New to the List:
Aristotle and Dante and the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2012)
In the summer of 1987, two 15-year-old loners meet and forge a powerful friendship. This stunning novel about identity and acceptance deals with several teen “issues,” including sexual and ethnic identity, but never comes across as heavy handed. With simple, lyrical prose Sáenz creates a magical tale that speaks of universal truths and fears. High School.
Blankets (graphic novel) by Craig Thompson (2003)
This graphic memoir is a poignant tale of sibling rivalry, first love, artistic inspiration, and personal faith. Thompson’s relationships are skillfully depicted in all their nuances, and he is brutally honest about his struggles with his fundamentalist upbringing and the complexities of young love and sexuality. Blankets is a compulsively readable story, and the pen and ink drawings are sensitive and dynamic, perfectly capturing the characters’ moods and the snowy Midwest setting. High School (mature).
The Diviners by Libba Bray (2012)
Featuring disparate teen protagonists with nothing in common other that a secret special ability, a ghostly serial killer, and the vivid setting of Prohibition-era New York, this is a vivid historical fantasy with a horror spin. Best of all, while the story comes to a satisfactory resolution, there are overarching mysteries that promise good things to come in the rest of the planned quartet. High School.
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson (2003)
With short, spare sentences that say everything, Johnson tells the story of a sixteen-year-old single dad. The fear, the exhaustion, and the overwhelming love for his newborn baby daughter all come through perfectly as Bobby comes to grips with what parenthood means for his life and struggles to make the best decisions he possibly can for his daughter. Short, poetic chapters alternate between “now” and “then,” creating a suspenseful mood that will translate well for reluctant readers. High School.
Hate List by Jennifer Brown (2009)
When Valerie and her boyfriend compiled a “HateList” of all the people they dislike or who have wronged them, she had no idea he would come to school with a gun and use it as a checklist for a killing spree. Five months later, school is back in session and Valerie is a social outcast struggling with her own guilt and grief. This is a wrenching, intimate portrayal of the aftermath of a tragedy, told from a unique perspective. High School (mature).
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1970)
In this first volume of her autobiography, poet Maya Angelou reflects on her life up until the age of seventeen. Told through a series of scenes depicting both gut-wrenching moments of heartbreak and fear and life-affirming events and relationships, Angelou’s story is a poignant tale of growing up in 1930s rural Arkansas. With bare honesty, humor, and grace, Angelou weaves a lyrical masterpiece that is both timeless and inspirational. High School.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)
After reuniting with two former classmates from her “special” English boarding school, a thirty-something woman begins to reconsider her supposedly idyllic years at the school only to question friendships and unearth disquieting memories. Set in a fully realized dystopian world, Never Let Me Go paints a gripping portrait of adolescence in an increasingly bleak future. High School.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (2000)
In this allegorical story about popularity and the courage of nonconformity, an eccentric new student named Stargirl arrives at Mica High School to inspire fascination and scorn with her oddball behavior and strange dress. Her ebullient, uninhibited ways and determined kindness attract 11th grader Leo Borlock immediately, but when the rest of the school shuns them both, will Leo be able to balance his need for acceptance with his love for Stargirl? Middle School/High School.
Bloody Jack Adventures by L.A. Meyer
Xanth by Piers Anthony
So what do you think of our additions? What are your favorite titles from this year that we should consider for the next update?
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