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: 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: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes is an epic story. It’s Game of Thrones set in the Roman Empire. The story is narrated in turn by Laia and Elias. Laia is a slave and Elias is a soldier, but no one is truly free in the Martial Empire.
When Laia’s brother was taken by soldiers, she went to the Resistance and offered her services in exchange for their help in freeing him. She risks her life daily as a slave, a spy, and a saboteur in Blackcliff Military Academy.
Elias is one of the elite. trained from an early age at the Academy. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce, but in the Empire, defiance means death.
An Ember in the Ashes is a first novel that is bold, thought-provoking, and pulse-pounding. Book two, A Torch Against the Night, comes out August 2016.
Title: We Are All Made of Molecules
Author: Susin Nielsen
Stewart and his father are moving in with Ashley and her mother. He’s 87% excited; she’s 110% horrified.
Thirteen-year-old Stewart is gifted intellectually but not so great at the social/emotional stuff. He’s also getting over the death of his mother a couple years ago. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the queen bee at her school, and she works hard to maintain her status. It’s difficult enough having to hide the fact that her parents split up because her father is gay. Adding Stewart – or Spewart – into the mix will not help.
The book goes back and forth from sweet and touching to laugh-out-funny as Stewart and Ashley take turns narrating their story of bullying, bigotry, tolerance, friendship, and family.
Author: Neal Shusterman
Tennyson and Bronte are 16-year-old twins, and while they’re not super-close, Tennyson is annoyed that his sister has started dating the school loner Brewster, aka Bruiser, aka “the kid most likely to go to jail.” Bronte convinces her lacross-playing brother that Brewster is just misunderstood, and eventually the boys become friends, too.
Soon, the twins realize that whenever they’re around Brewster, their cuts and bruises disappear, and that he’s covered in new hurts. Somehow he takes on the physical and emotional pain of the people he cares for. Clearly, being a loner is easier for him to handle, but that’s out the window now.
The story is narrated in turn by Tennyson, Bronte, Brewster, and his little brother, Cody, and Shusterman juggles the different voices very well. Tennyson is particularly witty, and it’s a pleasure to follow his transformation from borderline bully to a more sympathetic young man. It’s difficult to describe Bruiser in a nutshell, but the story is compelling, and your heart goes out to each of the characters in the book (except, of course, for Brewster and Cody’s horrible uncle).
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: The Future of Us
Authors: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
It’s 1996 and Emma has just gotten a computer. When she dials into the Internet, she finds a funny website called Facebook that has all sorts of information about her life – 15 years in the future!
In alternating chapters, Emma and her neighbor/best friend Josh try to figure out how the different choices they make right now affect the outcome of their lives in the future.
This is thoughtful and often funny, although I have to say that it didn’t leave a huge impression on me. The nineties nostalgia is a fun bonus for someone (like me) who was alive then. I’ve categorized it as both realistic and science fiction, which seems pretty contradictory, but I can’t figure out how else to describe it.
-Lisa, Teen Librarian