Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously – and at great risk – documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories – You are not alone. Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class. Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
Legend by Marie Lu – What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths-—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray comes the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. Teen beauty queens. A Lost-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman – Jen and Wes do not “meet cute.” They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever. This is not that kind of love story. Instead, they just hang around in each other’s orbits…until eventually they collide. And even after that happens, they’re still not sure where it will go. Especially when Jen starts to pity-date one of Wes’s friends, and Wes makes some choices that he immediately regrets.
From National Book Award winner Pete Hautman, this is a love story for people not particularly biased toward romance. But it is romantic, in the same way that truth can be romantic and uncertainty can be the biggest certainty of all.
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley – It was a secret everybody knew at Monticello: Thomas Jefferson was the father of Beverly, Harriet, Madison and Eston Hemings, and their mother was Sally Hemings, a slave owned by Jefferson. Most people now have a vague idea of this story and the issues it raises about Jefferson, the author of the words that founded a nation: “All men are created equal.”Bradley offers the first fully realized novel for young readers and tells it from the points of view of Beverly, Madison and another enslaved boy on the plantation. The characters spring to life, and readers will be right there with Beverly when his mother scolds him for referring to Master Jefferson as “Papa.” A big, serious work of historical investigation and imagination; the tale has never before been told this well.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt – It’s 1968. The Vietnam War and Apollo 11 are in the background, and between a war in a distant land and a spacecraft heading to the moon, Doug Swieteck starts a new life in tiny Marysville, N.Y. He hates “stupid Marysville,” so far from home and his beloved Yankee Stadium, and he may have moved away, but his cruel father and abusive brothers are still with him. This is Schmidt’s best novel yet—darker than The Wednesday Wars and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas. By the end of this tale, replete with allusions to Our Town, Doug realizes he’s pretty happy in Marysville, where holding hands with the green-eyed girl—and a first kiss—rival whatever might be happening on the moon.
The Queen of Water by Laura Resau – Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling. In her village of indígenas, it is not uncommon to work in the fields all day, even as a child, or to be called a longa tonta—stupid Indian—by members of the ruling class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants. When seven-year-old Virginia is taken from her village to be a servant to a mestizo couple, she has no idea what the future holds. In this poignant novel based on a true story, acclaimed author Laura Resau has collaborated with María Virginia Farinango to recount one girl’s unforgettable journey to self-discovery. Virginia’s story will speak to anyone who has ever struggled to find his or her place in the world. It will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately, it will fill you with hope.
The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt – It’s 1986, and 13-year-old Drew Robin Solo is waiting. Waiting for things to happen; waiting to feel moved by something–or, as it turns out, someone. Drew’s summer begins in her mother’s cheese shop, making pasta alongside handsome Nick and caring for her pet rat and constant companion, Hum. The mysterious nightly disappearance of the old cheeses Drew leaves behind the shop lead to Emmett Crane, a boy who effortlessly brings color to her monochrome life. By the end Drew is no longer waiting for life to happen, but instead asking, “How could people sleep when there was so much at stake, so much happening, when there were so many reasons to be awake and alive?” Nostalgic and beautifully written, The Summer I Learned to Fly is the coming-of-age story of a gentle and unassuming girl asserting her independence and experiencing meaningful friendship for the first time.
Trapped: How the World Resecued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson – In early August 2010, the unthinkable happened when a mine collapsed in CopiapÓ, Chile, and 33 miners were trapped 2,000 feet below the surface. For sixty-nine days they lived on meager resources and increasingly poor air quality. When they were finally rescued, the world watched with rapt attention and rejoiced in the amazing spirit and determination of the miners. What could have been a terrible tragedy became an amazing story of survival. Now, with exclusive interviews with rescuers and expert commentary, Marc Aronson brings us the backstory behind this incredible event. By tracing the psychological, physical, and environmental factors surrounding the rescue, Trapped highlights the amazing technology and helping hands that made it all possible. From the Argentinean soccer players who hoped to raise morale, to NASA volunteering their expertise to come up with a plan, there was no shortage of enterprising spirit when it came to saving lives.
Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin – On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames. The factory was crowded. The doors were locked to ensure workers stay inside. One hundred forty-six people—mostly women—perished; it was one of the most lethal workplace fires in American history until September 11, 2001. But the story of the fire is not the story of one accidental moment in time. It is a story of immigration and hard work to make it in a new country, as Italians and Jews and others traveled to America to find a better life. It is the story of poor working conditions and greedy bosses, as garment workers discovered the endless sacrifices required to make ends meet. It is the story of unimaginable, but avoidable, disaster. And it the story of the unquenchable pride and activism of fearless immigrants and women who stood up to business, got America on their side, and finally changed working conditions for our entire nation, initiating radical new laws we take for granted today.
Mangaman by Barry Lyga – Sci-fi adventure meets love story—and East meets West—in Mangaman, an original graphic novel for teens. Ryoko, a manga character from a manga world, falls through the Rip into the “real” world—the western world—and tries to survive as the ultimate outsider at a typical American high school. When Ryoko falls in love with Marissa Montaigne, the most beautiful girl in the school, his eyes turn to hearts and comic tension tightens as his way of being drawn and expressing himself clashes with this different Western world in which he is stuck in. “Panel-holed” for being different, Ryoko has to figure out how to get back to his manga world, back through the Rip . . . all while he has hearts for eyes for a girl from the wrong kind of comic book.
Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon – Ella and Zachary, sixth-grade misfits, cling to each other to get through the taunts, rejection and, sometimes, abuse from their classmates. Ella is the only black student, and her discolored skin tone has some calling her “Camo-Face,” short for camouflage. Zachary, or “Z,” is small for his age and takes refuge in fantasy to cope with abandonment by his father. When a new black student arrives and seems open to Ella, she has hope for a new friendship, especially because, even though he can fit in with the popular group, Bailey reaches out to her. The insecure Z sees this as a threat, and Ella is torn between her loyalty to him and her wish for some normalcy. This elegantly crafted story features strong writing and solid characterizations of both main and secondary characters. Ella and Bailey’s racial identity is one element in a full and richly textured narrative.