The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

raft

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  231

RAC: Yes

Robie lives in the Midway Atoll with her family, but often goes to stay with her aunt in Honolulu.  One summer, her aunt is called away unexpectedly and Robie decides to take the shuttle plane home to her parents.  The phones are out so she cannot call her parents and tell them she is coming and in the commotion she forgets to get weighed before her and her bags climb aboard the plane.  A major storm knocks out one of the engines and the plane goes down.  Robie ends up struggling to survive in the middle of the ocean with only a raft and a few supplies.  Can she survive out there by herself?  Will anyone come to look for her?

This survival story realistically portrays exactly what it would be like to be drifting on a raft for days including symptoms of dehydration, starvation, and environmental dangers.  The details of the region including geography, animal life, and weather are all perfectly accurate which helps this story to feel even more realistic.  The story itself is very exciting and moves quickly so it is recommended for reluctant readers.

Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan

flame

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  326

RAC:  Yes

In the third installment of the Sky Chasers Series, everyone is on the New Horizon since the Empyrean was destroyed in the last book.  Anne Mathers is trying to promote peace, but she has both Waverly and Kieran under armed guard at all times since she doesn’t trust their motives.  Both of them are living with their mothers, but they seem a bit off and Waverly wonders what exactly has been done to them to make them so agreeable to everything the New Horizon suggests to them.  Meanwhile, Seth has landed on his own on the ship and has been on the run ever since.  His arm is badly damaged and is in danger of infection, but he just cannot bear to turn himself in.  Everyone on the ship is divided over the conditions they are living in.  Some believe the New Horizon did what they had to to ensure survival while others believe it wrong how they used murder and drugs to get everything they wanted for the Empyrean and the poor girls they violated.  Everyone does want to live peacefully, but can they overcome their past in order to move forward and work toward that goal?  Will Waverly and Kieran end up together just like everyone always planned?

The conclusion of this series is just as exciting as the rest with many close calls for Kieran and Seth especially.  Waverly and Kieran want to move on and promote a peaceful existence, but it is difficult to forget what they have been through and all of their shipmates who died in the process.  Anne Mathers is losing control of her ship, but for the first time Waverly starts to see who exactly created the evil persona she has become.  There are many surprises and the ending is far from predictable, which should intrigue fans.  Overall, it was a very satisfying ending to a fun and creative story.

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

distance

Genre:  Biography

# of Pages:  322

RAC:  Yes

Reyna Grande was born in Mexico and when she was very young her father left for the U.S. in the hopes of making his dreams come true and providing a better life for his family.  A few years later, he sent for their mother and Reyna and her siblings were heartbroken to be left behind.  Over the years they endured neglect and abuse at the hands of family.  Eventually, their father returned and agreed to sneak them across the border.  Reyna was only in 5th grade at this time and had a tough time keeping up, but they were able to get across and begin school.  By now her parents had split up and she was living with the father she hardly knew and his new woman.  Life was still not perfect as she struggled to make her father proud and nothing she did ever seemed to bring any reaction except harsh criticism or beatings.  Will she ever manage to achieve her goal of going to college and becoming a writer or are there too many environmental roadblocks in her way?

This true story is very powerful and accurate depicting the lives of many immigrants to the U.S.  and their families who are often separated for years at a time while they are trying to immigrate.  The description of life in Mexico also helps readers understand why so many people were immigrating to the U. S. and leaving families behind.  There are many disappointments for Reyna and her siblings, but she never loses hope and never lets go of her dreams.

Running For My Life by Lopez Lomong

running for my life

Genre:  Biography

# of Pages:  229

RAC:   Yes

This is the true story of Lopez Lomong and how he was kidnapped from church as a six-year-old and taken to be a child soldier.  He later escaped and was taken to a refugee camp where he lived for ten years.  When he was finally taken to the United States, it was through a program in which a number of “lost boys” were brought to the U.S.  He was taken in by a loving family who introduced him to the modern conveniences of life such as light switches and beds.  Ever since watching Michael Johnson race in the Olympics Lopez has hoped to achieve this goal someday.  Will he have what it takes to make his dream come true?  Will he be able to adjust to life in the U.S.?

This powerful story truly captures the plight of these “lost boys” from Sudan.  Many were forced to be child soldiers and were treated terribly in the process.  Even the ones like Lopez who managed to escape had difficult lives and very little education.  Lopez outlines how family, support, education, and faith helped him to become the man he is today and now he’s dedicated his life to helping others out of the same situation.  Recommended for reluctant readers and runners.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

miss peregrine

Genre:  Supernatural

# of Pages:  382

RAC:  Yes

As a child Jacob was always told fantastic stories about the orphanage his grandfather grew up in headed by Miss Peregrine.  He even had photos depicting the many hidden talents of the children who came to live there including levitation, invisibility, and incredible strength.  As Jacob grew up he began to doubt his grandfather’s stories, but   nevertheless he and his grandfather were very close until the day he received a frantic call from his grandfather claiming he needed to get into his gun safe.  Jacob went to see him thinking it was merely an episode of senility brought on by old age, but when he arrived he sees his grandfather has been murdered by a creature he has never see or heard of before. After, his parents send Jacob to a psychiatrist to help him through the trauma he has experienced and he ends up deciding to go visit the little island where his grandfather’s stories came from.  He hopes this trip will bring him closure, but what he sees when he gets to this place is most unexpected and Jacob finds himself pulled into the past on that fateful day when Miss Peregrine’s home had become yet another casualty of WWII.  Were his grandfather’s stories true?  How is Jacob connected to all of this?

This is truly a very unique story that blends the present and the past through actual photos recovered from past archives and attics.  The characters and the story pull the reader in simply because it is so different than a lot of fiction out there currently.  The underlying problems and motivations of the characters are very relatable to everyone, but yet they are manifested through very unusual circumstances.  Fans of mystery, historical fiction, and supernatural fiction will all enjoy this title.

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

independent study

Genre:  Futuristic/Adventure

# of Pages:  310 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel to The Testing, Cia is living in Tosu City having survived the testing in book one.  Tomas, the boy from her home town, is also in Tosu City.  Their memories were altered to keep them from remembering anything that happened during the testing, but Cia had left a message for herself secretly on the navigation device she brought from home so she remembers the hardship and loss they all experienced.  They are about to be given a rigorous test that will determine what they will study in college.  Cia studies incredibly hard and does pass, but not with the major she was hoping for.  Instead, she is put into the government field of study and must move into a dorm with other government students.  Students are not merely tested on paper, however, and must in fact survive a rigorous initiation process.  Can Cia survive yet another dangerous challenge that could end with her dying?  What does Cia learn about this government while living there?  Whom can she trust in his mission to stop the testing from ever happening again?

This is a solid follow-up to The Testing and will be  welcomed by many readers.  There is not as much focus on the students themselves as there is on the government officials and overall structure of the government.  The problems Cia has for freeing herself and other children from the testing regimens are only beginning to surface as this program involves many more people and secret layers than she could have ever thought.  Plus, the head of the government department seems to have it out for Cia.  She has a lot to do and is unsure who is really willing to help her do it.  Fans of The Hunger Games or adventure spy novels will enjoy this title.  This book really starts to set itself apart from other similar series.

Taken by Erin Bowman

taken

Genre:  Futuristic, Mystery

# of Pages:  360

RAC:  Yes

In the town of Claysoot all men are taken at midnight on the night they turn eighteen while the entire town watches.  This has been happening since the beginning of the town’s existence, but no one knows what happens to these teens or who is behind it.  After watching his brother Blaine get taken, Gray learns they are in fact twins.  Therefore, he knows whomever is taking these teens did not know this or else he would’ve been taken too.  He decided to take the deadly trip to climb over the wall that surrounds the town in order to find out exactly what is going on and who is controlling all of them.  Emma, his childhood friend, follows him and climbs the wall too.  What will they find on the other side of the wall?  Will they live long enough to find out?

Another offering in the rapidly growing dystopian genre, this book will easily find an audience.  The details of the rustic town they live in give the reader an idea of what life was like growing up in Claysoot.  For example, Emma and her mother work as the town’s only healers.  Many of their priorities and rituals seems a bit shocking, but this town is trying to survive without any adult men so simple ideas of getting married and having families suddenly become an impossibility.  The characters that are introduced are colorful, multi-dimensional, and full of a desire to learn the truth no matter what the cost.  My high schoolers are waiting in line for this title.



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