I’ll Give You the Sun

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

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.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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Fables

     Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Title: Fables

Author: Bill Willingham

Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and more

Summary: First printed in 2002, the comic series Fables has endured, becoming one of the most beloved continuing series in recent memory. Forced out of their familiar Homelands by a dark and deadly figure known only as the “Adversary,” the legendary characters of myth and tall tales made their way to our world to establish Fabletown, where, as immortals, they have lived and thrived into our modern age. But the people you meet on these pages bear little resemblance to your favorite cartoon royals and monsters. When Jack (of Beanstalk fame) rushes to tell Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown that his girlfriend, Rose Red has disappeared and their apartment is covered in blood, an investigation into a possible murder begins. Following Bigby’s every move is Snow White, Rose’s sister and deputy mayor of Fabletown.

Over the course of its 12 year run (collected into 20 volumes so far), Willingham weaves in both beloved figures from the most popular fairy tales to obscure characters you may have never heard of. The nature of the story also changes, from murder mystery to domestic drama to epic quest. This is a great story to curl up in, because the twists and surprises will keep you turning pages, and some will even break your heart. With the end of the story coming soon (in early 2015,) this is the perfect time to start Fables at the beginning.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like ‘fractured’ fairy tales – new spins on familiar stories. TV watchers looking for something a bit grittier than Once Upon a Time. Fans of ongoing graphic novel series such as The Walking Dead.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. The series The Unwritten by Mike Carey. And if you can’t get enough of the Fables world, read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Fangirl

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Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Cath is into Simon Snow. Really, really into it. She spends a lot of her free time writing slash fiction about Simon and his roommate Baz as they study at an enchanted school for magicians. Cath might be painfully shy, but her posts online gather thousands of hits and sometimes it seems like she has as many fans as the actual author of the Simon Snow stories. She used to write with her twin sister, but as they head off to college for freshman year, Wren has been drifting away: She cut her hair and left Cath to dorm with a stranger. As if leaving home and having to deal with all sorts of new people weren’t bad enough.

As Cath progresses through freshman year, her life is constantly thrown into disarray – her sister seems to party all the time, her dad is more manic than usual, her brash roommate insists that she eat in public with her and two boys vie for her attention. The one thing that keeps her focused – her epic, two-years-in-the-making fic – needs to be finished before the final Simon Snow book comes out in the spring. Cath is a queen of the fandom – but can she thrive when the computer is off? This book caps off a remarkable year for author Rainbow Rowell, and like her wildly popular Eleanor and Park, this is a beautiful, funny and deeply-felt story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.

Who will like this book: Fangirls, of course. Anyone who has spent even a bit of time inserting themselves into the Harry Potter stories. Romance readers.

If you like this, read this: Eleanor and Park, also by Rowell. OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Summary: Aristotle and Dante meet for the first time at a public pool in El Paso, where Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. Over the long summer of 1987, the two boys, both loners, become best friends. Dante is confident and free-spirited. Ari, with an older brother in jail and a father emotionally scarred by his time in Vietnam, is more guarded and unsure of his place in the world. Over the course of the next year and a half, the extraordinary relationship between Ari and Dante is tested, first by an accident, then by a separation, and finally by a revelation: Ari is into guys.

After they reunite for another summer, Ari must come to terms with how he has changed in the past year, the secrets about his family’s history and his own uncertainty about his feelings for his best friend. This is a lovely story about what it means to be a friend and what it means to become a man. Ari and Dante will live on in your heart long after you’ve finished turning the pages of this book.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like beautiful, poetic language. Romance fans. Teens who are questioning their place in the world.

If you like this, try this: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Eleanor and Park

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Title: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Park sees Eleanor getting on the bus and he knows she’s in for it. Her weird clothes, her wild red hair, her complete newness. He lets her sit down next to him but makes sure to keep his distance. He does okay at school, which is impressive considering his half-Korean/half-Irish heritage – not a common thing in 1986 Omaha, Nebraska. He’d like to keep his head down, listen to his music, read his comics and get through high school without any issues.

Eleanor sits next to Park on the bus and knows instantly that he is not happy about her presence. He doesn’t say a word to her, unlike the awful kids behind them. She doesn’t say a word either: Not to him, or them, because she has other things to think about, things that are a lot more important than school. Like finding a toothbrush. Or figuring out how she can manage to share a room with four younger siblings. Or how to avoid her merciless, manipulative stepfather.

This is the beginning of a beautiful, heart-shredding love story that will leave you breathless. As the connection between Park and Eleanor grows from silently sharing issues of Watchmen, to trading mix tapes, to falling in love, you will be swept along in their tumultuous, difficult romance. This isn’t Romeo and Juliet – the obstacles that exist within both Park and Eleanor’s lives make their attempt at a relationship something that requires more effort than many people would be willing to make, then or now. And that is what makes Eleanor and Park something rare in this genre. It is more honest, more true and ultimately, more beautiful, than a lot of love stories out there. To say this is the best book I’ve read so far this year is an understatement. This is a story that will stay with me – and you – forever.

Who will like this book: Readers who treasure heartfelt, realistic romance against steep odds. Criers (you know you’re out there)! People who are nostalgic for the ’80s.

If you like this, try this: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ask the Passengers

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Title: Ask the Passengers

Author: A.S. King

Summary: Astrid Jones has a secret, one that she can’t even really define. What she needs is someone to talk to, but who? Her mother has been obsessed with keeping up appearances since the family relocated from the city to the small, close-minded town of Unity Valley. Her dad is busy bouncing from job to job and getting stoned in the attic. And her sister is the perfect, popular small-town girl who their mom has always dreamed of – basically, everything Astrid isn’t. She can’t even really talk to her best friend Christina, who uses her cover as another perfect Unity Valley girl to hide the fact that she is gay. So Astrid lies on the picnic table in her backyard and watches the planes overhead, sending all her love up to the strangers flying through the sky. After all, she feels like she has no one to share it with on the ground.

As Astrid begins her senior year, she is feeling pressure from all sides:  Her mom wants her to date and keeps pressuring her friend Christina to find her a guy, while her co-worker and maybe-girlfriend Dee wants her to come out to her family and friends. But even the idea of calling herself either gay or straight seems dishonest. Taking inspiration from her philosophy class and the great thinkers she is studying, Astrid must begin to take her eyes off the sky and navigate her world here on Earth. With insight from the airline passengers themselves, this honest and beautiful story about coming to terms with who you are and not letting other people tell you what you should be will move you. Readers will want to see Astrid’s story to the end and close the book with a sense of hope and joy in their heart.

Who will like this book?: People who likes stories about how friendships can shift and change over time. Teens who are questioning – their sexuality, the reasons why we do the things we do, or just life in general. Readers who feel the pressure to be perfect. Anyone who has looked at a plane in the sky and wondered about the people on it and where they were headed.

If you like this, try this: The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George. Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Every Day

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Title: Every Day

Author: David Levithan

Summary: Every day A wakes up in a different body and lives a different life.  It’s been this way ever since A can remember.   A has inhabited girl and boy bodies from a variety of races and sexual orientations, yet A is not bound by any of those societal constructs.  A is not a boy or a girl, A is simply A.  The only thing constant in A’s experience is that A always wakes in a body that is the same age as A is at that time.  A has gotten used to this existence and has come up with some rules:  never get attached, avoid being noticed, and do not interfere.  But, all those rules get thrown out when A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.  A is drawn to Rhiannon in a way A has never been before and decides that one day is simply not enough time with her.   Now every time A wakes in a new body A’s goal is to find a way back to Rhiannon, but can Rhiannon handle falling in love with someone new every day and can A ask her to?

Who will like this?:  If you are at all open to a love story, this is a great one.  It challenges the reader to consider love at its core, as an emotion that isn’t restricted by man-made rules related to sex and gender.  And, it asks how far someone should be willing to go to pursue true love.

If you like this, try this:  If you are looking for a similar dramatic love story try anything by John Green, in particular The Fault in Our Stars or If I Stay by Gayle Forman.  For books dealing with relationships and questions about the roles of sex and gender try The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky or A.S King’s Ask the Passengers.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian