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.
Jackson, T. (2017). Allegedly. NY: Katherine Tegen Books.
Mary B. Addison killed a baby. Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official.
Step back, because you may have an idea of how this story could unfold, but there is a lot waiting under the surface. In a heart-wrenching, emotional break out novel, Tiffany Jackson delivers true grit on the page. Mary has been in Baby Jail and group “homes” ever since being convicted at age 9 for the death of a baby her momma was babysitting. Mary hasn’t believed it mattered much if she covered for her momma, who could have been given the death penalty, but now she has a reason to tell the truth.
This is a horrific look at the American juvenile justice system and the blind racism intertwined within it. As intelligent as she is, the abuse Mary suffers throughout her life shaped who she is as a person.
Be on the lookout for Tiffany D. Jackson’s next book. Powerful writing!
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.
Thomas, K. (2017). Little Monsters. NY: Delacorte Press.
Little Monsters is a guilty pleasure thriller from Kara Thomas that reveals how teenage girls are capable of taking their emotions and actions to an extreme level. Set during a Minnesota winter, Kacey Young has recently moved out of her unstable mother’s house to her father’s house with a warm welcome from her step mother, step brother, and half sister. They truly want what is best for Kacey, who has lived a tough life and has some dark secrets. Along with all of these changes, Kacey is also adjusting to a new school and making friends.
Very quickly, Bailey and Jade become her besties, showing up at her window one night to sneak her out to a haunted, abandoned barn for a seance, with Kacey’s younger half sister unexpectedly tagging along. The town’s legend of the Red Woman adds a slice of horror to the plot, and when Bailey goes missing following a party the next night, a convoluted psychological mystery Continue reading
Werlin, N. (2017). And Then There Were Four. New York: Penguin Random House.
Five prep school kids are tossed together under mysterious circumstances. When one is murdered, they begin talking and piecing together what they know about their families, and a terrifying idea surfaces. What if they are all targets? The premise is classically entertaining, mimicking Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, when a group of strangers are assembled on a remote island only to be murdered one by one.
The chapters alternate between two of the five friends, Saralinda and Caleb, she speaking in the present tense, he in the past for some reason, but both pushing forward the pace of the story. Nancy Werlin knows how to create complex characters whose voices captivate us. We become swept up into the mystery as they go on the run from their cloistered, island-esqe school to an actual island, Fire Island in New York. Here there are no cars, only dirt paths through tall grass, and little Continue reading
Larbalestier, J. (2016). My Sister Rosa. New York: Allen & Unwin.
What if your parents didn’t believe your little sister was dangerous, but you knew differently? My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier, is a captivating young adult thriller set in New York City that deals with mental illness. The cast of characters, as diverse and as the City itself, smoothly incorporates different economic classes, cultures, races, physical abilities, and sexual orientations. The story revolves around Che, a seventeen year old high schooler, trying to adjust after another one of his family’s moves. His home situation is definetly different – the parents are past hippies who don’t care much for hands-on parenting, the kids’ schooling is incredibly scattered since they relocate so much, and Che is often isolated with his anxiety about his ten year old sister, Rosa, who behaves inappropriately and dangerously when her parents aren’t looking. Che Continue reading