Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish

Kiko Himura is a half-Japanese teen who struggles with social anxiety and living with her narcissistic, racist mother. When she doesn’t get into her dream art school, Prism, she feels like she will be stuck with her mother forever. However, when her childhood best friend, Jamie, comes to town and gives her a new opportunity to explore the California coast, she jumps at the chance to be free from her family, despite her social anxieties and fears that seem to always hold her back. Now that she is free to be her own person away from her mom, she learns shocking truths about her past and present that could change her future. This book is appropriate for teenagers who can handle mature topics such as racism and social anxiety.

-Freya, Teen Reviewer

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles all the Way down

Aza Holmes is a sixteen-year-old girl who has struggled with various anxiety disorders, mainly Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for her whole life. She often contemplates whether or not she is actually real, which causes most of her “thought spirals”. Then her energetic and fearless best friend, Daisy, suggests pursuing the mystery of a missing billionaire whose son, Davis, Aza actually knew from summer camp. Throughout the book, Aza struggles with her developing feelings for Davis, her friendship with Daisy, and her schoolwork, all while being controlled by the tightening spiral of her thoughts. This novel is appropriate for high school students, as it does touch on some more mature topics, like mental illness. Green illustrates activities that a “normal” teenager would do, but within those normalities, he does not shy away from showing how mental illness really takes over one’s brain.

-Freya (Teen Reviewer)

IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD by Ashley Herring Blake

Ivy Aberdeen

Since the birth of her twin brothers, twelve year-old Ivy feels increasingly invisible and things get only worse after a devastating tornado rips through her town, completely destroying her home. Not only does Ivy try to make sense her living situation, her distant family, and her love life, she desperately needs to find her misplaced journal filled with all of her secret poems and drawings, like the one where she is holding another girls hand. This lyrically told story of first love, community resilience, and finding ones voice is perfect for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly or Jason Reynolds.

-KC

Refugee by Alan Gratz

71TYwaGsuIL1930s Nazi Germany, Josef and his Jewish family must flee the country, to escape the madness of Hitler, and the horrors of WWII.
1994 Cuba, Isabel’s family and fellow residents encounter civil unrest, riots, and dictator Castro with hopes for a better future in America.
2015 Syria, the Middle East war rages on, destroying the country, leaving Mahmoud, his parents, and siblings on a dangerous journey to Europe.
This story does not shy away from the atrocities of war, the unconditional sacrifices or the treacherous travel conditions refugees must face. And although this is an immensely important and very current topic, I was unhappy with how the stories jump from one character to another, making it rather difficult to find cohesiveness.
– KC

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Hoot

 

Another state another school. Roy Eberhhardt just moved from Montana to Florida. He thinks school will be normal but when looking out the school bus window he notices something strange. A boy running bare foot.  Later he decides to follow that boy. And little did he know he would be in over his head. He finds out the boy wants to vandalize a construction company to save the owls. Can only a couple kids stop a powerful company and save the owls?  Read Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.

-Ben (Teen Reviewer)

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

piecing me together

Jade is an African American teen trying to find her footing on the streets of Portland, Oregon but she is far from your typical high school student. Attending a mostly white private high school, she finds herself stereotyped, wrongfully accused, pigeonholed. Yet she is artistic, creative, compassionate, strong and determined to break that mold, unleash her silence and become more.

**2020 Middle School Nutmeg nominated book**

-KC