Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
The Sun Is Also a Star is a novel that follows Natasha, a Jamaican immigrant who is faced with her fear of being deported, and Daniel, a son of two Korean immigrants who is faced with his fear of college. In an act of fate, the two meet in New York City. The novel follows their friendship and their love as it grows over the course of one day.
What is exceptionally amazing about this book is the author’s use of in-between chapters connected to the universe. She describes seemingly random moments in life that bring us to a single moment. Yoon’s rich character development and descriptions of unexpectedly important everyday moments make this book a must-read.
-Kassidy, grade 12
Title: You Know Me Well
Author: Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for the entire year, yet they have never spoken to each other outside of school. One night the two happen to meet up in the city for a wild night at a gay club. Through their sexuality, the two become fast friends, the two become fast friends and get to know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more. They encourage each other to be bold in their other relationships and grow from one another.
This is a great book. I read it fast, and I think it’s one of those awesome books where anyone would like it when they read it.
-Kassidy, grade 12
Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Looking for Alaska by John Green is a New York Times bestseller and Michael Printz Award-winning novel about the life of teenagers who attend Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama. The story follows Miles Halter as he tries to fit into his new lifestyle. At Culver Creek, Miles begins making friends and eventually meets Alaska Young, whom he instantaneously falls in love with. Throughout the course of the novel, Miles learns more about Alaska’s past, and realizes she may be more of a ticking time bomb than he suspected. After a night gone wrong, Miles and his friends team up to search for any sign that Alaska is the girl they always though she was.
Looking for Alaska is a great novel for any teenager who enjoys comedic writing with a hint of mystery and a lot of romance.
– Sabrina, grade 12
Title: Highly Illogical Behavior
Author: John Corey Whaley
Lisa Praytor has a plan to escape her dull suburban life: win a full scholarship to the second-best psychology program in the country (second-best because why not be the biggest fish in the slightly smaller pond?). Her plan to win the scholarship involves tracking down and befriending the boy who took off his clothes, jumped into the school fountain years ago, and then disappeared.
Solomon Reed has already escaped. After the fountain incident, Solomon figured out how to cope with his massive anxiety issues: by never leaving the house again. Enabled by homeschooling, wifi, and two very concerned but supportive parents, Solomon hasn’t been outside in three years. Within the narrow confines of his world, and with some wisdom gleaned from Star Trek: the Next Generation, Solomon can almost manage his mental illness. And then Lisa comes barreling into his life. Followed quickly by her boyfriend, Clark, who shares Solomon’s obsession with Star Trek and all things Nerd. And soon Solomon finds he just might have a reason to go outside again.
Lisa is aware that her plan is rather cold and calculating, but she figures why not kill two birds with one stone: help Solomon and herself at the same time. As it happens, she finds herself truly enjoying Solomon’s company and becoming friends. Clark was not in favor of the plan, yet he winds up finding a kindred spirit in Solomon, and their friendship blossoms as well, although Solomon finds himself wishing for something more. Shockingly (!) Lisa’s plan does not go exactly as she hopes….
Since the author is John Corey Whaley, it goes without saying that this is terrific. The story switches back and forth between Lisa and Solomon’s points of view, so we see both sides of the situation. There is plenty of humor in the story, although I didn’t find it quite as uproariously funny as some other reviewers. Whaley is respectful and never downplays the seriousness of Solomon’s condition, but I still felt a little too anxious on his behalf to really let go and laugh out loud. All in all, though, an excellent book.
-Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: Once Was a Time
Author: Leila Sales
It’s 1940 in Britain, and ten-year-old Kitty and Lottie are best friends. Kitty is somewhat smothered by her protective parents, and Lottie is left to her own devices after her mother leaves. Her scientist father is consumed by his work for the government, and he pays no attention to his children at home – not that he’s ever home in the first place. So the girls have each other, and as far as they’re concerned, that’s perfect. But the Germans are after Lottie’s father’s project, which has to do with time travel, and through a terrible twist of fate Lottie winds up in Wisconsin in 2013 – leaving Kitty behind.
Lottie is stranded and alone, and over the next several years she manages to make a new life with her foster family in small-town America, but her one goal in life is to return to Kitty.
The book is roughly divided into three sections: Before, in 1940s England, where the stage is set. Then there’s Lottie’s immediate arrival in Wisconsin and getting her settled. And finally, the story picks up again as she is finishing up high school.
I was a little confused when I started reading and the girls were ten because I know (and love) Leila Sales as a YA author. I suppose this is technically a middle grade novel; however, there’s nothing to say older kids wouldn’t enjoy the story, particularly since Lottie grows up over the course of the book.
There’s an old-fashioned feel to the story – time travel! orphans having adventures! – but there are contemporary issues too, most notably Lottie’s detour into Mean Girl land and a potential romance. The main theme, though, is love and the power of friendship. Lottie never stops looking for a way back to her best friend, and if someone was crying by the end of the book, well, I guess my allergies were just terrible that day…..
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: I Am Princess X
Author: Cherie Priest
Libby and May met in fifth grade and soon became best friends, bonding over a comic they created together. May wrote the stories and Libby drew the pictures for Princess X, a sword-carrying, Chucks-wearing, crime-fighting princess. They were best friends right up to the moment when Libby died. In a terrible accident, Libby’s mom drove off a bridge, and Libby’s body washed up down the river days later.
Years pass, and May is shocked to stumble upon Princess X once again. There’s an online comic, merchandise, a whole fan base. The thing is, she and Libby were the only two people who knew about Princess X. Did somebody somehow discover their old creations? Can Libby possibly be alive?
May looks a little closer and realizes there are clues hidden within the comics. With the help of her computer-geek neighbor Patrick, she starts investigating online and irl. They quickly discover that they aren’t the only ones looking for Princess X – and that the other person will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery.
This is Cherie Priest’s first YA novel, but she’s probably a familiar name to older teen readers of speculative fiction. There’s no science fiction or fantasy going on here except within the Princess X comic. What we have is a great story about friendship, and the lengths someone will go to in order to help a friend. There’s plenty of suspense, and watching May untangle the clues within the comic is very cool. Pages of the comic itself are interspersed within the novel, so the reader can see exactly what May sees. Finally, a case could be made for considering Seattle as another character in the book. I was not surprised to learn that Priest had lived there because the city is presented in great and loving detail.
P.S. How awesome is that cover design? It took me a second to realize it wasn’t just a photo of a sticker.
-Lisa, Teen Librarian