People ask me for book recommendations for their teenagers all the time (I teach 7th grade English). I'm not sure if I've really posted much about books since the Naznet crash, so this thread is intended to introduce or recommend readers to several books or series. I can give more in-depth reviews of some of these later. Being pregnant, keeping up with grading and looking to buy a house has made my participation on NazNet this school year a bit lax. Take the following list as you wish!
INDIVIDUAL FICTION BOOKS:
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon - the main character is an autistic teenager who lives with his dad and tries to solve a neighborhood murder mystery. I've heard from several experts that it's a pretty legitimate portrayal of what it is like to live with autism. High school level.
"Mockingbird" by Kathryn Erskine - similar to Dog in the Night-time, but more of a middle school level book. The main character has autism and has just lost her older brother in a school shooting and must try to understand the world of loss and feelings, which are very difficult for her.
"A Mango Shaped Space" by Wendy Mass - also middle school level. The main character is a girl with synesthesia (a disorder in which your senses become "crossed" - for some, when there is a loud noise, they see colors). No one knows that she is different and when she finally tries to tell her parents why she is struggling in school, no one believes her. A lovely coming-of-age story with interesting connections to the medical community.
"The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo (favorite author!) - a little mouse is trying to win the heart of a princess and doesn't seem to care that they aren't even the same species. Elementary age or low middle school.
"13 Little Blue Envelopes" by Maureen Johnson - a girl is sent on a journey by an aunt who has passed away. Her aunt left her messages in envelopes before she died and the main character must follow the instructions to find herself. High school level but really interesting reading - you feel like you're traveling the world with her!
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak - a fictional account told by death, during WWII and the Holocaust. A young Jewish girl is attempting to hide with a rough-around-the-edges German family. Really beautifully written and appropriate for high school readers.
"I'm Being Stalked by a Moonshadow" by Doug MacLeod - the hilarious story of an Australian boy who falls in love with a girl (her father HAPPENS to be the boy's arch enemy)... sort of a Romeo and Juliet tale. I literally laughed out loud while reading at some of the events and silliness that the boy and his dad experience. Middle school level.
"Sold" by Patricia McCormick - deals with the issue of girls being sold into the sex trade in the middle east. There is a happy ending, but there is darkness to get through before getting there. For mature middle school readers or high school students.
"The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks" by E. Lockhart - a high school girl attends a prep school in New Hampshire and becomes aware of an exclusive "boys club." She attempts to infiltrate their group to prove that she's just as smart (if not smarter) than them. The way that gender roles is dealt with in the book isn't exactly resolved at the end, but there is some interesting points to think about. High school level.
"Rules" by Cynthia Lord - I LOVE THIS BOOK. A girl has an autistic younger brother and she creates a list of rules to help him survive in the every-day world (example: "toys don't belong in the fish tank"). There comes a point when she has to choose between fitting in with her friends and doing right by her family/brother. It is a fantastically written story, very positive message and appropriate for middle school readers or even high elementary school with adult guidance.
"The Great Wide Sea" by M. H. Herlong - three boys lose their mother in an accident and their father decides to sell the family house, buy a boat, and make them all cruise around the world for a year. It is the father's way of getting over his wife's death, but none of them are really grieving properly. This book is extremely engaging in that you're dealing with the emotions and grief of this family, while they are trying to survive the "high seas" as well. A bit of survival, a bit of coming-of-age, a bit of family bonding. Middle or high school level.
"Bruiser" by Neal Shusterman - a boy named Brewster has an impossible ability (entirely fictional) that makes forming relationships with people extremely difficult. I refuse to say more (you'll have to amazon book review it or google it) because I don't want to accidentally give away plot twists. VERY thought-provoking. Mature middle school or high school readers.
"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs - recommended to me by a friend. This is a very quirky book (science fiction? fantasy? there's time traveling and circus side-show freak people) but I loved it. Children with strange abilities (one boy has bees living inside of him... another is invisible) live at a special home with a lady named Miss Peregrine. A young man whose grandfather was always talking about Ms. Peregrine goes on a search to find her and thus learn more about his grandpa. Delightful reading ensues. Enjoy! Middle school or higher.
"The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley - the first in the Flavia de Luce series. Flavia is an 11 year old sleuth in the same vein as Nancy Drew (only much more brilliant and without the side-kick friends). These mysteries are really delightful and encourage female genius. Middle school level.
"Life as We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer - the first in a "series" of three loosely connected books (they're more companion books than a series) about the plight of the world when the moon is knocked out of its orbit by a meteorite. The tides swell, New York City (and most of the coastal areas) disappear, millions die... it's really uplifting! ;o ) I loved this survival series and as a side note: they deal with the idea of life/death/religion a lot. Middle school level.
"Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld - first in a series in which we're in the future in the United States and people have the option to have a surgery at the age of 13 to make them "pretty and perfect." When our young protagonist decides she's not quite sure if she wants to give up her identity, she runs away from conventional society to find others with similar mindsets. Very fast reads (my mom and sisters loved them). Middle school level.
"The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan - the Percy Jackson series has been around for a while now and are extremely popular with adolescent boys. They are based on Greek mythology - set in today's society - and the main characters are demi-gods.
"Graceling" by Kristin Cashore - the first book in a series of two (so far). In a fictional kingdom, some people are born with special gifts (or "graces"). Due to the nature of these graces, they often have to hide from the leaders of the land because their powers can be manipulated to the will of a King or dictator. The main character goes on a quest to find her own identity and there is LOTS of very interesting action. High school level (some mature romantic involvement).
"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins - see existing thread.
"The Forest of Hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan - at some point, a sickness started overtaking people, basically turning them into zombies (called "Mudo" in this series). To protect themselves, cities started building walls around their boundaries and trying to rid themselves of the undead. Of course, in any good zombie tale, the Mudo have still been able to infiltrate certain areas. The main character is trying to figure out what life was like before this whole infection, who her mother really was, why the nuns of the church which holds their community together are so strict about not crossing the fences and gates, and what she should do when forced to flee her home. I really enjoyed this book and I have NEVER read or liked zombie tales before. Mature middle school or high school level.
"Eragon," "Eldest," "Brisinger" and "Inheritance" by Christopher Paolini - these have also been around for a while. A young man finds a dragon egg and raises the dragon, despite being chased and hunted by the evil overlord of the land seeking to consolidate power by holding all of the dragons in his grip. Each book is nice and fat so if you like fantasy reading, these will last you a while. Middle school and up.
"Matched" by Ally Condie - in an attempt to make a perfect society, the government controls who marries who. Certain people are allowed to live longer than others and jobs are dictated as well. When a glitch occurs, the main characters must decide if they are going to follow their prescribed path or break out on their own to pursue an individual life. Middle school level.