Susan is new to Canada and lives with her mother in Ontario. She's not used to the cultural freedoms in this new country, she's used to live in Saudi Arabia. Susan is reserved, wary of boys and determined not to get her driving license. Susan is very bright and her parents have high expectations of her. They want her to be a doctor although in secret she wants to be an artist.
Her father is still in Saudi Arabia, making excuses as to why he can't join them in Canada. As her fear about her parents' relationship grows, Susan decides to bury herself in her studies.
Then she meets Malcolm, a brooding, somewhat troubled teen. Malcolm's mother died of cancer, previous to this he found out his father was having an affair. This drove Malcolm to drink and use drugs on a regular basis. The abuse he experienced at the hands of his father didn't help. Now, though, he's trying to get on the straight and narrow. Fresh off of a hard breakup, Malcolm isn't sure what he wants anymore.
When he meets Susan, Malcolm knows he's found someone truly unique. Their friendship grows and soon becomes something bigger. Malcolm breaks through Susan's protective barriers and gets her to act out in ways she's never experienced before, skipping school for one.
As they begin to feel deeper feelings, people from Malcolm's past begin to haunt him and disrupt their relationship.
Told from Susan and Malcolm's perspective, The Beauty of the Moment is a very nuanced look at teen life. The characters posses a moral duality that is present in everyone but hyper realised in teens in my opinion. Susan's overbearing parents aren't one dimensional, they waver, they try to see things from Susan's perspective and they sometimes admit when they are wrong, just like a lot of parents.
Malcolm's relationship with his sister is heart warming and one that I really enjoyed reading about. His father is a silently brooding character that is the focus of Malcolm's rage. This dynamic really packs a punch and makes for intense reading.
The Beauty of the Moment is a brilliant sophomore novel from Tanaz Bhathena. Fans of John Green, Jandy Nelson, Nicola Yoon and Jennifer Niven will love this story.
Ilyas is under a lot of pressure. At fifteen, his father wants him to take over the family-run shop. He's got exams looming, his sister is an internet sensation & the jewel of the family, leaving him feeling pretty low.
His friends, Imran, Daevon & Noah are part of a loose-knit gang called DedManz, but Imran wants the gang to become bigger, more legit, more dangerous. Meanwhile, Ilyas just wants to get lost in his art, specifically creating a comic book character he can be proud of. He can't be himself, though, with all of these external pressures surrounding him at all times.
The tension boils over when Imran gets more and more aggressive, forcing Ilyas to spray graffiti when and where he doesn't want to. Imran also speaks very poorly about women in Ilyas' life, women he respects.
When Imran decides to seduce Ilyas' best friend on a whim, he takes things too far. However Ilyas soon learns that standing up for yourself, like superheroes do in the comics, is easier said than done, especially when dangerous people like Imran are involved.
I connected with Kick the Moon on many levels. Growing up I saw how the powerful the pressure was on youth to act a specific way, view the opposite sex a certain way and to simply follow the pack. It creates a culture of "one-up man ship" which can escalate into dangerous territory, which is exactly what happens in Kick the Moon. Ilyas is caught between being himself and protecting himself, which is a very tricky and complicated place to be, especially when you're a teen and you're trying to work out your own identity. When you have a black hole of negative energy like Imran, and those people exist, hovering over your social life, day to day activities can becomes very difficult and stress-inducing. Kick the Moon is a powerful look at toxic masculinity with some really devastating passages. I know it's a book that will be hugely popular at Glenthorne High School, don't miss this one!
When Theo's photographic exhibit is vandalised, there are five suspects. To get to the bottom of the mystery, all five along with Theo take part in a Justice Circle during the last week of vacation to get to know each more and try and figure out who committed the dastardly act.
Theo has it in his mind who committed the crime, and has preconceived ideas about every single student. You've got the Nerd, the Princess, the Jock, the Weirdo, and the Screw-Up. He's got them all pegged, and he thinks the Justice Circle will be a waste of time.
However, as the week moves along, the stereotypes start to crumble. Theo isn't sure who did the deed and even worse, he starts to like every single one of the students. The matter stands though, someone in the room destroyed his work, someone in the room hates him.
I really enjoyed this novel, it's all about not knowing what people are going through behind the façade they put on in public. As Theo and the other students start to reveal their secrets, their fears and their hopes, we are kept guessing till the very end as to who did the act. It's a great middle grade novel that our students will really love.
When 12 year old Alex receives an old toy robot from his eccentric grandfather, he doesn't know what to think. His grandfather's always coming in and out of his life in weird and wonderful things.
There's something off about this toy, though, something Alex can't quite pinpoint. When strange things begin to happen, Alex and his grandfather end up in whirlwind adventure full of dangerous creatures and dastardly villains who are hell bent at gaining power no matter what the cost.
This novel has many great aspects to it, robots, golems from Jewish folklore stemming from the city of Prague and it also has some genuinely frightening scenes which I was surprised at but really enjoyed. There is a ton of action as Alex discovers that the robot he was sent holds the key to a centuries old mystery, one that can give the owner of the robot immense power over other people. Even with his brief encounter with it, Alex is able to use the robot to briefly control others and I liked how it was disturbing yet alluring to him at the same time, as it would all of us.
I think the students at Glenthorne will really enjoy this unique novel, I hope a sequel is in the works. I recommend it for ages 12 and up!
Kay Donovan & her friends are the most popular students at an elite private school. They run the place, they control the social atmosphere that is more important to most than grades.
One evening, after a party, they find a dead girl floating in a lake by the school. None of them claim to know her, she was a student at their school but she wasn't high up enough on the pecking order to be important to them.
However when Kay receives a coded scavenger hunt from the dead girl, her life becomes very complicated. She's plunged headfirst into a dangerous game where she must stab her friends in the back otherwise be framed for the murder. As the noose tightens, and the police begin to close in, Kay begins to unravel, and what is real and what is not becomes blurred.
I really enjoyed People Like Us, Kay is a great character, she has several flaws and can be very unlikeable but I never stopped rooting for her. She has a melancholic yet determined nature that keeps her chugging along in the face of obstacle after obstacle. At the Library that I manage, students can't get enough of school-based mysteries so I know this novel will be extremely popular.
I recommend it for ages 14 and up!
Being the daughter of Zeus should result in having an awesome life. However for Helen Thomas, it's anything but. Her dad wants her entire family to keep the whole Greek God thing on the down low, which means no altering people's minds, no lightning bolts or anything that will bring unwanted attention to themselves.
For Helen, being a half-mortal, it doesn't really matter because she's more obsessed with keeping her half sister Aphrodite from driving her insane. Aphrodite has a hit YouTube channel, a gazillion Instagram followers & has the complexion of the greatest super model of all time. Also, her half brother Eros can play a mean guitar, somewhat too mean when he uses his skills to get himself on television. Things go from bad to worse when the Council discovers that Aphrodite and Eros are abusing their God-like powers in the presence of mortals. They are ordered back to Mount Olympus for a day of judgement. If found guilty, it means Helen will have to live away from Earth for the remainder of her days, no more friends, no more hanging out, just sitting in Mount Olympus until the day she dies. It's a problem that most teens don't have to deal with!
I really enjoyed Oh My Gods, I felt the pacing was quick and it had a lot of humour in it. Having Helen write to her deceased mother to relay her troubles was both sweet and sad. Super Awkward by Beth Garrod is a very popular book at Glenthorne High School and I know Oh My Gods will be too as they both share some great qualities that make it engaging and fun to read. One to look out for in 2019!
Paris is on the cusp of a Revolution, but all Camille cares about is putting food on the table so her and her sister Sophie don't starve to death.
Her parents deceased, Camille must try to survive famine, disease and her brother's drunken squandering of the little money they own.
However, Camille has a secret. She can turn worthless metal into coins, for a short period at least. This magic skill buys her and Sophie some time while she figures out a plan.
After delving into much darker magic, magic that her mother warned her about, Camille is able to disguise herself as nobility and enter the famed halls of Versailles, where she partakes in expensive and dangerous card games where the rewards are great.
It doesn't take long for Camille to discover that she might not be the only one at Versailles with a dark secret. Throw in the fact that she's fallen hopelessly in love with a daring young balloonist, Camille doesn't know if she can keep up her double life much longer. As the stakes become higher and the suspicions out of control, Camille finds herself in great danger, it doesn't help that Paris has turned completely upside down with violent anger at those who enter Versailles.
Enchantée is a great novel containing magic realism and historical facts about Paris, Versailles and the French Revolution. Camille's brother is a great villain, as are the other characters at Versailles although I don't want to spoil this as it's not clear who the real villain is right away.
I felt like the novel moved a long at an excellent pace and was really interesting from start to finish. I was genuinely concerned for Camille and Sophie and the sections of the novel where they were starving were really effective.
I don't think anyone who loves YA will want to miss Enchantée at all when it's released in 2019!
Two high school students take the same bus everyday but they've never actually met. Then one day, one of the teens, Richard, takes it upon himself to act recklessly and lights the other students' skirt on fire. Sasha suffers 3rd degree burns and has their life forever altered.
Richard is charged with hate crimes & faces a life behind bars. Both teens are forced to be in the spotlight as the press descends on them and their families.
The strangest part? It's all true. The 57 Bus is a fascinating look at two people who are brought together because of a horrible event. I could not put this book down, I needed to know what was going to happen to Richard & reading about Sasha's recovery was painful and heart breaking. It's an important book about tolerance, violence and recovery. I have organised it so that all of our Year 9 students (over 250 of them) will be reading The 57 Bus in the new year as I know it will generate a lot of discussion. Do not miss out on this amazing story. Recommended for ages 13 and up!
Effie Kostas has just joined a new school and is hoping to make an impact. She finds the perfect opportunity when it becomes clear that the current Student Council President is only using his power to get lunch passes and pour money into his friends' football team.
With a group of misfits around the school, Effie launches a campaign to become Student Council President and make a ton of changes including starting a girl's football team, a lunch buddy program and creating equality throughout the school. It's a great plan, but has Effie bitten off more than she can chew? Will her plan to take down the current President go down in flames? Only time will tell, meanwhile Effie must try to keep herself focused on the campaign and try not to have a nervous breakdown while it's happening.
What I love about Vote For Effie is that Effie isn't perfect. She overreacts, she misjudges people and she forgets to see things from other people's perspectives. She's hyper-organised, sometimes to a fault and lets her emotions get in the way of her attempt to become Student Council President. In short, she's a passionate person that wants to make a difference. I loved this novel because it's full of great messages about standing up for what you believe, rolling with the punches and navigating high school. Issue like gender equality and women's suffrage history are also covered in detail but not in a way that makes you feel like it's been shoehorned in. It's also hilarious and peppered with sharp humour. Wood writes a seamless story that brings you a cast of characters that I wish I had to hang around with in high school. Do not miss this novel, get it into the hands of your students or children ages 10 and up A-Sap.
When a new boy named Ahmet joins the school, people initially think he's strange because he doesn't speak or join the other children on the playground during break times.
They soon learn that Ahmet is a very special student because he's come to the UK from Syria. He has a foster mother who is taking care of him as he was separated from his parents when he arrived.
As the students learn more and more about Ahmet, a group of clever and resourceful friends hatch a plan to reunite Ahmet with his parents. It might just be the greatest plan ever devised, or it might completely backfire and cause a lot more trouble than the students are prepared for.
I absolutely loved The Boy At the Back of the Class. We don't know the narrator's gender or name for the majority of the novel and it really woks, having that kept a secret as their identity is slowly revealed. The novel tackles some serious issues including the refugee crisis of course but also home grown casual racism that in my opinion is rampant in UK society. There are cruel students who are mimicking their parents' bigotry and apathetic teachers who allow bullying to occur under their watch. It also sheds light on the generosity and kindness that will hopefully prevail in the end. It's an important book that I think should be required reading in Year 6 or 7!