Book Thirty: Rebel Seoul

rebelThis book reminded me why I enjoy YA science fiction so much.  The book is set in a fictionalized city based on Seoul, South Korea, where high school students are enrolled into mandatory military service as soon as they graduate, and their military placements depend largely on their performance in ultra realistic simulations. The main character gets recruited for an elite student team’s simulation, which sets all the other events in motion.  There is a lot of action, some of it quite violent, some romance, and characters who are easy to empathize with. Mostly, though, it’s just really good entertainment.

I’d recommend this to students in the 8th grade and up who enjoy science fiction, action, and books that have a quick moving plot.

Book Twenty-Nine: The Bridge Home

bridge homeThis one will get you right in the feels.  Based on true accounts of orphans and homeless children in India, this book follows two girls who run away from an abusive father to the city, and end up living on the streets with two young boys and their rescued dog.  They make their own little family and scrape by with the help of one another.  I can’t really say more without giving too much away, but it’s a sweet, heart wrenching story.  Also, the author’s note at the end is well worth reading.

I’d recommend this to middle school students who enjoy realistic fiction about characters overcoming challenges.

Book Twenty-Eight: The Last, Last Day of Summer

last last dayThe best word I can think of to describe this book is zany.  It reminds me a little of Sideways Stories of Wayside School (I’m dating myself here) in that all kinds of random stuff is a part of the story, but it somehow makes sense together in giving you a sense of place and context for the main adventure.

I would recommend this to middle school students who enjoy adventure stories and silly/quirky elements of a book.

Book Twenty-Seven: New Kid

New KidA fellow school librarian recommended that I read this graphic novel and man was she right.  It tells the story of a middle school boy leaving his mostly black neighborhood to go to a mostly white private school, where he deals with both racial and economic differences between him and many of his peers, as well as the assumptions and actions of a mostly white group of teachers.  He also deals with  all the normal middle school stuff – getting teased by older kids, making friends, navigating new sports and meeting new people, schoolwork, etc…  I know this description makes the book sound super serious, but it’s really not.  There are a lot of fun moments, humor, and some very heart warming scenes.

I would recommend this book to all of my middle school students and our middle school teachers.

Book Twenty-Two: A Spy in the House

spy house.jpgThis was a fun, classic mystery story with clues, twists and turns, and a great protagonist.  I thought the back story was well done, the pace of the novel moved at a good clip, and although she made some mistakes, the protagonist was likable, strong, and diverse.  Set in London in the 1850s, the novel brings in the history of the time, adding an extra layer of interest.

I’d recommend this to students 7th grade and above who enjoy mysteries and/or historical fiction.

Book Twenty-One: The Moon Within

moon withinWhat a lovely ode to coming-of-age, written in verse, through the eyes of a young woman  who is pushing back against her mother’s cultural expectations. This novel in verse is inspired by the author’s Mexican indigenous roots, but brings in other Caribbean traditions surrounding a girl’s first menstruation and journey into womanhood.  What I especially loved, though, was how authentically the author brings in a genderfluid character, using the lens of indigenous Mesoamerican history and traditions.

I would recommend this book to students in grades 6-8 who enjoy novels in verse and realistic fiction.

Book Twenty: How We Fight for Our Lives

fight livesI had the pleasure of meeting the author of this book, Saeed Jones, during YALSA’s BFYA lunch at the ALA national conference this summer.  He spoke to my four students and me for about five minutes at our lunch table, and he was captivating to listen to. I wish we could have continued the conversation. His memoir is moving, disturbing, and important, especially as we have conversations about the intersectionality of race and sexuality, and how racism and homophobia interweave and overlap.

I would recommend this book to mature high school  students who enjoy realistic fiction and memoir, as it contains some visceral and graphic sex scenes that include aspects of abuse.