Pfeffer, S. (2006). Life As We Knew It. FL: Harcourt.
Told through Miranda’s journal entries, we follow her life as it changes from a regular, suburban experience to a dystopian tale once a meteor collides into the moon, altering its course and pushing it closer to earth. Volcanic ash hangs in the air blocking the sun, tsunamis are blanketing the coasts, and families are hoarding supplies. Miranda’s modern blended family is surviving in their sun room, huddled around a heater.
Pfeffer’s storytelling style is emotional. This isn’t an adventure packed ride, but an even more terrifyingly psychological one that touches on the human condition.
”I don’t even know why I’m writing this down, except that I feel fine and maybe tomorrow I’ll be dead. And if that happens, and someone should find my journal, I want them to know what happened.
We are a family. We love each other. We’ve been scared together and brave together. If this is how it ends, so be it.
Only, please, don’t let me be the last one to die.”
An addictive dystopian, post-apocalyptic, survival story, and also a great introduction to young adult fiction.
Crowley, C. (2017). Words in Deep Blue. NY: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers .
Heartbreaking but beautiful, . Two best friends, Henry and Rachel were inseparable childhood friends. Now as teens, Rachel is in love with Henry even when Henry becomes obsessed with Amy, the pretty, new girl at their school. Rachel’s life is in an up swirl because her family is moving away, and she decides to confess her love to Henry, so she writes Henry a love letter and leaves it in his favourite book. The letter asks Henry to meet her, only Henry never shows up. Wrecked, Rachel decides to push it all behind her. Three years later, Rachel returns to her home town after her younger brother whom she adored has drowned, only everything feels different. She and Henry haven not spoken in years, but as fate has it, she finds herself and Henry together again and they may be given a second chance of love.
Stone, N. (2017). Dear Martin. NY: Crown Books.
Powerful and poignant, this story is written about one young man’s struggle with race in Atlanta, Georgia. Following closely on the heels of the publication of The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas, Dear Martin also tackles contemporary confrontations between young, black man and white policemen.
Justyce Allistar is a competitive student and athlete, looking toward university next fall. Still, he struggles with the kids at his old school, plus the kids at his new prep school. So he starts a journal to Martin Luther King Jr. But are his teachings still relevant? Will Martin’s teachings or Justyce’s writings be enough to survive today?
An intense, quick read.
Perkins, S. (2017). There’s Someone in Your House. NY: Dutton Books for Young Readers.
Stephanie Perkins takes a departure from her sweet teen romances (Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After) to delve into the world of teen slashers. There’s Someone in Your House is as spooky as it sounds. When Makani Young leaves behind her dark past in Hawaii to come live with her grandmother in Nebraska for the final year of high school, she tries to stop hating herself and make a new start. Her friends, Darby, Alex, and Ollie are diverse and each have a perspective to contribute to the plot.
I needed to suspend my disbelief throughout the book in order to derive the most pleasure possible and just enjoy it for what it is. The killer is actually revealed halfway through the book – the biggest bummer to me – and it wasn’t even a huge reveal or shock. Also, their motive felt like something an adult would feel after years of reflection. But again, no big deal if you’re willing to go with it. It’s mostly a love story after all.
The creepy crawly things that happened were fun, and even though I wouldn’t give this book particularly high marks, I would still recommend it if the title peaks your interest and you need to fall into a tumultuous teen drama.
Reynolds, J. (2017). Long Way Down. NY: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books.
Masterfully told in verse, the new Jason Reynolds book has arrived. Fifteen-year old Will’s older brother was shot last night, yet he never cries. That’s one of the rules. No crying, no snitching, and get revenge. As Will gets on the elevator in his apartment building with a gun awkwardly stuck in the back of his pants, he begins the descent down, but at different floors different people from Will’s past – all dead now – hop on the elevator and proceed to unravel the patterns and complications of this ruinous cycle of violence.
Very suspenseful! You’ll fly through Long Way Down.
Gervais, A. (2017). In 27 Days. NY: Blink.
Hadley Jamison has grown accustomed to being on her own. Her big time lawyer parents are revered in New York City, their time all too often occupied with work. She has a few good friends at her prep school, but when a student’s suicide is announced, Hadley’s sense of loneliness is heightened and it affects Hadley profoundly. Deciding to go to Archer Morales funeral ends up being a decision that changes her life – and many lives. She meets Death himself and signs a contract to go back in time, 27 days, to the first day Archer considered suicide in hopes of changing history. Of course, there are complications …
The characters feel real, even Death. Devouring the book only made me sad to finish. I’ll definitely be including this one in my book talks at high schools (#librarian life)!
Gratz, A. (2017). Refugee. NY: Scholastic Press.
Following three children from different places and different time periods in history, Refugee is a gripping and suspenseful story that takes the brave spirit of these seemingly unrelated children and swirls them around in the ocean as they all flee their homelands by boat, then follows them as they struggle to survive, fight to belong, and grapple with issues such as invisibility.
Everything is connected. Josef is escaping a budding Nazi Germany, Isabel flees Castro’s Cuba in the 1990’s, and Mahmoud is running from Syria in present day, yet their journeys tie together in the end. An incredibly timely middle school read, may readers question if we have learned from history or if today’s refugees be treated in the same appalling manner.
Historically accurate, thrilling, and heartbreaking, Refugee will bring you another perspective.