Posts Tagged 'family'



The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Genre: Romance/ Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 440

Emma Saylor hasn’t spent much time with her mother’s family since she was little due to her parent’s divorce and then her mother’s death when she was ten.  Her father tried really hard to shield her from the pain he knew she felt from her mother’s absence.  When her dad gets remarried, Emma is supposed to spend time with a close friend while he goes on his honeymoon, but plans change and she finds herself without anywhere to go for several weeks.  After exhausting every possibility, Emma goes to stay with her mother’s family who call her Saylor (which is what her mother called her).  They run a hotel next to a lake and Emma finds herself learning the importance of hard work and family as she throws herself into the family business.  She also realizes that she really doesn’t know much about her mother’s family at all and enjoys hearing how memories and seeing family photos.  As she gets to know her grandmother, aunts, and cousins she starts to realize that she wants to get to know them more even after the summer is over.  Meanwhile, there is a little romance between her and a local boy.

Anyone can relate to this story about feeling torn between two different worlds.  Emma was always a part of her father’s elite upper middle class world, but she feels she belongs just as much to her mother’s working class family first world.  Can she find a way to balance both?  Can she find a way for her two worlds to connect?  Recommended for fans of Dessen’s other titles or Jenny Han books.

This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

Genre:  Realistic Fiction apart from one futuristic element

376 p.

Lake Devereaux survived the car accident that killed her best friend and her boyfriend.  She has less than a month until she turns eighteen, at which time she can resurrect one person, but only one.  To make matters worse, she had already promised her resurrection to someone else who isn’t even dead yet. Everyone is pressuring her to use her resurrection for their personal family member and she is getting frustrated and overwhelmed.  Then, after therapy she meets a boy from her past who does not care who she chooses and therefore she sees him as someone she can confide in. He has strong feelings against resurrections, though, which makes their relationship difficult.  Who will Lake choose?

This book manages to set up a premise that seems totally believable and yet impossible for Lake all at once.  Her relationship with her brother, boyfriend, and best friend are all described in avid detail as you see why she is struggling so hard with this resurrection decision.  The periphery characters are also well described and their motivations are all understandable.  The ending will surprise most readers, but not in the way they will probably think.  The book manages to sustain a very interesting premise throughout the entire book.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 306

2019 Iowa High School Book Award

Will lives in a tough neighborhood where there are many rules that everyone just knows.  One of these rules is to never talk to police and to avenge killings yourself.  When Shawn, Will’s brother, is gunned down in their neighborhood he knows that according to the rules it is up to him to avenge Shawn by killing the person who shot him.  Will gets in the elevator with his brother’s gun and on each of the seven floors down a ghost of someone who knew Shawn gets in to tell him some information he needs to know before altering the course of his life with a huge action.

Written in poetry format, this story immediately pulls in the reader because it’s so easy to understand Will’s plight.  He doesn’t want to kill anyone but feels like he has to because of the code of the neighborhood and in order to prove that he cared about Shawn, who had done a lot for him since their dad died by gunfire.  As he begins meeting these ghosts of people who used to live in the neighborhood Will realizes that everything is not always as it seems and he might need to rethink any drastic actions.  A powerful story that is highly recommended for everyone, but especially reluctant readers.

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 Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

# of Pages:  403

2019 Iowa High School Award Winner

Canaan is meant to be a perfect city in which people live in peace and harmony without the distraction of technology, money, or competition.  Every twelve years the town breaks into chaos and then their memories are erased.  The only way they know who they are is by reading the book that is tied to them at all times.  Nadia did not forget her memories during the last forgetting and therefore knows some of the things people chose not to include in their books, including people, they hoped to forget.  She has no idea why she didn’t forget her memories, but it definitely didn’t make her life any easier since her mother and sister treat her like she doesn’t belong in their family.  Meanwhile, Nadia has begun slipping over the walls of the town in search of food, answers, and adventure.  She is caught by the glassmaker’s son and he demands she take him with her.  As they explore outside the walls they learn there are many things about how their town was set up that no one ever passed down, despite her suspicions that not everyone is losing their memories every twelve years.  Will anyone ever believe them about their discoveries?  Will it be enough to save them from this terrible fate of forgetting who you are every twelve years?

This story has a dystopian feel similar to The Giver, The Testing, and Matched.  It takes awhile to fully invest in Nadia and her quest to find answers about her town.  Once she begins finding answers the book’s pace picks up and takes off while many obstacles rise up to try and stop her from sharing the truth of their existence with others.  The main characters are well developed and everyone’s motivations and actions are adequately explained by the end.  Readers who enjoy these dystopian books will be curious for more, but it isn’t quite as engaging as some of the other titles in this genre.

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.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Genre:  Romance

# of Pages: 329

Iowa High School Award Winner 2018-19

Lily comes from a big and crazy family where chaos rules their house most of the time.  She likes to dress in a unique style, has unruly hair, and enjoys alternative music choices.  She even tries to write her own songs, but lately that hasn’t been going so well. She has a best friend, Isabel, who loves her for all her quirks but desperately wants her to find someone to date so they can have couple’s outings.  At school there is a boy she likes, Lucas, who doesn’t seem to notice her existence, and a boy, Cade, whom she despises and finds to be arrogant and rude at every turn.  After she gets her notebook taken away for writing music lyrics in chem class, she begins writing right on the desktop and to her surprise, someone writes a response and they have the same taste in music as her.  They begin exchanging notes back and forth and she really starts to open up to this person, but then becomes anxious about who her pen pal might be.  Could it possibly be the boy she’s been admiring or could it be the boy she dislikes with every fiber of her being?

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will love this sweet romance about two people who think they know everything about the other only to find out they really don’t know anything at all.  Lily’s family is humorous in the background, but the heart of the story is really the romance between Lily and her pen pal.  Recommended for anyone who loves teen romances.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  287

Iowa High School Book Award 2018-19

Adam Spencer Ross is a high school student who wants to be there for everyone who needs him, but he has OCD and therefore some tasks can be difficult for him.  He goes to counseling one on one and in a group every week and this does seem to help him cope with his OCD symptoms.  He often finds himself worrying about his group members, his stepbrother who has anxiety, and his mother who is getting death threats to the point where he simply cannot think about his own symptoms which then get worse.  Meanwhile, a new girl joins their OCD group and he’s immediately drawn to her.  He worries it’s a bad idea to get involved with someone who also has OCD tendencies, but he can’t seem to help himself.  Robyn feels the same way and they begin a sweet romance, but soon all the stresses in his life begin to make it impossible to ignore that his OCD tendencies are making it almost impossible to get through the day and Robyn’s seem to be going away.  As much as he cares for Robyn he worries that his being near her as she improves might actually hurt her recovery.  Does he have the strength to let her go for both of their sakes?

Fans of Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars will love this romance between two unlikely teenagers.  The characters are all engaging and despite the superhero nicknames, each teen in his OCD group gains depth and personality throughout the story.  The topic of OCD is described accurately and can help readers understand how this condition truly affects teens their age and in different ways.  This book also shows that although people with OCD have a lot to deal with they are also very loyal to those they care about.  The book has several plot lines that all come together nicely and realistically in the end.  Once readers make the choice to try this one they won’t be disappointed.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  370

Jude, her twin sister, and their older sister were whisked away when they were seven to the land of faeries after their parents were savagely murdered before their eyes.  Jude’s older sister is actually her half sister and her father is from that land so she fits in well, despite not wanting to.  Meanwhile, Jude and her twin are picked on everyday since they are mortal and do not have some of the powers everyone else has.  They even have to wear protective charms because other can control them with glamours.  Jude is very headstrong and refuses to back down and comply when she is bullied and it often gets her into more trouble.  Prince Cardan, in particular, seems to truly despise Jude and makes it his daily mission to make her life a living hell.  When Jude is presented with an opportunity to raise her social status and protect herself from the likes of Prince Cardan, she jumps at it without really thinking about what she is getting into.  The King has announced he will be stepping down and choosing one of his six children to succeed him.  She knows this is a time when much can go wrong, but despite all her preparations she is unprepared for the treacherous plans already in motion.  Can she save herself and her family from those trying to destroy everything they hold dear?  Will she put her faith in the right person?

This book is immediately engaging and the characters are multifaceted.  Since it came out it has been constantly checked out and word of mouth is definitely spreading on this popular new fantasy.  There are many twists and turns in the plot and it’s difficult to predict how different characters will react to different situations.  This is a must have for young adult libraries.

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

Genre: Mystery

# of Pages:  421

On their very first day of school, six kindergartners are mysteriously abducted from school and do not surface for eleven years when they are all mysteriously dropped off with no memories and only their parents’ addresses clutched in their hands.  One of the original six, Max, does not return with the others and the realization that he hasn’t returned breaks his family even more.  His sister, Avery, decides to start investigating on her own to see if she can find out where Max is.  The others, meanwhile are struggling as well.  Scarlet comes home to a mother who has become obsessed with the idea that aliens stole her daughter and Caleb comes home in time to witness a tragedy.  They have been told repeatedly that it’s probably a good thing they can’t remember the last eleven years and the horrors they witnessed, but most of them still want to know where they have been especially since they are exhibiting knowledge in certain areas and they don’t know why.  They have missed most of their childhood and they each need to figure out how they fit into their own lives again.  Will they ever learn the truth behind their disappearance?  Where is Max?

Mystery readers will love this book because it is engaging, but also believable with many unusual facts they need to put together in order to get a general idea for what happened to them.  They know they may never know everything, but even learning the person responsible would be helpful when trying to move on.  The characters are all developed so that the reader can understand their feelings and motivations, while also understanding how hard it would be to go through something like this.  The ending is also very satisfying while not being too tidy or predictable.  Recommended.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  360

Five students are mysteriously sent to detention after they are caught with cell phones in class that they claim aren’t theirs.  Once they get to detention they see that they are from completely different circles in the school.  Bronwyn is an honor’s student who hopes to go to Yale.  Cooper is a pitcher who is being courted by several universities.  Addy is dating a jock and one of the more popular girls in school.  Nate is the school rebel and is rumored to be on probation for dealing drugs.  Finally, Simon is a bit of an outcast due to a blog he writes in which he always manages to reveal everyone’s worst secrets.  Shortly after the five of them get to detention there is a fender bender in the parking lot and their teacher rushes out to help.  While he’s out of the room, Simon gets himself a cup of water from the science lab station sink and collapses shortly after.  Nate frantically digs through Simon’s bag for his epi-pen but can’t find it.  Cooper runs to the nurse’s office but comes up empty there as well.  Helplessly, they all watch as the paramedics arrive and aren’t able to revive Simon who dies shortly after from anaphylactic shock.  As horrible as this is, it gets even worse when these four become the prime suspects in the police investigation when it is revealed that Simon was about to post life changing secrets about all four of them the next day on his blog.  Could one of them really have done it?  How will they ever survive the suspicions and accusations being thrown at them?

This book contains quite a few language and sexual references, but the story itself is very powerful and will draw teen readers in.  The ending will be satisfying as well as unexpected, but before they get to that all four of the suspects will have quite a few difficult days ahead of them as they are chased by reporters, questioned by police, and realize for the first time who they’re real friends are.  The reality of the life teens live now with social media and everyone always looking to reveal everyone’s innermost secrets for their own entertainment is unfortunately all too real, but this book shows how no matter how advanced technology gets teens still need friends and family they can count on, especially when things get tough.

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  403

Anna was born into an elite Luminate British family, which means her family has access to magic, which is strictly restricted from anyone not in the Luminates.  There is an uprising building up to break the binding spell that restricts magic away from anyone considered unworthy and Anna is shocked to learn her own father is a sympathizer.  He believes the binding is in place merely to keep the wealthy in power and not to protect those who simply do not know how to use magic and could hurt themselves or someone else.  When Anna comes of age, however, her ceremony to practice magic goes poorly and she is believed to be barren, which means she’ll never really be accepted by the Luminates or those outside the Luminates.  One power she does seem to have is to break other people’s spells, which is why her family forbid her from coming to her sister’s coming out party.  She sneaks in anyway and accidentally ruins her sister’s coming out.  Partly as punishment, partly as protection from those who wish to study Anna’s unusual capability of breaking other people’s spells, she is sent away with her grandmother to Hungary.  Upon arrival, Anna meets some interesting people and begins to see that those who possess magical tendencies but at outside the Luminates are treated abominably in order to keep them in their place.  She begins to wonder if she should use her one power to break the binding so that magic would be available to anyone who wishes to use it.  Is she powerful enough?  Would it cause chaos and catastrophe like the Luminates predict?

Fans of fantasy stories will enjoy this title.  The truth about Anna’s condition eventually comes out, but it may confuse some younger readers.  The story meanders a bit when Anna first goes to Hungary, but once the new characters are properly introduced the story picks up again for a satisfying ending.  Recommended for students who have already found other fantasy series they enjoy.

The Pledge Series by Kimberly Derting

Genre:  Futuristic

# of Pages:  323

First in a trilogy

Charlaina of “Charlie” lives in a society where every caste has its own language. Englaise is the universal language everyone speaks, but her family belongs to the serving class and they have a language.  The elites has a language as well.  If anyone is in the presence of someone speaking a language they do not know they are required by law to drop their eyes out of respect.  Charlie has been able to read, write, and understand all languages since she can remember and her parents are very fearful due to this ability.  If it were ever discovered she could understand all of these languages it could be considered treason and their queen has publicly hanged people for much less.  She has kept her secret hidden from even her best friends until one day she accidentally looks at someone in a dance club speaking a language she has never heard before.  He begins to suspect she is “the one” the queen is looking for and starts tracking her movements.  Can Charlie trust him?  Can she trust anyone?  Why is the queen looking desperately looking for the next female relative in her otherwise male dominated bloodline?

Fans of futuristic series such as Divergent, Cinder, and Red Queen will enjoy this trilogy.  The use of languages to represent status is a new detail in this story and makes it an unusual but interesting talent for Charlie to have.  The queen is every bit as evil as many of the villains of other futuristic stories, but her purpose for seeking Charlie out is very different than readers will have seen before.  Her friends, family, and allies make for interesting and well developed characters to help Charlie navigate her role in her country’s future.

Forever, Again by Victoria Laurie

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  360

When Lily Bennett moves with her mother to  a new town before her junior year of high school she tries to remain optimistic, but in reality her mother is fleeing her cheating husband and his pregnant girlfriend and Lily is fleeing her cheating father and the boyfriend who cheated on her with her best friend.  They are both looking for fresh starts and unfortunately, that involves living on her wealthy grandmother’s property.  Ever since she was a child Lily has had a bizarre recurring dream where she’s running on a big field that has caught fire and she approaches a teenage boy’s body in the middle of it.  It has scared her since she was little, but normally she only has this dream a few times a year.  Since she moved she has had this dream every single night and it’s beginning to take a toll.

Amber was a teen living in the same town Lily just moved to in the 1980s.  Her boyfriend, Spence, was murdered on the football field of their school and the police investigator believed that Amber committed the murder.  Four days later Amber was stabbed to death and it was ruled a suicide.  Could Amber be trying to send Lily a message all of these years later about what really happened to her and Spence?  What is Lily’s connection to Amber’s death?

Fans of Victoria Laurie’s mystery When will enjoy this title as well.  It has many great plot twists, sinister characters, and red herrings.  The idea that Lily could be the reincarnation of Amber is a unique twist you do not often see in YA mystery novels.  The book itself moves quickly and will keep even reluctant readers engaged.

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

fixer

Genre:  Realistic fiction/mystery

# of Pages:  372 p.

Tess has lived with her grandfather ever since her parents died in a car accident when she was small.  Her older sister, Ivy, went away to college and never really came back so Tess knew things were about to unravel when Ivy showed up at her grandfather’s ranch.  Despite her best efforts, Tess could no longer hide her grandfather’s dementia from the world and Ivy had come to put him in a treatment center while Tess was forced to pack her bags and come to D.C. to live with the sister she hardly knew.  Only after she gets to D.C. does she realize what her sister actually does for a living:  she’s a fixer for wealthy and powerful people who have serious problems. Tess is expected to be a fixer like her sister when she starts her new school by the children of wealthy and powerful people who attend, but Tess is not interested in following after her sister’s example.  Then, a supreme court justice suddenly dies and a girl at her school confides to Tess that she does not think it was an accident.  Can Tess find out what’s really going on in D.C. without alerting her sister or anyone involved?  Will Tell and Ivy ever mend their relationship?

This is a fun novel for mystery or spy fans (fans of Ally Carter will enjoy this title).  The characters are fun and getting more developed all the time and no doubt will continue to do so as the series continues.  The mystery was exciting and provided a satisfying ending.  The idea of “fixers” has only started getting discussed in the last five years or so and it’s fun to see a young adult series focused around such an interesting career.


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