Published February 3, 2016
Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction , Romance
Tags: accident, dating, family, football, friendship, tragedy, trust
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of Pages: 327
Iowa Teen Award Winner 2016-17
Lauren has recently moved in with her aunt and uncle for reasons she would rather not discuss. Being the new girl in the small football-obsessed town for her senior year can be difficult, however, because everyone automatically speculates about her background. Meanwhile, Colby is also beginning his senior year as the star football player of their team who hopes to make it all the way to state this year. The problem is that Colby would rather not play football in college, despite his father’s fervent hope that he will accept one of the scholarships he’s been offered. Lauren and Colby meet unexpectedly one day and find they really like each other, but after a tragedy shakes Colby to the core he wonders if dating is such a good idea at this time in his life. Lauren definitely wants to see more of Colby, but she’s also dealing with the demons of her past. Will their timing ever be right? Will they ever find the chance to get to know each other better or is it not meant to be?
This story is told in alternating chapters with Lauren’s being written in poetry format making her thoughts mirror her mixed emotions at living with her aunt and uncle instead of with her mom. Colby’s story is told in prose which also reflects his thoughts and feelings as he walks the line between what he wants in life and what everyone else wants for him. Recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.
Published December 10, 2015
RAC , Realistic Fiction , Romance
Tags: blended families, college, family life, friendship, life choices, siblings, teenage dating, trust
# of pages: 265
Jane takes a job as a nanny for three small girls one summer because she doesn’t want to take the unpaid internship her mother found for her. The little girls happen to have an older half brother, Teo. Teo does not know Jane very well because she and his best friend do not get along for some unknown reason. As they start seeing each other more often and getting to know each other they start to form a strong attraction. Meanwhile, Jane discovers that Teo has been secretly looking for his father whom he has no recollection of ever seeing. Jane decides to try and help find Teo’s father thinking she is doing him a favor, but things do not go as planned. Will these two every overcome all the obstacles standing in their way to find true love? Will Teo ever find his dad? Will Jane ever decide what she wants to do after high school?
This book is a sweet, light teenage romance for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han. The supporting characters are fairly one-dimensional but very entertaining and Jane and Teo have a sweet relationship that young readers will want to know more about. Many ideas are mentioned, but not stressed in too great of detail such as bisexuality, death of a parent, and choosing options other than college after high school. The characters will be relatable to many readers without becoming too preachy or insufferable regarding their feelings and beliefs. Recommended for fans of teen romance books.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
# of Pages: 340
Riley witnessed the couple she was babysitting for get murdered and has never been the same since. She blames herself for not doing more to help them. She has tried multiple counselors and the latest one has suggested she come to a weekend-long retreat with other troubled teens. They are not there very long, however, when masked men come in and declare they are holding them hostage until a wealthy teen’s dad pays a hefty ransom for them. Things begin to go wrong almost immediately and it quickly becomes obvious that they may not leave alive. Riley is now getting her chance to see if she were in a life threatening situation again if she would run or stand and fight.
Fans of mystery thrillers will enjoy this title because it is a lot more than it first appears. The beginning even lags a bit as they struggle to find a way to defeat their kidnappers, but then things take a turn when everything Riley thought was happening is completely turned on its head. For the most part any inconsistencies in the motivations of the characters are explained away and the resolution is exciting and captivating. Fans of mystery books and shows should check out this title.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 407
Alex Woods has had a very interesting life. He lives with his single mother who owns and operates a fortune teller business and when he was ten he was hit by a meteorite that actually plummeted through his bathroom ceiling. Since his accident he’s had trouble with seizures and unfortunately, bullies. On one such occasion when he was running from bullies he ended up getting blamed for an act of vandalism on a elderly man’s home. His punishment was to go to Mr. Petersen’s house every Saturday to help him out. All of this leads up to the story that begins with Alex getting arrested by border patrol because he has marijuana in his glove compartment and Mr. Petersen’s ashes in the seat next to him. What happened that led to this moment?
This story is quirky and weird in a way that makes the reader want to know more. The last 100 pages are especially compelling as the facts all start to come together and it becomes obvious what Alex and Mr. Petersen are going to do. Fans of John Green novels will like this title because the characters are smart and unique and the story seems unbelievable and yet believable at the same time.
Published September 24, 2015
Mystery , RAC , Realistic Fiction
Tags: algorithm, betrayal, computer, encryption, friendship, math, plan, plot
# of Pages: 374
Robert “Smiles” Smylie is the son of a very wealthy and important man who began a computer software company when Smiles was a baby. Smiles has always felt like a disappointment to his father since he is not a math genius. His mother ran out on him when he was a baby and his loving stepmother died suddenly in a car accident shortly before the story begins. He is struggling to find his place when his quiet neighbor, Ben, asks for his help getting to an encryption conference. Once there, Ben cracks a previously thought to be uncrackable code that if sold could breach the top secrets of every organization while also bankrupting his father’s company. Ben creates an elaborate plan to protect the code but still get him and Ben some of the profits from discovering such a code. Is this his shot at greatness? Can he and Ben pull off such a big plan and get away with it?
This title reads like a heist movie in that there are lots of aspects to their plan and there are many players in the game who have plans of their own. Smiles learns a lot about his dad’s past and the truth about the beginning of his company and why his mother really left him. There are many surprises and plot twists, but the story definitely has some slower moments as well. Recommended for fans of heist movies.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 374
Iowa High School Award Winner 2015-16
Daniel Wright enlisted in the Idaho National Guard as soon as he was eligible, which means he is still a senior in high school. He lives with his very needy mother, plays football, and has a girlfriend. The national guard is only supposed to be one weekend a month until he graduates from high school, but then a law is passed that many people do not agree with including the governor of Idaho. When he refuses to comply with the law he calls in the national guard to combat any possible rioters and Daniel Wright is one of those soldiers called in to defend the capital. Unfortunately, his gun accidentally fires and it begins a terrible riot that results in some civilian casualties. In the aftermath, the President of the U.S. demands the governor of Idaho reveal the names and whereabouts of all involved soldiers so they can face possible criminal charges. The governor refuses and Idaho faces the very real possibility that they could go to war with the United States of America. Can Daniel fight other U.S. soldiers? Will Daniel go to jail if he is caught by the U.S. military? Will his liberal girlfriend understand the circumstances that led him to this point?
This exciting adventure story shows how plausible it really is that a state could go to war with the U.S. All of the characters are written in a way that you can understand their motivations, feelings, and actions. There’s a lot of soldier terminology used to describe Daniel and his squad’s orders, but it is explained well for readers who do not normally read about soldiers. The story is very exciting as Daniel is thwarted at every move and the ending will definitely leave readers wanting more. Strongly recommended for high school boys.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of Pages: 417
Sydney was always the overlooked younger sibling to Peyton, her charismatic lovable older brother. When Peyton is arrested and sent to jail for paralyzing a teenager while driving his car drunk things shift even more in his direction as their parents struggle to help him in any way they can. Sydney begins to feel unsafe in her own home as Peyton’s overly friendly friend, Ames, begins to frequent her house more and more. By chance, she meets the Chatham family and with it a new best friend and potential boyfriend. The Chathams are everything her family is not and Sydney feels noticed and listened to in a way her family hasn’t for a long time. Eventually, her two worlds collide and she must make some big decisions about where to go from here. Can she forgive her brother for destroying her family? Can she date a boy her family deems unworthy? Will her parents ever give her the attention she deserves as the only remaining child in the home?
Sarah Dessen once again creates a story full of wonderful and engaging characters that make you want to know more about them. Sydney’s family obviously has some very serious issues with Peyton’s predicament, but yet that does not change the fact that they still have a child who needs their attention as well. Meanwhile, the Chathams have had some terrible disappointments too as their mother is very ill. The two families handle conflict in their own ways and Sydney finds strength from both of them in different ways. The romance between Sydney and Mac is sweet, but does not take over the story where Sydney is the main focus. Recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han novels.