Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 229
RAC Book: No
Caitlin is having a difficult time coping with the suicide of her best friend, Ingrid. Her parents keep trying to help her by creating projects for her and offering her space, but she cannot seem to feel normal again. When a new girl in school, Dylan, tries to befriend her Caitlin feels guilty for having fun with someone else. One day, Caitlin discovers Ingrid’s journal under her bed. Slowly, she reads each entry and learns a lot about Ingrid she never knew. She feels bad that Ingrid did not feel she could talk to her about her issues and wishes she could have helped, but also realizes she must begin to put her life back together. She picks up her photography again and begins building a tree house in order to show everyone she is moving on, but not forgetting.
This book does have a few graphic scenes and some raw language, but many students will really identify with it. The different feelings Caitlin has are portrayed so realistically that any reader feels like he or she has experienced this terrible loss. Caitlin’s slow progression toward acceptance and healing feels natural and healthy and the people along the way who help her are engaging side characters. Anyone who enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why will enjoy this title as well.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of Pages: 322 p.
Marisa and Sterling are two best friends who are determined to begin this new school year right. They set goals for making friends, getting boyfriends, and succeeding in school. Marisa is a little apprehensive about this year because the previous year she was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression. She feels she has recovered, but always worries those lonely feelings will come back. She also desperately wants to date Derek, the popular boy in school, which is why she shuns the romantic advances of her male best friend, Nash. To top everything off, Marisa learns her parents are going to get divorced. Basically, nothing goes exactly as she and Sterling planned and Marisa wonders if she can handle so many unexpected obstacles in her life. The only person who seems able to understand her is this mystery DJ Dirty Dirk, who broadcasts an anonymous show every night. Will she be strong enough to ask for help if she needs it?
Marisa’s difficulty with depression is handled very accurately in this story as she struggles to make it day to day without feeling hopeless and alone. Even though she knows she has a lot to be grateful for, she can’t seem to make herself feel that way on her own. Jealousy, anger, and confusion are all a part of Marisa’s life, which most teenagers can probably relate to. As she tries to make sense of those around her she realizes that she does not have to have all of the answers at once, but just needs to keep trying to reach her goals. Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this one.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 12 and up
# of Pages: 280 p.
RAC Book: Yes
Liz’s grandmother, Bunny, dies before the book begins and Liz watches as her mother sinks further and further into a depression. Liz and everyone else loved Bunny too, but she feels helpless as she watches her mother withdraw from everything important to her. Meanwhile, the mean old lady across the street has some new visitors. Liz learns that these visitors are her estranged daughter who is very sick and her two children. Nathan is about Liz’s age and extremely angry about the fact that his mother is dying. Courtney is younger and no one seems to want to tell her the true prognosis of her mother’s condition. As Liz struggles with everything around her the one constant is her love of the piano. She finds that playing the piano can help her cope with anything, but can she help those around her find their own ways of coping?
This story about life and death reaches out to everyone. It illustrates how differently people handle loss and how all of their relationships are affected by it. It also shows how important it is to communicate with people you care about, whether it be during a difficult or easy time. When people fail to communicate with each other about anything it can cause tension and lead to bigger problems later on.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 13 and up
# of Pages: 247 p.
RAC Book: yes
Jes is struggling with every aspect of her life. She is still dealing with the death of her younger sister and subsequent divorce of her parents. Meanwhile, her mother is engaged to be married again and her new fiancee has brought his teenage daughter to live in Jes’s room. Jes’s best friend is smitten with her new boyfriend, which makes Jes feel unneeded and forgotten. Everyone keeps trying to include her in their plans, but she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere anymore. Can she ever communicate her feelings to those she loves without alienating everyone around her?
This story appears very simple, but resonates with many teenagers who feel like life is passing them by while they try to make sense of what is around them. Teenagers go through many changes with friends and family and often need time to process and adjust to all of these changes. This story finds an audience and conveys a story that the audience can truly relate to. Life is never easy and people often respond to major life changes in different ways. It’s important for young adults to have characters like this one to read about in order to better understand their own feelings about major life changes.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Level: 14 and up
# of Pages: 225 p.
RAC Book: Yes
The Snows follows four generations of the Snow family who live in Jefferson, Iowa. The four sections of the book focus on when one of the Snows was sixteen and the turmoil that year brought to the entire family. The first section takes place in 1931 as the Snows struggle through the depression. The second section takes place in 1942 when Cathy Snow gets unexpectedly pregnant and her family has to deal with a teen pregnancy during a time of low tolerance. The third section follows Jill in 1969 during a time of rebellion and protest over the Vietnam War. Finally, the last section connects the previous three sections together when Mona goes home for a family funeral in 2006 and reunites with many family members whom she has not seen much in her sixteen years.
The Iowa backdrop for this story will appeal to any Iowans because there are mentions of specific towns and places that any Iowan will know. The first two sections seem the most compelling as they introduce the family and their dynamic. The section in 1969 reveals some strong language in the protest for the war. The protest is not explored in depth enough for those readers who do not know a lot about this time. The final section is used as a way to pull the four parts together. All in all a nice read, but may be difficult to sell to young adults.