# of Pages: 337
Iowa High School Award Winner 2016-17
Fans of sweet teen romances will love this title that follows Lucy and Owen who meet unexpectedly during a city wide blackout in New York City. They are trapped in an elevator when the blackout strikes and by the time they are freed decide to spend the evening together enjoying the city without the usual overpowering city lights. After the blackout reality sets in as Owen’s dad loses his job and they must leave the city to find where they belong and Lucy’s dad gets a new job that transports her to Europe. Throughout their travels, they send postcards to each other as well as exchange a few emails, but since they only had one night together neither one knows how hard they should try to stay in contact. Meanwhile, Owen and his dad are dealing with the loss of his mother and Lucy is handling the new found family life she has found in Europe. Can they find their way back to each other or are they simply too far apart?
Owen and Lucy lead interesting lives in this story as they completely move around the world for very different reasons, but there is still something that keeps drawing them together. This book does not have a lot of supporting character development and the focus is always on Lucy and Owen. Despite the fact that there are not a lot of major plot developments readers stay engaged with these two because their story is so relatable. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will enjoy this title.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 322
2016 Iowa High School Award Winner
“A” wakes up in a different body every day and has gotten used to this type of life. When A wakes up in Justin’s body one day everything changes since Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, and A enjoy a very special day that neither of them can forget. Eventually, A breaks down and tells Rhiannon about his unusual lifestyle and she’s cautiously supportive. However, A notices that she does seem to have more trouble accepting A on days when A occupies a female body. As time goes on, A uses any excuse to go see Rhiannon and in the process alerts one of the hosts, Nathan, to A’s existence. Nathan decides to go public and announce to everyone that he was inhabited by the devil and A’s life begins to get complicated. Meanwhile, Rhiannon isn’t sure how much longevity their relationship could really have. Is there a way for them to stay together when there is absolutely no way to predict whose body A will inhabit from day to day?
This award winning book is unique and asks the reader to think about many issues such as how important appearances are and how important gender is. A doesn’t care about gender, sexual preference, or appearance because to A it is fluid and doesn’t reflect the person inside. To others, however, A quickly discovers just how important these things can be. The book also shows how difficult it would be to not have lasting relationships and cohesive memories. All in all, a very engaging read recommended for those who like unique romances such as The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor and Park.
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 391
In this companion to Between Shades of Gray, a group of individual refugees are trying to escape the final dangers of war as the Russians close in. Joana, Emilia, Florian, and a few others end up coming together to try and escape the final horrors of this war. They endure many difficulties on their journey (and they all have their secrets), but eventually make it to the ship called the Wilhelm Gustloff and are granted passage to freedom. The ship is meant to carry 1500 passengers and instead thousands of women, children, and wounded soldiers fill every corridor of this luxury liner. Unfortunately, tragedy and heartache are not behind them quite yet.
The characters in this book are all different and yet interesting in their own way. They’re all escaping something and wish to forget their pasts yet for various reasons they cannot. The story of the Wilhelm Gustloff is in itself very interesting because it was a bigger tragedy than the Titanic, but yet very few people even know about it. Sepetys always finds a way to tell the stories of those people and events that were not properly told in history books. Students at my school have greatly enjoyed learning about Stalin’s regime in Between Shades of Gray and I think they will also enjoy this title and its unique perspective on this terrible war.