Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Why would beautiful Hannah Baker kill herself? And why has Clay Jensen gotten a package of cassette tapes addressed to the people who had a part in Hannah's life and death? When Clay gets the "package" he is warned to listen to the tapes and follow the map that explains why Hannah Baker decided that life wasn't worth living or risk having his part in her death exposed to everyone in their small town. The story told in her own words make him both thoughtful and sand. Could he have changed her mind?
AWARDS: ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers - 2008, VOYA - 2008
Simon Glass is the butt of everyone's jokes. But what if he could actually become the most popular guy in school? Rob Haynes has the plan to take Simon from geekdom to hottie, but everyone in his clique has to follow Rob's rules--especially Simon. What if Simon doesn't want all that popularity? This showdown is going to end with someone dying and someone taking the fall.
AWARDS: ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (2003), Evergreen YA Nominee
Julia has managed to stay out of the gangs who run her school. She hangs out with Black Chuck, a Crip, and Marie, a Blood, and no one has any problems with it. Until Eric. How far would you go to protect the person you love? When Eric gets jumped into the Crips, Julia breaks up with him. That doesn't mean she has managed to forget him. When she finds out from Marie that Eric is going to get jumped, Julia snitches. It saves his life. . .this time. It almost costs her hers. How loyal will her friends be? How loyal will her homies stay if she snitches again?
This book has short chapters. If rough language and violence bother you, this isn't the book for you. Still, in spite of the subject matter, the author manages to tell a real story without using a lot of profanity.
AWARDS: Evergreen YA Book Award Nominee - 2010, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers - 2008
When the planes flew into Twin Towers many Americans were sporting bumper stickers that said "These colors don't run." When it all came down, Ryan Smithson enlisted. From Basic Training to the war zone, he talks openly about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the war in Iraq. He doesn't debate the politics and he doesn't feed the stereotypes. Instead he talks about the good that the US military is doing--the good that few people hear because it just isn't as exciting as the car bombs. In a story as gritty as the sand that surrounded him, he talks about what it was like to weld thin Haji armor onto the convoy vehicles, sweep for mines the fast way rather than the right way, and to clean the human remains out of a Humvee that was attacked by terrorists. These anecdotes (stories) are told side by side with other stories of protecting a village from terrorist kidnappings and what it is like to see a child get tears in his eyes because he is given a clean drink of water.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
As the response to those holding the local peace vigil begins to grow violent, Matt is forced into looking at what true strength of character can accomplish.
This can be a tough book to read because of Matt's somewhat quirky sense of humor and her sometimes scattered thoughts. It's worth hanging with the story, though, as Matt's tough exterior is explained in a series of flashbacks that show how tough domestic violence survivors can truly be.
AWARDS: VOYA - 2007, ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers - 2008
Noah Jackson is a super senior with a baby mama to support. He knows he doesn't want to marry DeShawna, but he also knows he loves his baby girl, and he's doing his best to make sure he gives DeShawna some money every month. But the Mickey D's paycheck isn't getting it done. When one of his buddies suggests his connection with a chop shop will net Noah some serious cash, stealing a Lexus sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, the theft is going to happen in the white part of town. A glitch in the plan means Noah and his two friends decide to put a hold on the heist, and a trip to a pizza parlor with a badly timed gesture leaves Noah with a baseball bat upside the head and his diamond stud and tennis shoes jacked.
The attack of a young black man by three Italian students lands those three young men in prison with a charge that gets a whole lot uglier when the charge of "hate crime" is the tune the prosecuting attorney is playing. And that is the charge that tears the town and Noah's school apart.
This is one of Volponi's BEST books. As usual Volponi uses the language of the street to discuss the sticky issues of racism and forgiveness. This book has some amazing characters who dispense a great deal of wisdom.
Awards: ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers - 2010, VOYA Award - 2009
Life isn't easy when you are one of eighteen kids. It isn't easy when your father is a voodoo spiritualist and your parents make a living with magic and casting out demons. It is especially not easy when your mother says that you are the Son of Satan. . .not her son.
Nicky Cruz had lots of reasons to be filled with anger and hatred. He brought that anger to New York where he quickly became the leader of a gang so bloodthirsty that even the New York Police were afraid of them. Finally, Nicky was brought before a judge who told him that he was either going to have to change his life or he would be in prison or dead.
Gang warfare isn't new. The Bloods and Crips weren't the first. This book tells how David Wilkerson, the one courageous man who chose to share God's love with Nicky even going to Nicky's turf to do it, introduced Nicky Cruz to a radical life change.
Too fat. Life going sideways. Forced to move. No friends. This young woman hates her life until she discovers how a high can knock the sharp edges off of all her problems. This series of fictional diary entries have caused quite a stir ever since the book was published. As late as 2003, Go Ask Alice was still #6 in the ALA'stop ten challenged books in the country for its profanity, discussions about sex, and drug use. And it's still a favorite of teens who can relate to the issues "Alice" faces both in her addiction and her attempt to master that addiction.
AWARDS: ALA Notable/Best Books