Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Take 5: Out with the old . . . Great reads for those about to graduate HS

Everywhere you look our seniors are getting ready to graduate, trying to hold it together for just a few more months.  At the same time, one huge question hangs over their heads: What Now?  Nipping at their heels are the junior class, ready to jump into their place so that they can begin a year of prom, senioritis, and face that same big question.  Here are 5 amazing books perfect for seniors, those that love them, and those that remember being one – or are looking forward to being one.  Each of these novels explores that one huge question: What happens next?

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Frenchie has been looking forward to graduating and moving to Chicago with her best friend, but he doesn’t know what happened; the thing that is making her so depressed.  You see, one night she ran into her years long crush BOB and went on a random adventure around town.  The next morning, she learned that after she left him he committed suicide.  What did she miss that night? Could she have stopped him?  So Frenchie finally realizes that the only way to answer those questions is to relive that night, this time hoping to see what she missed.  This is a raw, heartbreaking read. Sanchez capture the voice of Frenchie perfectly in this tale of depression and loss and confusion.  This is an early contender for the Printz Award in my book, reminiscent of the aweseomness that is A. S. King. (Full review coming but 5 out of 5 stars)

Return to Me by Justina Chen

Rebecca is about to leave for college when her family completely falls apart and she goes on a journey where she learns that even though people are not who she thought they were, there is still enough goodness in them all to make them a family.  Full review here.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Danny’s mother only had to make it 3 more weeks to see him graduate, but cancer her took her just a few days too soon.  Now, Danny is left reeling as he tries to deal with his loss, and the prospects of life after high school. Coming in June 2013, this is a raw, unforgettable tale with that mentions a subject not often mentioned in YA lit (which I can’t tell you about because it is spoilery).  My co-blogger Stephanie Wilkes described it as having one of the “most real male voices” she has ever read.  4 out of 5 stars.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

Parker Frost is embarking on her senior year when she stumbled upon the journal of a town legend: Years ago, the two most popular kids in town went missing and now Parker may hold the key to finding out what happened to them.  With a twinge of a mystery, Kirby weaves the works of Robert Frost, the pressures of a senior year, and the uncertainty that comes with it into this brilliant coming of age tale.  Nothing can stay golden. Different, intriguing, thoughtful.  4 out of 5 stars.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Alyson “Lulu” Healey is an all-American good girl traveling in Europe after graduating.  One day, she meets Willem in a park where he is performing Twelfth Night.  She feels that she is falling in love, until she wakes up the next morning and he is gone.  What did that one day mean? Forman does raw emotion so well.  (There is a companion novel, Just One Year, coming soon). 3.5 out of 5 stars.

What are your favorite reads for those about to graduate? Tell us in the comments.


  1. I'd also suggest J.H. Trumble's 'Don't Let Me Go'. Is a wonderful novel from the perspective of a gay teen living in conservative region. There's some pretty heavy stuff in there though, so not for younger readers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Twelve Long Months” by Brian Mallory and “Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone” by Kat Rosenfield.

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