Unlike most other sappy YA novels, Marie Jaskulka’s The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl and Random Boy is a realistic love story set to poetry. Forgotten Girl is a poetry-loving teenager who is going through a rough patch in life: her parents are getting a divorce and her mother is struggling with depression. However, she meets a good-looking popular teen named Random Boy who also secretly writes poetry in an attempt to make sense of his life. Their star-crossed love story is told in heart wrenching poems, and even if you’re not a teenager yourself, you can’t help but get swept up in their tale.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015||No Comments »|
I.W. Gregorio’s hard-hitting and thought-provoking novel None of The Above turns the tables on the Young Adult genre by offering readers a hero who discovers that they have been diagnosed as intersex and the journey they partake to discover their true identity.
The main character is Kristin Lattimar, who is overjoyed that she’s been voted Homecoming Queen. Life is good and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. However, after a visit to the doctor, she’s diagnosed as intersex and it’s revealed that her chromosomes are actually male. To make matters worse, her diagnosis is leaked to the entire school and her identity is called into question, which forces her to come to terms with her new self.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, May 6th, 2015||No Comments »|
Nova Ren Suma’s haunting young adult novel The Walls Around Us is a chilling tale told in two voices, with the ghost of a dead young woman binding them. Amber is a teenager who is locked up in a juvenile detention center while Violet is a dancer whose so-called perfect dance career is threatened when all her secrets threaten to be exposed. Suma teasingly gives details into Amber and Violet’s lives, along with their relationship with a young teen named Orianna, until the entire portrait of lies, rivalries, and the weird boundary between friendship and hate is slowly revealed.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, April 15th, 2015||No Comments »|
Teenager Aysel is a physics nerd with a difficult home life. Her father has committed a violent crime and she has a dysfunctional relationship with her mother, too. Aysel struggles from mental illness and often thinks about committing suicide, but she’s not sure she can take her own life alone. That is, until she stumbles across a website and meets Roman. The two make a suicide pact, but as the pact becomes more concrete, Aysel starts to have doubts.
Jasmine Warga’s thought-provoking debut young adult novel My Heart and Other Black Holes takes on depression, suicide, and mental illness. Whether you struggle from depression or know someone who does, Warga shows mental illness in all of its ugly light. Unlike other teen novels, she doesn’t glamorize suicide but instead shows how all consuming it is for a sufferer.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, March 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
Christopher Scotton’s debut young adult novel The Secret Wisdom Of The Earth is a lush coming of age story with zero romance, only the inner workings of a small town.
After the death of his little brother, Kevin and his grieving mother move to a coal town in Medgar, Kentucky to be with his grandfather. Over the summer, Kevin becomes friends with Buzzy Finks, a spunky kid who teaches him to appreciate to appreciate the woods that surround his summer home. But as Kevin matures from young boy to teenager he begins to experience the downsides of living in a small town. Not only is Medgar torn to shreds when their beloved mountain is torn apart by a greedy mining corporation, but during the aftermath of a hate crime the town is awash in racism, anger, and suspicion.
The novel is told from the point of view of Kevin as an adult, and it’s easy to hear the heartbreak in adult Kevin’s memories as he mourns for such a paradise that has been fractured beyond repair. Twining social justice and environmentalism, Kevin’s coming-of-age-story makes for an unforgettable summer that will leave you enchanted.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Tuesday, February 24th, 2015||No Comments »|
Michelle Falkoff’s debut novel Playlist for the Dead explores mental illness and the grieving process of those who are left behind when a loved one takes their life. The main character in the book is a teenaged boy named Sam, who is suffering from survivor’s guilt after his best friend Hayden takes his own life. Thanks to a playlist left behind by his buddy, the young man learns more about his friend, as well as how to open up to others.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, February 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
Dana Walrath’s Young Adult novel Like Water on Stone blends haunting magical realism and free verse poetry to create a heartbreaking story that will haunt readers long after they have read the last page.
The story begins in 1914 when the Ottoman Empire is beginning to crumble and readers are introduced to three siblings: Shahen, Sosi, and Miriam. The former has dreams of moving to New York, however his twin sister wants to stay put since she has fallen in love. After all the Armenians are ordered to leave and a terrible attack leaves them orphaned, the three siblings are forced to flee into the mountains where they spend their days hiding and their nights on the run. Their only comfort is an eagle they name Ardiz, who watches over their perilous journey and gives them hope as they attempt to find freedom.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, January 7th, 2015||No Comments »|