The Place Between Breaths
By An Na
New York: A Caitlyn Dlouhy, 2018.
Grades: 9 and up
Grace King is strong but is she strong enough to overcome her own DNA? Grace’s mom left when Grace was very young—her mom was suffering with schizophrenia and when she couldn’t deal with it anymore she left her husband and Grace behind. Grace just has some vague memories of her mother that at times scare her—not because her mother would hurt her but because her DNA might be a repeat of what her mother went through.
Although intrigued with this story of a father who is obsessed with finding his wife and a cure for schizophrenia and a daughter who works in the same lab, looking for the same cure. But Grace’s mental condition begins to deteriorate it was hard to tell if she was telling us about her mother or if we were living her own hallucinations. A sad story indeed. I would only recommend this to a dedicated high school reader as it has a suicide is a theme.
Midnight Dark Star
By R.T. Martin
Minneapolis: Darby Creek, 2017.
Thriller 88 Pages Grades 7 and Up Reluctant Readers
This reminds me of an old sci-fi movie and perfect for reluctant readers who need a fast pace thriller. Claire is not doing well in high school science class—she is getting desperate and when her teacher offers Saturday night extra credit—Clare has no choice but to cancel her plans with friends. Misery loves company and soon her friends join her Saturday night extra credit. It was the new smart girl, Val, who came up with going out to the bluffs to watch the meteor showers. But, she does not know the history of the
bluffs—the bluffs where a whole senior class disappeared many years ago. But this mysterious new girl has a dark side, a very dark side and Claire and her friends will not soon forget the night they spent at the bluffs—if they survive.
By James Preller
Feiwel and Friends, 2015.
Realistic Fiction Grades 7/8 and Up
This is a timely book written about suicide, bullying and cyber-bullying. It is told from high school student Sam Proctor’s perspective, as he writes in a journal about the death of his classmate Morgan Mallen—she jumped from the water tower to her death. Sam reflects on whether he had caused her to take her life, if he did any of the bullying of Morgan, could he be caught if he did and did he do anything to stop what was happening to Morgan? Journey along with Sam as he digs deep within himself to come to grip with Morgan’s death and what kind of a human tortures another. You won’t soon forget this novel by James Preller.
When We Collided
By Emery Lord
New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.
Young Adult Grade 8/9 and Up 344 Pages
Vivi and her mom have traveled to Verona Cove for the summer to get away from the city and from recent events. Verona Cove is home to Jonah, his four siblings and his mom. Both Jonah and Vivi are in crisis mode and both have a void in their life that seems to be insurmountable. For Jonah it is the sudden death of his father leaving his mom in a deep depression and him in charge of his two youngest siblings, work at his dad’s restaurant and no social life. Vivi is coming off a mental breakdown, trying to find herself and keeping life in balance. Then Vivi and Jonah collide, sparks fly and a summer relationship ensues. Vivi lightens Jonah’s load at home as his younger two siblings fall in love with Vivi and her creative ways to entertain them. Vivi begins to feel alive, energized and in control but her control includes not taking her mood stabilizing pills. Vivi draws Jonah out of his shell and falls in love and finds her sense of belonging but that is short lived as Vivi begins to spiral out of control.
I really enjoyed this story because of my psychiatric nursing background and the ability of Emery Lord’s great writing of the maniac phase of bipolar disorder—I could literally feel the rising mania in Vivi! Vivi experienced what many other patients with Bi-Polar Disorder –the desire not to feel down at all. Often when people take a mood stabilizer as they come down off their high they do not like feeling the “lower stable” or down feeling that they experience and therefore, they stop taking their pills just like Vivi did.
Alert: It is a YA title—it references sex several times in the story—no details/description. Language issues especially when Vivi becomes out of control.
By Nicola Yoon
New York: Delacorte Press, 2015.
Grade 8 and Up 310 pages
Fans of the Fault in Our Stars will love Nicola Yoon’s new book Everything, Everything. Madeline Whittier is just turning 18 years old and has never left her home. Maddy is a bubble kid—she has SCID Severe Combined Immunodeficiency which means the outdoor world or people who have not been decontaminated could kill her. So Maddy has accepted her fate and lives with her doctor mom in a house especially built just for her. Her mom built the house with the settlement money from when a driver fell asleep at the wheel and killed both her dad and her older brother.
Then one day her life is changed forever when a moving van pulls up and a new family moves into the house next door. Life would have just gone on the same if it wasn’t for Olly, the new boy next door who from the beginning showed an interest in Maddy when she peered out the window to get a look at the new neighbors. First it was a gaze, then IMing and then Maddy talked her day nurse into arranging for Olly to become sanitized and come in for a visit. Maddy begins to ponder her existence, living inside her house, never feeling sick and yet never having outdoor contact. She makes a bold move to runaway not fearing the consequences. Follow this exciting and romantic tale as Maddy experiences the real world and love for the very first time—life is short so live it while you can—even if it has a disastrous outcome!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved the twists and turns it takes along the way!
Grades 8 and up because one chapter has a love scene—not a lot of description (similar to the Fault in Our Stars).
By Kenneth Oppel
New York: Simon & Shuster, 2015.
Grades 6 and Up 244 Pages
I loved Kenneth Oppel’s, Airborn it was both magical and adventurous so I wasn’t quite sure what was in store for me in The Nest. I knew that it was a thriller—but it was one of the strangest book I have read in a long time!!
It is always strenuous when a new baby is brought home but even more strenuous when the family brings home a sick baby. Baby Theo has some congenital issues and is going to need heart surgery as soon as he is strong enough—so a lot of time and attention toward this new baby has put siblings Nicole and Steven lacking some attention. Steven has anxiety issues and now that summer is upon them he has become anxious about the wasp nest growing outside the house. Steven’s daytime anxiety rolls over into night but recently his night dreams have become soothing he believes that the creatures with the white bodies and big eyes are angels that have come to “fix” baby Theo if Steven will agree to the ‘contract’. Well Steven gets stung by a wasp, finds out he is allergic and the angels in his dreams are the queen wasps and his dreams now have become nightmares both at night and during the daytime! Read this anxiety ridden thriller as Steven tries to find his place in his family.
A quick unique read!
The Here and Now
By Ann Brashares
New York: Delacorte, 2014.
Pages 242. Grades 8 and Up
It used to be if you said sci-fic it meant a “guy book” but over the last couple of years there have been some really great girl sci-fi novels and this one ranks at the top! Ann Brashares, author of the popular chic series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, does not disappoint her female fans!
Prenna James has come to the USA with her mom and handful of other people but she is not coming from another country she is coming from another time—she comes from the USA but from the future. Traveling back in time allows seventeen year old Preena and her mother to escape the plague (spread by mosquitoes)—that is wiping out future generations. Ann Brashares hints at true events taking place in our world today—such as climate change; that is leading our country to sure future destruction unless some subtle changes can be made. This group of time travelers tries to blend in and the their “counselors” have stringent rules so that they do not change the course of history but when Prenna meets Ethan Jarves—she finds the rule about “no relationships” with anyone impossible. Can the two time periods really coexist without collisions if love is involved?
This is set in present day but you will love being introduced to future technology like iMemory, a camera and microphone that can be worn as an earring that records 24/7 and uploads it to cloud storage. The story blends the two time periods flawlessly—it is exciting, romantic a must read!