Marcelo in the Real World

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Title: Marcelo in the Real World

Author: Francisco X. Stork

Summary: Marcelo is different – he is not very good at interacting with new people or understanding the nuances in their conversation, but he can hear music no one else does and is deeply interested in matters of faith. At the end of his junior year, he is excited about his new job at his school, caring for the ponies that are used in student therapy. But his dad thinks he is ready to go to ‘regular’ school and tests him: If Marcelo can work the summer in the family law firm, he can return to his beloved school. If he fails or quits he must attend public school.

Marcelo takes up the challenge and enters the ‘real world,’ away from his familiar surroundings. In the office he makes friends, enemies, and discovers that it’s not so easy to determine who is bad and who is good. This beautifully written story is about growing up, testing yourself, and learning to stand up for what you believe.

Who will like this book?: People interested in the way differently-abled minds work. This is a great coming of age story for teens and adults to enjoy.

If you like this, try this: A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. For younger readers, The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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The London Eye Mystery

Title: The London Eye Mystery

Author: Siobhan Dowd

Summary: When their cousin Salim, visiting from Manchester, goes up in the London Eye (sort of like a gigantic Ferris wheel overlooking the city) but does not come back down, 12 year-old Ted and his older sister Katrina decide to figure out what happened . As Ted describes it, his brain runs on a ‘different operating system’ from most people – he isn’t very good at recognizing emotions, reading body language, or understanding slang, but his way with facts and puzzles might be just the right kind of thinking to find the missing Salim.

This book isn’t just about Asperger’s syndrome: First and foremost it is  a terrific, fast-paced mystery. It happens to also be a great choice for people looking for stories with differently-abled heroes. Ted’s charm and humor shine through as he learns to cooperate with his surly sister and ‘see things differently’ as they hunt for their missing cousin. This is a fun read, and like any great mystery, it will keep you guessing right up to the end!

Who will like this book?: Fans of fast-paced, but not terribly intense mysteries. Readers who get a kick out of British authors and stories. People interested in learning more about the way teens with Asperger’s think.

If you like this, try this: Another book featuring a teens with Asperger’s is The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley. For mature readers, check out The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and the non-fiction Look Me in The Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robinson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Bringing the Boy Home

Title: Bringing the Boy Home

Author: N.A. Nelson

Summary: For boys in the Takunami tribe, turning thirteen means the soche seche tente– a grueling journey alone into the jungle. If their senses are sharp enough to survive the dangers of the Amazon and make it back to the village alive, the boys are accepted as men and learn who their father is. Passing the test is vital for the whole family, but it can be deadly. Tirio was abandoned by the Takunami when he was a small child because of a damaged foot. Adopted and sent to America, he has grown up strong and happy. Luka, who has never left the Amazon, has spent his whole life preparing for the test, pushed on by his strong-willed mother.

As each boy turns thirteen, he must face his fate. Tirio and Luka will both endure the soche seche tente, but in this outstanding adventure story, destinies will change in a heartbeat, and incredible secrets about each boy, and the tribe, will be revealed.

Who will like this book?: Fans of adventure stories set in exotic places. People who like books with surprising endings.

If you like this, try this: Another terrific coming of age story (set in Alaska) is Norman Tuttle on the Last Frontier by Tom Bodett. For an intense adventure book, try Peak by Roland Smith.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

All We Know of Heaven

Title: All We Know of Heaven

Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard

Summary: This is a stunningly good book. Right before Christmas, a horrific car accident shatters the lives of two families in a small Minnesota town. Best friends Bridget and Maureen are the victims – one lies in a coma for weeks, the other dies that day. In a tragic mistake, doctors tell the families that it is Bridget who has survived, but when the girl emerges from her coma, it is actually Maureen. One family’s shock and joy instantly becomes the other family’s misery. But that is only the beginning of this unforgettable story.

Under the sudden spotlight thrown on her family and community from all over the world, Maureen must learn to adjust to life with a significant brain injury that affects the way she communicates and weakens the right side of her body. People lend support and take advantage of her in both small and large ways as a town comes to grips with having to mourn one girl while celebrating the survival of another. This is realistic fiction at its best.

Who will like this book?: Fans of intense realistic fiction, and people who like reading about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. This is also an excellent choice for anyone looking for books with characters who are living with brain injury.

If you like this, try this: One of the stories that inspired this book is detailed in Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Don Van Ryn. Another good book about teens dealing with handicaps is Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

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Title: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

Author:Gabrielle Zevin

Summer Reading List: Fairfield Ludlowe High

Summary:Imagine waking up and not remembering the last five years of your life. That’s exactly what happens to Naomi after she conks her head on the steps of her high school. All of a sudden, nothing makes sense – why is she co-editing the school paper and playing tennis instead of acting in the school play? Why does she have feelings for the guy who found her on the steps that day, instead of her hot long-term boyfriend? And why did her parents get divorced, causing her dad to start dating a flamenco dancer?

When her memory starts to return, Naomi has to decide who she is deep down inside and what she wants her life to be, even though her choices are bound to hurt the people she loves. Like Gabrielle Zevin’s first book for teens, Elsewhere, this unforgettable story will leave a permanent mark on your brain and the way you think about life and love.

Who will like this book?: Fans of Elsewhere, and other books that deal seriously with teen relationships and the ‘Big Questions’ of life.

If you like this, try this: While it isn’t exactly similar, another great book for mature teens about discovering who you truly are is Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian