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!
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!
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!
Nick and Kenny are brothers, and they're also best friends. Their mum isn't around and their dad is doing his best to make up for being a pretty sloppy father.
When the boys find an injured rook, Kenny is determined to nurse it back to health. Meanwhile, Nick has bigger problems to worry about.
He's being bullied by a boy at school and to make matters worse, Nick's in love with the bully's sister.
Desperate to find some courage to ask her out on a date or even speak to her in the hall, Nick decides to stand up to her brother once and for all. This is a decision that will change Nick's life drastically.
Rook is a fast-paced and powerful read about family, willpower and standing up for yourself. I am really excited to find some students in the Library who tell me they "hate reading" because this is one that will change their minds. Don't miss it! I recommend it for ages 14 and up!
Zélie lives in constant fear. In a land where magic users, or maji, are hunted and disposed of, she knows all too well the dangers that surround her.
Majis have been driven to extinction under the authority of a tyrannical king.
The king's daughter Amari, however, decides that her father's ways are wrong and sets out on her own. This angers the king who puts a price on her head.
In a chance meeting, Amari and Zélie meet as Amari is on the run. Together they flee with Zélie's brother.
Chased by Amari's brother, Inan, the three go from one nail-biting adventure to the next as Zélie discovers that she may be the key to bringing magic back to the land.
Filled with thrills, Indiana Jones-style adventure and truly original characters, I can't recommend this book enough.
If you're looking for strong female characters with complex histories and troubled pasts with tons of great fight scenes, a strong fantasy plot and a ton of grit, this is the book for you.
I will be buying quite a few copies of this to keep our teens happy. Highly recommended!
Jess is a juvenile delinquent with a penchant for shoplifting. Her home life is the stuff of nightmares. Her step father beats her mother and forces Jess to record the incidents. Jess' brother Liam fled the home a year ago and her mother has seemingly resigned herself to her fate.
After being caught shoplifting, Jess is given a community service sentence, primarily picking up rubbish with other youths in a nearby park.
It is there that she meets Nicu, a Romanian immigrant who has problems of his own. Nicu is scheduled to be in an arranged marriage and only has a few weeks before he must return to Romania for the ceremony.
Both teens feel trapped, lost and hopeless. Together they try to eek out some semblance of normalcy.
It doesn't come without a cost, through. Once Nicu is enrolled in Jess' high school, he is at the hands of merciless, racist teens who target him on a daily basis. Jess is at first able to turn a blind eye but soon stands up for Nicu. These actions will have disastrous consequences for both of them.
As the clock ticks for Nicu with his impending marriage and for Jess with her stepfather's actions becoming more and more brutal, both teens will find themselves backed against a wall that neither of them should have to endure.
A really harrowing and sad read, once again Crossan has created a beautiful story through prose. I loved Briand Conaghan's When Mr. Dog Bites and he does not disappoint here either. I recommend this novel to ages 14 and up!
Wing has always lived under the radar. Her brother Marcus is always the one in the limelight. He's charming, funny and a high school football star with a promising professional sports career looming on the horizon.
Wing seems resigned to the fact that she's always going to be on the side lines, never quite fitting in and secretly harbouring a crush on Marcus' best friend Aaron.
Then a tragedy strikes the family (I won't spoil it here) and Wing is forced to find something inside of herself that can take her mind off the psychological torment her family is going through.
She finds her strength in running. To everyone's surprise, even her own, she's really, really fast. Wing focuses on running to ease her pain, but it's not enough.
On top of the tragedy, her mother can no longer pay the bills, meaning the bank is threatening to take the home away. Desperate, Wing decides to use her new found running skills to good use: a nationwide competition looking for a spokesperson for a brand of awesome running shoes.
As the clock ticks towards the competition, Wing is unsure if she can handle the pressure surrounding her and her family.
Wing Jones is an emotional glimpse into family tragedy and the guilt that can accompany it. I really enjoyed watching Wing's confidence grow through her running and how it helped her cope with the tragedy and her overall social skills.
I think people need to find something, at least one thing in life that they can latch onto to help them through tough times or just times of insecurity. Wing Jones is about finding that thing and going all in, never giving in and not letting the bastards get you down as they say.
I highly recommend this book for ages 13 and up!
When aliens called the vuvv land on Earth, everyone is initially terrified. Then the vuvv announce that they are here to help -- their technology is superior, their medicine can cure any illness in seconds. They bring knowledge from the farthest depths of space to us humans.
Nobody realised how much of a curse it would be. With everything now automated using vuvv technology, people lose their jobs by the droves. Sure, their medicine is amazing but the vuvv run a private practice. If you can't pay their currency, which is a lot, then you don't get treatment. Those who can afford the vuvv's high cost of living can really experience life to its fullest. The rest are pretty much left in the dark to scrabble and starve.
Adam is an aspiring artist, but his family has no money to survive. He decides to get creative with his girlfriend Chloe. Together they create a 1950s style romance that the vuvv subscribe to and watch via their version of The Cloud. Turns out the vuvv are obsessed with American 1950s music and culture. However, when his relationship with Chloe goes south and his Merrick's Disease flares up dangerously high, Adam has to decide if he's going to stand up for what he believes in or cave and go along with vuvv rule like everyone else.
This novel is sharp as a razor with some really biting commentary on class, consumerism, pop culture and teen apathy. Hilarious, sad and disturbing, it's a must read. I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
Blade Morrison has a lot to live up to, and a lot to escape from.
The son of a fallen-from-grace rock star, Blade is the poster boy for "money doesn't buy you happiness." Nestled in the Hollywood Hills with maids, butlers and wads of cash doesn't mean much when everyone around you is falling apart.
Then, after a disastrous late night party, Blade learns a shocking secret about his family. Inconsolable, he sets out on a trip around the world to uncover the truth, leaving his drug-addled father behind.
Written in verse, Solo is a fast-paced examination of family trauma, redemption and setting out on your own. Alexander has a real skill in making regular conversations between people flow like poetry. It touches on a subject that a lot of teens can identify with. Alexander's characters are deep and real and full of life, each one's desires pour off the page like music. Highly recommended, can't wait to get this in the hands of our students!
This is a guest review from Dulcie, student at Glenthorne High School:
This thrilling sequel to Lady Midnight is a barely possible to put down. It continues to delight readers with its mix of danger, fear and forbidden romance. It shows how friends can be torn apart by unrequited love and how deeply you can betray someone you love, without meaning to. Introducing new character, Kit Rook, ‘the lost herondale’ and the deep friendship he forms with Tiberius and Livia. It also shows how the shadowhunters fight against the discrimination of downworlders when some of their closest friends have to flee to stay alive
Rating (out of 5 stars): 5 stars