Vacation reads for 8th graders
by: Rainbow Rowell - (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013) 448 pages.
Fangirl draws you into Cath’s collegiate coming-of-age tale in a slice-of-life with a twist. Plagued by high anxiety, Cath shrinks at the thought of new people and situations. But just as she gets to college, her twin (and BFF) abandons her. Luckily her relationship with fictional Harry Potter-like character Simon Snow has made her the most popular fanfic writer online. Cath can handle Simon, but can she handle two real boys, a bipolar father, an absentee mother, and a sister who has embraced college life with gusto and perhaps ouzo?
Perfect for: Teens who love a character-driven story and seeing how people adjust to change and challenges.
Find Fangirl at your local library.
How I Live Now
by: Meg Rosoff - (Wendy Lamb Books, 2006) 194 pages.
Daisy is a troubled New York City teenager with a distant father and a wicked stepmother she calls “Davina the Diabolical.” When she is sent to London to stay with an aunt and cousins she’s never met, hostile enemies invade England. Her aunt goes abroad on a peace mission, while Daisy and her three cousins, with whom she forges a remarkable relationship, must survive on their own. This poignant story is told in an honest, first-person narrative and filled with humor, love, and the carnage of war. Timely subject matter for today’s teens.
Perfect for: Kids who like war stories.
Find How I Live Now at your local library.
Magic or Madness
by: Justine Larbalestier - (Sleuth RazorBill, 2006) 304 pages.
Australian author Justine Larbalestier has woven magic in this, the first book in a trilogy. Reason Cansino has lived her life on the run, frequently moving with her mother to avoid the evil witchcraft of her grandmother, Esmeralda. When Reason is sent to live with her grandmother, due to her mother’s mental illness, she begins to think about the things she’s been told. Is her grandmother really practicing magic? Why have nearly all her relatives died so young? When she runs away, halfway around the world to New York City, Reason finds solace with a new friend, Jay-Tee. This compelling fantasy story is about forging your own identity. Magic or Madnesscan stand alone, but teen readers will be anxious to finish the whole trilogy this summer.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy stories.
Find Magic or Madness at your local library.
American Born Chinese
by: Gene Luen Yang - (Square Fish, 2008) 240 pages.
Told in graphic novel form, American Born Chinese juggles themes of self-image, cultural identity, peer pressure, and self-acceptance. In a series of three connected tales, the central characters are introduced: Jin Wang, a socially isolated teenager who has recently moved from San Francisco’s Chinatown to an exclusive white suburb; Danny, a popular blond, blue-eyed high school jock; and the Monkey King from Chinese mythology. Their stories unite into a wonderful novel that is funny and truly poignant. Gene Luen Yang’s amazing illustrations perfectly complement the narrative. Winner of the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award, American Born Chinese will resonant with all types of readers.
Perfect for: Kids who likes to learn about other cultures.
Find American Born Chinese at your local library.
Looking for Alaska
by: John Green - (Speak, 2006) 221 pages.
John Green is simply the wittiest, coolest author of young adult novels writing today. A former commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered, Green’s two books and his website have received accolades from almost every source imaginable. I can’t envision a summer without one of his amazing books in my beach bag, even if it’s to reread it for the fourth time. Looking For Alaska was his first published book. It won the Michael L. Printz Award and the School Library Journal Best Book of the Year for its honest portrayal of 16-year-old Miles Halter, who is trying to reinvent himself and fit in at his new boarding school. He finds new worlds to explore: friendship, romance, self-awareness and mischief. I can’t think of better way to praise this book than just to say, “I laughed, I cried, I reread, I loaned it to friends.”
Perfect for: Kids who like schools.
Find Looking for Alaska at your local library.
by: Sarah Dessen - (Puffin Books, 2008) 400 pages.
Sarah Dessen is known for her ability to write with incredible accuracy and empathy about common teen concerns. Just Listen is no exception — she continues her winning streak with this story of a teenage model who seems to have everything, but the surface belies the true pain underneath. A compelling look at the two most significant influences in the lives of teen girls — friends and family — Just Listen is the ideal read this summer for a teen who has struggled socially at school.
Perfect for: Girls who struggle making friends.
Find Just Listen at your local library.
Beautiful Creatures series
by: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010) 592 pages.
The hook: When Lena moves to his small Southern town, Ethan realizes that this mysterious, outcast girl has been the subject of his dreams for months. Irresistibly drawn to Lena, Ethan discovers that the two are psychically connected. Together they race to discover the secrets behind the dark curse that looms over her family. The first in a four-book series, this story will be a hit with tweens and teens who appreciate star-crossed, supernatural romance.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2013 adaptation, which follows the first book in the series.
Perfect for: Teens who liked Twilight.
by: Robert Louis Stevenson - (Bantam, 1982) 288 pages.
David Balfour, a 17-year-old Scottish orphan, discovers he’s the legitimate heir to the House of Shaws. His evil uncle Ebenezer wants the fortune for himself, so he hires a ship captain to kidnap the lad and sell him into slavery in the Carolinas. When the boat crashes in the Hebrides, David escapes with a French daredevil who helps him return home after multiple escapades in the wild Highlands. Packed with clan intrigue, Scotch dialect, bagpipes, danger, and romance.
Perfect for: Young adults who love coming-of-age stories set in different eras.
Find Kidnapped at your local library.
A Study in Charlotte
by: Brittany Cavallaro - (Harper Collins, 2016) 336 pages.
Written by the poet Brittany Cavallaro, this sharply smart book reimagines the Sherlock Holmes-John Watson dynamic as a prickly romance between Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson — both descendents of the famous duo — when they meet at a modern-day Connecticut boarding school, with a diabolical crime to solve.
Perfect for: YA readers who appreciate the unexpected.
Find A Study in Charlotte at your local library.
The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen
by: Nicholas Christopher - (Ember, 2015) 288 pages.
Nicolo is a penniless orphan when he takes to the streets of 16th-century Venice with his magic clarinet. He becomes famous for his playing, falls in love, and meets the magician who enchanted his instrument in this moody and dramatic story of a boy’s coming of age.
Perfect for: Musicians and history lovers.
Find The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen at your local library.
by: Maggie Stiefvater - (Scholastic Press, 2009) 416 pages.
This is the story of a romance between a girl and a werewolf. Grace falls for a yellow-eyed werewolf named Sam, who was transformed after being bitten by another werewolf, but their love is threatened because soon Sam will lose the ability to become human. A shiver-worthy fantasy! Find Shiver at your local library.