Published December 1, 2014
Adventure , RAC , Realistic Fiction
Tags: betrayal, family, fight, friendship, kidnap, loyalty, murder, trust
# of Pages: 459
Saba lives with her twin brother, father, and little sister in the middle of a desserted, dry place. Lugh, her twin, begins to worry about their survival with the lake drying up and their overall lack of food. Her father has never been the same since Saba’s mother died giving birth to her sister, Emmi. Unexpectedly one day, four men in long robes riding horses kidnap Lugh and kill her father who tries to stop them. Saba and Emmi then begin a long journey to try and find Lugh, but before they get far they are captured and Saba is forced to cage fight daily for her life in a brutal coliseum type entertainment venue where people come to watch young girls die. While incarcerated, Saba begins to make a few friends and learns a few things about Lugh’s whereabouts, but the more she hears the worse it sounds. How will she get free so that she no longer has to fight for her life for other’s entertainment? Will she ever be able to find and rescue her brother and sister? Can she trust anyone she meets?
This futuristic survival tale will be riveting for anyone who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Maze Runner. It’s very raw and gritty and leaves the reader truly pulling for Saba who has an unbelievable amount of obstacles in front of her. Everything that happens to Saba and her friends is brutal, but very realistic and believable unlike some of the other futuristic series out there. Saba is a flawed and interesting character that makes you wonder what will ultimately happen to her, but the characters around her are also flawed and somehow they all work together to bring forth the best version of themselves. Recommended
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of page: 322
Becca Jones and her mother just want anonymity after Becca’s father is sentenced to ten years in prison for multiple counts of conning people out of their life savings so that his family could live a very privileged life. Becca is about to start high school and completely humiliated by her father’s actions. Becca and her mother flee Georgia and run to a small town in Ohio where they live very humble, simple lives trying to avoid anyone knowing who they really are. Three years later Becca is an A student and ready to apply to colleges. She has tried tirelessly to prove how hard she is willing to work for her future and that she’s not a cheater like her father. Yet, when she asks her mother for help on financial aide forms her mother gets paranoid and says it won’t be safe for her to do anything online where someone could find them. Eventually, Becca learns that her mother is harboring a terrible secret about the real reason they fled Georgia in the first place.
This book is written in a way that any young adult girl reading can truly identify with Becca and how she must feel learning about her father’s transgressions and being forced to deal with that humiliation. Becca and her mother are written very well and have multiple dimensions and motivations for all of their actions. Becca’s friends start a little flat, but eventually they start to have some real personalities and genuinely seem to care for Becca. The plot definitely has some twists and turns that readers might not be expecting, but the ending is handled very quickly and neatly. Overall, an exciting read that reluctant readers will enjoy.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 359
Kit has been trained to be a killer since she was a small girl by her mother. Kit’s mother felt called to kill, but eventually felt like she was getting too close to getting caught so she retired and trained her daughter to believe she was merely performing a service. Kit truly believes killing is neither right nor wrong, but just is. By day she is the chipper private school girl who blends in everywhere and yet has no close friends. Once every few months, however, she visits a local coffee shop where there is a secret drop box in the bathroom wall where people deposit letters and cash to have the “perfect killer” dispose of their unwanted family and friends. She reads the letters and chooses which victims she feels most comfortable with and takes care of it in a way that no clues, DNA, or fingerprints are ever found. She leaves the letters at the crime scene so that the police know it was her. One day her mother invites the lead detective on the perfect killer case over for dinner and they strike up a friendship so that Kit can know where they are on the investigation, which is nowhere. Can she keep up this facade forever? Will the job ever bother her or have lingering effects?
This book is dark and yet written in a light way so that it appears like Kit is a very normal and sympathetic girl. The more you get to know the character, however, the more disturbing she really is. She is able to kill perfect strangers for money without feeling any remorse or blame in any way. What’s worse is it almost seems like a game to her. Fans of mystery books might enjoy the thrill of living vicariously through someone who truly does what she wants when she wants, but eventually it gets a bit old as you discover how scary someone like this actually is.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
# of Pages: 388 p.
On a spring break trip to Aruba a group of high school seniors think they will have a carefree time full of beaches and parties, but instead end up finding one of their own, Elise, stabbed to death in their beach house. Surprisingly, police turn suspicion onto their group rather than following clues that might suggest an outside intruder. Within a few days, Anna, Elise’s best friend, is arrested and charged with the crime. Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, is originally considered until his father’s expensive lawyers convince Aruba to let him go in exchange for testifying against Anna. Anna feels shocked, sad, vulnerable, and betrayed as she awaits her trial in jail. As her friends return to school, college, etc. she is forced to face the realization that she may spend the majority of her life in a foreign prison. Will Anna be convicted? Did she know anything about this terrible crime?
Fans of Pretty Little Liars and similar series will enjoy this title that packs emotion, suspense, and surprise throughout the entire story. Readers come to feel like they know what it would be like to be in Anna’s shoes. There are some passages with heavy language and sexual references that do ring true for how teens often talk and act to each other but may not be appropriate for younger readers.
Published June 2, 2014
RAC , Realistic Fiction
Tags: abuse, ace, cab, confidence, dating, family, friendship, goals, loneliness, mission
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 357
Ed Kennedy has zero goals or aspirations for life. He works as a cab driver, lives with an old dog, and plays card games with his three underachieving friends. After witnessing the worst bank robbery he’s ever seen, Ed manages to help catch the robber sheerly by luck. Afterward, he is given quite a bit of notoriety, but more importantly he receives a playing card with three names on it. He quickly realizes that he needs to find ways to help the people named on the card and some are much more difficult than others. Each person changes Ed a little bit and he begins to wonder how many names there will be. He has evidence that someone is watching him to see if he is completing his tasks, but who? What is the purpose of these little missions?
This powerful story makes you think about the choices you make everyday. Ed never planned on making much of himself simply because he didn’t think he had any real potential or skills. These missions help him to learn that he can indeed make a difference in many ways. What is he meant to do? His friends are no more motivated than he is, but as he continues his journey he begins to discover that they all have secrets of their own. There is some sexual references and mild language, but the story will leave you thinking about the character and the message for days to come.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
RAC Book: Yes
2014-2015 Iowa High School Award Winner
Every year a list is posted the Monday before Homecoming listing the four prettiest and four ugliest girls, one for each grade respectively. Each chapter follows one of the eight girls and how they cope with the existence of this list. Danielle, the ugliest freshmen, must deal with the fallout of how her boyfriend handles the news that she was voted on this list. Meanwhile, Abby, the prettiest freshmen faces possibly not being allowed to go to the dance at all due to grades. The “ugliest” sophomore is actually a cute, but very mean girl who is deemed “ugliest” on the inside. The “prettiest” sophomore girl is a girl who has been home-schooled for her entire life and is trying to find independence from her mom with great difficulty. The prettiest junior, Bridget, feels pressured into an eating disorder in order to maintain her image while the ugliest junior reacts quite strongly and refuses to shower or change her clothes for the entire week after the list comes out. The ugliest senior is the first ever to earn that particular honor for all four years of high school and she pretends she is totally fine with it. The prettiest senior feels the pressure to follow in her sister’s footsteps who was the prettiest senior the year before and seemed to fall apart afterward. Each chapter follows a different girl as she navigates through this very difficult week.
This book has earned many awards for good reason. This book delves into many serious issues for high school girls including insecurity, the fear of being excluded, worrying about what others think, eating disorders, dating problems, academic trouble, lying, and problems at home. No one on the list finds happiness no matter which side of the list she is on. While the circumstances around the list may seem unbelievable, the issues surrounding it are completely believable and exist at every high school. A great book to recommend to high school girls, especially ones who are having trouble adjusting.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 328
Dane is a bully who is a mere few strikes away from expulsion, but he still can’t seem to keep his fists under control. One day he notices a boy with Down Syndrome following him to school and he decides to put him in his place, but surprisingly the boy immediately has an effect on him. His name is Billy D and he is Dane’s new neighbor. Billy D wants Dane to teach him how to fight and find his father and in return he will tell the Warden at school how much Dane is helping him navigate the new building and protecting him from other bullies. As Dane walks Billy D to and from school everyday they start to become friends and Dane helps Billy D solve the clues his father left for him in an old atlas. Billy D is sure that the clues will lead to his father’s location, but Dane is starting to grow concerned that this path to Billy’s father might end with him getting hurt in some way. Can Dane help Billy D long enough to avoid expulsion? Can Billy D solve the clues and do those clues lead to his father? What is the reason why he does not know where his father is?
Dane and Billy’s unlikely friendship pulls readers in as they try to follow the clues left by Billy’s dad. You can’t help but want to know about Billy’s backstory and all the things he doesn’t want to tell Dane about. Meanwhile, Dane is dealing with a single mom, an absent dad, and unexplainable rage issues. Can these two find a way to help each other grow? The characters are incredibly complex and sympathetic which fuels the entire story. Recommended for reluctant readers.