Posts Tagged 'college'

The End of Our Story by Meg Haston

Genre: Romance

280 p.

2019 Iowa High School Award Winner

Bridge and Wil were very close until Bridge did something that Wil did not think he could bring himself to forgive.  It has been months and Bridge is still struggling without Wil and his family’s influence.  When she runs into Wil, his new girlfriend, and his dad at the grocery store his dad urges her to make things right with Wil.  She argues that it’s Wil who doesn’t want to have a relationship with her but he argues back that she needs to mend the friendship if nothing else.  Shortly after the town is shocked by the news that Wil’s dad has been murdered by an intruder and Bridge knows that it is her job to comfort Wil and his mother at this time.  Eventually, they begin to grow closer as Wil struggles with the aftermath of this attack, but is he being completely honest with Bridge?  Do they really have a future together or are they just looking for familiarity during a tragedy?

The relationship between the two main characters is very complicated, as many relationships are, despite both Wil and Bridge’s desire that it be easy and simple.  Bridge is trying to make up for a mistake she made and is desperate to get back in Wil’s good graces, but Wil has demons to overcome himself.  They are both facing many difficult decisions as they enter their senior year and it understandably causes some tension and anxiety with those around them.  They lean on each other to help them through these confusing times, but often find that without total honesty and trust nothing really matters.  Recommended for fans of conflict romances.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Genre:  Realistic  Fiction/Romance

# of Pages: 348

Iowa High School Award Winner 2018-19

Natasha is struggling to accept that her family is about to be deported and won’t stop fighting even though it is her last day.  There is a lawyer who is supposed to be very talented at stopping deportations and she has a meeting with him today, but along the way she meets Daniel.  Daniel is an Asian American who has always tried to be a good son, which is why he’s on his way to a college admissions interview for a school he’s not sure he really wants to go to.  After Natasha and Daniel meet by chance they both find themselves drawn to each other and end up spending the day together talking and sharing their life’s ambitions.  They know that today could possibly be their last and they want to make it count.  Is it meant to be?

Nicola Yoon is quickly becoming a favorite young adult author.  This story focuses on some real issues that many teens deal with everyday, but in a way that feels unique and special to this particular couple.  Readers will connect with Natasha and Daniel and will want to know more about them.  Yoon does a great job of helping to show how other characters fit into the story as well by switching to different perspectives throughout the story.  Fans of romance novels such as The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park will enjoy this title. Recommended.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

emmy-and-oliver

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  343

Emmy and Oliver were best friends as young children because they lived next door to each other.  Then, one day Oliver’s dad kidnapped him after school and life was never the same for either of them.  Oliver moved around quite a bit with his father and was led to believe his mother did not want him anymore.  Emmy’s parents responded by becoming very overprotective and barely letting her out of their sight.  At the beginning of Emmy’s senior year she hears the news she has both wanted and dreaded:  Oliver has been found.  What will he be like?  Will he remember her?  Will they still be friends?  How will this change everything yet again?

This book was very enjoyable and properly explores the difficulties for both Emmy and Oliver surviving an ordeal like this.  Oliver’s emotional health is probably not discussed in as much length as would be realistic, but it is also told through Emmy’s perspective so she wouldn’t necessarily know everything he’s going through.  The events of the story eventually build to a head and are resolved very acceptably.  The story has an interesting concept, but does not rely on that and instead relies on the fulfilling development of the characters to truly carry the story.  Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this title.

Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall

signs point to yes

Genre:  Romance

# of pages:  265

RAC:  Yes

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.

Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix

full ride

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of page:  322

RAC:  Yes

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.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

golden

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  277

RAC:  Yes

Parker is a high school senior who has always followed the rules and done what she was supposed to, which is why she is currently a finalist for a prestigious scholarship that would give her a full ride scholarship to her dream school.  Her best friend, however, feels she needs to break a few rules before graduation.  The opportunity surprisingly arises when she is asked by a teacher to mail out notebooks full of wishes and goals written by a group of high school seniors ten years prior.  As she gathers the notebooks to send out to these graduated seniors from ten years ago she comes across one for a Julianna.  This is a big deal because Julianna died in a car accident with her high school sweetheart shortly after graduation.  They have since been immortalized in the town as the “golden couple” who were meant to be together forever.  Parker decides to open the notebook and read what Julianna’s last thoughts were in those weeks leading up to her death.  What were her aspirations?  Her dreams?  When Parker starts reading the notebook, however, she is very surprised by Julianna’s words and it makes her question everything the town promotes about this girl.  Was there more to that fateful night that led to the horrific car accident?  Parker decides to investigate.

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Nicholas Sparks will devour this title.  It is full of colorful characters, including Parker who is always pushed for greatness by her mother but deep down she doesn’t really know what she wants for her future.  Meanwhile, Julianna’s notebook opens a flood of feelings and fears leading up to graduation that anyone could identify with.  Plus, there is the added intrigue of finding out what exactly happened to Julianna and her boyfriend.  It’s a fun romance story that will be popular with many young adult teens.

Six Years by Harlan Coben

six years

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  351

RAC:  Yes

Jake Fisher thought he met the girl of his dreams while he was away trying to write his dissertation.  They had a wonderful summer together and he believed they would spend their lives together.  Then, one day she announces that she is going back to her old boyfriend and a few days later Jake receives a wedding invitation to her wedding.  He cannot believe this is happening and has to see it with his own eyes.  When he goes to the wedding she makes him promise not to bother her or her husband ever again.  He promises and does nothing for six years, but then one day he sees the obituary for the man he saw Natalie marry.  He decides to go to the funeral and does not see Natalie as the grieving widow, but instead sees a woman who has been married to this man for many years and they have two teenage kids together.  Where is Natalie?  Why was her husband married to someone else?

Coben has done it again with this exciting mystery.  Jake’s journey takes off immediately after learning that Natalie’s husband is dead.  The more he investigates and looks for her, however, the more dead ends and questions he has.  No one seems to know where Natalie is and some people do not seem to believe she existed in the first place.  The story twists and turns like all of Coben’s best mysteries do and the ending is full of surprises that will satisfy mystery fans.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

moon and more

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 435

RAC:  Yes

Emaline is working for her family’s rental company the summer before she goes to college.  She is very close to her mother, stepfather, and stepsisters, but has never felt close to the father who walked out on her.  She is still bristling from an argument with her biological father that led to him ignoring her graduation completely.  She isn’t sure how she feels when  he calls to say he is in town and wants to meet with her.  Meanwhile, she meets a documentary filmmaker and her assistant, Theo, who have rented one of the biggest properties for the entire summer.  The filmmaker often has crazy demands, but the assistant seems interesting in a different sort of way.  Is Emaline ready to give up the boyfriend she’s had for four years for this intriguing boy from the big city?  Is Emaline ready to face the father she barely knows in order to confront how seriously he hurt her?  Is Emaline ready to go away to college and leave her family and friends behind?

Sarah Dessen fans will enjoy the characters in this one as well.  Emaline is easygoing, but also very hardworking, smart, and driven.  She is not afraid to step outside of her comfort zone in order to fight for what she wants.  Her relationship with her boyfriend, Luke, is hardly established when things go south so it’s hard to feel too strongly about him one way or the other.  Theo, is portrayed differently than most of the rebound boyfriends in Dessen’s novels and this change is a bit refreshing.  The ending lacked a bit of the punch that others such as The Truth About Forever had and was a tad predictable, but Dessen fans will enjoy it anyway.

Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Image

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  190

RAC:  Yes

Perry is constantly pressured by his parents to get into an Ivy League School and become successful.  They even make him work after school at his dad’s law firm in the hopes of acquiring a letter of recommendation from one of the partners.  Perry does everything they ask without too much complaint, which is why he’s so upset when he is ordered to take their weird foreign exchange student to the prom instead of going to the important gig his band had set up.  Ever since Gobi had come to stay with them she had been distant, cold, and just plain strange.  When they actually head out to prom, Perry is in for a surprise when he learns she is actually an assassin who has been training for this night where she plans to kill multiple people and use him as the getaway driver.  Can Perry stop her or at least come out unscathed?

This fun novel reads like a movie.  Perry is upset with having to take Gobi to the prom and becomes shocked when she suddenly transforms into this sexy assassin with her sights set on killing very powerful people in the city.  The novel twists and turns as facts surrounding her plans are revealed and the ending is very satisfying.  Recommended for people looking for a fun, short, and exciting read.

We Beat the Street by The Three Doctors

Genre:  Nonfiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  183

RAC Book: Yes

Awards:  Iowa Teen Award Winner 2009-2010

This true story follows three young men as they grow up in tough neighborhoods and through sheer luck manage to escape big trouble with the law.  They find themselves at an informational meeting about a program that helps inner city kids become doctors.  The three make a pact to see it through to the end.  There are many times when one or another wants to quit and the other two have to remind him of why he wants to be a doctor.   The story tells of some of the trouble these boys got into as young kids and why it is so difficult to even go to college from where they come from.

This story does try to tell the story as accurately as possible.  The neighborhood friends and scrapes with the law are all mentioned in vivid detail, but in each instance they somehow manage to escape unscathed.  There are many young men out there who are not so lucky.  The pact was a good way to keep each other motivated and it is unlikely that all three would have succeeded without the other two.  Readers who liked Hole in My Life will like this one, but the writing is not as sophisticated as that one and often details are glossed over in order to move the story along faster.  An interesting story for those who like nonfiction.

Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age level: 14 and up

# of pages: 320 p.

Three intelligent best friends enter into a bet that they can get anyone into Harvard. Max wants to do the bet for the substantial monetary prize. Eric does it to prove that the college applications system is flawed. Schwarz does it because he always does what he is told. The opposing team chooses a deadbeat slacker (Clay) from the senior class and they all get to work. First of all, they have to plan how to get Clay a great score on his SATs. Then, they need to train him for his college interview. Finally, they need to fix his current transcript. The entire time, though, as things continue to go wrong they can’t help but feel like they are being sabotaged. Plus, Eric starts to have second thoughts as he begins dating a girl who desperately wants to get into Harvard. He worries that if they do succeed in getting Clay in that will mean that one deserving person who would have gotten in will now be rejected. He begins to wonder which is more important: fairness or exposing a flawed system.

This fun story follows the many ups and downs as the characters navigate this difficult task. Obviously, this is a fictional story and in no way a how to manual for getting someone into an Ivy League school. At times the language can be a bit strong, but these are teenage boys and therefore the dialogue feels realistic. As the boys begin to think about their own futures it becomes clear that they are as confused as every other teenage student, despite their high IQs. A smart read about students who have high aspirations, but do not always know how to best use their intelligence.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 422 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Ruby was abandoned by her mother just mere months before her eighteenth birthday. Despite her efforts to live alone, she is found out by her landlord and taken to social services. Soon she is living with her estranged older sister, Cora, in her huge house with her wealthy business minded husband. Ruby and Cora were close as children and so when Cora went off to college and never came back Ruby took it very hard. Soon she comes to find out that nothing was as simple as she thought it was. As she struggles to remain a loner in her new caring environment, she also struggles against becoming friends with the ambitious eager to please neighbor boy, Nate, who often gives her rides to school. She finds out that life isn’t just tough for the people who live in low rent housing, however, as she begins to get closer to Nate and catches a glimpse at his real life.

For fans of Sarah Dessen this book will not disappoint. Dessen has once again managed to create characters that are complex and interesting that readers want to know more about. In Cora’s opulent lifestyle it’s hard to imagine that anyone could be unhappy or unsatisfied in any way, but as Ruby begins to get to know the people who live in this world she sees that no one’s life is perfect. This book covers some serious issues such as abandonment, child abuse, infertility, alcoholism, and workaholics. A great read.

The V Club by Kate Brian

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 280 p.

Eva, Debbie, Kai, and Mandy are all really good friends who in their own way need a way to help pay for college. When a new scholarship comes up offering enough for any of them to go wherever they want to go for four years, they all jump at the chance to apply. The only catch is that a stipulation of the scholarship is for the recipient to be “pure.”

Eva considers herself a perfect candidate since she has only even daydreamed about kissing a boy.  Mandy and long time boyfriend Eric have discussed taking the relationship further, but haven’t yet.  Debbie is shocked to learn that everyone assumes she has shared many sexual partners when in fact she hasn’t.  Kai, the new girl, seems mysterious about the entire discussion of purity.  As each girl struggles with her own personal battles they start to drift apart and get overly competitive for this scholarship money.  The question  is not whether or not their virginity is in tact, but whether their friendship will be after all of the drama that ensues.

The idea of purity to a high school student can vary depending on the student.  This open, honest book about four realistic high school students and their many struggles with relationships, parents, and even college planning will resonate with many high school girls.  It is not preachy in the direction of abstinence or sexual activity, but just tries to show the variety of reasons why high school students do or do not choose to stay virgins.  An interesting, realistic read about a very important but often ignored topic.

November Blues by Sharon M. Draper

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 316 p.

RAC Book: Yes

In this sequel to The Battle of Jericho November Nelson is dealing with the death of her boyfriend after a hazing ritual went bad. To make matters worse, she discovers that she is pregnant. She was planning to spend the summer in an Ivy League summer program which would hopefully lead to a very productive senior year. When she tells her mother about her pregnancy she is understandably upset. November faces a lot of difficult decisions as she endures this pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Jericho, the cousin of the boy who died, is having an equally difficult time coping with his friend’s untimely death. He decides to try football in order to have something new to do instead of the band, which he previously loved but now feels is a painful reminder of his cousin. He tries to help November in any way he can, but is struggling with his own emotions as well.

This was a good story about teenage pregnancy and death, but addresses similar concepts to The First Part Last. The characters were complicated and interesting and were the strength of the story. Nothing these characters were dealing with was easy and was not portrayed that way. The ending took an unexpected turn, but was a little predictable nonetheless. Most readers will guess what November’s decision will be, but will enjoy it anyway.

 

Anything But Ordinary by Valerie Hobbs

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Reading Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  168

RAC Book:  Yes

Winifred and Bernie have been friends since eighth grade.  They were both unique and refused to conform in order to fit in, which is why they got along so well.  They did everything together and planned to go on to college together as well,  but that all changed when Bernie’s mother died of Cancer.  He shut down and barely graduated high school.  He was dealing with his own grief as well as trying to be there for his father as best he could. 

While Winifred tries to help him, she also has to move on and make her own plans.  Bernie seems shocked and hurt when Winifred announces she plans to go to college in California.  After she leaves, Bernie decides to drive down and see her and cannot believe his eyes when he sees that Winifred’s roommates have given her a makeover and now she resembles all of those people they spent so many years trying to avoid.  She spends all of her time worrying about her appearance and not her schoolwork, which then suffers. Bernie is still trying to gain control of his own life, while also trying to figure out how to help Winifred see how she has changed. 

Sometimes a good friend is very important even if you don’t know it.  This is an interesting story about growing up and the changes and choices that go along with it.  It also reminds readers that it is important to remember who you are and what your goals are even as you grow and change.  Finally, any young adult who has lost someone close to them can connect with Bernie who is going such a difficult time in his life.  Without their friendship neither of them would become the adults they had dreamed about becoming their whole lives.  Recommended

 


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