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.
Liv’s older brother shot himself. It was an accident. Always the dare devil, Jonah picked up the gun, pointed it at his head, and pulled the trigger. Now he is in a vegetative state with round the clock care by a team of nurses, Dr. Kate, Liv and their mother. Jonah’s friend and neighbor, Clay, tried to stop Jonah from playing around with the gun that belonged to Clay’s father. Now the neighboring families are caught in a lawsuit over negligence and payment for skyrocketing medical bills, and Liv finds herself falling for Clay – the enemy.
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.
Are you looking for a good fantasy series? The Seven Realms series might be what you are looking for. The Demon King, the first of 4 books set in the Queendom of the Fells, stars Han Alister and Princess Raisa. Han is in trouble after confiscating a magical amulet that he learns has an evil history and once belonged to the Demon King, who almost succeeded in destroying the world 1,000 years ago. Princess Raisa, raised in tightly controlled court life that feels like a cage, is determined to break out and save her starving and rebellious people. Meanwhile, the wizards’ power is growing. The two main characters, leading very different lives, team up to save Fellsmarch from destruction.
Mercy Wong has faced discrimination and poverty living in San Francisco’s Chinatown her entire 15 years. Determined to get the best education possible, she sets her sights on an all-white girl’s school, St. Clare’s, and manages to get accepted with a little bit of deceit and bribery. More discrimination by the school’s wealthy white girls rules each day, until the historic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroys the school, the city and Mercy’s home. Now, all the girls are on an even playing field as they must wait in the local park for days to reunite with any surviving family members. But Mercy isn’t good at waiting, especially when fires are raging and collapsed buildings and roads are everywhere. Always self-driven, Mercy sets out to help restore order and help those who are suffering, drawing forth admiration from those who formerly handed out only discrimination.
I spent the summer reading some elementary titles in preparation for my move to the elementary library. Now that I have been moved back to the MS/HS, I will need a few weeks to read some YA books again and write a monthly review of something I like. Hopefully you will see something new here by October. Because our library books are in storage this year due to the construction project, the books I review won't necessarily be a part of our library. You can find them at the public library! - Mrs. Dill
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.