Draper, S. (2010). Out of My Mind. NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Melody is gifted with photographic memory. She can remember everything she’s ever seen; however she can’t walk, or talk. Melody has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects people differently. In Melody’s case, she finds it difficult to move in the same way that normal people can. Moving her legs and feet is difficult and even rolling over on the floor requires a monumental effort. But because of her condition, Melody is looked down on by most adults and fellow kids at her school. Melody refuses to live like this and wants to find a way to show to the world how incredibly smart she is and how she is way more than just her condition. And with some help from a friend and her loving parents, Melody might just find a way to show to the world that Continue reading
Saènz B. (2012). Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Ari doesn’t have many friends, he’s kept to himself, angry and unfriendly to most of his classmates at school; however, when he runs into Dante at the local swimming pool, a unique friendship forms there. Ari and Dante find out that they have a lot in common, and over a long summer, spending time together, their friendship grows stronger. Over the years through high-school, Ari and Dante must stick together to work through this tough time in their life. They have intellectual ponderings about the world, throw their tennis shows down the road and walk home in a downpour instead of running. Their friendship keeps them moving forward. This is a novel that encapsulates a small period of time in two boy’s life and tells a tale from it. Ari and Dante grow as the story progresses and mature as the plot develops.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a beautiful book with well written dialogue. It is simply a must read.
Mass W. (2005). A Mango-Shaped Space. NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Mia sees colours. Not just the normal colours that most people see, but colours every time she hears sounds. Colours in weird shapes and sizes that show up when she hears the meow of her cat, or the sound of a car. Each sound has their own unique colour and shape. This is synesthesia, but Mia doesn’t know it’s called that, because she’s never told anybody that she can see colours in this way, not even her best friend. But as school gets harder and harder, Mia finds it increasingly harder to keep up in math and Spanish, as her colours make it difficult for her to make those connections. Pressured from all sides about her school work, Mia finally cracks and tells her parents about what she sees. Skeptical at first, Mia’s parents take her to see all sorts of doctors, one even accusing Mia of making it up; however, they soon find out that Mia’s ability is named synesthesia.
A Mango-Shaped Space is a wonderful, heartfelt story, fantastically written and definitely worth the read.
De Rosnay T. (2007). Sarah’s Key. NY: St. Martins Press.
This story takes place in France, Connecticut, New York, and a bit in Italy, switching from contemporary times (2002 – 2005) to World War II. One of the major themes revolves around love, notably the deep love between Sarah and her brother, who are separated.
The story starts in Paris in 1942 when people who were Jewish were being arrested in the middle of the night. Sarah needs to make sure her brother does not get caught so she makes an agonizing but necessary decision to hide him in their secret hiding spot, not knowing that it would be a while until she returns. On the flip side of the story in 2002, Julia is married and has lived in Paris for twenty-two years as a journalist. Currently, she is writing a story about Jewish families during War World II and she discovers a huge secret her father-in-law and his family have harboured, after which she is driven to find Sarah. Continue reading
Walters E. (2018). Fourth Dimension. NY: Penguin Teen.
Emma thinks that moving into a new city in a new condo is the worst of her problems. Her ex-marine mother has recently gone through a divorce and to make up for the move and the drama, she decides to bring Emma and her brother on a camping trip to one of the nearby islands just offshore. Emma, being the typical 15 year old she is, doesn’t want to go, but eventually relents. As Emma, her mom, and her brother are making their way down to the water with their canoe and supplies, a huge power outage hits the whole city. Emma’s mother decides that this won’t impede their camping trip and that they can wait it out on the island, away from civilization. This decision saves their lives. Because as the days pass with no sign of the power returning and cell phones, cars, and computers all around dead, Emma and her family watch from afar as the city descends into chaos. Emma’s mother has a very tough choice to make about what to do and this decision will decide whether Continue reading
Toten T. (2013). The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B. Doubleday Canada.
“I sweat terror, Robyn! I’m scared every single second about every single goddamned thing. I worry obsessively about being buried under an avalanche of fear. Jesus, Robyn, I’m scared like only the truly crazy can be.”
“But that, is the definition of courage: you go on despite the fear.”
Stress! Not only young adults who manage Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as Adam, our protagonist, does are affected by it but also those who need to live through anything from a parent’s divorce, broken hearts, to blended families, as we see in the rest of the characters. Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, winner of the Canadian Children’s Literature Award, is about an almost fifteen year-old boy who falls in love with a girl. Naturally, a few problems arise. Robyn is older and taller, and has OCD herself. Adam’s parents are divorced and have given him an annoying step-brother. Even though Adam struggles with a lot everyday, he still cares and worries about everyone else in his life. And even though Continue reading
Hill W. (2011). Department Nineteen. NY: RazorBill.
Jamie Carpenter is a teenager who lives a terrible life. His father was a terrorist and ever since the day Jamie saw him getting gunned down on their home’s driveway, Jamie and his mother have been moving from house to house around the county alway being shunned and hated by everybody. So when Jamie’s mother gets kidnapped by vampires, Jamie meets Frankenstein, and is told about an incredibly secret government organization that keeps the country safe from vampires, it’s just another horrific day in Jaimie’s life. In order to save his mother, Jamie must join Department 19, a government organization that was founded years ago by the people who found and killed Dracula. Luckily enough for Jamie, Department 19 is stacked with weapons and equipment designed for killing zombies and together with Frankenstein and their only lead being Continue reading
Foody, A. (2018). Ace of Shades. Toronto: Harlequin Teen.
Enne’s mother, Lourdes, told her that if she wasn’t home in two months, then to count her as dead. So naturally, after four months of waiting, Enne leaves her peaceful town of Bellamy and travels to New Reynes, the so called City of Sin, in search of her mother. Her mother told her to visit Mr. Levi Glaisyer if she was ever in New Reynes, so Enne’s first mission is to find Levi. But when she does find Levi, she figures out that he’s an Iron Lord, the leader of a gang in New Reynes, and a con man. Confused as to why her mother told her to see him, but being dragged deeper and further into the trouble surrounding her mother and Levi, Enne is forced to work with Levi to figure out where her mother is. Levi has his own bucket of problems as well, as he has to find 10,000 volts (the currency of New Reynes) in ten days in order to stay alive, and the promise of volts from Enne if they find Lourdes is a last ditch attempt to Continue reading
Zevin G. (2007). Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. NY: Farrar Straus Giroux.
If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps. She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia.
But Naomi picked heads.
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin is a young adult book for ages twelve to eighteen and has been awarded the Best Children’s Book of the Year. This book is about a teenage girl who hits her head when she falls down the stairs, throughout the book you find out more of how she finds who she is again. She does this through breakups and losing friends. I really enjoyed how real-life this book was. The main character made good and bad decisions, unlike some novels where the main characters are the “best” version of a human being. She went through one relationship to another, just like real life. I think I would definitely want to explore amnesia more because in the book Naomi only forgot Continue reading
Coles, J. (2018). Tyler Johnson Was Here. NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Jay Coles writes from the heart, he writes well (every sentence is handsomely and seductively infused with Black culture), and he has produced 2018’s fast-paced picture of American police brutality, of the systematic corruption rampant in its justice system, and of how racism impacts and traps people.
What a compelling cover!
Trevor Johnson is shot by a white policeman simply for the colour of his skin – all of this caught on videotape – leaving a grieving mother and twin brother, who together make their way through each day even though their grief is overwhelmingly painful and raw. Continue reading