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B is for Brothers *and* Sisters; a Take 5 List

Today is the last day of January, so it’s our last day with the Letter B (though we will still post something if we get it because we like this discussion). Today TLTer Heather Booth is discussing brothers (and sisters).

yaatoz

two boys and a girl sit on stairs with a golden retreiver

The rest of the dog is there; I promise.

If you are in a mixed gender sibling group, you might have noticed the relative lack of books featuring relationships between brothers and sisters as compared with books about sisterhood or the bond between brothers. I get it. As the parent of sisters, I see how their relationship is something set apart from what my brothers and I had. But whenever I read a book about brothers and sisters in relation to one another, I’ve got to say it tugs on my heartstrings.

We didn’t have many hobbies in common. We didn’t share clothes. We didn’t weren’t generally friends with each others’ friends but one of us did date someone’s best friend.  The typical bonding that you see in books about sisters or books about brothers doesn’t tend to happen quite the same way, but it does happen.

With shoutouts to my not-so-little brothers, here are my top five books with brother/sister relationships:

 

Book cover: an illustration of a light blue sedan is viewed from overhead, headlights on, with a double yellow lane divider to its left

Good and Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Good And Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore

When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a road trip to find Adrian Wildes, a famous musician who’s been reported missing, she’s beyond confused. Her brother hasn’t said a nice word to her or left the couch since his girlfriend dumped him months ago—but he’ll hop in a car to find some hipster? Concerned at how quickly he seems to be rebounding, Lexi decides to go along for the ride.

Besides, Lexi could use the distraction. The anger and bewilderment coursing through her after getting dumped by her pretentious boyfriend, Seth, has left her on edge. As Lexi, Charlie, and their neighbor Zack hit the road, Lexi recalls bits and pieces of her short-lived romance and sees, for the first time, what it truly was: a one-sided, coldhearted manipulation game. Not only did Seth completely isolate her, but he took something from her that she didn’t give him permission to.

The farther from home they get, the three uncover much more than empty clues about a reclusive rocker’s whereabouts. Instead, what starts off as a car ride turns into an exploration of self as each of them faces questions they have been avoiding for too long. Like the real reason Charlie has been so withdrawn lately. What Seth stole from Lexi in the pool house. And if shattered girls can ever put themselves back together. (Publisher description)

Book cover; Printz and Stonewall awards featured. The title is surrounded by a multicolored starburst pattern of lines

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. (Publisher description)

 

 

Book cover: the title looks like the leafless branches of trees; a girl's face is seen with blue lips and eyes closed

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips

Even though Micah’s a star pitcher, his older sister Lindsey is the real deal—a runner so good, she has a shot at the Olympics. The two of them urge each other on, and are each other’s best support. Then the unthinkable happens: Lindsey is murdered, and Micah may have been the last person to see her. But he can’t remember what happened, no matter what their parents tell him, no matter what the police say. Did he witness his sister’s murder—or commit it? Can he recall the truth before his life is sentenced to end, too? (Publisher’s description)

More than anything, I appreciated the mourning that Micah does for his sister. Their love for one another is evident in a way that is uncommon in sibling relationship books. -hb

 

 

 

 

 

Book cover: the title is scrawled in black;

Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Ink & Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page. (Publisher description)

 

 

Book cover: A white background highlights the figure of a black girl with natural hair and jean shorts; her torso and the bottom of her face obscured by a protest style sign bearing the book title

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. (Publisher description)

Among the many things I loved about this book is the way Starr and Seven have a complex relationship as similar-aged, opposite gender, half-siblings. What is never in doubt or ambiguous though is that their bond is strong and permanent. (hb)

 

Two men and a woman stand arm in arm

me & my big little brothers

#MHYALit: Small Towns and Mental Illness, a guest post by This is Not a Love Letter author Kim Purcell

Today we are honored to have a guest post by author Kim Purcell. She is discussing with us the topic of small towns and mental health. She is also generously offering to give away one copy of THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER, which comes out tomorrow, January 30th, from Disney Hyperion.

thisisnotaloveletter

In This Is Not a Love Letter, I wanted to talk about the issues of living with a mental illness in a small or isolated community. I grew up in an isolated, medium-sized mill town in Northern British Columbia.

Growing up, there was a stigma against seeking therapy and medicine for mental health issues. It’s gotten better now, everywhere, but small or isolated communities still have this problem.

In my research, I found that small towns statistically have more mental health issues, and these issues go untreated. Studies have shown that suburban teens also have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and rural teens commit suicide at twice the rate of their urban peers. In smaller communities, teens are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.

Is there something about living in a small community that leads to mental health issues? Is there anything we can do?

It turns out that it’s a combination of many factors. In any smaller environment, there are fewer therapists and psychologists. People are less likely to seek help due to the lack of anonymity and the stigma. Sometimes there are long waiting lists for the one psychiatrist in the region. In rural areas, it is compounded by poverty and a lack of health insurance.

On top of all this, smaller communities are particularly difficult for anyone who steps outside of the norm, who looks or acts differently. If you can’t conform, it can be a struggle. I found it difficult to conform, to be “normal”. Also, everyone knows and judges your business, and bullies are very hard to escape.

When I started writing This Is Not a Love Letter, I was living in a small village suburb of New York City with my husband and kids. We only lived there for two years, but I was alone too much, and I started to feel depressed. On top of that, I remembered all the ways that living in an isolated environment was difficult for me growing up, and also for my friend Al, who went missing right before graduation. This story is based on that time in my life.

In some ways, writing this book there helped me dive into the growing desperation of my main character, Jessie, as she starts to fear the very worst. As I looked around, I saw other women who were depressed, but nobody was talking about it. The place lacked the joy of the city. Mothers were held up to an impossible standard and this bled down to the kids. Children with mental health issues were socially isolated, and their mothers were seen as failing. There was an incredible amount of pressure on everyone.

For example, one friend of mine was a hoarder. It was untreated and hidden for years. This inspired the hoarder environment that Jessie lives in. It was how I processed her desperate situation. Fortunately, she did drive to get help, eventually.

In this book, I wanted to take the reader into the life of a small-town person, and to reach out to people in those small towns and tell them they aren’t alone, that it’s important to seek help, even if you have to travel to get it. Also, you can move to a bigger environment, where you’ll find other people like you, and it will change your life for the better. I have lived in Vancouver, Seoul, New York City, Guadalajara and Los Angeles, and I can tell you it’s a big difference. It’s great to be accepted for exactly who you are. So, if you’re a teen, just hang on, talk to your doctor, get help, and reach out to others online.

And if things get too hard, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

About THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER

One week. That’s all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future–decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he’s run away, but Jessie doesn’t believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river–the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.

As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie’s town who don’t like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.

Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

Publishes January 30, 2018 from Disney Hyperion. ISBN: 9781484798348

Meet Author Kim Purcell

Kim Purcell has written two young adult books, Trafficked (Penguin) and This Is Not a Love Letter (Hyperion). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two kids, two dogs and three cats. She loves dancing in elevators, swimming in lakes, drinking hot tea and eating chocolate chips with almonds.

Comment below to be entered to win a copy of This is Not a Love Letter by author Kim Purcell. Please enter by February 6th. Open to U.S. residents. One randomly selected winner will receive a copy of This is Not a Love Letter. You will be contacted via email. Do the Rafflecopter thingy to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

YA A to Z: Alcoholism, In Real Life and in Real Fiction, by by L.B. Schulman

It’s January, which means we’re discussing the Letter A in YA A to Z. Today we are talking about alcoholism with author L. B. Schulman. You can find out more about YA A to Z here.

yaatoz

When I was 13, my stepfather came home with a dim diagnosis from his doctor.  If he kept drinking, he would die within months. That wasn’t hard to believe, honestly. After all, my stepfather was drinking daily. He was bloated, and his face was a map of busted capillaries. When he passed out on the couch, his chest rose and fell in jerks and then went still until he gasped for air as if he’d just shot to the surface of the ocean.

The day after that diagnosis, he came home drunk. I was sure he would be dead by the next morning. Who gets told something like that and goes on to down another drink? But it turns out that this was a calculated move on my stepdad’s part. It involved buying several six packs of beer and drinking one less each day until he reached the last one. This was his final binging hurrah before he stopped cold turkey. From that day forward, he never touched another drop of alcohol.

stolen secrets

My stepfather didn’t die.  In fact, he lived another twenty years before Alzheimer’s took his life. The day after that last beer, he signed himself up for rehab. Not long after, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and became the poster child for sobriety. After much reflection, and a systematic climb up AA’s Twelve Steps, he became a sponsor to help others who struggled with the destructive disease. For the next few years until I went to college, I remember him bringing a motley crew of “guests” home for dinner. One actually moved into our house temporarily. I remember seeing all the bottles of booze tucked in our trashcan during her stay.

Infographic: Teen Alcohol Abuse

When I created my protagonist’s mother, Gretchen, I knew that she would share this same disease. Because of the specific story I gave her, I figured she would have a harder time becoming sober. After all, her invented childhood was marred by a dysfunction of epic proportions. The only way out of the rabbit hole was to identify the true cause of her burdened childhood.

Teen Corner (Alateen) | Al-Anon Family Groups

Coping With an Alcoholic Parent – KidsHealth

In the meantime, any random stressor might cause Gretchen to drink again. I knew from firsthand experience that it would be hard for her daughter, Livvy, to trust that sobriety would last. She would always live with one eye open to the possibility that her mother might slip up.

Gretchen is an example of someone who achieves sobriety, then fails, and has the courage to try again. This is a tough addiction to beat, and not everyone is successful the first time. Livvy, like many teens dealing with this situation, grapple with an immense resentment at her own blemished childhood, as well as sympathy for her mother’s unexplained demons.

This is where my own experience stops and fiction takes over. Although alcoholism can begin for many reasons, it didn’t seem too far-fetched that it might be an aftereffect of family trauma. It was a common theme that concentration camp victims, for example, didn’t want to rehash what had happened to them, not even with family. Could repression result in dysfunction that’s handed down to subsequent generations? Seemed viable to me, and I wanted to explore it in this novel.

Learn From Their Mistakes: Drugs and Alcohol in YA Literature

After I wrote Stolen Secrets, I discovered that my instinct was spot on. According to the book, “Familial Responses to Alcohol Problem,” the rate of alcoholism in Jewish families went from very low prior to World War I to average after World War II. Something about the experience of war, whether one if fighting or suffering through it, leads to an increase in escapist activities.

Livvy, my protagonist, finds out that her grandmother has a previously unknown connection to Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. The key to her family’s healing appears to be in the revelation of a carefully-guarded truth. (Not trying to be vague here, but no one likes spoilers, right?)

Young Adult Alcoholic – Types of Alcoholics – Alcohol Rehab

In Stolen Secrets, acknowledging the effects of trauma is the non-existent “Thirteenth Step” that Gretchen must go through in order to be healed. The discovery of what truly happened in Bergen Belsen will offer Livvy, her mother, and grandmother a release from the confines of an inauthentic life.

Living with honesty, whether that be from the understanding of why someone drinks on a simpler level to the exploration of a deeper psychological motivation, is always the most healing path. This is one of the major themes of my book, and I truly believe it.

All Alcoholism books – YA Books Central

Writing about Gretchen has helped me to acknowledge the truth of how alcoholism affected my own childhood. Teens that are going through this with a parent may well identify with the emotions I shared with Livvy, ranging from anger to resentment to understanding to, hopefully, the ability to one day forgive.

I hope that teen readers in a similar circumstance will read Stolen Secrets and realize that determination and honesty can save anyone from anything. After all, hope exists as long as a person doesn’t quash it. Alcoholism may be a lifelong disease, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

Meet Author L. B. Schulman

STOLEN SECRETS is L.B. Schulman’s second young adult novel. Her debut, LEAGUE OF STRAYS, was published in 2012. She grew up in Maryland and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and a pair of loveable mutts. When she isn’t writing, she’s visiting genealogy sites, trying to find famous people she’s related to. You can visit her online at LBSchulman.com.

Resources: #SVYALit and #MHYALit – Teens and Suicide, Teens and Sexual Violence Brochures

Due in part to the discussions I have been having surrounding the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, I made an informational brochure on the topics of suicide and sexual violence for the teens at my library. I am posting them here for you and you can use them if you would like. A few notes though.

One, these contain titles that I currently have in my library on the subjects. I have been working on my next book order and I am working to make sure to include highly recommended titles and titles that feature diverse MC or are Own Voices on these subjects in my next book order.

Two, I think you can easily make corrections or additions by downloading book covers you have in your collection and overlaying them in a graphics program if you wish.

Three, we checked multiple times because I’m me for typos, so I hope there aren’t any.

I am also working on one to address the current drug/opioid crisis that we are witnessing nationwide and in the county that I serve, but that one is taking a little more time. I could quickly pull information off of TLT to make these two given some of our past projects, but I am just mow starting to really dive into the facts and figures of the opioid crisis.

svyalitbrochurepage1

real talk sexual violence brochure page 2

real talk sucide brochure page 1

real talk suicide brochure page 2