Typical Teen Topics

Middle School:  The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

Grades 4 through 9

Rafe begins sixth-grade and starts setting goals immediately.  His first goal is to avoid Miller, the school’s biggest bully.  His second goal is to get Jeanne Galletta’s attention, as she is pretty and cool.  His third goal, based on the other two, is to break every rule in the Hills Village Middle school Code of Conduct – yep, that’s right, break EVERY rule.

The book is filled with illustrations that add to the story, as Rafe deals with teachers, students, his family, and himself.

My Rating: 3 Stars



The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Ages 13 to 19

Virginia always played in the shadows of beautiful, successful, and thin siblings.  The brother she had always looked up to gets in trouble for something abominable, and Virginia has to start re-evaluating some things:  her family, her self-perceptions, her life rules, her social life.  After taking a few risks, things start to change…

My Rating: 4 Stars



A Few Good Books

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Grades 6 through 8

Life is challenging enough for anybody who is about to turn 13, but for Mibs Beaumont, turning 13 changes everything.  Every Beaumont has a “savvy” or a special talent that starts on the 13th birthday.  One Beaumont can control electricity, and one can create huge storms and hurricanes.

Mibs convinces herself that her savvy can wake up her dad, who is hospitalized in a coma.  When she gets on a bus to sneak to the hospital, she and her siblings end up on quite the adventure.

My Rating:  4 Stars

Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos

Grades 4 through 8

Joey gets to spend the summer with his dad who convinces (forces) Joey to stop taking his ADHD medications.  As Joey loses control of himself, he also has to come to terms with some other difficult issues:  his parents’ divorce, his dad’s alcoholism, and his grandmother’s addiction.

My Rating:  5 Stars

The Tale of Desperaux : Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and   a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

Ages 5 to 105

This story is a story of a mouse, Desperaux, who is not content with his lot in life.  He is a dreamer, and falls in love with a princess, named Pea.  As Desperaux fights for a life that is more than what he was offered he has to confront rejection, fear, darkness, and the rats in the dungeon.

My Rating:  4.5 Stars (4 the first time I read it; 5 the second time)

A Few More

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian             by Sherman Alexie

Grades 7-12

Junior (Arnold) has an opportunity to leave his reservation to attend a better school.  While he does so, he faces the challenges of being a minority, anger from old friends who feel abandoned, and family issues.  With a mix of humor, and excellent artwork (by Ellen Fornay), Junior deals with issues common to any teen coming-of-age, and issues significant to Native Americans on a reservation.

My Rating:  5 Stars

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Grades 5 to 8

In this historical fiction piece, set in the 1930s, Bud moves through some foster homes, not asking for trouble, yet finding it.  Finally, he decides to “go on the lam” (run away) to find his dad.  Believing that his dad is Herman E. Calloway, Bud travels from Flint, MI to Grand Rapids to find Calloway and his band.  All Bud has are some “Rules and Things to Have  a Funner Life”,  a suitcase with some belongings, and his name, Bud, not Buddy.

My Rating:  4 Stars

Skinny by Ibi Kaslik

Grade 9-12+

Holly (14) and Giselle (22) take turns telling the story chapter by chapter.  Giselle is struggling with a co-dependent relationship with her boyfriend Sol, anorexia, and being a grown-up.  Holly is trying to be a teenager, while holding up her emotionally broken sister, and emotionally absent mother.  Both girls grieve the loss of their father, and cling to each other to get through life.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Grades 8 through 12+

Eric and Sarah have a friendship that goes back for years, and was originally based on being two misfits.  Eric was obese and Sarah’s face is scarred from a burn that happened when she was 3.  When Eric joins the swim team, he loses weight, and his social life changes.  At first, because he cares about Sarah, Eric tried to keep the weight on, to prove that he wouldn’t bail  on her.  Sarah’s circumstances become so severe that Eric goes out of his way to show Sarah that he cares for her regardless of his weight.  Eric would do anything to keep Sarah safe, even if it means risking his own life.

My Rating:  5 Stars

Beginnings (or Catching Up)

No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman

Grades 5-8

Anybody who knows Wallace Wallace knows that he can’t lie.  He just can’t do it.  When Mr. Fogelman has Wallace write a book report on Old Shep, My Pal, Wallace says he hates the book (remember, he can only tell the truth).  Wallace explains that any book with a dog on the cover  results in death for the dog.  Unfortunately, Mr. Fogelman loves Old Shep, My Pal and Wallace ends up in detention.  While serving the detention (weeks and weeks of detention), Wallace makes some suggestions on how to improve the school play (Old Shep, My Pal), learn some things about friendship, and help Mr. Fogelman learn some things too.

My Ratting:  4 stars

  The Declaration by Gemma Malley

Grades 7-12

In the year 2140, Surplus Anna lives in Grange Hall with other unwanted children.  Children are considered thieves, as the Legals are entitled grown-ups thriving on Longevity drugs. When the drugs became available, decades before, humans had to sign the Declaration, promising to not have children.  While at Grange Hall, Anna is told that she should not exist, and is told that her parents were criminals.  When Peter shows up, however, Anna is forced to question things (including authority), and is faced with some decisions that may compromise her safety, her life, and the lives of others.

My Rating: 5 Stars