The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

poet xXiomara appears to be a tough as nails high school student but this Afro-Latino young lady has a much softer side to her. She loves poetry and in a school where drugs, crime, and sex happens all too frequently, X (as known by friends) keeps her passion close to her heart. Xiomara’s beloved teacher helps her to free herself by encouraging her to join a poetry club. For the first time and not under the thumb of her mother, school, or God, she becomes The Poet X. I loved how the author read this audiobook.

-KC

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Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

harbor meWhen a group of young Brooklyn students are given the opportunity to gather together in a safe, adult free classroom, they begin an explorative journey through dialogue, poetry, revelation, and storytelling. Jacqueline Woodson taps into the most current challenges that many our youth face today with such unbridled courage and sheer eloquence.

-KC

Unwind- A Teen Reader Review

Cover image for Unwind

Title: Unwind

Author: Neal Shusterman

Summary: The Second Civil War is over.  The Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies finally came to an agreement.  All children are safe until age 13.  Then, until age 18 their parents have a choice.  They can unwind their children; take apart their bodies and use 100% of their parts as transplants to aid other living humans, so the children never truly die.  This twisted dystopia chills you to the bone, the circumstances far too realistic, and the world’s reaction way too real.  Unwind by Neal Shusterman leaves you with the chilling question, what if?

The novel follows Connor Lassiner, a problem child with an unwind warrant signed who is desperate to survive.  Risa Ward, a girl who is unwound as a budget cut, who has the smarts to escape her fate.  And Lev Calder, a boy born to be unwound, who is in love with his fate and will do anything to complete the deed.  These three unlikely allies create a tentative alliance, and have to go to drastic measures to survive, as the world goes more and more insane around them.

This novel leaves you with so many questions, and an impossible moral debate.  Luckily there’s more in this incredible series, but the chilling realism of this book stays with you long after turning the final page.  Everyone should read this novel, if as nothing else a warning of the future.  You may say that there’s no chance that we can ever do something like this, but read on and look to today and how we’re already tumbling towards it.  This book stays with you forever, and this series should be a classic, and is a must read for all, teen or adult.

If you like this, try readingHunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Reviewer Rating: 5/5 Stars

Where can I find a copy?:  Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from RBdigital through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by-Josie, a teen reader

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

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Title: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Author: Isabel Quintero

Summary: During her senior year of high school, Gabi Hernandez keeps a diary about the things that are on her mind: friends, her appearance, guys, family, college and the future. Each piece of her life has its own complications and contradictions: Her best friends are dealing with coming out and an unplanned pregnancy. Her dad is in and out of her life due to his meth addiction. And does a Mexican-American girl from a poor neighborhood really have any chance of getting in to college, let alone her top choice school? Gabi finds herself making serious decisions about her life and the person she wants to be, as well as discovering her talents as a writer and artist over the course of an awful, wonderful, unforgettable year.

Don’t let the strange-looking cover fool you  – this is an incredible book and worthy 2017 High School Nutmeg nominee, as well as a Printz Honor winner, for a reason. If the story sounds melodramatic, that’s because it is – but only a bit more so than the life of any teen girl  growing up today. What makes this book extraordinary is its clear-eyed portrayal of the ups and downs that make up an ordinary life. You will be so glad to have spent time observing the world through Gabi’s eyes and will miss her frank, unsentimental voice in your head once the story is done. This is a book that teens and parents should consider reading together – adults could learn quite a bit about what life feels like for young people today.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like realistic, contemporary fiction. People who like multicultural stories. People who like reading books in diary format.

If you like this, try this: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas. Yaqui Delgado…by Meg Medina. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

I’ll Give You the Sun

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Summary: Vibrant, outgoing Jude and shy, artistic Noah are twins. They may not be identical, but they have been together forever. Despite petty jealousies over their parents’ affection, their mother’s ambition for both of them to attend a prestigious art academy, or the attention of local bullies, Jude and Noah can always find their way back to each other. When the unthinkable happens, their bond is shattered and their roles seem to reverse, leaving the twins isolated from each other and their true selves. Brother and sister each have a piece of the whole story of what happened, but because of their grief and guilt, neither of them will share it or begin to help the other heal.

As we learn about these fully realized, complex characters – Noah narrating from age 13 and Jude from three years later, readers see how it all fell apart. This Printz Award-winning book will stick with you for a long time – it is literally gorgeous to read, especially the chapters from Noah’s perspective. It can be heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, often in the same paragraph.

Who will like this book: Fans of literary fiction. GLBT readers. People who like stories that make you put the pieces together.

If you like this, try this: The Sky is Everywhere, also by Nelson. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. All We Know of Heaven by Jacqueline Mitchard.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Fables

     Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Title: Fables

Author: Bill Willingham

Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and more

Summary: First printed in 2002, the comic series Fables has endured, becoming one of the most beloved continuing series in recent memory. Forced out of their familiar Homelands by a dark and deadly figure known only as the “Adversary,” the legendary characters of myth and tall tales made their way to our world to establish Fabletown, where, as immortals, they have lived and thrived into our modern age. But the people you meet on these pages bear little resemblance to your favorite cartoon royals and monsters. When Jack (of Beanstalk fame) rushes to tell Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown that his girlfriend, Rose Red has disappeared and their apartment is covered in blood, an investigation into a possible murder begins. Following Bigby’s every move is Snow White, Rose’s sister and deputy mayor of Fabletown.

Over the course of its 12 year run (collected into 20 volumes so far), Willingham weaves in both beloved figures from the most popular fairy tales to obscure characters you may have never heard of. The nature of the story also changes, from murder mystery to domestic drama to epic quest. This is a great story to curl up in, because the twists and surprises will keep you turning pages, and some will even break your heart. With the end of the story coming soon (in early 2015,) this is the perfect time to start Fables at the beginning.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like ‘fractured’ fairy tales – new spins on familiar stories. TV watchers looking for something a bit grittier than Once Upon a Time. Fans of ongoing graphic novel series such as The Walking Dead.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. The series The Unwritten by Mike Carey. And if you can’t get enough of the Fables world, read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Nazi Hunters

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Title: The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi

Author: Neal Bascomb

Summary: Adolf Eichmann was a decorated Nazi officer and a key figure in the transport of Jews and other ‘undesirable’ populations from Hungary to overcrowded ghettos and eventually to the deadly concentration camps located throughout eastern Europe. He prided himself on his efficiency and the lengths he would go to in convincing that these moves were in the best interest of those who would eventually perish in the Holocaust. After the war was over and Nazi Germany had fallen in 1945, Eichmann disappeared. This is the story of how this wanted man was found, captured half a world away in Argentina and brought to Jerusalem to stand trial for his atrocities 15 years after the end of the war.

This gripping page turner delves into the espionage work done by several key players, from ordinary citizens whose lives had been shaped by the horrors of war, stake out artists and military men who could be compromised in an instant,  and up to the highest offices in the Israeli government. The seven-year operation had to be completed with absolute secrecy and precision and even though you know the outcome, it reads like the best kind of spy thriller and is a great choice even if you aren’t a fan of non-fiction reading.

The Nazi Hunters won the 2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction for Young Adults.

Who will like this book: Anyone in interested in World War II or Israeli history. Readers who like learning about ‘secret’ or lesser-known stories in history.

If you like this, try this: Mature readers should check out Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt. Eichmann in My Hands by Peter Malkin, a key figure in The Nazi Hunters. 

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian