19 hours after Jace leaves home in Chicago, he ends up at his brother's doorstep in Albuquerque with cuts and bruises to his face, less than $4 in his pocket, and a message from Mom: I'll be there on Thanksgiving. Swati Avasthi's debut novel, Split is a gripping story about abuse, frustration, anger, redefining family, and how the strength of this family can get you through things that may seem completely hopeless. The story completely pulls you in from the first pages, the characters are well thought out and likeable, and Avasthi's subtlety about a sensitive topic is appreciated. Chosen as one of this year's Best Books for Young Adults by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association, Split is an excellent read for the older teen reader.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of those well-executed stories that has stayed with me since reading it a few years ago. It is an achingly-sad yet touching and beautiful story full of music, love, and loss. Be warned...If you read this book, you will likely cry. Even this typically dry-eyed reader had a hard time holding back the tears during the last few pages (which was awkward considering that I was in the break room at work). But if you are up to the emotional challenge, I encourage you to take it. I'll try not to spoil it too much for you:
Mia is a Portland-area high school senior with a gift for classical cello, dreaming of making it into prestigious Julliard. She has a great relationship with her lovely family, made up of her cool punk rock parents and her little brother. The message that true passion for music transcends genres runs throughout the book, and this is what brings her together with her rocker musician boyfriend Adam, despite their superficial differences.
Unfortunately, it's about to get really, really sad. The book opens with a devastating car accident that leaves the other passengers dead and Mia critically injured in a coma, and the rest of the novel unfolds in out-of-sequence vignettes from Mia's life leading up to the accident. These scenes weave in and out with Mia's out-of-body experience watching her loved ones during the aftermath. Mia has suffered an unimaginable loss, but does she have the strength to stay and endure it? The characters are well-developed and lovable, which makes the emotional connection all the more strong and therefore painful. I absolutely adored her amazing family, and her boyfriend Adam is endearing to astronomical proportions. And yes, the whole post-trauma limbo "Should I stay or should I go?" thing has been done before, but this was done very well.
There's talk that this will be made into a movie, but no info yet about directors or casting now that actress Dakota Fanning has left the project. But guess what? There's a brand new sequel! Again, no spoilers, so I'll just tell you that it's called Where She Went (available now in the catalog), and it's about my dear book-crush Adam.
Witness by Karen Hesse is a chilling, beautifully written novel set in a small Vermont town. Told from the point of view of 11 different characters and in free verse, this story relates actual events that occurred after the arrival of the Ku Klux Klan in 1924. At the heart of the story are Leanora, a 12 year-old African American girl and Esther Hirsh, a 6 year-old Jewish girl whose families are victimized by the Klan. From these two young girls to the town’s adult citizens, the author has created convincing and distinct voices for each of the 11 characters. It is fascinating to read about the same events as they are told from these very different points of view and to see changes in attitudes slowly taking place.
If you enjoy the powerful format of the novel told in poems, you’re in luck because there are many other excellent poem-novels out there. Here are just a few of them:
And if you liked these poem-novels, here are even more titles.
These days it's easy to see what your favorite author is doing - besides hopefully working on the next great book. John Green is a great example:
If you're 12-18 years old and like to take photos or are just beginning here is a contest just right for you! We're inviting teens to show us why they love the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library by taking a photo showing why this library is special to them! You can print out this entry form and return it to the Children's Room at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library by April 30. There will be cool prizes so don't miss this chance to be a winner. The library has many books on basic photography to get you started or give you ideas. Be creative and take a chance!
Spring is here, which means many high school juniors and seniors are starting to think about the prom. Some achingly count the days until they can don fabulous attire, ride in a limo, and dance with their sweethearts while others relish in re-inventing the prom or skipping it entirely as an act of nonconformity and independence. Whether you love it or hate it, the high school prom has become a traditional social custom for many American teens, and as a result, a variety of funny, dramatic, romantic, and/or unconventional stories about proms can be found in our Young Adult Fiction areas. Check these out!
Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer
Sophomore iconoclast Cindy Gold publishes an anti-prom letter in her high school newspaper, but when she develops a crush, she begins to doubt her own convictions.
Prama by Jamie Ponti
Six high school seniors deal with the drama that goes along with attending the senior prom.
Prom Queen Geeks by Laura Preble
When self-proclaimed "queen geek" Becca decides there should be an alternative to the prom, her best friend Shelby cannot decide whether to support her friends or to go with her boyfriend to the traditional prom.
21 Proms edited by David Levithan and Daniel Ehrenhaft
These short stories run through the whole spectrum of the prom experience, featuring awesome YA authors like John Green, Rachel Cohn, Sarah Mlynowski, and Jacqueline Woodson.
Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby
While trying to cast a love spell on her date on the eve of the senior prom, Mia inadvertently infects her entire high school class with a virus that will turn them all into zombies.
Also, be sure to check out Operation Prom Dress, which is a unique opportunity for hundreds of girls in the San Jose area to score a new or gently used prom dress for FREE. Going to the prom doesn't have to break the bank. So whether you decide to go to your school's event with a special someone or a bunch of your best pals, or perhaps create your own "anti-prom" event, or maybe just skip it altogether, just choose what feels right for you. You'll probably have a story or two of your own to share about it later on.