The Reader by Traci Chee; Putnam. ages 12 and up Debut Author
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.
Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland; AgeAmulet Books.(ages 13–up)
Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.
Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige; Bloomsbury.(ages 14–up)
Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.
Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything . . . including Snow’s return to the world she once knew. This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.
Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel; CInco Puntos. (ages 12–18)
Almost seventeen, Rani Patel appears to be a kick-ass Indian girl breaking cultural norms as a hip-hop performer in full effect. But in truth, she’s a nerdy flat-chested nobody who lives with her Gujarati immigrant parents on the remote Hawaiian island of Moloka’i, isolated from her high school peers by the unsettling norms of Indian culture where “husband is God.” Her parents’ traditionally arranged marriage is a sham. Her dad turns to her for all his needs even the intimate ones. When Rani catches him two-timing with a woman barely older than herself, she feels like a widow and, like widows in India are often made to do, she shaves off her hair. Her sexy bald head and hard-driving rhyming skills attract the attention of Mark, the hot older customer who frequents her parents’ store and is closer in age to her dad than to her. Mark makes the moves on her and Rani goes with it. He leads Rani into 4eva Flowin’, an underground hip hop crew and into other things she’s never done. Rani ignores the red flags. Her naive choices look like they will undo her but ultimately give her the chance to discover her strengths and restore the things she thought she’d lost, including her mother.
Aluta by Adwoa Badoe; Groundwood Books. (ages 14–up)
For eighteen-year-old Charlotte, university life is better than she d ever dreamed a sophisticated and generous roommate, the camaraderie of dorm living, parties, clubs and boyfriends. Most of all, Charlotte is exposed to new ideas, and in 1981 Ghana, this may be the most exciting and most dangerous adventure of all.
At first Charlotte basks in her wonderful new freedom, especially being out of the watchful eye of her controlling and opinionated father. She suddenly finds herself with no shortage of male attention, including her charismatic political science professor, fellow student activist Banahene, and Asare, a wealthy oil broker who invites Charlotte to travel with him and showers her with expensive gifts, including a coveted passport.
But Ghana is fraught with a history of conflict. And in the middle of her freshman year, the government is overthrown, and three judges are abducted and murdered. As political forces try to mobilize students to advance their own agendas, Charlotte is drawn into the world of student politics. She’s good at it, she’s impassioned, and she’s in love with Banahene. The struggle continues Aluta Aluta continua she shouts, rallying the crowd with the slogan of the oppressed. But her love of the spotlight puts her in the public eye. And when Asare entrusts her with a mysterious package of documents, she suddenly realizes she may be in real danger.
But it’s too late. As she is on her way to a meeting, Charlotte is picked up by national security, and her worst nightmares come true. And in the end, she must make a difficult and complicated decision about whether to leave her education, and her beloved Ghana, behind.
Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz; Harlequin Teen. (ages 14–up)
Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship. And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation
For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where or if she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.
Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat; Harper Collins. (ages 8–12) DEBUT AUTHOR
Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn t quite get her or because everyone seems to have a Thing except her. Abbie Wu is always in crisis.
From debut author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is and where she belongs. Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone in the middle of figuring out how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up.
One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi; HarperCollins. (ages 8–12)
Perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia, Thanhha Lai, and Rebecca Stead, internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is a coming-of-age journey set in modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh a preteen girl dressed as a boy. Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune, and her aunt has an idea to bring the family luck dress Obayda, the youngest of four sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh. Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. Their transformation won t last forever, though unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake; Harper Teen. (ages 14–up)
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.
The Three Lucys by Hayan Charara, illus. by Sara Kahn; Lee & Low. (ages 7–12)
Luli likes to sit in the shade of an olive tree with his beloved cats: Lucy the Fat, Lucy the Skinny, and Lucy Lucy. But when Luli and his parents go to the city to see his aunt and uncle one weekend, the cats must stay behind at home. After a fun visit with family, Luli is looking forward to going home and seeing the Lucys. But then Luli’s hometown comes under attack and the family must seek refuge at his aunt and uncle’s house. Luli doesn t understand what is happening and worries about his pets. Who will keep the three Lucys safe? And when will he and his family be able to return home?
Recipient of Lee & Low’s New Voices Honor award, The Three Lucys is inspired by real events of the July War in Lebanon. This tender story of loss, rebuilding, and healing is a tribute to the sustaining love of family, and to the power of the human spirit to hope for a peaceful future.
Metaltown by Kristen Simmons; Tor Teens. (ages 13–18)
The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can t take away from her. Until it does. Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she ll risk everything to do what’s right.
In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.
Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith; PG Putnam’s Sons. (ages 14–up)
Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.
When Jude’s best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.
Now everyone is a suspect–family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that’s the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude’s got a few skeletons of her own.
In a homage to the great noir stories of Los Angeles, award-winning author Sherri L. Smith’s”Pasadena”is a tale of love, damage and salvation set against the backdrop of California’s City of Roses.
Into White by Randi Pink; Feiwel & Friends; ages 12 and up. Debut Author
LaToya Williams lives in Montgomery, Alabama, and attends a mostly white high school. It seems as if her only friend is her older brother, Alex. Toya doesn t know where she fits in, but after a run-in with another student, she wonders if life would be different if she were . . . different. And then a higher power answers her prayer: to be anything but black. Toya is suddenly white, blond, and popular. Now what?
Randi Pink’s audacious fiction debut dares to explore a subject that will spark conversations about race, class, and gender.
Going Geek by Charlotte Huang; Delacorte. (ages 12–up)
It wasn t supposed to be this way. Skylar Hoffman’s senior year at her preppy East Coast boarding school should have been perfect:
the coolest friends
the most desirable dorm
But it’s far from it. To her dismay, Skylar’s not going to rule senior year because she’s stuck in Abbot House, a tiny dorm known for, well, nothing. Living with a group of strangers everyone thinks is lame is bad enough. Worse is that Skylar wasn t exactly truthful about how she spent summer break in Los Angeles and her little white lie is causing her once rock-solid romance to crumble fast. And when it turns out that Skylar’s best friend is the one responsible for having her booted from Lincoln? It’s an all-out war.
Stepping out of her comfort zone never felt so scary or necessary. But everything is different now. Including, maybe, Skylar herself.
Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung; Alfred A. Knopf. (ages 12–up)
Lucy is a bit of a pushover, but she’s ambitious and smart, and she has just received the opportunity of a lifetime: a scholarship to a prestigious school, and a ticket out of her broken-down suburb. Though she’s worried she will stick out like badly cut bangs among the razor-straight students, she is soon welcomed into the Cabinet, the supremely popular trio who wield influence over classmates and teachers alike.
Linh is blunt, strong-willed, and fearless everything Lucy once loved about herself. She is also Lucy’s last solid link to her life before private school, but she is growing tired of being eclipsed by the glamour of the Cabinet.
As Lucy floats further away from the world she once knew, her connection to Linh and to her old life threatens to snap. Sharp and honest, Alice Pung’s novel examines what it means to grow into the person you want to be without leaving yourself behind.
Watched by Marina Budhos; Wendy Lamb Books. (ages 12–up)
Naeem is far from the model teen. Moving fast in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens is the only way he can outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents and their gossipy neighbors. Even worse, they re not the only ones watching.Cameras on poles.Mosques infiltrated. Everyone knows: Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.
Naeem thinks he can charm his way through anything, until his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer a dark deal. Naeem sees a way to be a hero a protector like the guys in his brother’s comic books. Yet what is a hero? What is a traitor? And where does Naeem belong?
Freedom over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan.; Atheneum. (ages 6–10)
Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.
Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as a lantern.
You, an object. An object to sell.
In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN T be bought or sold dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his workers, Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you.ve seen.