Alexie, Sherman. (2007). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown.
Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a great cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He is determined to take his future into his own hands. Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, This novel which is based on the author’s own experiences, together with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. This novel teaches about hope and joy. It is about who has it and who doesn’t, and about how hard life can be when hope and joy leaves, and how life can change when hope and joy reappears. It is more appropriate for high school students in grades 7–10.
Anderson, Laurie. (1999). New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Melinda Sordino suffers through her freshman year at Merryweather High School in silence. Her transition from middle school to high school is complicated by a misunderstanding which sends Shockwaves throughout her existence. Gradually, readers become aware that Melinda is spiraling out of control as she becomes mute and loses interest in herself, her family, and school. Abandoned by her friends, she really wants to confide in them. Her voice is presented through a subdued inner monologue which becomes stronger and louder as Melinda struggles to reveal the truth behind her action to call for help at a summer party. Ostracized because her classmates believe she betrayed their trust, Melinda expresses herself through an art project and gardening. She ultimately confronts her antagonist and begins to heal. This novel is more appropriate for high school students in grades 7-12.
Anderson, M. T. (2002). Feed. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon – a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world A smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now. This book is appropriate for high school students in grades 11-12.
Backderf, Derf. (2012). My Friend Dahmer: A Graphic Novel. New York, NY: Abrams.
In this story, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man. What emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget. This is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling helplessly against the ghastly urges bubbling up from the deep recesses of his psyche. The Dahmer recounted here, universally regarded as an inhuman monster by the rest of the world, is a lonely oddball who, in reality, is all too human. A shy kid who is sucked inexorably into madness while the adults in his life fail to notice. We all know what Dahmer did, but in this novel the author provides, from his unique point of view, profound insight into how, and more importantly, why Jeffrey Dahmer transformed from a high school nerd into a depraved fiend as notorious as Jack the Ripper. This novel is appropriate for young adults.
Bardugo, Leigh. (2013). Six of Crows. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.
Ketterdam is a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price, No one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. He needs: a convict with a thirst for revenge, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, a runaway with a privileged past, a spy known as the Wraith, a heartrender using her magic to survive the slums, and a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction, if they don’t kill each other first. This book is appropriate for seventh graders and up.
Black, Holly. (2013). The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. New York, NY: Little Brown Books for Young
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave. One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how. She has to go straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself. This book is an original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing. It is appropriate for high school students of grades 9 up. A dystopian thriller with a chilling twist
Brown, Box. (2014). Andre: The Giant. New York. NY: MacMillan Company.
Andre Roussimoff is known as both the lovable giant in The Princess Bride and a heroic pro-wrestling figure. He was a normal guy who had been dealt an extraordinary hand in life. At his peak, he weighed 500 pounds and stood nearly seven and a half feet tall. But the huge stature that made his fame also signed his death warrant. In this new graphic novel, there are drawing from historical records about Andre’s life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world. Brown has created in Andre the Giant, the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable figures. While some of the language and situations in this graphic novel biography are definitely for older audiences, high school wrestling fans can nonetheless enjoy this intimate look into the life of an industry legend.
Cormier, Robert. (1974).The Chocolate War. New York, NY: Farrr, Straus and Giroux.
Refusing to sell chocolates in the annual Trinity school fund-raiser may not seem like a radical thing to do. But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. This is an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty. Jerry , a new student at an elite Roman Catholic prep school, must face the freshman hazing practices handed down by the Vigils, a group of powerful students. When teacher Brother Leon pushes the students to sell chocolates for a fundraiser, the head of the Vigils, Archie gets Jerry to reject selling for 10 days. However, Jerry decides to keep up the refusal past the original time frame, which pits him against the Vigils and the school staff. This book is appropriate for high school grades 7 and up.
Hautman, Pete. Invisible. (2005). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers.
Lots of people think Doug Hanson is a freak. He gets beat up after school, and the girl of his dreams calls him a worm. Doug’s only escape is creating an elaborate bridge for the model railroad in his basement and hanging out with his best friend, Andy Morrow, a popular football star who could date any girl in school. Doug and Andy talk about everything, except what happened at the Tuttle place a few years back. It does not matter to Andy that they live in completely different realities. He is Andy’s best friend. It does not matter to Andy that they hardly ever actually do anything together. As Doug retreats deeper and deeper into his own reality, long-buried secrets threaten to destroy both Doug and Andy and everything else in Doug’s fragile world. This book is appropriate for high school students in grades 7-10. It teaches how to accept others even though they are different form you.
King, A.S. ( 2014). Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. New York, NY: Little Brown Books for
This is a story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last. She has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more. Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities, but not for Glory, who doesn’t know what she will do next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way. One night she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions. What she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army, women’s rights disappear, a violent second civil war breaks out, and young girls vanishing daily. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees in hopes her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do anything to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass. A novel full of provocative ideas and sharply observed thoughts about the pressures society places on teenagers, especially girls. This book is appropriate for high school students of grades 9th grade and up.
Kraus, Daniel. (2013). Scowler. New York, NY: Delacorte.
Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke, his mother, and little sister Eke are living on their dying family farm. Ry wishes for anything to distract him from the grim memories of his father’s physical and emotional abuse. One day, a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragment from another world, but also brings a ruthless man intenting on destroying the entire family. Soon Ry is forced to defend himself by resurrecting a trio of imaginary childhood protectors: kindly Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler. It’s a perfect choice for mature horror readers who are looking to bridge the gap between YA and adult selections. The book gets very dark, for a good portion of the book, and a little gory in spots. This book is more appropriate for high school students of grades 9-12. The author uses demonic ideas of torture and abuse to give readers a chill or a thrill, depending on how they view the book. There is no educational value to this novel, probably meant to be read for fun only.
Lockhart, E. (2014). We Are Liars. New York, NY: Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel. The goings-on within a rich and spoiled New England family, as they spend their summers in a gorgeous private island off Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a mysterious and addictive treat. The family are the Sinclairs, with Grandad, an old-money Democrat and an old-man bigot, sitting atop the family tree, keeping his daughters competing over their possible inheritance like a WASP King Lear. The three eldest Sinclair grandchildren, Johnny, Mirren, Cadence, and Gat Patil, a visiting friend who threatens to overturn the social order when Cadence falls in love with him. The story is a ticking time bomb as we slowly find out about the tragedy that has made Cady sick in body and mind. A strange accident has left her with amnesia, doped up on Percocet. Finally, after she wakes up, flashes of her past come back while she hangs out with the liars. She wonders why none of them responded to her emails, and why Gat never visited her while she was recovering. More memories of the past resurface when Cadence directly asked the liars to tell her what happened. She recalled setting fire to the main house, Clairmont. The liars were supposed to do it together and meet up in Cuddletown. Only Cadence showed up. She knew what she did, and what she hadn’t done. She finally remembered. Her cousins, her liars, where dead. At the end, Cadence has to let go. She says good bye to her liars at Beechwood beach. The story, while lightly touching on issues of class and race, more fully focuses on dysfunctional family drama, a heart-wrenching romance between Cadence and Gat, and, ultimately, the suspense of what happened during that fateful summer. The ending is a stunner that will haunt readers for a long time to come.—Jenny Berggren, formerly at New York Public Library. This book is appropriate for high school students in grades 9-12.
Lyga, Barry. (2012). I Hunt Killers. New York, NY: Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say. But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could, from the criminals’ point of view. And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows? This is a riveting thriller about a teenager trying to control his own destiny in the face of overwhelming odds. The subject matter of I Hunt Killers is not for younger teens or teens that can’t handle violence and brutality. His book is more appropriate for mature audiences.
Lynch, Chris. (2005). Inexcusable. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
This is an account of an accusation of rape from the perspective of the person accused. Keir, a high school senior, cannot come to terms with the idea that he would be capable of such an act. Gigi, one of his closest friends, is in a fury that he has raped her and that he does not know what he did was wrong. Keir describes the last few months at high school. He permanently injured a football player during a game and this earned him the nickname Killer. He also gets into a fair bit of trouble hanging out with the football team. It is on graduation night that things get much worse. Upset that his sisters didn’t come in for the ceremony and accompanied by Gigi, who is upset her boyfriend Carl didn’t come, he heads to Norfolk to surprise his sisters. Things don’t turn out as planned and Keir and Gigi stay overnight in a vacant guesthouse on campus. He now won’t let Gigi leave the room until she can see that what has just happened is not rape. But it is Keir who finally understands what he has done. This is the story of Keir’s coming to terms with the truth about himself and the responsibility that he holds for his actions. This book is geared for young readers in high school in grades 7 and up.
Myers, Walter. (1999). New York. NY: Harper Collins.
Steve Harmon, 16, is accused of serving as a lookout for a robbery of a Harlem drugstore. The owner was shot and killed, and now Steve is in prison awaiting trial for murder. From there, he tells about his case and his incarceration. His striking scene-by-scene narrative of how his life has dramatically changed is riveting. Interspersed within the script are diary entries in which the teen vividly describes the nightmarish conditions of his confinement. Steve searches deep within his soul to prove to himself that he is not the “monster” the prosecutor presented him as to the jury. Ultimately, he reconnects with his humanity and regains a moral awareness that he had lost. Monster will challenge readers with difficult questions, to which there are no definitive answers. Monster lends itself well to classroom or group discussion. It’s an emotionally charged story that readers will find compelling and disturbing. It is appropriate for high school students in grade 7 -12.
Ness, Patrick. The Knife of Never Letting Go. (2008). Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press.
Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him. Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature, a girl, who wasn’t killed by the germ like all the females on New World. Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is. Best suited for grades 8-12.
Quintero, Isabel. (2014). Gabi: A Girl in Pieces. TX: Cinco Puntos.
This story is about Gabriella, who was named after her grandmother who, really didn’t want to meet her because her mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. Her mom has told her the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to her grandmother that she was pregnant, her mother beat her. She was twenty-five at the time. This story is the basis of her sexual education and has reiterated why it’s important to wait until one is married. So now, every time I would go out with a guy, my mom would say, “Eyes open, legs closed.” That’s as far as the birds and the bees talk went. She did not agree with that whole wait until you’re married crap, though. She felt it was the 21st century. This book is suited for high school students in grades 9 – 12.
Sheinkin, Steve. (2010). The Notorious Benedict Arnold. New York, NY: MacMillian.
Most people know that Benedict Arnold was America’s first, most notorious traitor. Few know that he was also one of its greatest war heroes. This accessible biography introduces young readers to the real Arnold: reckless, heroic, and driven. Packed with first-person accounts, astonishing battle scenes, and surprising twists, this is a gripping and true adventure tale. Great teaching tool for high school students in grades 9-12.
Smith, Andrew. (2014). Grasshopper Jungle. (2014). New York, NY: Dutton.
Within Ealing, Iowa, is a deadly genetically engineered plague capable of unleashing unstoppable soldiers. They are six-foot-tall praying mantises with insatiable appetites for food and sex. No one knows it, of course, until Austin and his best friend Robby accidentally release it on the world. An ever-growing plague of giant, flesh-hungry insects is bad enough, but Austin is also up to his eyeballs in sexual confusion. He in love with Robby and his girlfriend, Shann. In an admittedly futile attempt to capture the truth of his history, painfully honest Austin narrates the events of the apocalypse intermingled with a detailed account of the “connections that spiderweb through time and place,” leading from his great-great-great-grandfather Andrzej in Poland to Shann’s lucky discovery of an apocalypse-proof bunker in her new backyard. Suitable for students in grades 9-12.
St. James. James. (2007). Freak Show. New York, NY: Dutton.
Billy Bloom is gay, but it’s mostly theoretical, as he hasn’t had much experience. When he has to move to Florida, he can’t believe his bad luck. His new school is a mix of bible belles, amberzombies, and football heroes. None of which are exactly his type. Billy’s efforts to fit in and stand out at the same time are both hilarious and heart-warming. In this novel from adult author and media personality James St. James, readers are in for a wild ride as he tells Billy’s fascinating story of bravado, pain, and unexpected love, inspired by his own experiences. This book is suited for mature audiences.
Wein, Elizabeth. (2012). Code Name Verity. New York, NY: Hperion.
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, a notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival. This book is best suited for high school student in grades 9-12.
Rowell, Rainbow. (2013). Fangirl: A Novel. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin First Edition.
This book is about a Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. For Cath, being a fan is her life and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk and she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. We learn to find out If she can make it without Wren holding her hand, Is she ready to start living her own life, Writing her own stories, and does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon behind.
Shusterman, Neal. 2014. Unsouled. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
This book is about Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. They’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running towards answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to ending the unwinding process forever.
Forman, Gayle. 2010. If I Stay. New York: Pequin Group.
This book is about a seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family.
Ruby, Laura. 2016. Bone Gap. New York: Balzer + Bray.
This book is about a young, beautiful Roza who went missing. The people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. But Finn knows what really happened to Roza. He knows she was kidnapped by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap. This book weaves a tale of the ways in which the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
Sedgwick, Marcus. 2015. The Ghosts of Heaven. Roaring Book Press.
This book is about a haunting and spirals connect the four episodes of The Ghosts of Heaven, the mesmerizing new novel from Printz Award winner Marcus Sedgwick. It is when a girl picks up a charred stick and makes the first written signs; there tens of centuries later, hiding in the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who people call a witch; there in the halls of a Long Island hospital at the beginning of the 20th century, where a mad poet watches the oceans and knows the horrors it hides; and there in the far future, as an astronaut faces his destiny on the first spaceship sent from earth to colonize another world. Each of the characters in these mysterious linked stories embarks on a journey of discovery and survival; carried forward through the spiral of time, none will return to the same place.
Crutcher, Chris. 2009. Deadline. New York: Greenwillow Books.
This book is about a eighteen year old with a smart ass attitude and small framed body makes his mark on the world from Nowhersville, Idaho. He is determined to not let anyone know about his diagnosis. For example he trys out for the football team, gives his close-minded civics teacher a daily migraine, and going for the amazingly perfect, fascinating Dallas Suzuki. Keeping his secret is not easy. What will he do when he finds out he is not the only person keeping a secret.
Steifvater, Maggie. 2016. The Raven King. New York: Scholastic Press.
This book is about All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.
Pena De la, Matt. 2015. Last Stop On Market Street. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Books for Young Adults.
This book is about the energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.