Some Kind of Happiness

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Title: Some Kind of Happiness

Author: Claire Legrand

Summary: Finley can hardly believe that her parents are sending her to stay with her dad’s family – whom she has never even met – for the summer so they can work out their issues with each other. After all, it’s hard enough for her to recover from her crushing bouts of sadness which leave her unable to leave her bed sometimes. At least Finley has the Everwood: a fantastic world she has been crafting and refining her whole life about an enchanted forest filled with secrets and adventure. Carrying her notebook of stories with her, she has no idea what to expect. What she finds is a family brightly bursting with life – sweet-natured cousins, loving aunts and perfectly poised grandparents – and more: a house built on the edge of a wild forest that Finley knows in her heart is the true Everwood she’s been dreaming about. As the summer goes on, it is in this place that she discovers that it’s not just the characters in her stories hiding a devastating secret.

This gorgeous and dramatic book is a must-read for anyone who likes realistic fiction. Finley’s struggle with the reality of her parent’s difficult relationship, the new realization that big families come with expectations, and the unpredictable feelings that threaten to destroy her might break your heart, but you won’t want to put this down until you know how it all turns out. Lyrical and unrelenting, this is a book to share with friends and the adult readers in your life so you can all talk about it together. Finley and her family are unforgettable.

Who will like this book: People who like stories about big families, especially families with secrets. Readers who like books about storytelling and characters with wild imaginations. Aspiring writers. Fans of books featuring mysteries from the past.

If you like this, try this: See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Boxers & Saints

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Title: Boxers & Saints

Author/Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang

Summary: In this stunning masterwork, Gene Luen Yang tells an epic story across two books about young people facing the devastating consequences of war in 18th century China. Little Bao and Vibiana both live in the idyllic but impoverished rural countryside with families that are facing challenges. Soon, inspired and driven by the hidden magic surrounding them (Bao by the god-kings of Chinese mythology and Vibiana by the legend of Joan of Arc), they each embark on a journey through the rapidly-changing world around them, finding themselves as they endure the upheaval, war and devastation that comes when people with different points of view cannot coexist peacefully. When their paths finally cross, neither will be the same.

It probably doesn’t matter in which order you read these dual narratives, but I’d suggest you start with Boxers. You might not learn too much about this famous colonial-era Rebellion in your history classes, but this story will immerse you in the violent and bloody struggle between those who wished to reject foreign influence in China and others who welcomed it. You will  be moved by both of these young people as they find themselves leading their people towards an unthinkable destiny, each believing they are right.

Who will like this book: Graphic n0vel readers. Fans of historical fiction and stories laced with magic and spirituality.

If you like this, try this: Yang’s Printz-winning work, American Born Chinese. Another fantastic graphic novel with a supernatural element, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brogsol.For another era in Chinese history, take a look at Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. For more on the history of this era, read The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Terrible Typhoid Mary

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Title: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America

Author: Susan Bartoletti Campbell

Summary: In turn-of-the-century America, typhoid was a serious and deadly illness. It was spread through unsanitary behaviors such as not properly washing hands or living in close contact with sick people in cramped environments. However, this was before people understood ‘germ theory’ – the idea that microscopic things, invisible to they eye – cause disease. For many people, this was not science, but silliness. Mary Mallon, an Irish immigrant with an impeccable record as a servant and cook employed by rich families in New York City, was a medical marvel: While she carried the typhoid bacteria, she was not herself, visibly ill or suffering from the symptoms of the disease. After several outbreaks in homes she worked in, including some that were fatal, Ms. Mallon was identified as the cause and her life and reputation would never be the same.

This engaging story brings up many interesting questions: Did ‘Typhoid Mary’ understand what she was doing? Was she a villain or a victim? Did she deserve the treatment she received at the hands of authorities? Can science always be trusted? How should we treat people who are ill in our society? Should they share the same rights as healthy people? A true story that echoes through our society to this day, this book will give you chills and make you want to wash your hands, right away.

Who will like this book?: Younger readers who like true stories of science, medicine and illness. People interested in history, especially medical history of the history of New York City. Anyone who likes a story with a secretive main character.

If you like this, try this: Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Swagger

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Title: Swagger

Author: Carl Deuker

Summary: Jonas is nervous about moving to Seattle. He was an all-star with a shot at a college scholarship at his old school – will he be able to get on the team and garner the stats he needs to compete at his new one? Before school begins, he meets two important people who will change his life forever: His neighbor Levi, the son of a strict pastor with a simple manner and a good heart who is also a monster on the court and potential future teammate, and Ryan Hartwell, a local guy not much older than them who hangs out at the practice court with a lot of good advice on how to improve their game. Hartwell tells Jonas and Levi that they need to celebrate their swagger on the basketball court and in life – but the collision of these three people will lead to both incredible success and devastating, irreversible damage.

At first this book seems like a simple sports story about teammates and friends. As the pages turn, however, it becomes something deeper, more affecting and ultimately unforgettable. Jonas is a protagonist you will really root for, even as he makes questionable decisions in part of a chain of events that may leave you heartbroken. While it contains sensitive content, Deuker, a master of sports fiction, handles these serious situations without sensationalism and with careful grace. A challenging and rewarding tale that should be read by teens and parents/caregivers together.

Who will like this book?: People who like quick reads. Fans of sports stories that are about more than sports. Readers of intense books about friendship.

If you like this, try this: Boy21 by Matthew Quick. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. Crackback by John Coy.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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Kill the Boy Band

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Title:  Kill the Boy Band

Author: Goldy Moldavsky

Summary: Four girls, Apple, Erin, Isabel and our narrator are as different as can be, but they are united by their undying devotion to the world’s most popular, if only marginally-talented, British boy band, the Ruperts. Incredibly, just before a big show in Manhattan, the intrepid super-Strepurs (a fandom name derived from spelling the band name backwards, of course) find themselves in a position that any fangirl would envy: Alone in a hotel room with one of the boys. The problem is he is there against his will, sort of kidnapped and tied to a chair, with everyone in the Ruperts’ universe looking for him, from his fellow singers to his stylist to his girlfriend to the hordes of fans jamming the streets outside the building. As the girls sink deeper and deeper into the mess they’ve made, cracks in their bonds begin to show, proving that people are not always what they seem to be, and that maybe you can never truly know anyone, even your best friends.

This fast-paced, smart and hilariously funny story is part mystery and part an examination of the ups and downs (and downright insanity) of being part of a fandom. The language is blunt and at times profane, the reality of the situation is bizarre and often dire and the pages practically turn themselves, revealing ideas about fandom, adolescence and life itself that are more profound than can be described without spoilers. Put this at the top of your too-read list!

Who will like this book?: Fans and stans. Mature readers who like twist-and-turn psychological mysteries, and stories with potentially unreliable narrators. Anyone who has ever worshipped a boy band.

If you like this, try this: Born to Rock by Gordon Korman. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. The Haters by Jesse Andrews. I am (not) the Walrus by Ed Briant.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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A Death-Struck Year

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Title: A Death-Struck Year

Author: Makiia Lucier

Summary: Cleo Berry, 17 year-old high school senior has already seen her share of heartache. WWI is finally over, but now there is word in her town of Portland, OR that a mysterious plague – the Spanish Flu has infiltrated many of the Eastern cities in the U.S. When the first cases are reported in her hometown, Cleo’s classes are cancelled and she is told to go home and wait it out in the safety of her family.

Instead Cleo volunteers for the Red Cross which provides the journey for the book. Lucier’s Cleo is introspective, unassuming, and often unsure of herself. But when challenged, she makes bold choices which surprise her and propel her life forward. A Death-Struck Year combines the best of YA, historical fiction and even manages some romance in the mix. Lucier’s book is accessible to all ages. There’s enough guts and glory to satisfy those hungry for everyday historical heroines balanced with an easy read and an ultimately happy ending.

Who will like this book?: YA Historical fiction readers, those attracted to the forces of nature, epidemics, and dystopian novels, teen heroine fiction, and coming of age fiction.

If you like this, try this: The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr, Palace of Spies  (Palace of Spies #1) by Sarah Zettel, Black Dove, White Raven by  Elizabeth Wein,  

Recommended by: Philip B. Reference Librarian

Carry On

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Title: Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Orphan Simon Snow is the chosen one – born into the World of Mages to triumph over the Insidious Humdrum, a dark entity that swallows magic whole, leaving devastation and ruin in its path. The problem is that Simon barely understands his power and has almost no control over it. Entering his final year at Watford School of Magicks, he finds himself the focus of an inevitable battle, tutored by a strict and mysterious headmaster, bolstered by support from his best friend, the supremely talented and brilliant Penelope, confounded by his on-again, off-again girlfriend Agatha and tormented by his roommate and nemesis, Basilton, a rich kid from a legendary magickal family.

This sounds…familiar, right? It is supposed to – the story of Simon Snow was introduced to readers of author Rainbow Rowell’s popular book Fangirl, about a college freshman who is also an internet-famous author of slash fiction. But you don’t have to read Fangirl first to fall in love with Simon Snow. As he makes his way through his final year at Watford, he comes face to face with the true nature of the Humdrum, the true motives of his teacher, the mysterious nature of his origin and his true feelings for Baz. This fast-paced and funny fantasy tale is perfect for readers who grew up with The Boy Who Shall Not Be Named (in this post, at least) who are looking for a book with the same sense of emotion and adventure.

 

Who will like this book?: This is the ‘Drarry’ book you’ve been waiting for, shippers!Potterheads. Fan Fic (particularly Slash Fic) devotees. Readers who love coming-of-age adventure stories.

If you like this, try this: The book that inspired this story, Fangirl, also by Rainbow Rowell. For a darker take on fandom, try Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky. Another magical quest/school story with a high page count, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. We don’t need to recommend J.K. Rowling’s stuff, right?

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian