Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Ages 10 and up

This book, told from the viewpoint of eleven-year-old Caitlin, is amazing.  Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome, which makes functioning in the world a challenge.  Mrs. Brook helps Caitlin learn important social skills, like:  “Look At The Person”, using “YOUR MANNERS”, and respecting other people’s “Personal Space”.  Unfortunately, Caitlin has a bigger problem.  She is looking for “Closure” and a way to deal with “The Day Our Life Fell Apart.”  When Caitlin refers to “The Day Our Life Fell Apart”, she is referring to the day that her older brother Devon was killed, changing life for Caitlin and her father who are both grieving.

As Caitlin tries to learn to “Deal With this difficult situation called life”, she comes across a few people who may be able to help her find “Closure” too.

My Rating:  5 stars!

 The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

Ages 12 and up

Gecko, Terence and Arjay have the opportunity to leave the juvenile detention center that they have been sentenced to so they can live in halfway house with Mr. Healy, a man who wants to work with troubled youth and make a difference.  Unfortunately, one night when the boys are fighting, Mr. Healy gets hurt and is knocked unconscious.  While he is hospitalized, the boys have to decide what to do.  They know that if they tell, they’ll land back in the juvenile detention center, so they try to keep their freedom.  They agree that one way to protect their freedom is to stay out of trouble, which is quite the undertaking for boys used to lives of crime.

My rating: 3 stars

Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

Ages 10 and up

When San Lee moves to yet another school, he sees an opportunity to reinvent himself. San is good at moving, and good at taking on a persona for wherever he is.  So far, he has been a skater, a Bible-thumper, a rich preppy kid, and a macho pretend-jock.  This time, as an eighth-grader in Pennsylvania, he lets the persona come to him.

As San becomes the Zen Master of his school, he struggles with who he really is:  an Asian kid who was adopted by white, American parents, with a father who is in prison, and a guy with feelings for a girl that might see through his lies.

My rating: 4.5 stars