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!

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!

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

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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.