Thursday, April 30, 2009

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Jessie lives in a small village in 1840 - so she thinks. But when a disease sweeps through town killing many of the residents her parents reveal that it is not 1840, it is actually 1995. The adults in this town made a decision to pretend the time was in the 1800's in order to raise their children in a less corrupt time. But Jessie's parents know that the disease killing everyone actually has a cure and they decide to send Jessie out into the real world to get help. Jessie has a very hard time since she has never seen a car or telephone. To make matters worse she is being persued by some people from the village who don't want their secret revealed. If this story sounds familiar it's probably because you've seen the movie "The Village". The director of that movie was sued by this author for stealing her idea!

The Poison Apples by Lily Archer

Molly, Reena and Alice all attend a boarding school but they seem to have very little in common. In reality though they are each at the school because they have been sent there by their new evil stepmothers who want them out of the way. When they find out their common bond they decide to form the Poison Apples, a club for mistreated stepdaughters. Together they begin planning their fitting and funny revenge against each of the stepmothers and the fathers who broke up their families.

Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan

Maya lives with her incredibly, overly strict, rich grandmother. Since she has no freedom at all she amuses herself sometimes by lying about the housekeepers and getting them fired. When her grandmother dies suddenly she is sent to Wyoming to live with her mother's family - a loving, relaxed group of people she has never met. Although she has heard only bad things about them she soon finds out that her aunt and uncles are wonderful. They run a horse ranch and Maya begins to learn how to ride and relate to the horse. She is particularly interested in a horse who was part of the ranch when her mother was living there but has since run away to join the wild pack. Maya would like to try to recapture this horse and tries to gain her trust. When following the horse one day disaster strikes and Maya has to rely on whatever bond she might have built with the wild horse to save her.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Science Fair by Dave Barry

Toby attends a prestigious school near Washington D.C. which is especially known for its science fair. Lance Swingle, the inventor of a device that allows smells to be sent through the internet, used to go to Hubble Middle School and now he offers a $5000 prize to the winner of the science fair. Although Toby really needs the money from the fair he knows he'll never win it because each year the rich kids in school pay the man at the local science store to build their science fair projects for them. Although the rich kids don't know what their projects are about, they always have something impressive and one of them always wins. But what the rich kids don't know this year is that the designs for their plans have been provided by the government of Kprshtskan, an extremely poor country, determined to take over the United States. When all the projects are hooked together they will provide a way to make the U.S. government give Kprshtskan whatever it wants. Toby suspects that something funny is going on but he is hindered in trying to prove it by his mean principal, a man who believes he is Darth Vader, and two bumbling visitors from Kprshtskan with pants full of cheese.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

This is an odd book that combines narrative and graphic novel formats. The stories range from quirky to surreal. They include a minotaur who directs people in the neighborhood, a foreign exchange student from another planet, and a deep sea diver who is able to tame the meanest woman in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia and her family are excited when they all get to stay home because of a snow day. Although they have the day off, the snow ends quickly and they decide to go out to a bookstore, visit grandparents and just have a fun day off together. But all the plans change when they are in a terrible car accident. Mia is surprised that she is able to get up and walk afterwards but she quickly figures out that she is actually in a coma and is just observing herself and the events that are happening after the accident. While observing she realizes that she has the power to decide whether she's going to stay alive or go with the rest of her family...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

If the Witness Lied by Caroline Cooney

Jack's life has been a televised nightmare for the last couple of years. His baby brother Tris has been accused of killing both their mother and father in two separate incidents. Jack and Tris' sisters have both been unable to handle the pressure and have left home while Jack has stuck by Tris and takes care of him. Jack and Tris are living with their aunt Cheryl who arrived shortly before their mother died. Now Cheryl has an idea to feature Tris and the other siblings in a new television program about the anniversaries of their parents' death. Jack will not let his brother be shown as a bad seed yet again and his sisters return home to help. While working together to save the bit of dignity their family has left the siblings discover some evidence that indicates their baby brother might not have been responsible after all and that someone might be guilty of a good deal more.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Must Love Black by Kelly McClymer

Phillipa only wears black and despises pastels but does not think of herself as Goth. She is very unhappy because her father has just remarried after her mother's death a few years before. In order to get away from her new stepmother Phillipa takes a job for the summer as a nanny for twin girls. She was especially interested in this job because the ad specified that the ideal nanny "must love black". Unsure of why this might be or what might be waiting for her at her summer home, Philippa heads off in the limo with the super-hot chauffer.

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

Matt was sent to the US with some soldiers by his Vietnamese mother to save him from the war and he is living in a happy family now. His parents have a younger boy and Matt is feeling worried that they don’t want him now because he feels he did something wrong. During some bombing in the war Matt and his younger Vietnamese brother left the house and his brother was injured. Shortly after that his Vietnamese mother sent him to the United States and Matt believes that she blamed him for his brother's injuries. He is also sure that his new parents will send him away eventually too. Matt is an amazing baseball pitcher but has hesitated to try out for the team because of some racist comments at school. But encouraged by his dad he tries out and makes the team. The coach insists that everyone work together as a team and Matt finally has a chance to shine - until the coach has to leave for health reasons. When his replacement shows up he is a wounded Vietnam War veteran who shows everyone something new.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Last Invisible Boy Evan Kuhlman

Finn is writing a book about how he is turning invisible. Ever since The Terrible Day That Changed Everything his hair has been turning white and his skin has become more and more pale. Different people have different theories for why this is including that his body is just reacting to the severe shock of his father's death. Finn writes about his life now, how he is coping, and memories of his father in a journal format with lots of drawings of the people around him. Although the subject is different it is very similiar in style to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Schooled by Gordon Korman

Capricorn and his grandmother are the only two people still living on a hippie commune. When his grandmother falls out of a tree and has to stay in the hospital for a while Cap has to go to school for the first time in his life. The other 8th graders sense that Cap is not like them and immediately get to work on trying to pick on him as much as possible. Among other things they elect him class president as a joke and tell them that he must hold weekly press conferences and learn the names of everyone in school. Trusting Cap gets to work on these tasks while still being his old self. He teaches everyone how to tie dye and practices his Tai Chi on the front lawn. As he slowly wins over other students the biggest bully searches for a way to embarass Cap once and for all.

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Kek is a refugee from Sudan. He has managed to escape from the war there but his mother is missing. The book begins with him arriving in the U.S. on a "flying boat" to stay with his aunt and cousin in Minnesota, a land completely different from his home. Besides his amazement at the climate Kek is also a little confused about American culture. When trying to help his aunt clean up the dirty dishes in the apartment he puts them in the washing machine and breaks them all. To make enough money to pay for a new set of dishes Kek gets a job taking care of a cow, eventually convincing his angry cousin to help out. Kek's story is told in a simple but moving way that seems very realistic to what it must be like for children first arriving in our country.

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

Hope lives with her Aunt Addie, the best diner cook ever. Because of a boss who stole all their money Hope and Addie are moving again to a small town in Wisconsin to work for G.T. Stoop. Although G.T. has leukemia he is determined to run for mayor against the corrupt incumbent and bring honesty to town. Inspired by his message and determination Hope joins other teens in town to help G.T.'s campaign despite the dirty politics of the current mayor. She is assisted by Braverman who also works at the diner and they begin dating while tough Addie finds herself being persued by G.T. A warm, satisfying story with lots of layers!

Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls

Sam is 11 and has terminal leukemia. He has gone through two rounds of treatment but the cancer is back again. He has a teacher come to his house to work with him and his friend Felix and she suggests that they try writing so Sam has begun his book about himself and his disease. Among other things he writes about the questions that no one wants to ask or answer such as "where do you go after you die?" and "why does God make kids die?" He has also made a list of things he wants to do in his life and Felix insists that they accomplish all the things on his list.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher

During a sports physical 18 year old Ben finds out that he has leukemia. Since he is old enough to make his own decisions he decides he doesn't want to have any medical treatment and will instead live what's left of his life as fully as possible. He also doesn't tell anyone. But knowing that he won't have any long-lasting consequences he is free to do whatever he wants including trying out for football, arguing with his teachers about what they're teaching and dating the girl he has always had a crush on. Everyone is amazed at the new Ben but after a few months he begins to question his decision, especially the decision to keep his illness from all of his loved ones. And now he wonders if it might be too late to tell them.

The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas

Antonia is Catholic and lives with her mother and grandmother above their Italian grocery. She has two dreams - receiving her first kiss from her dream boyfriend Andy, and becoming the first living saint. She prays to saints of various areas for intercession all the time. She also writes at least once a month to the Vatican with proposals for new saints and always suggests herself as a possibility to fill the position if it is accepted. So far all of her suggestions have been rejected. Antonia's best friend is Maria but she is also friends with Michael. She met Michael two years before while at the beach. After a summer of talking he tried to kiss her but she didn't feel ready and rejected him. Maria is convinced that Michael still likes her and that he, rather than Andy, might be her true love. But with her nasty cousin Veronica hanging all over Michael recently Antonia feels even more certain that they are destined to be friends, even though she feels a little jealous. And now that her mother has hired Andy to work in the grocery, Antonia is positive her prayers have been answered and that her first kiss is just days away. It is, but not in the way she has envisioned...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Laurence is the captain of a British navy ship during the time of Napoleon. When his ship manages to capture a dragon's egg on the verge of hatching he makes the choice to bond to Temeraire which means he will have to give up his position in the navy and join the air force instead. Dragon handlers are not well-regarded and this is a sad decision for Laurence but the longer he spends with Temeraire the more he realizes how intelligent the dragon is and their relationship becomes so close that he becomes completely devoted to his dragon. Temeraire is a rare Asian dragon and as such is greatly prized by both sides in the combat. The conflicts and danger are important in the book but the real heart of the story is the close relationship between Laurence and Temeraire. A fantastic (but perhaps challenging) story!

Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

Cadel has always had an ability to manipulate the people around him. When a teacher leaves the room she will come back to find everyone fighting and Cadel sitting quietly, apparently not involved even though he started the problems. At age 14 his longtime psychiatrist convinces him to go to school at the Axis Institute. The classes at Axis are quite different. They are training youngsters with evil tendencies to develop those abilities. Before long, Cadel is told that Axis was started by the greatest evil genius of all time who just happens to be his father who is in jail for his crimes. What's more, the school was planned to help Cadel take over his father's crime empire. After settling into the school Cadel begins to suspect that things are not as great as they seem and he begins confiding in an online friend he has never met about his concerns. When she is threatened as well Cadel has to use his skills to turn the tables on the teachers at Axis and his father.

Thwonk! by Joan Bauer

A.J. is a great photographer but she feels invisible when it comes to being noticed by Peter, the boy she has a crush on. When A.J. comes across a stuffed cupid doll he comes to life and offers to help her in one of three areas. She can either have his help with her photography, in school, or her love life. Despite her artistic dreams A.J. chooses romantic help and Cupid shoots Peter making him fall head over heels in love with A.J. Like many "wish come true" stories, this doesn't work out as well as A.J. had hoped. Peter is so devoted to her that she has no time to herself. What's more, Peter is boring because all he cares about it doing whatever will make A.J. happy. Before too long she realizes that she might have made a mistake and now she needs to find a way to correct it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner

Rachel and Tane have been friends since birth. When discussing the possibility of time travel one night Tane makes the argument that it might be possible to transmit data through time even if objects can't travel. Shortly after that they manage to get hold of some transmissions from gamma ray bursts and discover that there is a Morse code pattern in the messages. What's more, the messages are from themselves in the future and include a set of winning lottery numbers, instructions to buy a personal submarine and to talk to a scientist, and an SOS. Tane's brother Fatboy gets involved since he is old enough to buy the lottery ticket but soon they discover that the doctor is up to no good as she experiments with viruses. She denies the existence of the project they were warned to look for so they decide to break into the lab at a later date to find the evidence themselves. When they get there, however, everyone is gone and the lab is smashed. Rachel and Tane are detained by the military and accused of being terrorists who are holding hostages. They escape but are fugitives now as they try to figure out what was being developed at the lab and what terrors exist in the deadly fog that is creeping across New Zealand and making people disappear as it covers them.

Aurelie by Heather Tomlinson

Aurelie, Netta, Garin, and Loic all played together as children even though Loic is a Fae. Since they were friends he put an ointment into their left eyes so they can see the Fae with their left eyes. But not all the Fae like to be seen so when Netta accidentally lets one know she can see him he blinds her. Several years later the friends are split. Netta has been living in the country. Aurelie is a princess of her country and must travel to Garin's country on a diplomatic mission to try to bring peace between their two countries. While in the country a fire is set and it is blamed on Aurelie's country so she must escape. Garin is then blamed by Captain Ingliss, the evil ruler of the country, and when he comes to Aurelie's country in disguise he is reunited with Loic. Loic has been courting Aurelie even though he has always loved Netta and feels betrayed by her since she has kept her blindness a secret from him. Soon the four friends are reunited and each admits his or her feelings for the other. However, Captain Ingliss is invading the country and each couple is now threatened unless they find a way to save the country.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Catherine's younger brother David is autistic and Catherine has created a set of rules for him about how to get along in the world and to behave more like a "normal " person. Catherine is embarrassed by David, especially when she has to go to his therapy appointments. While in the waiting room she meets Jason, a paraplegic who uses a book of pictures to communicate. Since Catherine likes to draw she begins to make pictures for Jason's book and they become friends. But even though Catherine enjoys Jason's friendship she is careful to keep her two sets of friends completely separate from each other, until a party might cause both groups to come together.

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

When her Uncle Gordon dies he leaves his house to Stephanie. While alone in the house Stephanie is attacked and then rescued by Skulduggery Pleasant, a walking talking skeleton. Skulduggery tells her that an evil man named Serpine is trying to get something that will rule the world and that he believes this scepter is hidden in Stephanie's new house. Stephanie is fascinated with Skulduggery's world and soon finds herself working alongside him and meeting many other eccentric characters. She is in constant danger and gets involved in lots of fights while working to find the scepter before Serpine and trying to find the perfect code name that will disguise her true identity.

The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson

Tally is sent to a boarding school by her doting father during the prelude of World War II in order to protect her from German bombing. At first Tally is worried about what her life at school will be like but she finds it to be a free, welcoming atmosphere full of nurturing teachers. Tally makes many close friends and while at the movies with one she sees a short documentary about Bergania, another country in Europe, whose king has just defied Hitler. When the school receives an invitation to a folk dancing festival in Bergania Tally insists that they form a group and go. While in Bergania Tally meets the prince, Karil. During the opening to the dance festival the king is assassinated by Nazi conspirators and Karil has to go into hiding and escape the country before he is sent to a German prison. Tally rallies the children from all the other countries and they manage to get Karil to England, escaping two Nazi enforcers. But once in England Karil is whisked away to live with his grandfather where he is expected to live up to his title, stay away from the "hooligans" who helped him escape, and marry Carlotta, a spoiled cousin. All letters between Tally and Karil are intercepted and both believe the other has forgotten them. Through a lucky coincidence they manage to find each other again but will they be able to stay together for good?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by John Delaney

Thomas is the seventh son of a seventh son which means that he is destined to become a Spook - a man whose job is to fight ghosts, demons and spirits. He becomes an apprentice to a Spook at the age of 12 and begins to learn how to communicate with the various spirits bothering the people all around the countryside. But when he is left alone at the Spook's house for a week he makes a big mistake and is accidentally persuaded to release a powerful witch, Mother Malkin. He believes that he has defeated her but doesn't realize that killing her just amplifies her powers and now he must protect his family from her as she tried to find a way back into the world. A scary, compelling book!

Vampirates by Justin Somper

Twins Connor and Grace Tempest have lived with their father in a lighthouse and have heard a song about the vampirates of the ocean all their lives. When their father dies the twins run away to the sea and are separated by a storm. Connor ends up on a pirate ship and believes that Grace has died in the storm. Connor makes a life for himself on the ship but begins to sense that Grace is still alive. She is, but is being held on the vampirate ship. She is being protected by the captain but other vampirates are not as kind and she finds her life in constant danger, especially after she witnesses their feeding procedure. Connor convinces his ship to go after Grace in the first book of a series.

Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

7th grader Julia is Korean-American and highly embarassed by her ethnic heritage including the never-ending amount of kimchee at her house. She becomes friends with Patrick and they try to decide on a prize-winning topic for the state fair. Her mother suggests that they raise silkworms, an idea that Julia hates at first because it seems too Korean to her. But she agrees to give it a try because of its uniqueness. In order to raise the silkworms Julia and Patrick need to have mulberry leaves, the only food for silkworms. And the only mulberry tree in town is owned by an African-American man which surprisingly reveals Julia's mother's prejudice. As the project goes on Julia embraces her own heritage and begins to really care about the silkworms. At the end of many chapters there is a "conversation" between the character Julia and the author which gives readers a look into the writing process.

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

Annika is found and adopted by Ellie and Sigrid who cook and keep house for three professors. Annika grows up in a loving, busy household and becomes a charming girl. She befriends an elderly woman across the street who is treated poorly by her own family and when the woman dies she leaves an old trunk of her theater costumes to Annika. Shortly after this a beautiful, rich woman appears and claims to be Annika's mother. She takes Annika away from her wonderful adopted family to an old castle in Germany. Once there, Annika begins to realize that her mother and new "family" are not who she thought and that they are after something more than they'd indicated. Despite her new knowledge there is no easy way for her to escape and Annika feels a sense of loyalty to the woman she assumes is her mother. An extremely satisfying ending full of good versus evil.

A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall

This is the true story of two young men who bought a lion cub from a department store in 1970. They named him Christian and raised him in their apartment in London for nearly a year before they arranged to send him to Africa where he could be trained to live in the wild. During his time in London Christian made lots of friends in the store where he roamed because of his engaging personality. After his trip to Kenya his human friends stayed with him for weeks to help with his transition and his meeting with the other lions who would become part of his new pride. Christian was left with George, the man responsible for working with the lions of Born Free. When Ace and John returned to Africa a year later to visit Christian he remembered them immediately and came running out of the bush to greet them with lion hugs. Although this book was originally published in the early 70's this is a retelling because of the popularity of the YouTube video showing Christian reuniting with Ace and John after a year apart.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

In the New World town where Todd lives there are no women and the men can hear everything that everyone is thinking all the time. Todd has been told that this Noise came from germ warfare the aliens who were on the planet released and that the same germ killed all the women. But while out in the swamp one day with his dog Manchee Todd encounters something new and frightening, a patch of quiet. When he comes home and tells the two men who have raised him about the quiet they pull out a bag of supplies they have had packed for him and tell him to leave town immediately. They also give him a journal his mother kept until she died. Todd doesn't understand why he must leave so suddenly but is sent on his way when the men from the town come to their house and threaten to kill all of them. In the swamp he finds the source of the quiet, a girl. She doesn't speak to Todd but she is also running away from one of the men from town so they travel together to the next settlement (a place Todd didn't even know existed) where Todd begins to learn some of the truth about his town and the world where he has been raised. Todd, his dog and the girl have to run for their lives from the army of men who are now pursuing them across the New World.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

Fergus' brother is in jail during the time of "The Troubles" in Ireland. In 1981 many of the Provisional IRA prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest their status in jail and Joe (the brother) joins them. While worried about his brother Fergus has other issues of his own. He needs to be studying for his exams which mean the difference between the chance to become a doctor and leave his problems behind or staying put with no future. He is also being blackmailed to become a courier of what he assumes are bomb components for the IRA in exchange for help in saving his brother. He has come to know a soldier on the "other side" and finds that he doesn't know who to trust in the ongoing conflict. And while out with his uncle Tally he discovered the body of a girl in the bog and now he is seeing visions of her life 2000 years before. Added to that is the arrival of a scientist to investigate the girl from the bog and she brings along her daughter who Fergus finds very attractive.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Just when her life is getting interesting 15-year-old Liz Hall dies in a hit and run car accident. When she "awakens" she finds herself in the afterlife where you age backwards from whatever age you were when you died until you reach infancy and return to Earth for a new life. At first Liz is very angry and refuses to be a part of this new life preferring to spend all her time looking back at the people she left behind on Earth. But slowly she gets pulled into life at Elsewhere with her grandmother and a job that she really loves. Liz also falls in love for the first time. Her life with her new love is disrupted, however, when his wife from Earth dies and he feels a sense of devotion to her.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

While walking out of her school with her best friend Will, Naomi falls down the stairs and loses her memory of all events for the past four years. Naomi lives with her dad but has forgotten that her parents are divorced and that he is engaged to a new woman and that she doesn't like his fiance. When she meets up with her boyfriend she can't figure out what she has seen in him. Will stands by her and supplies her with mix CDs that she discards as she tries to remember who she was. The only person she feels she can relate to is James, a mysterious boy who was there when she woke up from the accident. Naomi falls for James but finds out that he has secrets of his own that show up just as she is recovering her own memory while Will finally reveals that just before her fall they shared a kiss for the first time - an event he was trying to have her remember with all of his CDs of important songs.

Beauty Shop for Rent: Fully Equipped, Inquire Within by Laura Bowers

15 year old Abbey lives with her great-grandmother Po who runs a small beauty shop. Abbey has a goal to be a millionaire by the age of 35 and in order to do that she has to avoid the problems with men that have lead to the issues her own mother has with her life. This even includes her life-long friend Mitch who would like to have a more romantic relationship with her. Granny Po is interested in selling the beauty shop and retiring but when Gena shows up and buys the shop Granny Po doesn't like her. Gena changes the old timey shop into a popular spa and teaches Abbey about business while also increasing her salary. But when Abbey's mom shows up she talks about making a space for Abbey in her life and Abbey foolishly loans her money that she knows she will never see again.

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

Vassar Spore is a driven high school student. She has planned her entire life, right up until the age of 40. Her immediate plans include taking advanced summer classes so that she will be able to be valedictorian of her class in two years. But her carefully planned summer falls to pieces when her bohemian grandmother calls up and somehow blackmails Vassar's parents into sending her to Malaysia for the summer instead. Vassar knows that Grandma Gerd must have some sort of really big secret in order to get her parents to agree but she has no choice but to go. She does make arrangements to get the credit for her summer classes by writing a novel based on her experiences and e-mailing the chapters back to her best friends. Once in Asia she finds that Gerd lives from moment to moment and keeps Vassar around by slowly revealing clues about the big secret. Vassar also meets an Asia "cowboy" her own age who has been hired by Gerd as a chaperone. Although she is mostly keeping a journal of her time her friends are delighted with her "novel" but despise the uptight character that is actually Vassar. A really delightful comedy with a very surprising secret when it is finally revealed.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

After the second Civil War the United States enacted the Bill of Life. This bill states that all life is protected from the moment of conception until the age of 13. From 13 to 18, however, parents can have their children unwound for any reason at all. Unwinding is billed as a different type of life - life in separate parts - since all of your body parts are separated and given to other who need them as replacements. Three teens are facing unwinding. Connor's parents have given the unwind order because he has been getting in trouble at school and they are tired of the problems. Risa is an orphan with a love of music but not enough talent or potential to make the state spare her when they have to make budget cuts. And Lev comes from a very religious family who believe in titheing everything they have. Since Lev is the tenth child, his unwinding will be a religious sacrifice. Connor, Risa and Lev end up traveling together trying to find a safe haven.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Jenna wakes up from a year-long coma and finds her life altered. She now lives in California with her mother and grandmother while her father still works in Boston where they all lived together before the car accident. Her grandmother is openly hostile to her and no one wants to talk to her about the friends she knows were in the car with her or even discuss any part of her accident and recovery. When Jenna finally convinces her overly protective mom to let her go to school she finds that she can recite entire passages from Thoreau even though she can't remember her own life before her accident. As she investigates further she begins to question just what it is that makes you a "real" person and how much of her former self remains in who she is now.

No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin

The author of this nonfiction book talks to real people who are affected by the death penalty. Several of the chapters are told by teens who have been convicted of murder and are or have been on death row. Other chapters talk to the families of victims and how they have been affected by these crimes as well as how they feel about the teens responsible. This is an unflinching look at life in prison and the impact on young people who are incarcerated for decades after their crime.