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Reality Check by Peter
Abrahams YA Mystery ABR
QB of the varsity football team. Passing grades in all his classes.
Dating the hottest—and smartest—girl at school. Summer job paying more than
minimum wage. Things in Cody's world seem to be going pretty well. Until,
that is, his girlfriend, Clea, is sent off to boarding school across the
country, and a torn ACL ends his high school football career. But bad things
come in threes—or in Cody's case, sixes and twelves—and the worst is yet to
come. While limping through town one day, Cody sees a newspaper heading:
"Local Girl Missing." Clea, now his ex, has disappeared from her boarding
school in Vermont, and the only clue is a letter she sent to Cody the
morning of her disappearance. With that as his guide, Cody sets out to find
out what happened. Once in Vermont, he unearths the town's secrets—and finds
out that football isn't the only thing he's good at.
If the Witness Lied by
Caroline B. Cooney YA COO
Choices do matter and forgiveness is possible.
Jack Fountain knows that what’s happened to his family sounds like the most
horrible soap opera anyone could ever write. But it happened—to Jack; his
parents; his sisters, Smithy and Madison. And to his baby brother, Tris.
What made it worse was that the media wanted to know every detail.
Now it’s almost Tris’s third birthday, and everything’s starting again. Aunt
Cheryl, who’s living with the Fountain children now that their parents are
gone, has decided that they will heal only if they work through their
pain—on camera. The very identities they’ve created for themselves are
called into question. In less than twenty-four hours their fate will change
yet again, but this time they vow to not be exploited and to discover the
The Morgue and Me by
John C. Ford YA Mystery FOR
Christopher just needed a job to kill time the summer after high school
graduation. He didn’t expect it to be in the morgue. Or that he would
accidentally discover a murder cover-up. Or that his discovery would lead
him to a full-blown investigation involving bribery, kidnappings, more
murders . . . and his best friend. And he certainly could never have
predicted that Tina—loud, insanely hot, ambitious newspaper reporter
Tina—would be his partner. But all of that did happen. And Christopher’s
life will never be the same.
With plenty of plot twists, red herrings, and dry wit, The Morgue and Me is
a page-turning modern take on the classic detective genre.
Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone
: The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival
by Dene Low YA LOW
You would think Petronella’s sixteenth birthday would be cause for
celebration. After all, fashionable friends are arriving at her country
estate near London, teas are being served, and her coming out party promises
to be a resplendent affair. Everything is falling nicely into place, until,
suddenly—it isn’t. For Petronella discovers that her guardian, Uncle
Augustus T. Percival, has developed a most unVictorian compulsion: He must
eat bugs. Worse still, because he is her guardian, Uncle Augustus is to
attend her soiree and his current state will most definitely be an
During the festivities, when Petronella would much rather be sharing
pleasantries with handsome Lord James Sinclair (swoon), important guests are
disappearing, kidnapping notes are appearing, many of the clues are insects,
and Uncle Augustus is surreptitiously devouring evidence. It’s more than one
sixteen-year-old girl should have to deal with. But, truth be told, there is
far more yet to come . . .
Shadowed Summer by
Saundra Mitchell YA MIT
Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana
town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette,
and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and
pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn’t have to make up
a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap.
Years ago, before Iris was born, a local boy named Elijah Landry
disappeared. All that remained of him were whispers and hushed gossip in the
church pews. Until this summer. A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she’s
certain it’s the ghost of Elijah. What really happened to him? And why, of
all people, has he chosen Iris to come back to?
Paper Towns by
John Green YA GRE
Quentin—or “Q.” as everyone calls him—has known his neighbor, the
fabulous Margo Roth Spiegelman, since they were two. Or has he? Q. can’t
help but wonder, when, a month before high-school graduation, she vanishes.
At first he worries that she might have committed suicide, but then he
begins discovering clues that seem to have been left for him, which might
reveal Margo’s whereabouts. Yet the more he and his pals learn, the more Q.
realizes he doesn’t know and the more he comes to understand that the real
mystery is not Margo’s fate but Margo herself—enigmatic, mysterious, and so
very alluring. Yes, there are echoes of Green’s award-winning Looking for
Alaska (2006): a lovely, eccentric girl; a mystery that begs to be solved by
clever, quirky teens; and telling quotations (from The Leaves of Grass, this
time) beautifully integrated into the plot. Yet, if anything, the thematic
stakes are higher here, as Green ponders the interconnectedness of
imagination and perception, of mirrors and windows, of illusion and reality.
That he brings it off is testimony to the fact that he is not only clever
and wonderfully witty but also deeply thoughtful and insightful. In
addition, he’s a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his
amusing, illuminating material. Grades 9-12.
The Big Splash by Jack
D. Ferraiolo YA FER
The treacherous, hormone-soaked hallways of Franklin Middle School are
the setting for this sharp, funny noir novel about tough guys and even
tougher girls. “The Frank” is in the clutches of a crime syndicate run by
seventh-grader Vinny “Mr. Biggs” Biggio, who deals in forged hall passes and
black-market candy. Double-cross him and your number is punched by one of
his deadly water-gun-toting assassins. One hit in the pants and you are in
“the Outs” forever. Matt Stevens is a proud loner with his own code of
justice. He’s avoided being pulled into Vinny’s organization until now: Mr.
Biggs has offered him a job he can’t resist, one that leads to the
surprising downfall of Vinny’s top assassin, the beautiful and deadly Nikki
“Fingers” Finnegan, at the hands of an unknown assailant. Matt thinks he was
used, and he becomes determined to find the trigger-guy or -girl, even if it
means bringing down one of his oldest friends.
Bog Child by
Siobhan Dowd YA DOW
While cutting peat in the Irish hills, Fergus McCann and his uncle
discover a body preserved by the bog. Archaeologists and politicians fight
over the find, while Fergus starts to dream about the past of the bog child
he names “Mel.” Dowd slowly reveals the story of Mel’s mysterious death, an
apparent murder, amid the 1980s troubles of Northern Ireland and the hunger
strike of the Long Kesh political prisoners. Fergus’ imprisoned older
brother joins the strike as Fergus is blackmailed into delivering packages
that may contain bomb-making supplies. The history, which will likely be as
unfamiliar to American teen readers as the story’s dialect, may need
fleshing out with additional sources, but the intriguing characters and
their motivations and sacrifices will translate directly to contemporary
readers. The plotlines are braided together into a strong story that is rich
in language, setting, and theme. Fans of David Almond’s work will savor the
similar religious influences and the elements of magical realism. A budding
romance with the archaeologist’s daughter, exuberant Cora, will delight
readers, who will wonder, as Fergus does after his first kisses, “Why wasn’t
the whole world doing this all the time, why?” Grades 8-11
Getting the Girl
by Susan Juby YA JUB
As Sherman Mack describes it, the caste system at his high school
includes “the usuals—jocks, Trophy Wives, scholars” as well as “the
Defiled,” a few girls blackballed by an unknown person and afterwards
ostracized by all the students. Afraid that a girl he cares for will be
targeted, Sherman decides to uncover the defiler. The mystery’s outcome is
less important than Sherman’s experiences along the way. Juby takes a
potentially bleak subject and makes it crackle with energy and wit. The
innocent, determined kid-next-door side of Sherman’s nature is balanced by
his weak-kneed inability to think rationally when the Trophy Wives (A-list
girls) set him up for a demeaning photo shoot—dressed in women’s clothing.
Clever, smart, and wryly observant, the first-person narrative is matched by
an impressive array of convincingly quirky, original characters. Not the
least of these is Sherman himself, a (sometimes) high-minded Don Quixote
tilting at windmills in an unconventional setting: high school. Grades 8-10.
Torn to Pieces
by Margot McDonnell YA MCD
Anne has never really liked the fact that her mother travels so much for
work, but she gets by, thanks to her nearby grandparents, and enjoys the
benefits of her mom’s ample salary. Besides, her mom always makes it back
for the important things. But when her mother misses Anne’s birthday and her
cell phone gets disconnected, Anne starts to worry, and with good reason.
Soon, the life she thought she had is crumbling in front of her eyes and she
is sucked into a world of long-held secrets, government agencies, double
crosses, and dangerous men. Anne’s mom’s shocking past has caught up with
her, and Anne discovers that no one in her life is who she thought they
were. Readers may want to be aware that as she investigates the complex
deception her mother has constructed, Anne encounters violence on several
occasions, including a disturbing scene of attempted rape and potential
incest. This teen thriller is slow to start but builds to a gripping
conclusion with a final twist that will shock and satisfy teen readers.
Rat Life by Tedd
Arnold YA ARN
The dead body found in the Chemanga River has nothing to do with Todd. He’s
been busy making beds at the family motel and writing alien stories to
entertain his friends. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would really
interest him? A paying job and a story line free of UFOs and poop jokes. And
then he meets Rat.
Just a little older than Todd, Rat’s already been to Vietnam and back. He’s
got a tattoo and a messed-up family life. And when he offers Todd a gig at
the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. After all, it pays actual money. But
hanging out with Rat leads to a host of strange experiences and perplexing
questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on Todd’s mind, and
no matter how he shifts the pieces around, Rat is always part of the puzzle.
Diamonds in the Shadow
by Caroline B. Cooney YA COO
The Finch Family did not know that five refugees landed from Africa on the
day they went to the airport to welcome the family sponsored by their
church. The Finch family only knew about the four refugees they were meeting
- Andre, Celestine, Mattu, and Alake - mother, father, teenage son and
Soon Jared realizes that the good guys are not always innocent, and he must
make a decision that could change the fate of both families. This story
presents many points of view and a fresh perspective on doing the right
Touching Snow by M.
Sindy Felin YA FEL
"The best way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill
Karina has plenty to worry about on the last day of seventh grade: finding
three Ds and a C on her report card again, getting laughed at by everyone
again, being sent to the principal -- again. She'd like this to change, but
with her and her sisters dodging their stepfather's fists every day after
school, she doesn't have time to do much self-reflecting. Finally her
stepfather is taken away on child abuse charges, and Karina thinks things
might turn into something resembling normal. The problem is, he's not gone
for good. And as Karina becomes closer with a girl at the community center
where her stepfather is not showing up for his parenting classes, she starts
to realize a couple things. First, for all the problems her family had tried
to escape by immigrating from Haiti, they brought most of them along to
upstate New York. And second, if anything is going to change for this
family, it is going to be up to Karina and her sisters to make it happen.
M. Sindy Felin's debut novel is the story of a young girl's coming-of-age
amid the violent waters that run just beneath the surface of suburbia -- a
story that has the courage to ask: How far will you go to protect the ones
by S.A. Harazin YA Mystery HAR
Without his job at the hospital, Clay would be lost. The hard work, the
struggles of the patients, the drama in the ERÑit makes his days worth
something, and gives focus to his dream of someday becoming a doctor. Clay
can't afford to go away to college like the rest of his graduating senior
class, but what other 17-year-old has delivered a baby or helped save a
Still, Clay wishes his life could be more like his best friend Joey's. Joey
has it all—a great family, a good college waiting for him at the end of the
summer, money, a car. Clay has to bike everywhere, and the miles are
starting to wear him down.
But Joey's golden future shatters one day when he overdoses at a party. Now
he's clinging to life at the hospital where Clay works, and Clay may even be
implicated in Joey's injuries. Tension and emotion rise as those who love
Joey gather and wait. Clay will do whatever he can to find out what happened
at the party, and to help Joey recover. But to survive this ordeal Clay must
draw on a strength he never knew he had.
Fragments by Jeffry
W. Johnston YA JOH
Ever since the accident, Chase feels shattered. He can't remember that
night, and everyone's treating him like a broken freak. He just wants things
to go back to normal. So when he starts getting flashes of memory, he's
relieved. He's sure once he remembers everything, he can put the crash
behind him and start over.
But when the flashes reveal another memory, Chase starts to panic. He's
desperate to leave his ugly past behind. But if he wants to put the pieces
together once and for all, he must face the truth about who he is . . . and
what he has done.
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