Spotswood J. (2016). Wild Swans. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks.
Wild Swans is a story a summer and about Ivy, a girl about to enter her senior year. After summers and summers of trying to live to her grandfather’s expectations through hours of clubs, Ivy has had enough. She has her summer all set up: no clubs that her grandad made her join, no extra credit, no nothing. Just pure fun. Bonfire parties, hanging out with friends, and the occasional volunteering. But when her mom comes back with two daughters, the whole summer turns into a downwards spiral. From dealing with flaring arguments with her irresponsible mom, to trying to get to know her new sisters, to her best friend, Alex, starting to take an unwanted interest in her, the summer’s shaping out badly. Ivy at first tries to deal with everything from far away but soon enough realizes that if she wants to enjoy her summer, she’s going to have to face her fears and try her hardest to accept her mom for who she is. This book is about a family just trying to come to grips with who they are and how to let go of tradition. It’s a book about a girl wondering who she really is and what she really wants to do.
Kaufman A. & Kristoff J. (2015). Illuminae. New York: Ember.
Illuminae is a stunning book about an illegal mining colony that gets attacked by a rival mining corporation. The plot is told in an unusual fashion, as the book does not contain the normal word after word story. Instead it is mostly comprised of several chat rooms, emails, maps, interviews, transcripts, etc. This style of telling the story makes a real impact and you feel like you’re right there experiencing these events with the characters. The story follows two main characters, Kady, onboard a science vessel called The Hypatia and Ezra, onboard an attack vessel called The Alexander. They’re just two of the thousands of refugees that escaped the attack. Now they’re part of a heavily damaged fleet that’s slowly limping towards safety, a wormhole station called Heimdall, with an attack vessel, The Lincoln, slowly closing in to mop up the mess. If they don’t think of something to get to the wormhole in time, The Lincoln will destroy the fleet, killing everyone. It feels like it couldn’t get any worse, except it could. From a faulty and somewhat lethal Continue reading
LaCour N. (2017). We Are Okay. New York: Dutton Books for Young Readers.
We Are Okay‘s entrancing cover with a girl standing on her bed looking out into the ocean is perfect for this psychological mystery told through flashbacks. Marin is at university in upper state New York, having fled from California and the very people who love and want to support her following her Gramps’ death. Truly an orphan now, it’s turns out to be the secrets Marin encountered, slowly revealed to us, that made her abruptly leave home and cut off all ties.
When the story begins Marin is staying on an isolated college campus over winter break. Her roommate, Hannah, just left for Christmas, and now she is expecting a visit from her best friend, Mabel. As you may imagine, the December New York setting is stark, cold, and isolated, ready to match Marin’s depression. We aren’t privy to the background of Marin and Mabel’s relationship, yet like the rest of the story it Continue reading
Schmitt S. (2015). It’s a Wonderful Death. New York: Sky Pony Press.
RJ (Rowena Joy) Jones is a typical teen princess who always gets what she wants and who cares more about being popular than making real friends. To put it plainly, RJ is a mean girl. The only thing
different about her is, well, she just died. And she wasn’t supposed to. The last living memory she has is a crazed fortune teller using her as a human shield to evade the grasp of the Grim Reaper. Of course the Grim Reaper grabs RJ’s soul instead. Insta-death. Always a fighter, RJ insists for her life to be returned. Unfortunately, it’s never been done before, and the Grim Reaper doesn’t exactly have the raw power to do it. To have it done requires a very tricky process, including rewinding time back a decade or so. And if that wan’t bad enough, only a Tribunal of some very old angels has the power to do this, and they are not going to be happy about it. To convince the Tribunal that her soul is worthy of all this effort, RJ has to Continue reading
Thomas, A. (2017). The Hate U Give. New York: HarperCollins Publisher.
Inspired by the movement #BlackLivesMatter, The Hate U Give is an incredibly relevant and heartbreaking account of a sixteen year old girl who witnesses the killing of her childhood best friend at the hands of the police. Everyday Starr leaves her own neighbourhood where her family owns the corner store, to attend private school in an affluent neighbourhood. Up until this point, Starr had done fairly good job of keeping her two worlds separate –dating someone at school who is white, while still being very much a part of her own community, until now. Even though Khalid was unarmed and innocent at the time of his murder, the press makes him out to be a thug.
The Hate U Give (or THUG) will inevitably spark discussion on race. It reminded me a lot of All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely because both books deal with witnessing a police killing of an innocent young black man and grappling with the decision to come forward as a witness, or not speaking up out of fear. Continue reading
Thomas, L. (2015). Because You’ll Never Meet Me. New York: Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me evolves through a series of letters between two teenage boys, Ollie and Moritz. Each letter progresses the story and illuminates their quirky, brilliant personalities.
It reminded me a bit of Everything Everything because both stories revolve around embellished medical conditions. Ollie is allergic to electricity; any small amount will cause seizures so he and his mom live a remote life in the woods. Mortiz has a pacemaker and was born without eyes yet has the skill of echolocation, being able to locate objects by reflected sound waves (as bats and dolphins do). Apart from the fact that Moritz lives in Germany and Ollie in the US, their health keeps them apart from one another.
Unpredictable from start to finish, this breathtaking story beautifully portrays friendship and humour.