Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Take 5: School Violence

Did you know that under the Teen Issues link up there on the menu bar, you can find lots of great posts and book lists organized by issue? Everything from addiction to violence is covered. If you don’t see a topic covered that you think is of interest, please leave a comment, tweet us (Amanda MacGregor @CiteSomething or Karen Jensen @TLT16), or email us at the addresses provided on the About TLT page.

 

Take 5: School Violence

It would appear that writing about school violence will always be a timely topic. Here are four recent or forthcoming titles and one classic. I reviewed I Crawl Through It by A.S. King for the August 2015 issue of VOYA. Karen wrote about it here for TLT.  I also reviewed Violent Ends for TLT, and will be participating in a pre-publication event with my YA book club for This Is Where It Ends in December. All summaries here via the publishers.

 

this is whereThis Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp 

ISBN 13: 9781492622468

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Publication date: 1/05/2016

Summary:

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

 

 

i crawlI Crawl Through It by A.S. King

ISBN-13: 9780316334099

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date: 09/22/2015

Summary:

Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out.

 

 

violent endsViolent Ends by Steve Brezenoff, Beth Revis, Tom Leveen, Delilah S. Dawson, Margie Gelbwasser, Shaun David Hutchinson, Trish Doller, Christine Johnson, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, Blythe Woolston, E.M. Kokie, Elisa Nader, Mindi Scott, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kendare Blake, Hannah Moskowitz, and Courtney Summers

ISBN-13: 9781481437455

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: 09/01/2015

Summary:

In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, seventeen of the most recognizable YA writers—including Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Beth Revis—come together to share the viewpoints of a group of students affected by a school shooting.

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto the school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, playing saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties. This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.

 

are you stillAre You Still There? by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

ISBN-13: 9780807545577

Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company

Publication date: 09/01/2015

Summary:

Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?

 

give a boyGive a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

ISBN-13: 9780689848933

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: 04/28/2002

Summary:

For as long as they can remember, Brendan and Gary have been mercilessly teased and harassed by the jocks who rule Middletown High. But not anymore. Stealing a small arsenal of guns from a neighbor, they take their classmates hostage at a school dance. In the panic of this desperate situation, it soon becomes clear that only one thing matters to Brendan and Gary: revenge.

Take 5: Australian YA

It’s no secret that Australian YA tends to be amazing. For me, it all started in 2001/2002 with two books: Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty and Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett. I read the Moriarty book while working at The Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Massachusetts (aka my favorite job ever) and was blown away. I read the Hartnett title around the same time for a course in graduate school at Simmons College and found it astoundingly brilliant. Together with my group of Simmons friends, we read and shared more and more Australian titles (at one point trying to put together a group independent study course of Aussie YA). Since then, I’ve continued to be a voracious reader of any Australian YA I can get my hands on. With very rare exception, I am never let down. New to reading Australian YA? Here are 5 of my favorite titles  to get you started (summaries from the publishers). See the end of the post for links to more posts talking about Aussie YA. 

 

Take 5: Australian YA

 

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

ISBN-13: 9780312287368

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

Publication date: 1/10/2002

Summary:

Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the “Joy of the Envelope,” a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else.

But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon.
So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter…

A #1 bestseller in Australia, this fabulous debut is a funny, touching, revealing story written entirely in the form of letters, messages, postcards–and bizarre missives from imaginary organizations like The Cold Hard Truth Association.

Feeling Sorry for Celia captures, with rare acuity, female friendship and the bonding and parting that occurs as we grow. Jaclyn Moriarty’s hilariously candid novel shows that the roller coaster ride of being a teenager is every bit as fun as we remember–and every bit as harrowing.

 

Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett 

ISBN-13: 9780670865031

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated

Publication date: 8/12/1995

Summary:

When a stranger enters a family’s midst and insists on discovering all of their darkest secrets, the family begins a slow and painful descent into decay and madness.

 

 

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

ISBN-13: 9780375869532

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 2/14/2012

Summary:

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

 

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta 

ISBN-13: 9780375829826

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 9/28/2004

Summary:

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life, and—hardest of all—herself.

 

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

ISBN-13: 9780061926532

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 2/8/2011

Summary:

Ava is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultraradical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She’s ready to try something new—she’s even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

But Ava soon finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.

Pink received an American Library Association Stonewall Award Honor for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.

 

If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.

 

For more suggestions of Australian YA titles, check out:

Epic Reads, “17 Australian YA Authors You Need to Read.” 

Inkcrush, “Aussie YA.”

Buzzfeed, “27 Awesome Australian Books Every YA Fan Should Read.” 

 

Take 5: You Spin Me Right Round, Baby: YA Books About Records

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 18.  As a music fanatic, I think this is a day worth celebrating.

 

From their website: “Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally. There are Record Store Day participating stores on every continent except Antarctica.”

 

This year’s ambassador for Record Store Day is Dave Grohl. On the website, he writes, “Every weekend I couldn’t wait to take my hard earned lawn mowing cash down for an afternoon full of discovery. And, the chase was always as good as the catch! I spent hours flipping through every stack, examining the artwork on every cover, the titles and credits, searching for music that would inspire me, or understand me, or just to help me escape. These places became my churches, my libraries, my schools. They felt like home. And, I don’t know where I would be today without them.”

 

I spent a HUGE part of my teen years hanging out at Ernie November Records in Mankato, Minnesota. Other than going to shows and buying books, most of my babysitting money went to buying albums at Ernie’s. Some of my other favorite record store haunts as a teen were Extreme Noise in Minneapolis and Oar Folkjokeopus in Minneapolis. Lots of great music and zines purchased at all of those shops over the years.

 

To help celebrate Record Store Day, set up a display of YA books about record stores and musicians. Here are a few to get you started. These books take place in record stores, star DJs, and show what happens when you’re the subject of a hit song. Summaries via the publisher.

 

Take 5: You Spin Me Right Round, Baby: YA Books About Records

 

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz

ISBN-13: 9780061715839

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 12/22/2009

Summary:

Summer is here, and 16-year-old Allie, a self-professed music geek, is exactly where she wants to be: working full-time at Berkeley’s ultra-cool Bob and Bob Records. There, Allie can spend her days bantering with the street people, talking the talk with the staff, shepherding the uncool bridge-and-tunnel shoppers, all the while blissfully surrounded by music, music, music. It’s the perfect setup for her to develop her secret identity as The Vinyl Princess, author of both a brand-new zine and blog. From the safety of her favourite place on earth, Allie is poised to have it all: love, music and blogging.
Her mother, though, is actually the one getting the dates, and business at Allie’s beloved record store is becoming dangerously slow—not to mention that there have been a string of robberies in the neighbourhood. At least her blog seems to be gaining interest, one vinyl junkie at a time….

 

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills 

ISBN-13: 9780738732510

Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.

Publication date: 10/8/2012

Read my review here

Summary:

“This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show.”

My birth name is Elizabeth, but I’m a guy. Gabe. My parents think I’ve gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I’m right. I’ve been a boy my whole life.

When you think about it, I’m like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side—not heard as often, but just as good.

It’s time to let my B side play.

Winner of the 2014 Stonewall Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

 

Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

ISBN-13: 9781442497603

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Publication date: 9/2/2014

Read my review here

Summary:

This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything.

It’s a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop and is trying to find her place in the world. It’s about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It’s about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It’s about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It’s about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music.

And it’s about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff.

 

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway 

ISBN-13: 9781595141927

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Publication date: 4/2/2009

Summary:

When funny, charming, absolutely-normal Audrey Cuttler dumps her boyfriend Evan, he writes a song about her that becomes a number-one hit-and rockets Audrey to stardom!

Suddenly, tabloid paparazzi are on her tail and Audrey can barely hang with her friends at concerts or the movies without getting mobbed-let alone score a date with James, her adorable coworker at the Scooper Dooper. Her life will never be the same-at least, not until Audrey confronts Evan live on MTV and lets the world know exactly who she is!

 

DJ Rising by Love Maia

ISBN-13: 9780316121897

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date: 2/12/2013

Summary:

The first thing I hear is music. The first thing I’ve always heard is music.

Meet Marley, an unassuming high school junior who breathes in music like oxygen. In between caring for his heroin-addicted mother, and keeping his scholarship at a fancy prep school, he dreams of becoming a professional DJ.

When chance lands Marley his first real DJ job, his career as “DJ Ice” suddenly skyrockets. But when heart-rending disaster at home brings Marley crashing back down to earth, he is torn between obligation and following his dreams.

 

If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.

Take 5: Teens, illness, and hospitals

Did you know that under the Teen Issues link up there on the menu bar, you can find lots of great posts and book lists organized by issue? Everything from addiction to violence is covered. If you don’t see a topic covered that you think is of interest, please leave a comment, tweet us (Amanda MacGregor @CiteSomething or Karen Jensen @TLT16), or email us at the addresses provided on the About TLT page.

 

Take 5: Teens, illness, and hospitals  (2014 and 2015)

We all know that plenty of books about teens and illness existed before The Fault in Our Stars, and to say that any of these books are like TFioS is being lazy. However, for readers who loved TFioS and are now looking for other books featuring sick teens, they have a lot to choose from. Here are a few recent titles to suggest to these readers. All descriptions of these recently published and forthcoming books from the publisher.

 

 

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

ISBN-13: 9780062217165

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 5/26/2015

Summary:

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

 

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson 

ISBN-13: 9781481403108

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: 1/20/2015

Read my review of this powerful title here

Summary:

A heartbreaking yet uplifting story of grief about a boy who has lost everything, but finds new hope drawing in the shadows of a hospital. Features a thirty-two-page graphic novel.

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night, just like the rest of his family.

Now he lives in the hospital, serving food in the cafeteria, hanging out with the nurses, sleeping in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. His only solace is in the world of the superhero he’s created—Patient F.

Then, one night, Rusty is wheeled into the ER, half his body burned by hateful classmates. Rusty’s agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together though all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside of the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But to save Rusty, Drew will have to confront Death, and life will have to get worse before it gets better. And by telling the truth about who he really is, Drew risks destroying any chance of a future.

 

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank

ISBN-13: 9780307979742

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 8/5/2014

Summary:

This novel-in-verse—at once literary and emotionally gripping—follows the unfolding friendship between two very different teenage girls who share a hospital room and an illness.

Chess, the narrator, is sick, but with what exactly, she isn’t sure. And to make matters worse, she must share a hospital room with Shannon, her polar opposite. Where Chess is polite, Shannon is rude. Where Chess tolerates pain silently, Shannon screams bloody murder. Where Chess seems to be getting slowly better, Shannon seems to be getting worse. How these teenagers become friends, helping each other come to terms with their illness, makes for a dramatic and deeply moving read.

 

Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts 

ISBN-13: 9780544331648

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date: 9/2/2014

Summary:

“When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.” So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can’t forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.

 

 The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell

ISBN-13: 9781481430654

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication date: 6/2/2015

Summary:

A teen grapples with ALS and his decision to die in this devastatingly beautiful debut novel infused with the haunting grace of samurai death poetry and the noble importance of friendship.

Abe Sora is going to die, and he’s only seventeen years old. Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), he’s already lost the use of his legs, which means he can no longer attend school. Seeking a sense of normality, Sora visits teen chat rooms online and finally finds what he’s been longing for: friendship without pity.

As much as he loves his new friends, he can’t ignore what’s ahead. He’s beginning to lose the function of his hands, and soon he’ll become even more of a burden to his mother. Inspired by the death poems of the legendary Japanese warriors known as samurai, Sora makes the decision to leave life on his own terms. And he needs his friends to help him.

 

If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.

Take 5: Books about eating disorders

Did you know that under the Teen Issues link up there on the menu bar, you can find lots of great posts and book lists organized by issue? Everything from addiction to violence is covered. If you don’t see a topic covered that you think is of interest, please leave a comment, tweet us (Amanda MacGregor @CiteSomething or Karen Jensen @TLT16), or email us at the addresses provided on the About TLT page.

 

Take 5: Books about eating disorders (2014 and 2015)

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 22-28. Visit the National Eating Disorders Awareness site for more information.

All descriptions of these recently published books from the publisher. Check the links provided for reviews and other posts by us on most of the books. See the “Body Image and Eating Disorders” list under Teen Issues for many great previous posts on TLT that cover this topic.

 

Skin and Bones by Sherry Shahan

Publisher: Albert Whtiman & Company

Publication date: 3/1/2014

ISBN-13: 9780807573976

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Jack, nicknamed “Bones,” won’t eat. His roommate in the eating disorder ward has the opposite problem and proudly goes by the nickname “Lard.” They become friends despite Bones’s initial reluctance. When Bones meets Alice, a dangerously thin dancer who loves to break the rules, he lets his guard down even more. Soon Bones is so obsessed with Alice that he’s willing to risk everything-even his recovery.

(Check out “Skin and Bones: Talking about Teens and Eating Disorders,” a guest post on TLT by Sherry Shahan.)

 

 

Pointe by Brandy Colbert 

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Publication date: 4/10/2014

ISBN-13: 9780399160349

Summary:

Theo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

Brandy Colbert dazzles in this heartbreaking yet hopeful debut novel about learning how to let go of even our most shameful secrets.

(See my review of Pointe, and Christa Desir’s guest post for TLT, “Consent and Teenage Vulnerability: A Look at Pointe)

 

Running Scared by Leslie McGill

Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

Publication date: 9/1/2014

ISBN-13: 9781622507061

Series: Cap Central

Summary:

Capital Central High School, or Cap Central as the students like to call it, is in the northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. Any urban school faces broad challenges, and Cap Central is no different. But some tight-knit juniors meet the difficulties head-on with courage, friendship, determination, and hard work. Rainie’s grades were slipping. Good grades were a lifetime ago. Back when her dad was around. Before her mom’s boyfriend started hanging out at their house. Commenting on her figure. Looking her up and down. Before she decided to stop eating. Become invisible. Her friends were alarmed, especially Joss. She knew times were tough for Rainie’s family. But she felt like there was more going on. Something serious. And she was going to figure it out.

 

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz 

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: 3/3/2015

ISBN-13: 9781481405966

Summary:

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

(See my SLJ review of this title here)

 

Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkel

Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC

Publication date: 5/19/2015

ISBN-13: 9781452121512

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia. Told entirely from Elena’s perspective over a five-year period and cowritten with her mother, award-winning author Clare B. Dunkle, Elena’s memoir is a fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease, and a must read for anyone who knows someone suffering from an eating disorder.

 

If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.

 

Take 5: Books about suicide

Did you know that under the Teen Issues link up there on the menu bar, you can find lots of great posts and book lists organized by issue? Everything from addiction to violence is covered. If you don’t see a topic covered that you think is of interest, please leave a comment, tweet us (Amanda MacGregor @CiteSomething or Karen Jensen @TLT16), or email us at the addresses provided on the About TLT page.

 

Take 5: Books about suicide (2015)

All descriptions of these recently published books from the publisher. I’ve reviewed three of them recently (and the other two reviews will be forthcoming), so check out the links for my thoughts on them. It’s interesting that three of the books on this list all came out on the same day. Books about suicide are certainly not a new trend, but the publication of so many titles about this topic so close together is worth noting.

 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 1/6/2015

ISBN-13: 9780385755887

Summary:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

 

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff 

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 1/27/2015

ISBN-13: 9780062310507

Summary:

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Spectacular Now.

There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, Sam’s best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand. To figure out what happened, Sam has to rely on the playlist and his own memory. But the more he listens, the more he realizes that his memory isn’t as reliable as he thought. And it might only be by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he’ll finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

(See my review of this title here.)

 

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 2/10/2015

ISBN-13: 9780062318473

Summary:

Since her brother, Tyler, committed suicide, Lex has been trying to keep her grief locked away, and to forget about what happened that night. But as she starts putting her life, her family, and her friendships back together, Lex is haunted by a secret she hasn’t told anyone—a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

In the tradition of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall,The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a thoughtful and deeply affecting novel that will change the way you look at life and death.

(See my review of this title here, as well as my thoughts on the character’s attitude toward mental health medications here)

 

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga 

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 2/10/2015

ISBN-13: 9780062324672

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

(See my review of this title here)

 

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Publication date: 2/10/2015

ISBN-13: 9781619634121

Summary:

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel that is equal parts literary and commercial, with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls fighting for their lives.

 

If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.

 

Some other great posts that detail more books can be found at:

Stacked, “Suicide and Depression in YA: A Discussion and Book List.” 

YA Book Shelf, “Suicide Awareness Week Wrap Up.” 

Jennifer R. Hubbard, “YA Books about Suicide.” 

Editing this to add: Stacked: “The Rise of Suicide in YA Fiction and Exploring Personal Biases in Reading.”