The longest Muiriel has stayed in one foster care placement is eleven months. That was in 3rd grade, when the mom and dad wanted to adopt her. But Muir couldn’t stand being the only child in the house, which led to the inability to sleep, and eventually, a move to a new foster home. Since then, Muir has asked to leave a home whenever things have gotten too comfortable.
Now 17-years-old, Muir is taken to Francine’s, a 60ish-year-old woman who lives alone on an island thirty minutes from Seattle. Muir’s social worker, Joellen, asks Muir to try her best to last her entire senior year in this home before she ages out of foster care. Likewise, Joellen has asked Francine to take in just one more teen before retiring from foster care parenting. What will it take to keep Muir in one place for a year? And what can Francine provide that other foster parents could not?
Twelve-year-old Olympia is a budding artist. That’s no surprise since her father restores art pieces with his business partner, Apollo, and her mother is a sculptor. Ollie lives a pretty normal life in SoHo (New York City) in 1981 when her life falls apart. Her dad leaves in the middle of the night leaving only a cryptic message for Ollie, her mom has gone to bed and won’t get up, and there are strangers knocking at the door inquiring about a missing piece of art. Ollie knows the answer to this mystery lies with her father, if she could only find him. Hiding her problems from best friends Alex and Richard, she manages to get herself to school, complete projects, exist on cans of soup, and try to solve the mystery, all while begging her mother to get up. It isn’t until tragedy strikes the neighborhood that Ollie learns she can’t solve the problems on her own. This story of friendship will appeal to any student artist as well as middle school students who may have a family member dealing with depression.
Summer vacation, and twelve-year-old Leah is feeling lost. Ever since her life changed drastically the year before, her friends have abandoned her and her parents seem to no longer be able to parent. They are just as lost. At first, Leah spends her long, lonely days in bed, in front of the TV, in her pajamas. When Leah finally decides to get dressed and leave the house, she heads to a favorite quiet place, only to find it occupied by a new girl, Jasper. Despite appearing to be a confident fourteen-year-old, there is something mysterious about Jasper. Leah soon discovers Jasper is just as lost as her own family. As Leah learns part of Jasper’s secret, they form a deep friendship. But when Leah is forced to tell her parents Jasper’s story, it doesn’t look like the friendship can survive.
It started with a pen pal assignment when Caitlin was 12 years old, living in Pennsylvania. She had to pick a country, and unlike her classmates, she decided to pick a country she knew nothing about – Zimbabwe. Her letter went to 14-year-old Martin, because he was the top student in his class in Mutare, Zimbabwe. And so began a letter-writing relationship that lasted many years. Caitlin was from an American family that never had to do without education or food. Martin’s family on the other hand, didn’t always have the money it took to send him to school. Food was scarce and the Ganda’s home was just the opposite of Caitlin’s. When Martin finally shares the struggles of his family, explaining he has to wait until he earns money for a postage stamp before he can send a letter, Caitlin’s family jumps into motion providing money for food, rent and Martin’s education. Chapters alternate between the two teens’ perspectives, but the bond that forms between the two families is genuine and provides life-changing opportunities for a teen from Zimbabwe.
Willow Chase is a 12-year-old genius with some strange interests. She is preoccupied with diseases, her garden and the number 7. When her parents are suddenly killed in an accident, it seems that Willow must go to a group home for children. But new friend Mai and her family save the day by taking her into their family. What could be a heartbreaking story is instead more hopeful. If you like stories like Out of My Mind and The War That Saved My Life, you might enjoy this story about Willow.
Natasha, who came to the US as a child, is now an undocumented teen living in NYC. She and her family are set to be deported to Jamaica at midnight. She heads into Manhattan early in the morning to try and meet with a lawyer one last time, looking for any way to stay in the US. Daniel is Korean-American. His parents expect him to attend Yale and become a doctor, but Daniel would prefer to write poetry and choose his own profession. As the obedient son, he is headed into Manhattan at the same early hour to catch his ride to his Yale interview. Natasha’s and Daniel’s lives intersect, deep conversations ensue, Daniel scraps the interview in exchange for helping Natasha get a meeting with the lawyer and… Can one really fall in love in just one day? Read the book before the movie is released May 17.
Jessica, a 16-years-old star on the school’s track team, lives to run and is hoping for a track scholarship for college. But when the team bus is involved in an accident, Jessica’s leg is crushed along with her plans for the future. Jessica struggles to deal with being an amputee, missed schoolwork, self-worth, and her prosthetic leg. While there is a special type of prosthetic leg made for running, she knows her family cannot afford the enormous expense, so she gives up dreams of running again and throws herself into catching up on her schoolwork with the help of Rosa, a student with her own problems.
Pax – Sara Pennypacker – Friendship (FollettShelf)
Pax, a young fox, was adopted by Peter, a boy whose mother has died. When Peter’s father volunteers for the military because a war is coming, Peter must go live with his grandfather. He cannot take Pax, so Peter must set Pax free in the woods on the way to his grandfather’s. Pax is confused and must learn to live on his own in the wild. Peter, 300 miles away, is angry that he was forced to give up Pax and sets out on his own to find his friend. An injury hinders Peter. Pax eventually makes friends with the local foxes. Life is full of struggles and adventures as both slowly make their way toward a reunion.
This tender story of loyalty is available as an ebook on the library’s FollettShelf.
Raymie Nightingale – Kate DiCamillo – Family, Friendship, Realistic
Raymie Clarke’s father has left town with the dental hygienist. But Raymie has a plan to bring him back. All she needs to do is win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire title. When her dad sees her picture in the paper, he will come running back to her – maybe. Raymie needs a talent to enter the competition so she signs up for baton twirling lessons. Here she meets two competitors – Louisiana, an orphan with a show business background who needs the money to survive, and stubborn Beverly, a girl who plans to sabotage the competition. An unlikely friendship develops among the three girls as all have experienced loss. The lesson learned is that even when life seems out of control, persistence pays off.
,Something in Between – Melissa De La Cruz – Realistic, Friendship
Jasmine’s senior year is going great. She is class valedictorian, a national scholarship winner, and captain of an award-winning cheerleading squad. While her Filipino family is very close, her parents have a secret. They, along with their children, are undocumented immigrants. This means Jasmine does not qualify for her college scholarships, her only hope of going to college. Add to this that her boyfriend is Royce Blakely, son of Congressman Blakely, who is sponsoring an anti-immigration bill in Washington, DC. Suddenly, Jasmine’s future is very uncertain as the bill seeks to send all undocumented immigrants back to their country of origin. Jasmine does not remember that country. She doesn’t know the language. Will she really have to leave the US and the American Dream? Will she ever be able to go to college?
This is a timely novel as our government deals with the issues of undocumented immigrants and their children who may be citizens of the US.