After Quentin’s dream girl goes missing, he follows a series of cryptic clues to track her down—learning how little he knows about the real Margo Roth Spiegelman.
Awards & Honors
• A School Library Journal Best Book, 2008
• A YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, 2009
As 9 year olds, Quentin and Margo shared the traumatic experience of discovering a dead body at a local park. Now high school seniors about to graduate, the two travel in different circles and barely talk. Then one night, Margo appears at Q’s bedroom window. Dressed all in black and looking for a partner in crime, she drags him out for a few hours of debauchery—and promptly disappears the next day.
Following the trail she left behind, “Q” finds himself exploring the poetry of Walt Whitman and the subdivisions of central Florida in order to make whatever sense he can of the enigma that is Margo. Like the protagonists of John Green’s first two novels, Quentin is a thoughtful, nerdy guy on a quest to figure out the elusive girl of his dreams. Smart and engaging, Paper Towns is inspiration for readers to stop seeing their peers as archetypes (the beautiful girl, the jock) and start thinking of them as real people.
Green, John. Paper Towns. New York: Dutton Books, 2008.
Forced into the forbidden forest after an army of undead invade her village, Mary must choose the right path or risk becoming a zombie herself.
• School Library Journal starred review by Debra Banna, May 1, 2009
• Publishers Weekly starred review, February 2, 2009
Ever since Mary was a little girl, her mother has told her stories about the ocean. Living in their isolated village, it’s hard to imagine a body of water that goes on forever. It’s hard to imagine anything beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But Mary believes in an outside world—one that existed before the Return, before the Unconsecrated took over the forest with their hands and teeth hungry for human flesh.
When these horrifying creatures break through the fence to the village, Mary is forced to choose between struggling to survive in the world she’s always known and risking everything to thrive in the world she’s always hoped for. First-time author Ryan pulls off a dazzling feat in writing a book about zombies without ever using the word “zombie.” The Unconsecrated lurk at the edges of every page, making The Forest of Hands and Teeth a deliciously nerve-wracking read.
Ryan, Carrie. The Forest of Hands and Teeth. New York: Delacorte Press, 2009.
A Native American teen transfers to a school outside his reservation and makes some surprising discoveries about his place in the world.
Awards & Honors
• National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, 2007
• A School Library Journal Best Book, 2007
• Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, 2008
• A YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, 2008
Junior’s life on the reservation pretty much sucks: His family’s poor, he’s constantly bullied, and his school books are so old that one of them used to belong to his mom when she was a freshman. Hardly anyone ever leaves the rez, but one day Junior realizes that doing so might be his only hope. He transfers to a “white” school 22 miles away—and finds himself an outcast there, too. Now he’s seen as a traitor to the tribe, his best friend won’t speak to him, and he’s not sure if he’ll ever fit in.
Alexie’s semi-autobiographical story rings true with sharp characterization and persistent humor, while illustrations by Ellen Forney enhance the reading experience. Junior is perfect company for anyone who’s ever wanted a place to belong.
Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown, 2007.
A suburban high-schooler infiltrates the Portland, Oregon music scene and experiences a world far removed from most of her classmates’ social lives.
• “YA fiction at the very top of the genre … speaks the language of most of this age group.” Publisher’s Weekly review, 1994
When Cybil shaves her head, Andrea is completely embarrassed for her and worried about what everyone at school will think. But then Cybil forms a band, and Andrea starts hanging out at the clubs downtown and shopping at thrift stores instead of the mall. She meets charismatic local rock star Todd Sparrow, and soon he’s all she can think about.
With a highly conversational style, Blake captures the essence of a self-absorbed yet likable teen trying to process the complicated events of her everyday life. Andrea’s first encounters with sex and drugs are related in a frank manner, and though she sometimes seems detached from it all, the reader can’t help but feel for this Girl.
Nelson, Blake. Girl. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Teenage misfit Alice McLeod enters a local beauty pageant, joins a Christian youth group, and tries out martial arts in some of her many attempts at normalcy.
Awards & Honors
• Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize, 2005
• Kirkus Reviews starred review, April 1, 2004
A social outcast, therapy regular, and general underachiever, Alice would never have entered the Miss Smithers contest if it weren’t for the $400 clothing allowance. After spending most of it on a pair of leather pants from the local biker shop, she’s forced to skimp on the rest of her pageant wear:
It took me fifteen minutes of hard digging in the Seniors Bin at the New on You United Church Secondhand Store to come up with a two-piece purple suit that more or less fits me. The shoulder pads are admittedly a bit extreme and the ruffle on the bias-cut skirt has seen better days, but the thick gold chain belt fits just right. It is my hope that people will take the suit for early-eighties hipness on my part, rather than an artifact originally belonging to someone who was already old in the 1960s. (p 53)
Can Alice pull together the clothes and personality to win the Miss Smithers crown? Nothing’s gonna stop her from trying!
Juby, Susan. Miss Smithers. New York: HarperTempest, 2004.