All We Have Left

Cover image for All we have left

Title: All We Have Left

Author: Wendy Mills

Summary: Alia and Jesse both have trouble understanding their parents and why they act the way they do. Alia wants to be a comic book artist, but her parents insist that she study for a more ‘respectable’ profession. Jesse knows why her parents are heartbroken: Her brother Travis died inside the World Trade center on 9/11, and they have never gotten over it. Both girls break the rules and have to face the consequences of their actions: Alia loses her chance to study at a prestigious art camp after being caught with someone smoking in the school bathroom and Jesse is ordered to volunteer at a local community center after she and her friends are caught vandalizing a local business. These young women have never met, but they are connected to each other, though neither of them knows it: One of them is living in the past, and the other in the future. Alia will be a firsthand witness to devastation, and Jesse will live through the long wake of its aftermath.

This book is thought-provoking and gut-wrenching. As the stories of Alia, Jesse and Travis  weave together, you will find yourself turning the pages faster and faster to see how it works out, hoping things will be different than you already know are in the end. Serious, surprising and deeply moving, this is a fantastic book to share with the adults in your life: You’ll want to understand more about what they experienced on that terrible and tragic day.

Who will like this book: People who like to cry. Anyone interested in what life was like before and during the attacks on September 11, 2001. Readers who like stories where characters are strangers who are secretly somehow connected to each other.

If you like this, try this: The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan.  For mature readers: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Watch That Ends the Night


Title: The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic

Author: Allan Wolf

Summary: It is April 15, 1912. Undertaker John Snow is on a cable boat, heading towards the site of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century: The sinking of the RMS Titanic. He thinks he sees birds floating on the surface of the water but as he gets closer, he sees what they really are: Frozen bodies. From this intense and gripping opening scene we are sent back in time to the beginning of the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Through the voices of over 20 actual people who were on board the ship, from the Captain and Shipbuilder, to famous travelers like John Jacob Astor and Margaret “The Unsinkable Molly” Brown, to unknown passengers from third class, we follow the Titanic from the excitement before its maiden voyage to its launch to its destruction in the frigid North Atlantic by iceberg.

You may be familiar with the Titanic from that famous movie. But author and poet Wolf presents the story in such a complete and thorough way that both readers who know nothing and who know it all will be entranced. Written in verse, it is a quick and compelling read. Even the iceberg and the ship’s rat get to share their story. Sure, you know how it ends, but this is a book about the journey, not the destination. The final section of the book is devoted to facts about the ship and those who sailed on it, giving a grim description of the grandeur of the Titanic and the scope of its legendary tragedy.

Who will like this book?: This is the official One Book One Town 2012 selection for Fairfield, so…everybody! The 100-year anniversary of the Titanic’s voyage is on it’s way so this is a book for anyone interested in this famous disaster story. Fans of adventure and historical fiction. People who like hearing a story from more than one point of view. Fans of Ellen Hopkins, Sonia Sones, and other verse novelists.

If you like this, try this: A classic, A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn. Iceberg Right Ahead by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Find this book and more at the Fairfield Public Library.

Life As We Knew It



Title:  Life As We Knew It

Author:Susan Beth Pfeffer

Summary:  Have you ever gotten about half-way through a book and were struck with the almost irresistible impulse to flip to those last few pages –  and you fight that impulse for the rest of the book?   The impulse is born not out of  the need to finish some mega-hit bestseller before someone spoils the ending for you, but rather because you are so invested in this story and in these character’s lives that you need to know what happens to them.  Author Susan Beth Pfeffer has created one such story in Life As We Knew It. 

Miranda, a sixteen year old high school student, records the usual teen woes – step-parent issues, friend problems, massive crush on an unattainable local Olympic hopeful, etc. – in her diary.  Along with the rest of the world she thinks nothing of it when it becomes known that a meteor is about to crash into the moon.  With unconcealed excitement people around the world wait to see this once in a lifetime astronomical event, but the scientists were wrong about the potential outcome of the meteor crash.  

No one could have imagined that life on earth would change so drastically:  Massive tsunamis, newly erupting volcanoes, and earthquakes strike throughout the world and with a ripple effect, touch the lives of everyone on the planet.  Through Miranda’s diary we experience the horror of these disasters and how she and her family must change if they are to survive this new world.

Who would like this book?:  Don’t be fooled by the science fiction set-up – you won’t find a truly in-depth scientific explanation as to the how’s-and-whys leading to this natural disaster.  Rather, this book’s focus is on self-examination and relationships with family and the world around oneself.   This book’s universal appeal is that it builds off of a question most of us have asked of ourselves – “If a disaster struck, how would I react?”

If you like this, try this: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Recommended by: Jennifer, Branch Teen Librarian

Dr. Franklin’s Island


Title: Dr. Franklin’s Island

Author: Ann Halam

Summary: When the newly-acquainted Semi, Arnie, and Miranda’s plane crashes in the middle of the ocean, they are the only survivors. Stranded on a mysterious island they wait desperately for rescue. The days tick by without a sign and the three must start exploring the island. One day Semi sees a pig with human hands instead of hooves. Thinking it was an illusion, she passes off it as an effect of island fever. Shortly afterwards, Miranda and Semi stumble upon a cave and within it a small village. Captured within seconds, the two are to be the new guinea pigs for the scientific testing of Doctor Franklin. They might have once dreamed of being able to fly or to breath underwater; but Miranda and Semi never expected that they’d get the chance to do so as a bird or a dolphin. In this horror fantasy, the two girls must learn to survive under Doctor Franklin’s roof without losing their humanity.

Who will like this book?: People who want the thrill of a sci-fi/fantasy horror. Or those whom enjoy reading about mad scientists. It’s a very deep book and can be a bit slow at times, but parts of it are so skin-crawling that you won’t be able to put it down.

If you like this, you should try: The Red is for Remembrance series by Laurie Faria Stolarz. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Recommended by: ZZ, resident of Fairfield and avid reader