Jumped

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Title: Jumped

Author: Rita Williams-Garcia

Summary: When should you speak up? Trina, a pretty girl who is pretty self-absorbed, cuts through Dominique’s space in the hallway before school. An insulted Dominique vows to beat her down at 2:45 when school lets out. Trina doesn’t realize it – but Leticia, who witnesses the scene and overhears Dominique, does. When Leticia calls her friend to gossip about what just happened, she is urged to warn Trina…but why should she? She and Trina aren’t friends.

As the school day goes on and the clock winds down, we follow each girl through classes, lunch, and interactions with teachers, friends and guys. Trina, oblivious to what is in store for her, hangs her artwork. Dominique, angry about being benched for basketball games because of one failing grade hustles to get back on the court. And Leticia ignores her friend’s pleas to do something, and waits to see if Trina will really get jumped.

Who will like this book?: People who like gritty, disturbing, realistic fiction. None of the girls are heroes – you won’t be rooting for any of them and the ending of the story will leave you shaken. A great read for people who like stories that make you think.

If you like this, try this: Snitch by Alison van Diepen.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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Whale Talk

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Title: Whale Talk

Author: Chris Crutcher

Summary:  Chris Crutcher is one of those unique writers who manages to get his work challenged almost as often as he receives literary awards and lands on best book lists.   Whale Talk  is perhaps one of his most controversial and one of his best.  It’s told from the point of view of T.J. Jones, a black, Japanese, white high school senior born to a hippie, drug-using mom and adopted as a toddler by a loving white couple.  While T.J. may be the narrator, this is not just his story.  It’s also the story of a group of misfit teens who are inspired to achieve something of their own, a little mixed race girl struggling against a brutal home life, a good man who spends every day trying to make up for a 20+ year old horrible accident, and the racism and prejudice that tie their lives together. 

Who will like this book: While the basic plot of this story centers around T.J. assembling and leading a rag-tag swim team populated with the biggest school misfits, this isn’t just a book for sports fiction fans.  This book delves into topics of child abuse, racism, and bullying with a raw honesty that is heartbreaking at times. 

If you like this, try this:Any other books by Chris Crutcher, Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson, Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Recommended by: Jen, Branch Teen Librarian

Skin

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Title: Skin

Author: Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Summary:

These are the things you think when you come home to find that your sister has starved herself to death and you have dropped to your knees to revive her:
1. My sister is flat like a board.  There’s fat guys in the locker room with bigger boobs than she has.
2. When I scream my sister’s name into her face, I can hear my father’s voice in my own.
3. Where is it you’re supposed to press? In the middle, on the side? Left or right?

Fourteen-year-old Donnie has always relied on his older sister Karen to shield him from the harshness of life- be it lengthy and frequent parental fights or a miserable social life.  However, Karen is fading fast, wasting away from anorexia, leaving Donnie to decide if he too will fade into the background via social isolation and bullying or challenge himself to carve out his own place of acceptance.

Who will like this book:  Fans of serious drama and family upheaval.  Told in the first person this book gives you the vantage point few anorexia stories do- that of a young male family member left behind. 

If you like this, try this:  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Cut by Patricia McCormick, Skinny by Ibi Kaslik,  and Just Listen  by Sarah Dessen

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian