Marin is New York and feels completely alone.
After fleeing her life in California, not even her best friends or her roommate know exactly why she decided to travel east to attend university.
Now, with the Christmas holidays approaching, Marin decides to stay in the university dorm rather than return home. As the snow piles up, so does the grief, regret and anger.
Raised by her grandfather, Marin has a past that clouds her every waking second, and when she discovers that her best friend Mabel is going to visit with her for a few days, she tries valiantly to put on her "normal" face so Mabel doesn't suspect that she's still grieving.
Trapped together in a blinding east coast blizzard, it doesn't take long for Marin and Mabel to dig down to the vein and confront what is really going on with Marin.
This is a simple yet powerful novel. Marin's feelings of angst and jittery anxiousness about her impending visitor drip off of every page. She is a real and vibrant character with grit in her belly that has had to deal with way too much for someone her age.
As a school librarian I'm always looking for the kinds of books that don't pull punches and don't BS teens into subscribing to a particular point of view. We Are Okay transcends all of that because it rides a delicate balance of pain and hope, grief and overwhelming joy. I think this is the book that many students I interact with have been seeking for a long time.
I recommend We Are Okay to ages 15 and up!
Prez doesn't say much.
He lives with his granddad, but one day his granddad is taken away after the state determines he isn't fit to take care of Prez anymore.
Luckily for Prez, he gets to stay with The Blythe family, a nice, rambunctious group of people that run a farm in the country.
Still, Prez keeps quiet, which is okay with the Blythes.
One day, Prez hears a doorbell ring.
The funny thing is, the Blythes don't have a doorbell.
He opens the door to see a strange boy in a kilt and an aviator's hat standing there. The boy introduces himself as Sputnik,.
Sputnik walks into the house and the Blythe family pat him on the head, ask him to roll over and look for his tags to see where he belongs.
It takes Prez a little while to figure out that to everyone else, Sputnik looks like a dog, but to him, he looks like a human.
Even weirder, Sputnik can read Prez's thoughts.
Sputnik introduces chaos in Prez's life as he demonstrates that he can bend time, space and even reality with merely a snap of his fingers. Plus, he looks like a dog to everyone so it's easier for him to get away with things.
Prez soon learns that Sputnik is on Earth to try and determine ten things that are worth doing. Ten things that make Earth stand out in a universe full of trillions of planets.
It turns out that it's very important for Prez to help Sputnik find those ten things, because if he doesn't, the Earth will be shrunk down to the size of a pea by Sputnik's alien race.
Desperate to save the planet and be reunited with his granddad, Prez and Sputnik embark on a wild ride that teaches Prez the true meaning of friendship and family.
A great, heart-warming read that will be a huge hit with our Year 7 students. I recommend this book to ages 11 and up!
After an unspeakable tragedy, Alice is left with a brain injury.
Unable to express herself vocally, she uses her art (making beautiful fishing lures) and her writing to express how she feels.
Alice lives with her gram, who is suffering from respiratory troubles and requires constant care. Alice's brother Joe lives with them as well and is trying his best to keep everything running. They have no mother or father in the picture. Together they all hang on in quiet desperation as to what the future holds.
When a boy named Manny comes to their town, he is instantly taken by the beautiful and mysterious Alice who stands on the roof of her house and throws her poems out to the world. Manny has a dark past and many secrets that keep him from being who he really wants to be.
In the meantime, Joey starts to see a girl named Tilda. However, there are people in their town that don't want Joey and Tilda together. Dangerous people.
Written from Alice and Manny's perspective, The Stars at Oktober Bend is a sad, funny and thrilling read about a girl who is old beyond her years but can't express herself the way she wants to. It's about love and friendship and standing up for what you believe in. I really loved it. I recommend it to ages 12 and up!
It's 1945 and the Nazi army is crumbling.
Four teenagers are on the run from the advancing Soviet army. Tales of their brutality have preceded their arrival.
Each teenager is from a different country but their lives have all been shattered by the war.
Together, they travel across a frozen wasteland towards the only thing that gives them hope: a ship that is evacuating refugees away from the Soviets.
They are frostbitten, starving and terrified. Not only that, they are each carrying with them a dark secret.
As they near their destination, they come to realise that not everything is as it seems within their motley crew of survivors.
This is by far one of my favourite books that I've read in a long time. Based on a nautical disaster that I had never heard of, it is chalk-full of brutal scenes that will make you angry, sad and unable to put the book down.
It's a book about the absolute brutality of war and how it whittles people down to their very core. But it's also a book about how strongly people hold onto hope in the middle of Hell.
I highly recommend this book to ages 13 and up!
Subhi was born in an Australian detention centre and knows nothing but fences and guards and hunger.
A refugee, Subhi lives with his sister Queenie and their mother, who grows more and more despondent as the days go on.
Subhi finds refuge in his friend Eli, who runs a smuggling operation under the guards' noses. He also likes Harvey, the only guard, or "Jacket" as they are called, that treats the people in the detention centre anything close to human.
Subhi's only hope is that his father will someday return.
One night, his life changes when he's visited from someone on the other side of the fence. Her name is Jimmie and she asks Subhi to read her stories, stories that were written by her mother who has since passed away.
Jimmie's father works double shifts, her older brother Jonah is tasked with taking care of her but he's a teenager and isn't ready to be a parent.
In Subhi, Jimmie finds a friend, someone she can sit and listen to and remember what it was like before her life fell apart. For Subhi, Jimmie represents a fascinating glimpse of the outside world, plus she brings him hot chocolate which doesn't hurt.
Things come to a head when members of the detention centre stage a hunger strike to protest the awful living conditions they face. Subhi finds himself caught between two worlds and has to make decisions that no child should make.
I really loved the writing in this book, I thought it was an authentic take on how a child would cope with the horrendous life that has been thrust upon them.
It's an important book because it brings to light something that we tend to ignore in the West, the plight of refugees and the conditions they face in areas such as Australia. I recommend this book to ages 12 and up!