Beach reads for 8th grade
The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by: Michael Scott - (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2007) 400 pages.
The hook: Twins Josh and Sophie Newman are spending the summer with their aunt and working in San Francisco while their parents are away on an archaeological dig. One day when Josh is working at his bookstore job, a black limousine pulls up and several men in overcoats step out. They kidnap the wife of the bookstore owner, an ancient metal-bound book is stolen, and Sophie and Josh must run for their lives with the bookstore owner.
A great pick for Harry Potter fans, The Alchemyst does not disappoint readers longing for another series to be excited about. The story is filled with enough battles and magic to satisfy even the most cynical teen fantasy fans. Look for the next book in the series, The Magician.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy stories.
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.