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.
Summary: Jimmy saved Skylar’s life. Or at least, that what she would say. After her mother died and her dad drifted away to work in the city, it was handsome and funny Jimmy, the new boy in town, who drew her back into the world. But now Skylar is in an impossible position. You see, the girls don’t tag along when the boys go out ‘beaner hopping’ on Friday nights, jumping Latinos to scare them away from town. Usually it’s nothing serious, just some stupid fun. But when Skylar’s boyfriend Jimmy takes it too far and picks up a baseball bat, a Salvadoran man is left dead on the street and a small town on Long Island spirals into disbelief. And as the police begin to ask questions, the words of her best friend echo in Skylar’s ear: “Everybody knows. Nobody’s talking.” If Skylar shares what she knows about what really happened, her whole world will fall apart.
As this breathtaking debut novel alternates points of view between Skylar, her friends, her father, and other members of the community, including the victim’s younger brother, a clearer picture begins to emerge of what exactly happened that night but the question remains: How could such smart kids participate in such a senseless, violent acts. This is realistic fiction at it’s finest, a gripping page-turner with gut-wrenching twists and turns that will leave you stunned.
Who will like this book?: Readers who like intense stories that don’t shy away from difficult topics. People who like books that have multiple characters telling the story.
If you like this, read this: Shine by Lauren Myracle. Response by Paul Volponi.
Summary: Callie loves the stage…well, backstage anyway. A proud member of the stage crew, she is thrilled to get the opportunity to design the sets for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. Callie may not be in the spotlight, but she and her friends all have some drama to deal with. Does she still have feelings for Greg? Or does she really like Jesse? Does Jesse like her? Or is he into boys like his twin brother? And how on earth is she going to convince everyone to let her fire a live cannon onstage in the middle of the show?
This delightful graphic novel is great fun for anyone who likes a little bit of innocent drama in their stories. Telgemeier perfectly captures the chaos of stage production and the calm of performance in such a way that you feel like you are right next to Callie as she preps the next scene. The characters are all teens you can root for, whether you are an ‘onstage’ type, a ‘backstage’ type or an ‘offstage’ type. This is a great choice for someone looking some something fast and fun to read.
Who will like this book: Theatrical types of all ages. Readers who like stories with love trianges…or pentagons…or octagons.
If you like this, try this: Dramarama by E. Lockhart, My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluge, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.
Summary: Cullen Witter lives in a sleepy little Lily, Arkansas, where not much ever seems to happen until the summer after his junior year, when everything begins to tailspin. It begins when his cousin overdoses. Later, someone claims to have seen a legendary – and thought-to-be-extinct – woodpecker nearby, causing his whole town to go crazy trying to capitalize on the media frenzy surrounding the bird. Worst of all, his beloved brother Gabriel disappears. Cullen’s heartbreaking summer is contrasted with the story of a young man who returns from a failed mission in Africa, which in turn sets in motion a chain of events that will surprise you.
Cullen is an ordinary guy placed in an extraordinary situation. Not only is he dealing with the usual stresses of growing up – finding and keeping love, dealing with an annoying job and surviving his boring hometown – he has to keep it together as his family and friends deal with the sudden loss of Gabriel. This book, which won the Michael L. Printz award, is mesmerizing and beautiful. It is hard to describe just how very good it is. This is the kind of writing that sticks with you for a long, long time.
Who will like this book?: Mature fans of fiction that is realistic but not ordinary. Adventurous readers who like a touch of mystery. Fans of Sufjan Stevens (his song Chicago inspired the story and the title.)
If you like this, try this: Happyface by Stephen Emond. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony. If you are intrigued by the woodpecker stuff, try The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose.
Title: This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Summary: Written as a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this story introduces us to a young Victor Frankenstein and his twin brother, Konrad. They are as close as two people can be, yet in some ways their personalities are in direct odds with each other. Konrad is the one everyone loves and respects. He is smarter, more athletic, and kinder and it all seems to come so easily for him. Victor knows Konrad is the better of the pair and deep in his heart he is starting to resent his brother’s goodness.
Then Konrad becomes deathly ill. Doctors can’t seem to cure him, but Victor believes he has found a way. Hidden in a secret underground dark library Victor finds a book on potions that contains an entry for the forbidden Elixir of Life. Victor enlists the help of his cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry to embark on a dangerous mission to collect the ingredients for this lifesaving draught. Victor knows he can save his brother if only he is willing to go against everything he was raised to believe, forgo the love of which he dreams, and sacrifice a part of himself.
Who will like this?: Oppel’s tale of gothic horror holds appeal to fans of adventure, alchemy, heart-wrenching emotions, love, and mystery.
If you like this, try this: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. TheMonstrumologist by Rick Yancey.
Recommended by: Jen, Branch Teen Librarian
Find this book at the Fairfield Public Library or Fairfield Woods Branch Library.
Summary: Six years ago, during a suspected nuclear attack, Eli and his family made a mad dash for the their underground Compound. Unfortunately, Eli’s twin brother and Grandmother didn’t make it before the door was sealed with a lock that isn’t set to open for another fifteen years. Eli now exists in the compound that was planned and stocked by his brilliant, billionaire father, but no amount of planning can eliminate the dull routine his life has become or the all-consuming guilt he feels over leaving his twin. As food begins to run in short supply, Eli begins to question some of his father’s actions and realizes that he must take responsibility for his family if they are to survive the Compound.
Who will like this book?: Any reader who is able to suspend doubt in the far-fetched premise will eagerly fly through this suspenseful fast-paced story.
If you like this, try this:The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Gone by Michael Grant.
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian
Summary: Eighth-grader Steven Alper is a rock star drummer, at least according to his annoyingly cute five-year-old brother. The same cute brother that is the star of Steven’s English class journal entry exploring the topic “The Most Annoying Thing in the World.” Add the annoying brother with a crush on an unattainable girl, an occasionally irritating best friend, a love of drums, and the regular school drama and you have Steven’s life.
That is until the day Steven’s brother falls from a bar stool while Steven is making him breakfast and develops a nose bleed that just won’t stop. The reason behind that non-stop nose bleed will change the lives of everyone in the Alper family and will lead to the most difficult year of their lives. Steven struggles with the lack of parental attention and rebels against school, but through it all he maintains his quirky sense of humor and a pretty good heart.
Who will like this book ?: Those who like drama but can also appreciate a clever character who handles that drama with a bit of humor.
If you like this, try this:Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick, Deadline by Chris Crutcher, or Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass.