Gr 7 Up–The conclusion to the story that began in Chains and continued in Forge was well worth the wait. Isabel and Curzon, having just escaped from Valley Forge, head south to rescue Isabel’s younger sister, Ruth, from a plantation. Every turn is fraught with danger as alliances shift and loyalties are tested. Anderson’s depth of research, integration of real people and events, and respect for her characters imbue every page of this masterly examination of a too-little-explored aspect of American history.
Gr 7 Up–Two young women—Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God—form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded.
Gr 8 Up–Sefia, who lives in a world without books and reading, is on the run for her life, desperate to avenge the murder of her father and rescue her aunt. The only clue she has is a strange rectangular object—a book—whose secrets she’s slowly learning to uncover. With layers upon layers of tales woven throughout the narrative, Chee’s debut novel establishes a fantastically populated world with a diverse cast of characters. Meticulous storytelling and a memorable adventure.
Gr 9 Up–Aspiring screenwriter Quinn Roberts is practically Hollywood-bound until a car accident takes the life of his sister, soul mate, and creative partner, Annabeth. In his grief and disorientation, Quinn is forced to reexamine everything he thought he knew about his craft, his family, and his heart’s desire. A voice-driven story that is sad, funny, endearing, and ultimately uplifting.
Gr 7 Up–Faith Sunderly is intensely curious about her famous father’s scientific research. When he is suddenly found dead, she is convinced that he was murdered, and pieces together clues and uncovered secrets, like the reverend’s prized specimen—a tree that thrives on lies and bears a fruit that, when eaten, reveals a hidden truth. In this dark and haunting mystery, Hardinge creates her own truth-telling magic.
Gr 9 Up–Henry Denton is abducted by aliens who tell him that by merely pushing a button, he can save Earth from annihilation. What seems like an obvious decision becomes a complicated thought process for a teen who has experienced the worst of humanity—bullying, loss, and grief—and who wonders if oblivion is the answer. This strikingly original work will grip readers and force them to ponder tough questions.
Gr 9 Up–When an experience at school shatters Sarah’s worldview, she’s left adrift. Meeting several versions of herself—Sarah at age 10, at 23, and at 40—the teen grapples with her awareness of her family’s underlying dysfunction and eventually learns to tap her own hidden strength. A master of magical realism, King brings together seemingly surreal elements for a layered, profoundly nuanced examination of family and the dynamics of abuse.
Gr 10 Up–Cliff awkwardly courts the girl he longs for, deals with his bitter father’s growing resentment, and wonders what lies in store for him after graduation. Putting a dramatic spin on the typical coming-of-age story, Lubar sends his achingly funny, wholly original tale veering into the realm of metafiction and performs a literary sleight of hand that will shake readers to the core.
Gr 10 Up–After her sister was brutally murdered, Alex Craft sought revenge when her killer walked free. Alex cuts herself off from everyone in her small backwoods town, until Peekay, the shy preacher’s kid, and Jack Fisher, the most popular guy in school, force their way into her life as friends, with unintended consequences for all of them. An unsettling and stark exploration of small-town life and the secrets that we all keep.
Gr 9 Up–It’s the Summer of Sam, and Queens native Nora López, 17, does not want to end up as his latest victim, but as her older brother, Hector, spirals out of control at home, danger may be closer to Nora than she thinks. Medina’s re-creation of 1977 New York City is a feat previously untold, from racial and class tensions to the relentless summer heat to the devastating citywide blackout; this is historical fiction at its best and most original.
Gr 10 Up–Emma O’Donovan is an 18-year-old living in a small Irish town. She’s beautiful but all too aware of it and loves but is in constant competition with her best friends. But when she is raped by four popular “good” guys at a party, Emma becomes an object of rumor, hatred, and resistance. O’Neill’s writing is ruthless in its exploration of rape culture but full of subtlety and understanding. A complex and essential look at how society so often treats and views survivors of rape.
Gr 8 Up–In East Prussia at the end of World War II, a group of refugees are desperately making their way toward the one chance they have at survival: passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff. Braving the unforgiving elements, violent soldiers, and an uncertain future, Joana, Emilia, and Florian narrate their harrowing journey, along with unsettling chapters from Alfred, a Nazi sailor. Sepetys brings to vivid life the events and repercussions of this little-known piece of 20th-century history.
Gr 8 Up–In a world where humanity has conquered death and a fraternity called Scythes are the only ones allowed to kill people in order to curb overpopulation, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch must cope with their newfound and terrible responsibilities as apprentices in killing. A brilliant and gripping sci-fi thriller that acutely explores the consequences of worldwide immortality and asks readers to think critically about the nature of morality.
Gr 9 Up–This is a roller-coaster ride of a finale to an engrossing series that mixes mythology and magic, modern friendship and love, and betrayal and loss. The characters’ high-stakes struggles and seemingly ill-fated futures keep readers turning pages and holding their breath until the satisfying last page.
Gr 9 Up–Solomon is a smart and resourceful teen with a love for Star Trek and a supportive family. He also has crippling panic attacks that have prevented him from leaving the house. When he tentatively opens the door to an outgoing girl, a Pandora’s box of good and ill comes pouring in. Filled with quirky and endearing characters, this tender and humorous story explores issues of mental health, friendship, trust, and identity.
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