New Books for Girls
Reading Level: Grades 7+
Amber Appleton is the most optimistic, hopeful, cheerful girl you could meet. She divides her time between Father Chee and the Korean Divas for Christ (a group of Koren women learning to speak English through R&B music and Amber), the elderly at the local retirement home (where Amber engages in a cheerfulness-pessimism battle every Wednesday with Joan of Old),with the Franks Freak Force Federation (her four best friends brought together through group therapy and favorite teacher), with Private Jackson and Ms. Jenny (a Vietnam veteran/haiku poet and his dog), and with her own dog, Bobby Big Boy. Amber lives a full, vibrant life, enriching the lives of everyone she meets. And yet, Amber Appleton lives on a school bus with her alcoholic mother.
Despite her home and family situation, Amber's hopefulness and willingness to give her all to others never wavers, until the unthinkable happens, sending Amber into a deep, spiraling depression. Her faith, previously so strong and infallible, fractures, and Amber Appleton, previously a town rock star, loses herself.
The first half of this novel flies past quickly, Amber's cheerfully whirlwind lifestyle a welcome respite from some of the depressing (yet good!) YA books I've been reading lately. Amber's depressive state is expertly, sparsely written, her discussions with Father Chee about religion a welcome addition to current young adult literature, and the ultimate banding together of the town a heartwarming conclusion.
Reading Level: Grade 7+
Kate Grable is used to gross boys. As the apprentice trainer to her high school's football team, Kate deals with sweat and much grosser stuff. But when Mike, one of the linebackers, spews black vomit on her car and then tries to chew her lip off, Kate suspects much more is going on.
If zombies are for you, try:
Reading Level: 3rd-6th
New teacher Mr. Terupt has a handful this year in his fifth grade class - but his abnormal teaching methods are a good fit for helping the students grow and work together. The school year is going great, until the accident. Then everything changes.
A heartwarming book about the profound influence of Mr. Terupt, this is a tale for students of all ages.
A few similar books:
Reading Level: Grade 7-10
When her father left her mother to live with an airhead, Fran understood. ANYONE would have trouble living with Fran's mother. But when her father told her the airhead was pregnant, Fran had to kill him...at least on paper. She submitted an essay entitled, "Good-bye Father: A Daughter's Loss" to Seventeen Magazine's "My Life" essay contest. She didn't expect to win.
When she got the phone call, Fran was astounded. Since she lied about her father's demise, she knows she can't keep the scholarship. But she just can't stand to lose the other part of the prize, touring Africa with A-list celebrities. So Fran accepts the prize, lies to her parents and boards the plane with her idols. She'll worry about repercussions when she gets home.
When the plane crashes on a remote island somewhere far off the coast of southern Africa, Fran is no longer worried about her parents or even Seventeen Magazine. She just hopes she and her famous fellow cast-a ways can survive.
Reading Level: Grades 6-8
This companion book to The Misfits and Totally Joe is a worthy addition to the story of the Gang of Five. Addie Carle is now thirteen and facing the "purgatory of the middle school years." Written entirely in verse, these poems show a softer, more vulnerable side of strong, brave Addie. While Addie isn't reluctant to voice her opinions about everything from gay rights to women's role in history, she also feels the appeal of popularity. She loves having a boyfriend, but finds he doesn't love some of the things she says or the way she says them. A former girlfriend moves back to town and joins her tormentors. While Addie understands that there are those who love her and value her for herself, the turmoil and the gossip are hard to take.
Readers will like Addie and the conclusion she reaches. The first poem is by the author directed to the reader. He asks, "open your eyes, your mind, your heart." Anyone who reads this book will.
Reading Level: Grades 7 and up
When Piotr's parents are killed he is is sent to an orphanage in Warsaw. But Peter is Volksdeutscher, of German blood, and with his blonde good looks he is the image of a Hitler Youth. Newly christened Peter, he is grateful to escape the misery of the orphanage and to be accepted into the home of a prominent Nazi family. The friendly, jovial father is involved with research into racial purity. While Peter is never a strong supporter of Nazi doctrine, he finds that he is expected to participate in Nazi Youth organizations. As time passes he questions doctrine and rebels in small ways. Finally, though terrified, he helps the resistance.
While many books have been written about The Holocaust and this period of history, this is one of the few that explains the appeal of National Socialism. The author has obviously done extensive research into the experiments dealing with racial purity. This is a compelling thought-provoking novel.
Reading Level: Grades 8 and up
"I'm about to forget everything I'm going to tell you." So begins the therapeutic statement of Nora James, age 15. Nora and her two friends Micah and Winter, are being held at the Detention Center for Therapeutic Forgetting. In a world filled with ramdom bombings, the authorities find that the people usually want to take the pill that will make them forget all the ugliness. Nora and her friend will be forced to take The Big Pill that will erase all memory of their friendship and everything that happened.
When Nora witnesses the death of a bombing victim, her mother takes her to the TFC for her first pill. But after a chance encounter with Micah, Nora decides she'd rather keep her memories. An unlikely alliance is formed when artists Micah and Winter befriend Nora and the trio creates the comic "Memento." As the three learn more about the forces at work in their world, their rebellion becomes more dangerous.
Reading Level: Ages 12 and up
Joy is a senior in high school who can't accept the fact that her boyfriend, Zan, elected to graduate early and leave for college without saying a word to her. Last year Joy had been the new girl in the boring Mormon town of Haven, Utah. It was to her old hometown in California that Zan decided to flee to escape the conformity and wholesomeness of Haven. But Joy is sure that he wouldn't want to rid himself of her. Although both Mormon, she and Zan were different. With break coming up, Joy convinces Zan's former best friend and golden boy, Noah, to drive her to California to find Zan.
Reading Level: Grade 5-7
Abby Shapiro is an eleven-year-old Jewish girl who desperately wants two things, her first bra and the hot new doll of 1959, the Barbie doll, the one with the bosoms! Her mom says no to the bra and that she can earn her own money to buy the doll. Abby comes up with the idea of designing clothes and sellling her fashion designs to Jackie Kennedy, the "possible future first lady of the United States. Thus Abby begins sending letters to "her friend in fashion."
The book is a lovely coming-of-age story with parts that are laugh out loud funny. Abby learns to deal with complications with her parents, her adored older brother, her gangster uncle, and her neighbors, the witch sisters. Through it all there's her letters to Jackie. A wonderful bonus is the glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew words and expressions.
Reading Level: Grade 7-10
Nothing has ever been the same since Pierce died. When the 15-year-old opened her eyes she was no longer drowning in her backyard pool, she was in a cold, dank cavern where a frightening man directs her to a line. Then Pierce sees someone she knows, a man all in black astride a gigantic stallion. She had seen John many years ago when her grandfather died. Pierce runs to the man and asks him to take her away from the cavern. He does. To his luxurious lair. He announces she will stay with him forever and gives her a necklace to keep her safe. Pierce throws her hot tea in his face and runs down a passageway...she opens her eyes in the emergency room.
Pierce was revived, but she is not the same person. Nothing seems important to her, not with John hovering near. Every time John appears in her life, something horrible happens and Pierce gets blamed. When she is expelled from her latest school 17-year-old Pierce and her mother retreat to her mother's hometown Isla Huesos to live near family. Pierce would never have agreed to go if she had known who else lived there.
If you enjoy this tale of a teens brush with the underworld you may also enjoy: