Looking for Alaska

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Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Summary: Miles Halter is making a major change in his life: He is leaving his home in Florida to attend a boarding school in Alabama. When he arrives, skinny Miles is nicknamed ‘Pudge’ by his new roommate Chip (aka ‘the Colonel’), who also introduces him to the girl of his dreams. Her name is Alaska. She is smart, gorgeous, and just a little crazy. Miles falls right into their social circle, sneaking drinks, experimenting with girls and pulling pranks on the school’s strict headmaster and snobby students. He also falls hard for Alaska, even though she has a boyfriend away at college.

But finally falling in love doesn’t make life any less complicated, especially when the person you fall for is Alaska. As the book goes from counting the ‘days before’ to the ‘days after,’ you realize something big is going to happen. When it does, Miles has to deal with the devastating aftermath. This Printz Award-winning book will leave you wondering, as Miles does, about ‘The Great Perhaps’ of your own life.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like realistic fiction. It is a funny book, but it is also quite sophisticated in the way it describes growing up, being a guy, and falling in love.

If you like this, try this: Green’s second novel, An Abundance of Katherines. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. King Dork by Frank Portman.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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The Wednesday Wars

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Title: The Wednesday Wars

Author: Gary D. Schmidt

Summary: Not since Stanley Yelnats has there been a more oddly-named character than seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood. That name isn’t the only tough break in Holling’s life – growing up on Long Island in 1967, he is the only kid in class that doesn’t get to leave school early for religion classes on Wednesdays at the Catholic church or Jewish synagogue. That means he gets to spend those afternoons – alone – with Mrs. Baker, his tough as nails, no-fun English teacher. And what torment does Mrs. Baker have in store for poor Holling…reading the works of William Shakespeare! As if life wasn’t complicated enough with the news reports from Vietnam and two escaped class pet rats lurking in the ceiling above his desk…

As the book moves from September to June, Holling discovers a lot about himself, Mrs. Baker, and his town – that you shouldn’t always trust your first impression of someone, that sometimes you have stand up for yourself even when it seems impossible, and that there are some pretty good curses in Shakespeare!  

Who will like this book?: If you have ever had a favorite teacher that you hated when you first met them, this is the book for you. This is a great book for someone looking for something funny but not silly, about friendship, school and family life, and for people who like stories with happy, not sappy, endings!

If you like this, try this: For another funny story about ordinary kids living in complicated times, featuring a guy with a terrible name, try Rex Zero and the End of the World by Tim Wynne-Jones.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian