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.



Faithful by Alice Hoffman


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!

Front Lines by Michael Grant

Front Lines is a gritty work of alternate history, imagining World War II with women in combat roles. In telling the stories of three very different teen girls, author Michael Grant squarely confronts the vulgar truths of the times: Racism, profanity, sexual violence, and wartime horrors are presented bluntly and abundantly, and the result is an immersive, empathetic reading experience. Privates and officers use coarse, offensive language (though Grant sometimes substitutes tweaked spellings, such as “fug” and “Nigra”). Female soldiers are still a new presence in the military, and they’re subjected to lewd comments and misogynistic treatment by their male colleagues and many officers. Aside from that, however, they experience the war just as the boys and men do: They’re inspired, vengeful, terrified, smart-alecky, regretful, and worried. This is the first book in a series.~ Common Sense Media

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

From the publisher:

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward in this contemporary novel.

They always say high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career – the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

From Ms. Hooper:

This hard hitting book contains mature content.


Not as Crazy as I Seem by George Harrar


Devon’s actions might seem a little crazy. He has to eat food in groups of four,(four peas, four M&Ms, sandwiches cut into four pieces) or he fears something terrible will happen. He won’t sit down in his psychiatrist’s office chair, because he can’t stop thinking about all the other bottoms that have sat there. A poster in his Science class is crooked, and he can’t stop thinking about wanting to straighten it. But Devon is not crazy; he has obsessive compulsive disorder.

This book is told in Devon’s quirky, lovable voice. Read it for an inside look at the life of an obsessive compulsive, as well as a good high school story.

Jude by Kate Morgenroth

Jude cover

This book grabs you right from the opening scene. Teenage Jude is sitting watching TV as the police work the crime scene of the murder of his father. They know Jude knows more than he is telling about the murder of his abusive, drug dealing father, but he refuses to cooperate with them. Why???

During their investigation they discover the identity of Jude’s mother, who his father told him left them when he was a baby. It turns out his heroin dealer wife abusing father kidnapped him from his mother when he was just three weeks old. Now Jude is living in the lap of luxury with his mother, who is a DA. Things are going great until one of Jude’s friends dies of a heroin overdose, and he is implicated. Things get even more complicated from here. Read the book to follow Jude’s trial and what happens next.