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
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
Mills E. (2017). Foolish Hearts. NY: Henry Holt and Co.
During the last party of the summer, Claudia gets caught eavesdropping — purely by mistake — on an extremely private conversation. Once school starts up again in the fall, she and Iris, one the girls from that painful conversation, are paired up for a school project. Contemptuous, disdainful, and scornful Iris is a handful to try to work with Continue reading
Bauxbaum, J. (2016). Tell Me Three Things. NY: Delacorte Press .
With the perfect mix of comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and joy, the characters in Julie Bauxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things come to feel like old friends who make any day better. This young adult novel is sure to appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, and E. Lockhart.
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.
Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her Continue reading
Malinda L. (2017). A Line in the Dark. NY: Dutton Books for Young Readers.
A fun, contemporary mystery, this one is a psychological thriller. You may not be sure where this mystery is leading, and you may be quite surprised at the ending! A Line in the Dark has a love triangle between three young women. Jess, the main character, is crazy in love with her best friend, Angie. The admiration seems a bit one sided to start with, and then Angie begins a relationship with Margot.
Margot attends prep school where she and her friend, Ryan, usher them into their private school world and the secrets that hide there. It’s revealed that Angie and Ryan have a secret of their own that may turn the entire mystery.
Walters, E. (2017). 90 Days of Different: Orca Publishers.
Cute and lighthearted, Eric Walters’ new one, 90 Days of Different, chronicles the summer Sophie has turned eighteen, is waiting to go to university, and her boyfriend has recently dumped her because she’s too predictable and boring. While the book itself can be a little predictable, it is not boring. In fact once Sophie’s best friend, Ella, who agrees with the ex-boyfriend, challenges Sophie to do one new and different thing each day of the summer, it’s then very quick and charming. Sophie imagines this challenge will transform her from boring into fun, so she agrees to let Ella set and and schedule the entire summer of challenges.
The chapters swing quickly through hilarious situations where Sophie is far out of her comfort zone. As far as character development goes, Sophie does grow, but there are so many various things going on with a new addition each day, that we don’t get an in depth look at who Sophie is becoming.
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.