Liar | Justine Larbalestier

Compulsive liar Micah finds it difficult to tell the truth in the aftermath of her boyfriend’s mysterious death.

Awards & Honors

• A School Library Journal Best Book, 2009

• A YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, 2010

Review

Micah is the kind of person who likes to start rumors about herself. For the first two days of school, she had everyone convinced she was a boy. Later, she got them all to think she was the daughter of an arms dealer. With all the lies Micah’s told, it’s hard to know when she’s telling the truth. And all of a sudden, the truth is more important than ever: When Micah’s secret boyfriend is found dead, her classmates, her parents, and the cops all look to her for answers.

As Micah reveals the supposed real story of Zach’s murder, readers will have to decide for themselves whether they trust this unreliable narrator. Larbalestier’s talent for suspense will keep the pages turning as fast as Micah runs through the streets of New York City, especially after shocking twist halfway through the book. What happens next? That depends on who, and what, you believe.

Larbalestier, Justine. Liar. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Reviewed from library copy.

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April 5, 2010. Tags: , , . High School, Paranormal, Realistic. Leave a comment.

Lockdown | Walter Dean Myers

Reese struggles to keep hope alive while working toward an early release from the Progress juvenile detention facility.

Awards & Honors for Walter Dean Myers

• 2000 Michael L. Printz Award winner

• 1994 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner

• Two-time Newbery Honor recipient

• Five-time Coretta Scott King Award winner

Review

They call it the Progress Center, but 14-year-old Reese isn’t sure he’s making any inside the juvenile detention hall. Locked up for stealing a doctor’s prescription pads, he’s been given the chance to prove himself through a work-release program. Now he helps take care of the residents at an old folks’ home a couple days a week and spends the rest of his time trying to stay out of trouble at Progress.

With fellow inmates always looking for a fight and the threat of new charges being brought against him, Reese doesn’t know whether he’ll be released early for good behavior or stay behind bars for another 20 years. The heart-wrenching story of a teen on the wrong side of the law, Lockdown manages to steer clear of being too preachy while remaining inspirational. Through Reese’s relationship with an elderly man at Evergreen, stint in the solitary detention cell, and love for his little sister, readers experience the imperfect protagonist’s internal battle between hope and despair.

Myers, Walter Dean. Lockdown. New York: Amistad, 2010.

Reviewed from advanced reading copy provided by Goodman Media International.

January 4, 2010. Tags: , , . Realistic. Leave a comment.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth | Carrie Ryan

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.

Recommendations

• School Library Journal starred review by Debra Banna, May 1, 2009

Publishers Weekly starred review, February 2, 2009

Review

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.

August 18, 2009. Tags: , , . Horror. Leave a comment.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian | Sherman Alexie

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

Review

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.

July 19, 2009. Tags: , , , . Multicultural, Realistic. Leave a comment.

The Coldest Winter Ever | Sister Souljah

Spoiled Brooklyn teen Winter Santiaga faces the harsh realities of street life after her drug-dealing father is sent to jail.

Recommendations

• NoveList Feature Article, Hot Topics: Street Fiction by David Wright, August 1, 2006

• NoveList Readers’ Advisory, Getting Up to Speed in Urban Lit by Jessica Zellers, August 19, 2008

Booktalk

The Coldest Winter Ever is a storm that blows through your life and leaves you with nothing.

Winter Santiaga is rich and beautiful, and proud of it. Whatever she wants, her daddy Santiaga will provide. Then on her 17th birthday, all that starts to change. Her designer clothes and shoes: gone. The red Mercedes-Benz: gone. Winter’s mom and dad: gone. All she has left is herself, and she’ll do anything to get back on top. But the streets of New York are extra cruel during the Coldest Winter Ever.

Souljah, Sister. The Coldest Winter Ever. New York: Pocket Books, 1999.

May 11, 2009. Tags: , , , . Street Lit. Leave a comment.

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