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: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Thirteen Reasons Why is a fast-paced, tragic story of discovering the reasons behind Hannah Baker’s suicide. Before her death, she recorded her story on cassette tapes to get passed among the thirteen people who contributed to her suicide. Through the eyes of the main character Clay, we go through the journey of learning how each individual betrayed Hannah while Clay desperately clings to his last remaining memories of Hannah while simultaneously trying to figure out why he made the list.
Asher creates a life-changing story of heartache as he handles the dark subject of suicide. Not only is this book a good read, but it is deeply emotional and changed my outlook on life.
-Marisa, Grade 12
Title: Can You Keep a Secret?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella is both uplifting and hilarious. Kinsella is an author who is able to create light-hearted stories without making them predictable and cliche. While she has written many fabulous books, including Twenties Girl and Remember Me?, Can You keep a Secret stands out as having very relatable situations and characters, which makes them even more laugh-worthy. The story is about a girl named Emma, a terrified flyer on a bumpy plane ride. She is a flawed bundle of nerves, but that is exactly what makes her understandable and realistic to the reader. On her trip, she gets so nervous that she just starts talking…and talking…and talking…to the random stranger sitting next to her. She tells him literally everything, such as the fact that she waters her irritating co-worker’s plant with orange juice just to annoy her. Once the flight lands, Emma is terribly embarrassed, but at least knows that she will never have to see this man again. Think again! It turns out that the man is the CEO of Emma’s company! This man now knows EVERYTHING about Emma. and will see her every day. Just reading it makes me cringe!
I don’t laugh with books very often, but Sophie Kinsella is so funny, and all of her books are just as laughable and irresistible. Can You Keep a Secret? is a hilarious and embarrassing story that brings tears to your eyes. It is realistic, but not at all boring. It is the kind of story for a cozy day in bed because of its fast-paced, cause-and-effect-style plot. The best thing about Kinsella’s books is that you know exactly what you are getting: witty, sarcastic humor and lovable main characters. After reading this book, you can only hope that something like this never happens to you!
-Emily, 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: 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