Xiomara Batista has to be tough. She'd rather use her fists than her words when it comes to defending herself and her twin brother, Xavier.
Under the strict rule of her fiercely Catholic mother, Xiomara writes furiously in her prized leather notebook, panting the pages with the words of her heart and soul.
When she begins to develop feelings for Aman, the danger of being with a boy she knows her mother would disapprove of is stressful yet tempting for a girl desperate to connect with someone and have her voice heard. Then Xioamara is asked to join a slam poetry event and a whirlwind of events occur, propelling her into a new phase of her life.
This is a phenomenal novel, Xiomara is a brilliant and strong lead character that defends her family and rebels against them like any teen would. Set in Harlem, the novel has a beautiful rhythm that would sit perfectly next to Sarah Crossan, Kwame Alexander and Jason Reynolds. I'm going to really enjoy getting the students in our high school turned on to this amazing novel, don't miss it!
I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
Peter Blankman suffers panic attacks. That's one thing you should know about him. He's also a maths genius. His mother is a scientist and a very important one. Peter's twin sister Bel, has always stuck up for him and looked after him.
Peter is seventeen and heavily bullied at school. His best friend at school is named Ingrid. She too suffers panic attacks and has OCD where she scrubs her knuckles raw under hot water when she's stressed.
Peter's mother, the very important scientist, is about to receive a huge award for her contributions in science. This is where things go haywire.
At the award ceremony, there's a commotion, panic and Peter's life is immediately thrust into a jet-fuelled nightmare of paranoia, espionage and some serious "Forced Vengeance" level butt kicking.
Jerome is twelve and lives in a neighbourhood where you need to be on your toes at all time.
When he's shot to death by a policeman who mistakes his toy gun for a real one, he emerges as a ghost and watches helplessly as his family tries to maintain sanity after his death.
Jerome watches the preliminary hearing of the policeman who shot him and visits the policeman's' daughter, who, miraculously, can see him.
Joined by Jerome is the ghost of Emmett Till, who tells him of his horrible encounter with violent racism in America's deep south. Till helps Jerome work out why he was murdered and how he can process it and what needs to be done to make sure it stops happening. Throughout this journey, the policeman's daughter learns several valuable lessons as well.
I think Ghost Boys should be required reading in high schools around the world, infuriating, mortifying and heart-breaking, it reflects both historical and current divides regarding race in America. It's a fast, always compelling read that I cannot recommend enough.
I recommend it for ages 10 and up.
Brynn Haper only has one consistent thing in her life: Television presenter Rachel Maddow. Other than that, she's dealing with a recent breakup, an abusive stepfather and a preppy jerk destroying the democratic political process in her high school.
As a homework assignment, she writes a few emails to Rachel Maddow and is thrilled when she receives a response.
As a way to catalogue her struggles, fears and determination, Brynn writes dozens of unsent emails to Rachel Maddow, all describing a life in turmoil and pain but full of hope and grit and spirit.
When Brynn's ex and the aforementioned preppy jerk get involved in a game of high school rigged elections, Brynn takes matters into her own hands to not only expose them for what they are but to get politically involved herself.
Dear Rachel Maddow is one of the sharpest YA novels out there today. Hilarious, infuriating and lightning quick, Kisner captures the excruciating pain that the high school experience can be and that there's still plenty of hope to be found in the youth of today. I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
Jane Mckeene is born into a world of terror. Zombies, known as shamblers, have risen from the Civil War battlefields and torn the nation apart even further.
Jane is sent to special combat schools based on a government law known as the Native and Negro Reeducation Act, In the school she learns to dispose of the undead in an efficient manner.
Her and the other students are told that the area around Baltimore is shamble free, but when this turns out to be a lie, Jane and her friend Katherine are plunged into a conspiracy that will take them out west where shamblers aren't the only thing that's rotten.
I only gave this book two stars on Goodreads simply because I felt it was around 100 pages too long. I had such high hopes for it but nothing happens, it seems to be a string of mildly entertaining zombie attacks that are wedged into a huge amount of info dumps that go on for pages. It had a lot of promise in the beginning, but I have to say that the book is really boring which should have been near impossible when writing a book about zombies during the American Civil War.
After Moss Jeffries' father was murdered by the Oakland police department and the crime went unpunished, he suffers anxiety and severe panic attacks.
Six years later, in high school, Moss and his friends discover that an armed policeman roams their halls and subjects them to random locker checks. When metal detectors are installed, Moss and a few of his friends decide to organise a peaceful protest in order to let the faculty know their concerns.
The protest goes horribly wrong and Moss and his new boyfriend Javier find themselves in a hellish situation with no apparent way out. In the aftermath, Moss must confront his fears and stand up for himself and those around him, putting everything he knows at risk.
This novel could very well read like a dystopian thriller to those who don't live in the shadow of a corrupt and
totalitarian system. It's a truly frightening novel with memorable characters and storyline that keeps you hooked from page one. The relationship between Moss and his mother is touching, Moss and Javier are excellent together and playoff each other nicely. As does Moss and his other friends, one of whom has a more privileged background, making her a source of occasional irritation for Moss as he navigates a world of racism and hate.
I can imagine that fans of The Hate U Give will be devouring this powerful story, can't wait to bring it to them at school!
I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
When Danny's parents are arrested for stealing the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, he's shipped off to live with his evil Aunty Ratbag in the horrible city of Greezy.
Ratbag delights in tormenting Danny by feeding him frozen broccoli soup, forcing him to clean dog poo from her garden and locking him in his room just to name a few.
At school, Danny is taught by Mr. Phlegm, who can't read or write so well and enjoys teaching the children about the benefits of smoking cigarettes.
By chance, Danny meets the local Gravedigger, who appears to be the only sane person in Greezy. The Gravedigger tells Danny a fantastic story about a wild king that still lives in the graveyard. Desperate to escape the clutches of Ratbag, Danny sets off to meet King Bones and is thrust into a quest that will change his life and those around him forever.
Part Twits, part Gangster Granny, King Bones is for fans of dark, grotesque humour. It also has a lot of heart and a whole parade of memorable characters. I really loved King Bones and his soldiers, especially the final quest and battle that Danny joins him on.
If you've got students who want a funny book but tell you they can never find one, this is the one for you!
I recommend it for ages 11 and up!
When Jay's father dies, he leaves her and her mother to pick up the pieces of his failed business.
Destitute, they are forced to leave their meagre flat and move in with Jay's aunt and uncle, who demand Jay and her mother adhere to traditional Indian values.
At fifteen, Jay finds being a teenager hard enough without the added stress of jumping to her aunt's every command. Her mother has also become something of a house servant rather than a loved family member.
Confined to the basement where her room is, Jay's only respite is to text her friends Matt and Chloe and hang out with them whenever she can.
When Jay's aunt demands that Jay and her mother prepare the house for Jay's uncle's birthday party, Jay's mother nearly buckles from the stress. Jay pleads with her mum to let them move out, being poor and living in a tiny flat is better than being treated like a dog, but Jay's mum doesn't listen.
On the night of the party, Jay's cousin Deven comes home from university. Jay doesn't like the way he looks at her but decides not to worry too much about it. When Jay has too much to drink and finds herself at the mercy of Deven's friends in the basement long after the party has ended, Jay's life takes a plunge that will bring her to the brink of suicide.
This is a powerful book, not only does it tackle the stress that young Indian teens feel to behave a certain way and to adhere to traditional Indian values, it also tackles rape in a way that doesn't hammer you over the head. This is because the book is about family and survival, forgiveness and love. It's a book I've chosen as part of the #ReadWokeUK Reading Challenge and one I'd like discuss more in school. It's a book not to be missed, I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
D.J. and Gina are best friends and always have been since they were very young. D.J. comes from a big family of over-achievers and feels like he's always falling short.
One day he witnesses what he thinks is a meteor falling to the Earth. When he approaches it, he finds a boy lying in a crater wearing nothing but silver underpants.
He soon learns that the boy has special powers, he can read a stack of encyclopaedias in seconds, can fly and has balls of energy that shoot from his hands.
The boy soon identifies himself as HiLo but his memory is fuzzy and he doesn't recall much more. It doesn't take long for a horde of inter galactic robot bugs to travel to Earth looking for HiLo, pitting D.J. and Gina into the middle of an epic battle to the finish!
HiLo is beautifully illustrated and full of great comedic timing. It is great for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or any super hero comic, loved it. Recommended for ages 8 and up!
Leelu has just moved to London with her mother and her brother Tiber. Her father is thousands of miles away and Leelu doesn't understand why nobody will tell her why he can't come to be with them.
At her new school, Leelu suddenly realises that she doesn't understand anything the teacher is telling her although all of her classmates seem to understand perfectly.
Even stranger, someone is leaving strange objects at her house. Nut shells, trinkets and other things. Leelu becomes convinced that these items have magical powers.
Things become even more confusing when she notices her brother sneaking out at night and a strange man from across the street watching her house.
With her mum working late hours and the questions piling up, Leelu looks to her neighbour, a young girl named Betsy, for help.
With the pressure mounting, Leelu becomes desperate to find some answers to these seemingly insurmountable questions. More importantly, she wants to try to find a way to get her father back.
Leelu is a tremendously loveable character and her journey is an interesting one. I really recommend this to ages 9 and up!