which starts Alex on a new journey to discover what it means to her to be a black transracial adoptee.   What is it like to be black when your whole family is white? (ebook available until August 2021 on Sora app for borrowing by unlimited numer of people at the same time)


    Seventeen by Liz Rosenberg:  Seventeen-year old Stephanie's mother is mentally ill and her dad isn't too domestic, so Stephanie takes care of her eight-year old brother and does a lot of the housework.  When Stephanie starts going out with Denny, one of the most popular boys in school, she experiences a range of new emotions - not all of them positive.  Her relationship with Denny triggers fears and insecurities that threaten her own mental stability.  With the help of a psychologist, and a new boyfriend with whom she has more in common, Stephanie starts to overcome her depression and rejoin the land of the living.  Written in spare, lyrical prose poems, fans of Sonya Sones's books will love this one.

    Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott:  The setting is a fairy tale land based on ancient, feudal Japan. In this fantasy novel, Suzume (Sparrow) has shadow weaving powers. Shadow weavers can conjure cloaks of illusion around themselves. After Suzume witnesses the horrible deaths of her gentle, poet father and her beloved cousin, Aimi, her life becomes all about avenging their deaths, even when she discovers that her mother and stepfather may be responsible.  Life for a beautiful young girl on her own is risky in a world where women have no status without the protection of a father or husband.  Otieno is a shadow weaver from a faraway land based on ancient Africa. He is visiting Suzume's land and they recognize that they are fellow shadow weavers and it is love at first sight. But will Suzume trust Otieno with her terrible secrets? And will his love for her be enough to keep her from harm?  This is a riveting story of love, adventure and revenge.
     Slam by Nick Hornby:  Alicia is Sam's first serious girlfriend and they spend all their time together for a while...until they break up.  On Sam's sixteenth birthday, he gets an urgent text message from Alicia.  His future is about to be altered in a big way and even his idol, Tony Hawk, cannot help him out of this jam.
    Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar:  Scott and his friends are starting high school - back to being at the bottom of the totem pole. To top it off, Scott's parents announce that they're having a baby.  Scott starts writing little notes for his unborn sibling about the hilarious and sometimes frustrating life of a freshman.  Will Julia ever notice him?  Will he ever get to keep his lunch money?  Will the kids on the school bus ever stop smacking him in the head?  A clever, funny book about the trials and tribulations of 9th grade.


    Someday This Pain Will be Useful To You by Peter Cameron:  This novel will appeal to adults and teens - one of the best books I've read all year.  James has always been a social misfit and prefers spending most of his time alone or with a few select people such as his grandmother or John, the other employee in his mother's art gallery.  Extremely bright and precise with language, James struggles to come to grips with his keen perceptions about other people and his trepidation about going away to college.  This is a modern day coming-of-age novel with a narrator whose head you won't want to leave.


    Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner:  This book takes sarcastic humor to new heights (or new depths depending on your sensibilities).  It's the raucous story of Shakespeare Shapiro's senior year at Hemingway High School.  The senior capstone project is a memoir.  The English teachers nominate the 12 best memoirs to be finalists for the grand prize which is announced at graduation.  Shakespeare has plenty of material to write about from his nutty parents, his brother, Gandhi, and his misfit friends.  You won't be able to put this book down (unless you're eating, in which case you might get too grossed out to eat).
    The Speckled Beauty:  A Dog and his People by Rick Bragg:  The old saying goes that cats have nine lives.  Well, they have never met Bragg’s dog Speck who has nine lives and then some. This is a tale about a misbehaving dog named Speck who “adopted” the author while he was recovering from illness. If you love dog books, as I do, you will grab onto this one like a favorite chew toy!
    Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi:  As the author says “this is not a history book.”  But it is a gripping story of racism and how it affects us all.  Starting way back in 1415 all the way up to the Black Lives Matter movement today.  A fast read, this is a remix of Kendi’s bestselling book Stamped told by popular Young Adult author Jason Reynolds.  Reynolds is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2020-2021.  “To know the past is to know the present.  To know the present is to know yourself.”  Give yourself a present by reading this book.
    Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr:  Seventeen year old Leila has a close relationship with her father's ex-wife and she is fascinated by her two sophisticated, older half-sisters.  When the people close to her start leaving, Leila learns about self-reliance and her place in her family's story.  This is a haunting, moving book about love and life.
    The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock:  Celia is a high school freshman in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Her parents have just separated and her dad moved to Atlanta.  Her mom works a lot and Celia is an outsider at school with no friends.  A new boy at school, Drake, has just moved to Hershey from New York City and becomes Celia's friend.  Drake shares his secret with Celia but Celia does not share her secret about why she has no friends.  Together they navigate through the ups and downs of starting high school and trying to fit in.

    This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi:  Three high school girls – Rinn, Daniella and Imogen -  all love working at Wild Nights Bookstore and Emporium in Chicago.  They couldn’t be any more different from each other yet the bookstore is so otherworldly and unique that it's the one thing that ties them together.  This novel takes place on one summer day when they discover the bookstore will be closing and torn down.  Can they save it and what would they be willing to do to try?

    This Tiny Perfect World by Lauren Gibaldi:  Penny lives in small town Central Florida and has her whole life mapped out.  After graduation she will attend the local community college, marry her boyfriend whom she has known since she was seven years old and run the country diner which her grandparents started.  But then she gets accepted into a prestigious summer drama camp.  All the kids there have big dreams and ambitions for acting careers, travel, city life.  Can Penny dare to rethink her plans?

     Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank:  This novel in verse takes place in a hospital room at Albany Medical Center.  Two teenagers, Francesca and Shannon, are hospitalized for Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disease which affects the gastrointestinal system.  They talk to each other and become friends across the hospital curtain separating them. Shannon deals with her illness by having a tough exterior.  Francesca, known as Chess, is struggling to come to terms with having a chronic illness which is turning her perfectly ordered life upside down and inside out. All she wants to do is “jump free of this body and disappear.”
    Unbecoming by Jenny Downham:  Katie is a British teenager whose life has been turned upside down.  Her Dad got a girlfriend and new baby so Katie and her special-needs brother and their mother have moved.  Katie also has lost her best friend and on top of that a grandmother she never knew she had has turned up on their doorstep with Alzheimer’s disease.  Katie, her mother Caroline and her grandmother Mary – three generations of women all of whom have secrets which are going to be revealed…
     The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin:  Eighteen year old Addison from sleepy little Peace Dale, RI is already a huge superstar in New York City’s art world.  And then she dies falling from a bridge.  The story of her life is pieced together in a series of interviews with all the people who were part of her life – her family, friends, art dealers and gallery owners, psychiatrists and boyfriends.  Was it an accident?  Was it murder?  Was it suicide?  This novel is a compelling character portrait of mental illness and artistic talent told in the style of a mock biography. 
     Very in Pieces by Megan Frazer Blakemore:  Math geek Very (short for Veronica) is the reliable one in her family.  Her dying grandmother is a renowned poet who was wild in her youth.  Her mom and younger sister are artists and her dad is a music professor.  Very’s boyfriend is steady and comfortable but she finds herself falling for Dominic – someone who definitely takes her out of her comfort zone.  Trying to hold all the pieces together while figuring out her own story is confusing, like her grandmother’s poems.  Who is Very and what happens if she steps out of the script others have written for her?
     Voss by David Ives:  This book about a fifteen year old immigrant boy is satirical humor at its finest.  Voss comes from the fictional country of Slobovia to the United States with his father, Bogdown, and his Uncle Shpoont.  His encounters with American life will have you laughing out loud.   Kind of reminds me of the movie Borat.

    We Were Liars by E. Lockhart:  Cadence spends her summers with her family on a private island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.  But something happened the summer that Cadence was fifteen and she has no memory of it.  Two summers later she returns to the island hoping to recover her memory and reconnect with her cousins and her first love.  But will this be possible once she learns what really happened two years ago?  This is a haunting book about an old-money family and their efforts to keep up appearances while dealing with family issues.  The story will draw you in and not let you go.  When you finally close the book you will be blindsided.




    Whale Talk by Chris Critcher:  T.J. is athletically and academically talented but he shuns the competitive athletic program at Cutter High School.  T.J. puts together a swim team of other school misfits which angers the the athletic department and other school jocks who do not want the team to qualify for the coveted Varsity Letter jackets.  The team struggles with serious issues such as racism, child abuse, physical and mental handicaps.  Will they be allowed to earn the prized school letter jackets or will they be denied by forces of hatred and ignorance?
    What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell:  The year is 1947 and Evie's stepfather, Joe Spooner, is back home in Queens after WWII.  Joe, Evie and her beautiful mother, Bev, go to Palm Beach, Florida for an off-season vacation.  They run into Peter, an army buddy of Joe's, and Evie falls in love for the first time.  But Peter is a mystery and Evie's parents are not the people she thought them to be.  When a hurricane hits Palm Beach, tragedy strikes and lies are stirred up and Evie's life will never be the same again.  This book won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.
    Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley:  This ruminative story moves at the pace of the sleepy little town of Lily, Arkansas.  Cullen's brother, who is a year younger than him, goes missing.  The town experiences some notoriety when a famous ornithologist claims to have sighted there a rare woodpecker thought to have been extinct for many years. Will the woodpecker or Cullen's brother ever be found? This book won the the 2012 Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature from the American Library Association (ALA).
    Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger:  A mistreated dog next door brings 16 year old Clair and her 18 year old neighbor Danny together.  Danny’s father is mean-spirited and he mistreats more than just Wally the dog.  Danny tries to escape his father’s violence and with Clair’s help he also tries to save Wally.  But can he save himself?  
    Write Naked by Peter Gould:  Sixteen year olds Victor and Rose Anna both are children of former hippie commune-dwellers and both love to write.  They use Victor's uncle's cabin in the woods of Vermont to hang out - Victor uses an old-fashioned manual typewriter and Rose Anna uses a fountain pen that belonged to her grandmother.  As Victor and Rose Anna grow closer, they get to know each other and read each other's work.  This is a story about connection and the freeing power of words.



    Your Own, SylviaA Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill:  This book won a 2008 Michael L. Printz Honor.  Sylvia Plath was a brilliant but mentally unstable poet.  She committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30.   Hemphill writes Plath's story in verse, as she imagines it, after careful research of her letters, her works, interviews and biographies.  She draws you into Sylvia's troubled world as a ground-breaking woman poet married to an emotionally distant British poet, Ted Hughes, in a time before feminism and before modern treatments for mental illness.   







    Also try the Saugerties Public Library to check out books.

    *Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

Last Modified on May 5, 2022