Monday, November 21, 2011

Kissing Kate

Myracle, Lauren.  Kissing Kate.  New York: Penguin Group, 2003.  Print.


2004 ALA Best Books for Young Adults


One night at a party, best friends Kate and Lissa kissed.  Now Kate is ignoring Lissa, who’s left on her own to figure what and more importantly, who she really wants.


““Isn’t it amazing the stuff we can convince ourselves of?  And not just in our dreams, but in our normal lives, too.  You know?””  I wondered what she was thinking of, what lies she’d convinced herself were truths.  But I didn’t ask.”

I’ve had a lot of practice lately with these lies disguised as truths.  Ever since Kate and I, best friends since seventh grade, kissed everything has been screwed up.  It was in the summer, at the last party before school started.  Kate was drunk, but I wasn’t.  And even though Kate’s acting like being drunk was an excuse, I know she feels the same way about me.  She just won’t admit it.

I’ve tried to talk to her about it since, to tell her how much I like her, but she wants to forget it ever happened.  Kate is beautiful, popular and dating gorgeous Ben; she doesn’t want to be a lesbian.  She doesn’t want to be “abnormal”.  To me, though, it feels completely normal and I’m not sure that I can convince myself I’m really straight.  I’m not even sure I want to…

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Invented Life

Bjorkman, Lauren.  My Invented Life.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2009.  Print.



Roz is convinced her sister Eva is a lesbian.  To prove she’s right Roz decides to come out as a lesbian first, until her invented life gets totally out of control.


Then:  I used to be known as “Roz: sister and best friend”.  Recently, though, Eva’s taken that folder off her computer desktop and moved it into the trash.  In fact, she’s trashed our whole relationship.  If there was a replacement folder on her desktop it would be labeled: Roz: person to be ignored.

Now:  Currently, Eva barely speaks to me.  PD (post deletion) means we no longer share clothes, secrets or even mundane details about our lives.  We don’t even talk about the school play, even though we’re both in it together.

Then:  I used to know everything about Eva.  I would pine for (and sometimes go out with) her (ex) boyfriends.  She always talked to me about things and I thought she was perfect.

Now:  Eva has a new group of friends, the cheerleaders.  She’s still pretty much perfect, except I only know this from afar since she barely acknowledges me, let alone confides in me.  And…Eva’s a lesbian.  I think.

After finding a lesbian novel in Eva’s bedroom leant to her by Eyeliner Andie (a rumored lesbian herself), I started having suspicions about my sister.  PD, unfortunately, meant they would remain unconfirmed because Eva would never ever tell me.  I had a plan though.  I decided to come out as a lesbian and tell everyone at school about my “girlfriend”.  Once Eva saw how accepting and tolerant everyone was, she would feel safe enough to come out too.  Except…

That’s not exactly what happened.  I did come out at school, but then I starting having feelings for Eyeliner Andie in addition to my years-long crush on my sister’s current boyfriend, Bryan.  Will I able to figure out who I’m supposed to be with, get my invented life under control and gain my sister’s trust back, all before opening night?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Hunger Games

Collins, Suzanne.  The Hunger Games.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2008.  Print.


2008 New York Times Notable Children’s Book
2008 New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
2008 Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller
2008 Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2008: Children’s Fiction
2008 Cybil Award for Fantasy & Science Fiction
2008 Kirkus Best Book
2008 School Library Journal Best Books
2008 Booklist Editors’ Choice
2008 LA Times Favorite Children’s Books
2008-2009 (Winter) #1 Children’s Indie Next List
2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book
2009 ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
2009 ALA Amelia Bloomer Project List
2009 Indies Choice for Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book Honor
2009 Children’s Choice Book Award
2009 ALA YALSA Teens’ Top Ten
2009 New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age
2009 CCBC Choices
2010 USA Today Bestseller
Teen Choice Book of the Year Finalist
#1 New York Times Bestseller
Wall Street Journal Bestseller


Selected to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss knows that in order to win she has to survive the harsh environment of the arena and kill off all of the other players, regardless of whether they're friends or enemies.


It’s not enough that Katniss has to fight for her life everyday, risking death in order to sneak out of town so she can hunt and gather in the woods.  Now she’s in the biggest fight of her life: the Hunger Games.  Televised throughout the districts, Katniss knows everyone will be watching her and she also knows SHE HAS TO WIN.  Winning means ensuring her future and her family’s survival as well as helping out her town.  But winning also comes with a price: Katniss is pitted against someone else from her district, a boy named Peeta who once snuck her a loaf of bread when she had nothing to eat.

In order to win the Games and save her own life, will Katniss be able to kill the boy who may be in love with her…the boy who may be her only true ally…the boy who once saved her and her family from starvation?  Even if Katniss lives through the Games, can she live with her guilt?

“May the odds ever be in [her] favor!”

*This book was recommended to me by Nicole (19 years old) because it's "the best book in the series...there's more adventure and depth" in the first one compared to the others.  For her, the novel revolves around Katniss's decision, essentially "sacrificing everything for [her sister] Prim and then having the added burden of not letting her or the town down on top of simply trying to stay alive".*

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

almost perfect

Katcher, Brian.  almost perfect.  New York: Delacorte Press, 2009.  Print. 


2010 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
2010 Capitol Choice Noteworthy Book
2011 ALA Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award


Still upset over his last break-up, Logan avoids dating until a new girl shows up at school with a big secret.


Logan’s life is far from perfect: 

  • Just a few months ago his girlfriend Brenda broke up with him…after she cheated on him with another guy.  Hopeful they would get back together, Logan has been waiting around for her (literally: waiting for her to get off the bus every morning).  He's starting to realize now that it’s over. 
  • Logan’s sister moved out to go to college.  While they used to be really close he doesn’t get to see her that much anymore. 
  • His mom is gone most of the time because she has to work so many shifts at the diner just to make ends meet. 
  • And he’s still living in the trailer he grew up in, the same one they lived in after Logan’s dad left.

All Logan really has to look forward to is his upcoming graduation and hanging out with his friends.  But when a new girl, Sage, transfers to his high school at the start of senior year Logan’s life starts to look a little better.  After all, it’s small town Boyer, no one new ever shows up and on top of that Sage is funny, smart, quirky…almost perfect.  Except Sage has a secret she can’t risk anyone finding out about.  And once Logan discovers what it is, he doesn’t want anyone to find out either.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Keeping You A Secret

Peters, Julie Anne.  Keeping You A Secret.  New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2003.  Print.


2003 Lambda Literary Award Finalist
2004 ALA Stonewall Honor Book
2004 ALA Amelia Bloomer Project List of Recommended Feminist Books for Youth
2006 ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults   
New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age
Alphabet Award (First recipient)


Holland Jaeger has just realized she’s a lesbian and she’s in love with a girl from her school, Cece Goddard.  Both Cece and Holland decide to keep their relationship a secret, until the truth becomes impossible to hide.


These are the rules:

1.)   “They got it wrong when they called it “the closet”.  [It’s] a prison”.
2.)   “You can’t always trust your friends”.
3.)   “You don’t have to do anything to be hated for being gay”.
4.)   You think telling people your gay is “about identity.  Love…asking for acceptance”.  Others, including your friends and family, think you’re “asking for trouble”.

These are just some of the rules Holland Jaeger has to live by now that she’s admitted she’s a lesbian.  Holland works hard at school, has a job and is on the swim team.  She loves her sister Hannah and is trying to get along with her other sister, Faith.  It shouldn’t matter that she’s in love with Cece Goddard.  Cece, though, knows that’s not the case.  Having transferred from another school in the area, Cece knows how hurtful people can be when they find out you’re gay.  She begs Holland to keep the secret.  And while Holland does break up with her boyfriend, she doesn’t tell him why and she doesn’t tell her two closest friends either.

Keeping the secret seems like such a good idea at first, but will staying quiet turn out to be a mistake?  What if everyone at school finds out (it wouldn’t be too hard, Cece’s not exactly in the closet).  What if Faith tells their parents just to spite Holland?  Most importantly, what if everyone Holland loves finds out the truth from someone other than her?   

*Christine (19 years old) suggested I read this book.  She told me that she enjoyed it because "it talks about current themes, themes teenagers can relate to".  "It's emotional because Holland's friends and family have a hard time accepting her, but once Holland is at peace with herself, there's also a message of hope [and] that's important" she added.*

Image credit:

Friday, November 11, 2011

will grayson, will grayson

Green, John and David Levithan.  will grayson, will grayson.  New York: Dutton Books, 2010.  Print.


2010 Indie Lit Award Runner-up
2011 Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Honors Award
2011 Rainbow Bibliography
2011 Rainbow List


Will Grayson and Will Grayson may have the same name, but they don’t know each other…yet.  After they meet with the help of fate, though, their lives are changed dramatically.


There’s Will Grayson and then there’s o.w.g. – the Other Will Grayson.

Will Grayson is excited.  He’s about to meet Isaac, the boy he’s been talking to online for weeks.  Even though they only live a train ride away, they’ve never seen each other in person.  Will Grayson can’t wait to meet Isaac, he already knows he’s in love.  The only problem is, will Isaac like him back?  And what will he tell Maura, his girlfriend?

The Other Will Grayson is apathetic.  He’s not interested in school and while he is interested in Jane, he is deliberately pretending that he couldn’t care less.  Will is afraid to get hurt, but he’s also afraid that he is all of the things his best friend Tiny Cooper accuses him of: essentially, being a whiny sidekick, too scared to take a stand and go after what (or who) he wants.

Will Grayson and Will Grayson “might as well live on different planets”, but they’re about to meet in a weird twist of fate that’s going to change both their lives dramatically.  And it will be Tiny Cooper, the original Will Grayson’s best friend, who unknowingly helps to bring them together and keeps them together as they each begin “respective romantic turns-of-heart”.

*Phil (16 years old) told me about this book; he originally read it because one of his friends suggested it to him and "loved it"!  He thought the novel was "funny and a lot of fun...definitely different that what you'd expect".  He also mentioned that the two-person narration added a "cool twist" to the story because it allows readers to get the "perspectives from both of them".*

David Inside Out

Bantle, Lee.  David Inside Out.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2009.  Print.


2009 Rainbow List


David likes his best friend and fellow track teammate and even though Sean likes him too, he doesn’t want anyone else to know about it.  Will David decide to stand up to Sean, follow his heart and be honest about his feelings?


What would you do if you were in love with your best friend?  What would you do if you didn’t want to be in love with your best friend?  If you were trying to hide this love by dating someone else, but all you really wanted to do was tell the truth?

This is exactly how David feels.  He’s dating a girl at his school, Kick, but it’s Sean, a member of his track team that he really wants.  Sean wants him too – but he doesn’t want anyone else to know about it.  What will David do?  Will he stand up to Sean and tell him he wants to be honest about his feelings?  Will he finally be able to come out to his friends and family?  Will he lose his friendship with his once-girlfriend, Kick?  What about the relationships with his track teammates?

Image credit:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rapunzel's Revenge

Hale, Shannon and Dean Hale.  Rapunzel’s Revenge.  Illus. Nathan Hale.  New York: Bloomsbury U.S.A Children’s Books, 2008.  Print.


2009 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
2009 ALA Notable Children's Books
2009 ALA Popular Paperback
2009 Leah Adezio Award for Best Kid-Friendly Work
2010 ALA Amelia Bloomer Project Bibliography List
2011 Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Readers Choice Award
Utah Book Award for Children’s Literature
Cybil Award


Rapunzel, along with her sidekick Jack, wants to free her mother and the townspeople of Gothel’s Reach from being under the control of evil Mother Gothel.


Rapunzel grows up inside Mother Gothel’s villa where there’s always food to eat and the garden is always green.  Curious about the outside world, though, Rapunzel decides to climb over the wall that guards her home and is shocked by what she sees.  Being on the outside reveals to Rapunzel Gothel’s evil ways: how she is starving the townspeople by drying up all their land and how she stole Rapunzel from her real mother years ago as punishment for a crime committed by her father.  In a race against time Rapunzel and a friend she meets along the way, Jack, are now on a mission to destroy Gothel and free everyone from the clutches of her evil magic. 

Gothel is powerful though and she has growth magic on her side.  Will Rapunzel and Jack be able to fight off her and her henchmen?  Will they be able to get to Gothel’s villa in time before she hurts Rapunzel’s mother?  And most importantly, will they be able to survive the journey to the villa, first having to fight off “a rampaging boar…a pack of outlaw kidnappers…a horde of blood-hungry coyotes…a sea serpent…[and] Tina’s Terrible Trio”?

If Rapunzel and Jack can’t solve the mystery and figure out where Gothel is getting all of her extraordinary power from, everyone’s lives will be in extreme danger…

The House on Mango Street

Cisneros, Sandra.  The House on Mango Street.  New York: Vintage Books, 1984.  Print.


1985 Before Columbus American Book Award


Esperanza describes growing up in a Latino section of Chicago and living in a run-down house on Mango Street, while hoping and working hard to have a better life.


What would you do if you felt you were trapped by the place where you living?  If you wanted a real house, but got a temporary one instead?  If you felt like you were “a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor”?  Esperanza feels like Mango Street is holding her back.  She doesn’t have a best friend, she only has her sister Nenny but she’s annoying most of the time.  She doesn’t have a real house, the kind her family always dreamed of buying with a staircase on the inside.  Instead, she has the small red one on Mango Street where the bricks are crumbling and the front door sticks.  She wants new shoes; she wants a new name; and later, she wants a new job.  Despite all of this, Esperanza knows that the street is teaching her valuable lessons and it is in this house that she transforms from a little girl into a woman. 

Different from other novels, Esperanza tells her growing-up tale in The House on Mango Street in short chapters, or vignettes, each one their own complete story.  Take the journey along with her and find out if she ever leaves that little, red, falling-apart house behind, trading it in for a dream home: “quiet as snow, a space for [her]self to go, clean as paper before the poem”.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Vast Fields of Ordinary

Burd, Nick.  The Vast Fields of Ordinary.  New York: Dial Books, 2009.  Print.


2009 New York Times Notable Book of 2009
2010 ALA Stonewall Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
2010 ALA Rainbow Books


Dade is spending his last summer before college doing ordinary things in his small town of Cedarville until he meets Alex, someone who is different from anyone else he knows and who will spark changes in his life that can’t be undone. 


“I practiced saying I was gay to inanimate objects around the house.  I told the soap dish in my bathroom, the ceiling fan above my bed, the blue drinking glass I favored above all the others simply because over the years its entire family had perished one by one during various interactions with hard surfaces around the kitchen and I’d convinced myself our solitude was linked. 
“I’m gay,” I told these things.”

Dade Hamilton has just graduated from high school and can’t wait to get out of Cedarville and go to Fairmont in the fall.  In fact, only a few days ago he was at his senior prom, drawing the initials DH + PS in a heart on the wall of the boy’s bathroom.  PS stands for Pablo Soto, his sometimes boyfriend.  Now Dade is spending his last summer at home, working at FoodWorld and going to parties hosted by Judy Lockhart, also known as Pablo’ girlfriend.  Dade loves Pablo, but Pablo isn’t ready to admit yet that he’s gay.  While trying to figure out how to deal with this, Dade meets Alex at a party and soon their friendship grows into something more. 

From this chance encounter on, Dade’s summer will start to unfold in ways he never expected from his parents’ marital troubles to the disappearance of a local autistic girl.  As Dade struggles to keep up he realizes that it’s not college he’s longing for, but the truth.  Will Dade be able to be honest with others?  Will those around him reveal their own truths?  Will the end of the summer finally bring with it some answers or just more questions?

Along for the Ride

Dessen, Sarah.  Along for the Ride.  New York: Viking, 2009.  Print.


2010 ALA Teens’ Top Ten
#1 New York Times Bestseller


Auden decides to spend the summer before her freshman year of college at her dad’s beach house with her step mom and the new baby.  She expects to use the time to prepare for the upcoming semester, but instead starts to learn the value of having fun, having friends and having a boyfriend.


Auden is serious about school, she’s serious about pleasing her parents and she’s serious about using the summer to prepare for her freshman year at college.  That’s why Auden surprises everyone by agreeing to spend the summer at her father’s beach house with her step mom and their new baby.  She plans on spending most of her time studying for the upcoming semester, but once in Colby Auden finds herself getting pulled into new experiences. 

Having missed out on social events while in high school and also having been afraid to disappoint her mother who’s a professor, Auden finally starts to learn over the course of the summer how important it is to have friends…and to fail sometimes, just as long as you get back on the bike.  She also finds herself on a quest to make up for her lost childhood and begins doing all the fun things she never had time for before – bowling, having a paper route, starting food fights and, of course, riding a bike.  It’s Eli, a champion bike rider, who is teaching her all of these new skills and it’s only when spending time with him that Auden begins to understand how important it is to enjoy life and to go along for the ride.

*Elle (16 years old) inspired me to read this book; she is an avid fan of the author and thinks "Sarah Dessen's books are great".  She also loves that Auden spends the summer at the beach "having fun and learning new things...even when she's scared", including how to ride a bicycle.  "Everyone loves the beach" she adds, pointing out how almost everyone can relate to Auden's experience.*


Buckhanon, Kalisha.  Upstate.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005.  Press.


2006 American Library Association ALEX Award


Seventeen-year-old Antonio is accused of stabbing his father to death and is sent upstate to serve a ten-year sentence.  While locked up, he exchanges letters with his girlfriend, Natasha.


What would you do if you were locked up at seventeen?  If you were locked up for a crime you committed trying to protect your family?  If you had to leave your friends and family behind for ten years?  If you could never see your boyfriend or girlfriend again?  If you couldn’t go to prom?  If you couldn’t graduate from high school?

This is the situation Antonio is facing at seventeen years old.  He is arrested for stabbing his father in an attempt to stop him from beating his mother.  His lawyer insists he has a good chance of being acquitted at first, but as the trail drags on things get complicated and Antonio agrees to serve a ten-year sentence as part of a plea deal.  Unable to see his family and friends, except on visitation days, he misses out on the end of high school, going to college, getting a job and watching his brothers grow up.  The one thing Antonio doesn’t want to miss out on, though, is a chance to keep his relationship with his girlfriend, Natasha, alive.  Struggling to reach her Antonio begins writing Natasha letters, and is forced to ask her “ baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Silver Kiss

Klause, Annette Curtis.  The Silver Kiss.  New York: Delacorte Press, 1990.  Print.


1990 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
1990 Booklist Editor’s Choice
1991 Thumbs Up! Award
1991 ALA YALSA Best Book for Young Adults
1991 ALA YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
1992 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award
1993 California Young Reader Metal Award
1993 Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award
1993 South Carolina Children's Book Award
1999, 2009 ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
2001 ALA YALSA Best of the Best Revisited: 100 Best Books for Teens


Zoe is trying to come to terms with her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis when she meets a beautiful boy named Simon.  Simon, a vampire, has been on a mission for three hundred years and he needs Zoe’s help to finish it, just as much as she needs his.


Zoe wants to be in the hospital with her mother.  She hates that her parents are shutting her out; she doesn’t want to be in the house by herself all the time, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the news to come that the cancer has finally killed her mother.  She’s also scared to be alone at night because there’s a killer loose in her town, one who lures women into dark places and slashes their throats. 

When Zoe meets Simon she learns that he knows more about this killer than anyone else…and he has a plan to stop him.  The only problem is, Simon is a vampire and he’s been hunting this killer for hundreds of years.  In order to finally catch him, Simon needs Zoe’s help.  Will Zoe and Simon be able to catch the murderer before he kills more innocent women?  Will Simon be able to save Zoe’s mother from cancer?  Will Zoe herself turn into a vampire if she lets Simon get too close, if they exchange a silver kiss?