Posts Tagged 'loss'

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 340

Edward, a 12 year old boy, was the sole survivor of a plan crash that killed 191 people.  He is taken in by his aunt and uncle, who are still reeling from the fact that they will never have a baby of their own. Several people reach out to Edward to help him cope with this terrible tragedy, but the only one who seems to bring him any peace is his new next door neighbor, Shay.  He even sleeps on her floor every night because he can’t settle in his new house.  The story alternates between Edward’s life after the crash and the interactions of people on board before the crash.  There was a young woman heading to meet her soon to be fiance with some big news, a wall street tycoon traveling with his nurse, and an outgoing flight attendant determined to make everyone on board feel safe and happy.  As time goes on, Edward learns something that opens up a world of possibilities for how he can move forward and truly cope with everything he’s been through while also trying to do some good in the world.

This story about life after death focuses on a young boy and how difficult it is to go on after losing his entire family in an instant.  He even feels some guilt as to why he should survive and no one else.  His new best friend, Shay, seems to understand how difficult this is for him and tries her best to help him through this process.  His aunt and uncle are trying to be supportive too, but many times they aren’t sure what is best for Edward.  In the end, Edward finds a powerful way to help himself move on, but also those of others left behind.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Iowa High School Award Winner 2020-21

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  234

Marin ran away to college after a terrible tragedy befell her and she hasn’t told anyone about it, even her best friend Mabel.  Despite her effort to outrun her past, however, Mabel has come to visit Marin in her dorm over Christmas break.  Mabel is determined to find out why Marin ran away and if there is any way to rekindle their friendship.  As the weekend goes on Marin begins to face the terrible truth she ran from, but she also begins to realize that she is going to have to face her past eventually.  Can they be as close as they once were?  Can Marin learn to deal with her reality as it is?

Fans of John Green will enjoy this title.  The characters are vivid and the plot is revealed at an appropriate pace.  Many difficult issues are discussed so readers looking for lighter reads will probably want to keep looking.  This has been named an Iowa Award Winner for next year.

 

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Genre: Realistic Fiction

372 p

2019 Iowa High School Book Award

Dill Early, Jr. is struggling in his town where he is now famous for being the son of the preacher who was convicted of having child pornography on his computer.  He and his mom are struggling under all the legal bills and he doesn’t see how he can ever really get out of this small town.  Lydia, his sarcastic friend, is also a bit of an outcast because she refuses to conform to traditional norms.  She has a fashion blog where she showcases unique stores all around their area and encourages everyone to be themselves at all costs. Their other friend, Travis, is a large red haired senior who loves a fantasy book series and often carries a staff with him.  The three of them are often ridiculed in their community and if they didn’t have each other to lean on their lives would be truly miserable.  Lydia, at least, has very supportive parents at home who are not living hand to mouth and can afford to spoil her a bit.  Dill and Travis, on the other hand, have parents who do not seem to like who they are very much and keep trying to change them.  All three of them have aspirations for after high school but do they have the courage to go for them? Do they have the strength to break away from the expectations that have been set for them?

This powerful story gets more and more powerful as it goes on.  The character development is so well done that the reader really feels like he or she knows these people and is living alongside them.  There are many issues these teenagers are dealing with that seem especially unfair for people so young, but these situations exist all over America and it’s time we all start addressing it.  Travis and Dill feel like they are trapped and have no way out of the life set for them by their parents, while Lydia is counting down the days until she can leave this town far behind. In the end, they all must find the courage to do what they need to in order to not only survive, but thrive in their own lives.

 

Shutter by Courtney Alameda

shutter

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  372

RAC:  Yes

Micheline is the youngest descendant in the Helsing blood line.  Her and her friends work catching ghosts and other supernatural beings.  They each have special talents that allow them to track down and properly extinguish these harmful beings.  At the beginning of the story they are called to a particularly heinous scene where a ghost has killed people in a hospital.  They are supposed to wait for backup, but Micheline decides to go in alone and her team is forced to follow.  They are attacked by this being and contract a rare disease known as soulchain.  Soulchain will kill them if they do not kill the creature that infected them in seven days time.  Their parents wish them to lay low while they hunt the dangerous ghost, but Micheline and her team know it is them who must hunt it down to save their lives.

The plot is much more intriguing here than most readers will expect.  There is a lot of backstory on Micheline’s family and how her and her father came to be so estranged.  There is a fair amount of suspense and plot twists that keep the story active and fast paced.  The characters are interesting as their talents and personalities are revealed.  Plus, in this world no one is really ever safe, which makes the suspense all the more real.  Recommended for fans of science fiction and suspense.

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

masked truth

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  340

RAC:  Yes

Riley witnessed the couple she was babysitting for get murdered and has never been the same since.  She blames herself for not doing more to help them.  She has tried multiple counselors and the latest one has suggested she come to a weekend-long retreat with other troubled teens.  They are not there very long, however, when masked men come in and declare they are holding them hostage until a wealthy teen’s dad pays a hefty ransom for them.  Things begin to go wrong almost immediately and it quickly becomes obvious that they may not leave alive. Riley is now getting her chance to see if she were in a life threatening situation again if she would run or stand and fight.

Fans of mystery thrillers will enjoy this title because it is a lot more than it first appears.  The beginning even lags a bit as they struggle to find a way to defeat their kidnappers, but then things take a turn when everything Riley thought was happening is completely turned on its head.  For the most part any inconsistencies in the motivations of the characters are explained away and the resolution is exciting and captivating.  Fans of mystery books and shows should check out this title.

Kalahari by Jessica Khoury

kalahari

Genre:  Adventure/Survival

# of Pages:  354

RAC:  Yes

Sarah has lived in one exotic location after another her entire life since her parents are both scientists and often move to where they can conduct research.  After the recent passing of Sarah’s mother, they are still grieving but decide to carry on with a previously scheduled educational safari so that they can earn some extra money.  Shortly after the five teenagers arrive, Sarah’s dad is called away to stop some poachers and she is left to entertain them in the middle of a semi-desert.  Hours go by and Sarah’s dad does not return and finally she receives a very panicked call over the radio from a frantic man who sounds like her father claiming it was a setup and he was being chased.  The call cuts out with the sound of gunshots.  Sarah and the other five teenagers are alone, with little food, and no transportation.  They decide to go looking for help and must rely on Sarah’s survival skills in order to survive.  They eventually find a silver lion who tries to attack them and Sarah knows something unnatural is going on and more than likely whomever created that monstrosity would do anything to keep it quiet.  Can Sarah get the others to safety?  Will she ever find out what happened to her dad?  Where did the silver lion come from and is there some illegal experimenting going on?

Fans of survival books will enjoy this title.  There are multiple scenes in which one or more of the teens is in serious danger due to some natural wildlife threat, like snakes.  However, once they uncover the silver lion they face many dangers from humans as well as the people behind the altered animal want desperately to contain the situation at all costs.  The characters are sympathetic and relatable as they truly just try to just survive this very unexpected situation and in the process must face the many reasons they all wanted to escape to the Kalahari in the first place.

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

otherwesmoore

Genre:  Non-fiction

# of pages:  239

RAC:  Yes

Wes Moore was born in a tough neighborhood in Baltimore and eventually ended up in military school where he went on to become a very successful Rhodes Scholar.  Meanwhile, another Wes Moore, born in the same neighborhood mere months apart from Wes ended up in jail for life for murder.  These two Wes Moore’s do not meet until adulthood when their lives and futures are already set, but when the author of this book learned of the other Wes Moore’s existence he felt compelled to visit him in prison and get to know him better.  He writes this book to ask what factors sent one Wes Moore down one path and the other Wes Moore down another.  Family support?  Opportunities?  Personal choices?

This story follows both Wes Moore’s lives as they make decisions to ultimately change their paths in two very different directions despite many similarities in the circumstances they were born into.  Both Wes’s grew up without a father, but for very different reasons.  Both Wes’s had chances to escape the life of crime and drugs their surroundings provided.  Both had hard working mothers who tried their best to raise them alone.  How then did one end up a war hero while the other ended up in jail for life?  This book asks difficult questions at a time when too many headlines focus on terrible things that have happened to kids from tough neighborhoods and home lives.  The story can get a bit confusing at times as many characters are introduced quickly, but the plot is interesting and many students will enjoy the honesty present in the text and subject matter.


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