The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Lesleye Walton

Magical realism at its best. I loved, loved, loved this book! A student told me I had to read it, and I can’t thank her enough. She loved the book so much that she contacted the author to thank her. Here is Leslye Walton’s greeting to her readers on her beautiful website:

Dear Reader! 

Once upon a time, there was a very strange  & imaginative little girl who grew into a very strange & imaginative adult–we were all disappointed by that. But then she used that strange imagination & became a writer.  

She had me at very strange & imaginative! Please note the feather bookmark another reader left in our copy. Who can resist a book that inspires such whimsy?

Contains mature content.

 

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman

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As a high school student, Shelby, survives a car crash that leaves her best friend, Helene, in a coma. Shelby, filled with guilt and self hatred, feels everyone in her town hates her, attempts suicide and ends up in a mental hospital where she suffers brutal abuse. Upon her release from the hospital, Shelby shaves her head and holes up in her parents’ basement, skipping college and avoiding everyone except her sweet, aimless high school friend, Ben, who gets her drugs. When Ben decides to get his act together and attend pharmacy school in NYC, Shelby takes to opportunity to get out of town. She takes a menial job at a pet shop and begins the long process of forgiving herself and reentering the world. She befriends a coworker and acts as a mentor to her unruly children. As the author says, “She tried to destroy herself, but she is still here.” Shelby is a survivor and her story is worth reading.

Hoffman’s trademark magical realism is found in this book, but to a lesser degree than some of her other books, such as Practical Magic. Shelby receives anonymous postcards that are left for her in the mailbox, with messages of encouragement: “Say something,” “Do something,” “Be something.” Helen, the high school friend in a coma, is purported to have healing powers, and her followers crowd her bedroom to just to touch her.  Tattoos and signs also figure heavily in the plot, as does an angel. Enjoy!

Borderline by Mishell Baker

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A year after she lost her legs and her budding film making career to a failed suicide attempt, Millie is recruited to join the Arcadia Project, which monitors the movement of fairies back and forth between Los Angeles and Fairyland. Millie is full of steel, due to her nosedive from a multistory building, which makes her able to disrupt magic. When a fey of noble blood, who also happens to be a movie star, goes missing, Millie is pulled into the search for him and the battle between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. Millie, smart, funny and feisty, manages her physical disabilities as well as her borderline personality disorder through sheer force of will and the techniques she learned in rehab.  This is the first book of a series, and I look forward to reading the next installment.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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Tyler tells his father he is going back to school after dropping out for a semester to “set things right”. No one thought that meant he was going to shoot up the school. Told from four points of view, This Is Where It Ends also utilizes blog posts, text messages and social media posts to bring in other characters. Shocking and visceral, this is a quick and very disturbing read with no easy answers to ties things up at the end.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon AKA Never Underestimate Chemistry

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Read this book immediately! A Jamaican science geek about to be deported and a Korean American poet in a feud with his overbearing father meet cute and fall in love. They have one day together and the clever repartee, the romance and the clash of cultures made me not want this book to end!

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Love this video about the making of the cover art by Dominique Falla.

Character, Driven by David Lubar

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Charming male protagonists are hard to come by in YA fiction. Cliff Sparks is charming, witty and full of puns.

“… by accident of birth, I am well named for this story. Think about it.

Cliff.

Precipice.

Edge.

There you have it. I’m Cliff. Cliff Sparks.”

Cliff plans on going to college, but his unemployed and angry father keeps dipping into his college fund, most of which was earned by Cliff, who works two jobs AND goes to high school. So he will probably end up taking a course or two at the community college while continuing to work. Cliff wants to “come of age” aka lose his virginity and becomes smitten with the beautiful and artistic new girl at his school. This poignant coming of age story is written in a no-holds barred teen boy’s voice. Expect talk of breasts, farts and other parts of the anatomy. Also expect clever plays on words, fantasies and a big secret.  Cliff’s a keeper; I don’t regret a single moment I spent with him!