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.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 391
Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road for five years as he worked for a trucking company, but he has decided to return to his home town so that she can go to a normal school. Unfortunately, Andy suffers from severe PTSD following his tours in Iraq. Due to this condition, Hayley is constantly watching out for Andy to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else as he often uses recreational drugs to try and cope. Hayley refers to betrayals in her past that lead her away from trusting anyone now with knowing their troubles. When she meets Finn she realizes that there might be people out there who also have struggles at home and whom she might be able to confide in. Can she ever be a normal teenager who worries about boys and schoolwork or will she forever be the parent in her house? Can she open up to Finn and let him know the horrors she potentially faces each time she goes home?
Fans of Anderson’s titles Twisted and Speak will love this title. It is very current and relatable while also revealing characters with personality and depth. Many tough issues are discussed in this book such as domestic violence, drug use, suicide, and death, but they are all introduced in a way that does not feel forced. The ending may or may not satisfy some readers, but in life things don’t always end perfectly and Anderson’s ending rings true in that respect.
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 372
Lina is a lawyer at a high profile firm in New York City. She is assigned a bizarre slavery reparations case in which she is challenged to find a modern day descendant of a slave who can claim damages today. She ends up coming across a story about a famous artist, Lu Anne Bell who was credited with wonderful paintings of the slaves on her plantation before her death in 1852. Some recent criticism has come up in which experts are speculating the artist was actually the young slave girl, Josephine. Can Lina prove that Josephine was the artist instead of Lu Anne? Can she find a descendant of Josephine when there is no evidence of what happened to her after Lu Anne’s death? Can she do it in time for the unimaginable deadline that her boss has set for her?
No one denies that many injustices occurred while slavery was still legal in the U.S., but this book reminds us that there are still many stories to tell. Although, this is a fictional story it does remind us that each slave had a name and a story and people are interested in learning those. The way the story is told pulls the reader in through old letters and documents. It seems impossible to right the wrongs that occurred back then, but there are still truths that can overcome the lies that have pervaded history. Fans of Sarah’s Key and Between Shades of Gray will enjoy this title as another book that sheds a different light on a big piece of history.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of Pages: 325
Park is a half Asian student who lives in a tough neighborhood of thugs and bullies, but has always managed to stay under the radar. Eleanor is a new student who has bright red curly hair and is a bit overweight. She immediately becomes a target for the bullies at school and Park takes pity on her and allows her to share his seat on the bus. They do not talk at first, but eventually they start sharing music and comics. Eleanor never talks about home, however, and as their friendship begins to shift toward a more romantic relationship Park begins to understand why she never discusses her family. Can Park protect her from the bullies in her life? Does he have the courage to do so?
This powerful modern day romance will connect with John Green fans who enjoy unique and truly memorable characters. There are many interesting descriptions used and information about both Eleanor and Park is revealed through surprising and yet realistic means so that the reader truly learns certain pieces of information at the exact moment that it occurs to the character. Highly recommended.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 231
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.
Genre: Science Fiction
# of Pages: 326
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.
# of Pages: 322
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.