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.
Summary: Evie O’Neill finds herself in big trouble over a little parlor trick she performed at a party. She only meant to get a little attention when she took Harold Brodie’s class ring and attempted to divine a few of his secrets for the crowd. Instead, she ended up incurring the wrath of the Brodie family and getting banished from her small town of Zenith, Ohio to her Uncle’s home in New York city. But being sent to one of the most lively cities in the country during the 1920’s is hardly a punishment for a girl who has always been too much for her hometown. New York city is exactly where Evie wants to be and all she has to do to stay is live with her Uncle Will, a man who stirs up his own fair share of gossip being the head of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, and abide by the few rules he sets.
It doesn’t take long before Evie is swept up into the bustle of New York City and reacquainting herself with a childhood best friend and making friends with an exotic Ziegfeld girl, but the good times grind to a halt when a grisly serial killer with ties to the occult starts to accumulate a body count. Uncle Will is called in by police to help decipher the cryptic symbols left at the murder scenes and Evie talks herself into being included in the case. It’s a case where her ability to divine secrets from personal objects may just be the key to stopping the killer or in possibly marking her as the next victim. However, Evie isn’t alone in her efforts to catch the killer or in possessing a unique and otherworldly gift. Her uncle’s assistant, Jericho hides a secret while her new friend, Theta, is trying to escape from her past. And then there’s Memphis, a young man who has lost his parents and his gift but fights to protect and take care of his younger brother.
Who will like this book?: Anyone with an appreciation for intelligent and well-written stories will throughly enjoy Libba Bray’s writings. It’s rare to find a mystery/thriller driven by such well-developed characters, especially one where the paranormal is a key aspect of the storyline. She’s the only YA author who can make 578 pages seem like a quick read and have you wishing the book was longer.
If you like this, try this: Thank goodness this is the first in a proposed trilogy because this story is simply too big (and too good) to be confined to one book. While you wait for the sequel to come out, try some of Libba Bray’s other writings, especially her Gemma Doyle trilogy. If you are looking for another great historical fiction book try Code Name Verity, there’s no paranormal in the story, but it is an amazing historical story featuring strong female characters in life-and-death situations. Ruta Sepetys, Out of Easy is another great historical fiction mystery that doesn’t feature the paranormal. But if paranormal historical fiction is what you want to stay with, give Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy a try.
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian