We'll Fly Away is told in letters from Luke to his best friend Toby from death row and in flashbacks to before the crime. There is a quote at the beginning of the book, "People are more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.” This is the theme of the whole book and delicately managed so that the reader never feels preached to. Male friendship, which doesn't often get fully explored in YA, is touchingly and emotionally explored. This is a book that every American needs to read whatever your feelings about capital punishment.
Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.
But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love. For fans of NPR’s Serial podcast, Jason Reynolds, and Matt de la Peña.
by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Kiko Himura is dealing with an abusive and narcissistic mother as well as her own feelings about being biracial and being an artist. There is a romance, but the real focus is on self-discovery. Kiko has to learn how to fight for what matters to her as well as learn to let go of other. This is one of the most heartbreaking books ever. I think that I ugly cried at least three times while reading this one. The mother is just so awful and at the same time so realistic that it is hard to read but so beautifully written that you can't help but push on.
Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.
From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.
You Bring the Distant Near
by Mitali Perkins
I work at an international school and one of the reasons that I loved this book so much was the fact that the characters were third culture kids. I can see so many of my students identifying with Tara and Shanti's cultural confusion. There is a beautiful passage about not knowing where home is that articulates the experience so well. I do wish that the characterization was slightly stronger, but the writing style was slightly dreamy and poetic. The chapters are written almost in a short story vignettes and would make for a very effective and engaging read aloud.
Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story.
Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity.
I used to live in a small fishing village in Alaska so when I praise this book for it's authenticity in representing Alaska and what we might think of like the Alaskan way of life I am not assuming the authenticity I recognize it like an old friend. Alaska itself was almost a character. For a book that is so melancholy, it is extraordinary how heartwarming and hopeful the experience of reading it was. Sometimes a story has heavy themes, and the book can feel like a weight. It was beautifully written with well-crafted characters this was one of the best books that I have read recently.
In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.
Four very different lives are about to become entangled.
The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
Is there anything more terrifying or sad then a young girl in a cult? No, no there isn't. The Chosen One is book about not quite fourteen year old who Kyra lives with her family in a isolated community that is becoming more and more dangerous. When her family is told that she must marry her Uncle Kyra starts to question everything about her life. This book is extermely well researched and resists the urge to make the people around Kyra black and white. It is also the story about how reading and stories can help open children's lives and minds.
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, without questioning it much - if you don't count her visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her secret meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.
But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle - who already has six wives - she must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.