Mr Baer’s List of Young Adult Books Reluctant Readers Love

My Official List of Books Reluctant Readers Love to Read

☆ = Highly Recommend

See Bottom for Recent Additions   I would love to hear suggestions and books you love that aren’t on the list, or even if this list if helpful.  I often wonder if anyone ever looks to it for recommendations.  Feel free to email me at

Also, I always need books and supplies for my classroom.  Please help out my latest Donors Choose project:

Another way you can help out my classroom is purchase and send any of these books to:

Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, C/O Mr. Baer, 6649 Balboa Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406

Mr. Baer’s List of books Reluctant Readers Love to Read

☆ 1.  The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  A funny, touching book about a nerd on an Indian reservation who decides to attend an all-white school.  My students really enjoy the drawings in the book, along with the humor.

2. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.  The protagonist has had thirteen girls named Katherine break up with him.  The novel is a search to find out why he always gets dumped.  In anyone else’s hands, this would have been a cliche coming of age novel, but John Green is such an amazing writer.

3.All American Boys by  Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Rashad, African American, is beaten by a white police officer who mistakenly thinks he is robbing a woman in a grocery story.  Meanwhile, Quinn, who is white and knows the officer well, saw the whole thing and wrestles with his feelings on what happened.  An interesting  premise but it’s a little too cliche.  Nothing special about this one.  It does have a lot of positive reviews on Amazon, so what do I know?

4. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin. Spoiler alert: Stop reading this now if you plan on reading the book.  Finch is bipolar and comes from an abusive dad and an addled mother who has no clue what’s going with her son. Violet is still bereaving the death  of her sister.  These two fall in love.  The first 75% is beautiful prose and a love story for the ages. Then  finch commits suicide and the novel in the last quarter turns into preachy trash.

5. Another Day by David Levithan. The sequel to Every Day. A recounting of the last book, only this time from Rhianna’s perspective. Such mixed feelings about this book. I am amazed that Levithan is able to tell the same story and still make it so engaging, though the beginning was a little slow. Two big complaints: I find Rhianna really annoying in this version, and the last line of the novel made no sense to me at all.

6. Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman-Antsy is back, and once again Shusterman delivers.   A boy decides to help out a dying friend by giving him a week of his life and starts a trend around his school that spins out of control.

☆7.  Artemis Fowl by Eoin Cofler. Artemis is an evil young genius who wants to dominate the world, but readers will root for him anyway.  This whole series is addictive and a lot of fun.

☆ 8.  Audrey Wait by Robin Benway.  A teenage girl, Audrey, breaks up with her self-involved, rocker boyfriend who then writes a song about what a horrible person Audrey is.  The song goes viral, and Audrey has to deal with fame she never asked for.  A really enjoyable read that takes a critical view of the role of the media in our society.

☆ 9.  Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Sohl.  Ethan feels trapped in his conservative, southern town, until a new girl in town, who he has a mysterious connection with, upsets his world.  Although overwritten, easily could have been 300 pages instead of 500, this is a captivating story of a misfit trying to fit in and a young man who has outgrown his home.

10. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider.   Varsity tennis captain, Ezra, was supposed to enter senior year as homecoming king, if it weren’t for a car accident crippling him and forcing him to reevaluate his life and his principles.  I really wanted to like The Beginning of Everything as Schneider can be quite poetic and she paints extremely dynamic characters.  My problem is with the plot that drags and only towards the end picks up speed.

☆ 11. Black and White by Paul Volponi.  Two boys, “Black” and “White” try to make it to big-time basketball.  When they find themselves unable to pay for senior dues, they commit a few robberies, and from there the action

☆ 12.  The Bluford series by Paul Langan.  Life in an inner city school.  Don’t judge a book by its cover on this one.  Even though the covers seem childish, these are great action-packed stories.  \.  For readers of low skills, who also reluctant readers, there is no better series.

☆ 13.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  Death narrates this story of a young girl who finds solace in books during the Holocaust.  A MUST READ.

☆ 14.  Bottled Up by Jaye Murray.  A stoner who lives with an abusive father is forced to see a school counselor.  I never had a student who didn’t like this book.

15. Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. Egg is a hard working students who is obsessed with science fiction and has a tough time relating to people.  She meets a boy who challenges her beliefs and helps her to believe in herself and her dreams.  I didn’t fall in love with the novel, as all the pieces in the end seemed to fit too easily.   Still, an empowering book for teenage girls who feel they don’t fit in.

☆ 16. Bronxwood by Coe Booth. The sequel to Tyrell. Tyrell is now living with drug dealers, as his father gets out of jail and he deals with everyone’s expectations of him. This is perhaps even better than Tyrell. The predicaments our protagonist gets into time and time again take us on a roller-coaster that the reader doesn’t want to get off of. I could spend another 1,000 pages with Tyrell. Coe Booth, please write a sequel!

☆17. Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees. The story of two brothers, one a popular jock and the other a bookish nerd.  This book examines what people will sacrifice to earn respect of a brother and the love of a woman.  There’s nothing about the book that really blew me away. Still, it’s an enjoyable read.

18. Bruised by Sara Skilton–Imogen is a blackbelt who fails to act during a crime where someone is murdered and is traumatized.  Overall, this is a well structured novel, even though at times it’s a little slow.  Also, from a guy’s perspective, there was a little too much romance for my taste.

☆ 19. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman. Bruiser, the guy at school voted most likely to go to jail, has a special power.  The novel explores how sometimes our talents can be a curse.  A truly touching and resonant novel.

☆ 20.  Burned and all books by Ellen Hopkins.  Written in poetry, but reads like a novel.  Hopkins’ books tell of a teenage heroine abuser with a strange alter-ego. Each book is at least a few hundred pages, but students are amazed that they can finish them in a few hours

21. Burning Midnight by Will Mcintosh.  Two kids who struggle in poverty, seek to find gems that will make them rich.  Only problem is, these gems also offer power and world destruction. This is a really original story that took me by surprise.   For me the end was just too much of a twist, and I had trouble finishing the book.

☆ 22. The Carnival at Bray by Jessica Ann Foley.  A young girl’s life is upset by her mother moving to Chicago and her uncle dying. Jessica Ann Foley writes lyrical prose that loll you out to sea, immerses the reader in a world of its own, and then with gifted hands carries you to shore ready to exhale with the thought we all hope for after reading a good book or seeing a good movie: My God, something just happened to me, and I’m still trying to make sense of it.  She writes as though every sentence, every word matters. She also renders Ireland in a way that truly illustrates the beauty of the country–although I have visited and loved the country, I could never convey in words what was so special about it. Foley, throughout the novel, seems to have this gift for intimating the thoughts most of us have, but can’t find the words for–what Nirvana, the grunge movement, and Kurt Cobain meant to a generation of teenagers; how serious young love is, even though adults treat it as trivial; how the right to be free to make our choices conflicts on so many levels with our responsibilities to society and the ones we love.   This is a must read!

☆23. Challenger Deep by Neil Shusterman.  Caden is in a mental hospital, battling schizophrenia. The novel revolves around what is actually happening in the hospital and Caden’s mind–a world of pirates and parrots who force Caden to fight for his own sanity. Eventually the two worlds meld.   Although a little hard to grasp, initially, this is a poetic novel that looks at mental illness in an extremely humane way.   What’s most impressive is how Shusterman presents so many arguments about the use of psychotropic drugs and the problems of keeping young people in hospitals for extended periods.

24. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by  Heather Brewer.  Yeah, it’s another vampire series about a young apprentice blood sucker learning the ropes, much like Cirque Du Freak. Still, a very entertaining series.

☆ 25.  Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan.  There is more to a traveling freak show than meets the eye. Once I got a few books in, I couldn’t stop reading this series–a wonderful addiction.

☆ 26.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.   A brave young British spy is captured by the Nazis and forced to recount all she knows.  I avoided this book for a long time as I am not a love of historical fiction.   What a huge mistake.  Code Name Verity is extremely clever with plot twists that totally astonished me.   Although the protagonist is in a concentration camp, the majority of the book is about life before the camp and touches on themes of friendship and the search for truth.

☆ 27.  Crackback by John Coy.  The trials and tribulations of teenage life, woven through the lens of a high school football team.

☆ 28. Criminal Minded by Tracie Brown.  A story of drugs and romance during the crack explosion of the eighties.  Beware, extremely graphic sex, but that is what drew my students to the book.  By far, this is the most loved book among Roosevelt students. One student said to me, “No student should be allowed to read this book before 12th grade, because it ruins all other books.”

☆ 29.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. A poodle, Wellington, has been murdered.  Christopher, who is autistic, is on the case.  Somehow Mark Haddon, writing from this kid’s point of view, makes him one of the most lovable characters I have gotten to know in a book.

30. Cut by Patricia McCormick.  Callie, a fifteen-year old, is a “cutter” who seeks help for her self-destruction.

☆ 31. Dark Angel by David Klass.  A family has a dark secret that is about to reemerge.  A great book about a brother who is a murderer, returning home after being let out from prison early. Also, a really creepy mystery. The book starts out a little slow, just the first few pages, then it becomes one heck of a ride.

32. Death Sentence–Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.  Alex is turned into what he hates most and struggles to hold on to his identity, while planning an escape.   I think I’m burning out of this series.  I love the first two books, but the whole thing is starting to feel like the same formula again and again.  I’ll still read the next book, hoping it once again ignites something in me.

33. The Demonata series by Darren Shan.  The adventures of a 300-year old night stalker. If you’re still recovering from the Cirque series, The Demonata doesn’t disappoint. However, it will never live up story wise to Cirque.

34. Detour for Emmy by Marilyn Reynolds.  Emmy, a high school senior who has been accepted to an ivy league school, has to decide whether or not to have a baby and accept the responsibility of being a single mom. Although I’m not a fan of the writing, I know many students who call this their all time favorite book.

☆35. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.  If you’ve been avoiding this series, it’s time you get with it.  The books are funny and will have the most cynical reader laughing out loud.

36. Divergent by Veronica Roth.   A dystopian novel that follows a young woman who lives in a society where people from sixteen years old and on are divided for the rest of the life by certain personality traits.  I’ll admit, I only read this novel because I knew it was so popular, and I thought I would hate it.  It actually turned into a real page turner for me.   One note, for guys, the last hundred pages rely too much on romance, at least for my personal tastes.

☆ 37.  Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers.  A drug dealer is involved in a murder.  On the lam from the police, he runs into an abandoned building where he meets someone who forces him to confront the mistakes he has made in his life. The book can be a little confusing in the first few pages, then it takes off and you don’t want to get off of the ride.

☆38.  Dreamland by Sarah Dessen.   This book explores the consequences of having an abusive boyfriend. I’ll admit I’m not a big Sarah Dessen fan, but this one I found extremely engaging.

☆ 39.  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.   Two misfits who sit next two each other on the bus, fall in love in a most charming way.  What I love most about the book is that it reminds me of exactly the type of thoughts I had when I was young.  I am not usually a lover of romantic novels, but Eleanor and Park seem to be fighting for something more:  the power to think freely and make important decisions, despite the fact that their teenagers.

☆ 40.  Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.  Liz is getting younger, not older, every day.  A little like Benajamin Button, but far more interesting.

☆ 41.  Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazzario.  Nazzario follows teenage boys from Central America, who risk their lives to immigrate to America in search of their mothers.  The book is a truly harrowing account of what these young men endure.

42.Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, Robin Brande.  Mena knew her first day of high school would be bad, but this bad? Examines the evolution of debate in high school.

☆ 43.  Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S.  King.  Lucky Linderman is bullied unceasingly and turns to a dream world–the jungles of Vietnam during the war, in an attempt to resolve his problems.  A. S.  King blurs the lines of fantasy and reality, along with a narrator who always keeps the readers on their toes, as we never know whether we can trust he is giving us the truth, making this an engrossing read. This is a novel with a huge heart as the protagonist is forced to learn to become a compassionate young adult.

44. Everlost by Neal Shusterman.   Nick and Allie die in a car crash and end up in a purgatory-type world where they will have to decide who they now want to be. At first I had a tough time with this novel as I didn’t feel like I really knew the characters and there are many holes in the world of Everlost.  However, the last two thirds were definitely an exciting adventure, and I liked that the book explores how easily we get caught up in distractions and waste time until we are truly ever lost.

☆ 45.  Every Day by David Levithan.  Wow!  A, the main character’s name, daily wakes up in another person’s body.    I didn’t think this concept could be pulled off and still be so compelling and graceful.   Every Day will take months to recover from.

☆46. Everything Everything by Nicole Yoon.  Madeline suffers from a disease, SCID, forcing her to live in a germ-free world with her mother.  Eventually, she takes some risks that could be deadly, but she ends up learning more than she ever thought she would about herself.  Lots of surprises here, I won’t give away. Every once in a while a book like Everything Everything comes along that actually lives up to all the hype.  I have read the reviews of the movie that’s been adapted and I understand the plot holes.  What can I say?  I loved it.

47.  Execution–Execution from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith. Alex ends up in the hands of the American military, where they run medical tests on the Furnace’s creatures in order to create their own army.  Once he escapes, Furnace gives Alex power over all  his creatures and leads him to an island for the final confrontation. Although this sounds like a great conclusion to this series, a long part of the novel is Alex on the road with his friends, traveling to Furnace’s island as he considers his choices.

☆ 48.  The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene–Two teenagers with cancer fall in love and attempt to find meaning in their life by traveling to Denmark to meet the author who inspired them. For a long time I avoided this book, thinking it would be the typical sad story about kids going through cancer. Fortunately, John Greene, one helluva writer, goes beyond the stereotypical cancer-love-and-lots-of-crying and writes about this matter in a way that pays respect to adolescents attempting to become young men and women, despite their pending death.

49. Fight Club by Chuck Palahnihuk.  A jaded insurance agent meets Tyler, an anarchist.   The two begin the fight club, which goes viral.  The pair become reckless and cause mayhem throughout their city.  I must admit I read this in a couple of days and was definitely engaged.   You will not be ready for the plot twist.  I just didn’t understand the point of it all.

50.  The First Part Last, Angela Johnson. A sixteen year-old father struggles to care for his baby.  The only book I’ve ever found that handles raising a child as a single parent from a guy’s point of view.

☆51. Five Flavors of Dumb by John Antony. Piper is deaf and never can find a way to fit in at her high school, until she is asked to manage a dysfunctional rock band at her school.  This is a really entertaining novel, especially for music lovers, as it pays homage to the Seattle music scene —  the grunge movement and the origins of Jimmy Hendrix.  Also, I really liked that the reader gets a unique perspective from a character who is deaf.

52.Fly On The Wall by E. Lockhart. Gretchen attends a high school for talented young artists.  She’s self-absorbed and intentionally positions herself as an outcast.  One day her dream comes true and she is transformed into a fly in the boys’s locker room.   An entertaining read, but unlike John Green who loved the book, I was not blown away.

☆ 53. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Leonard Peacock, whose mother is self-absorbed and almost never home, plans to murder a former friend and then commit suicide. Although you wouldn’t think so from the premise, this is a touching novel about the pains of growing up, especially when you feel you are an outcast. Something about this book rings so true about male adolescence and coming to terms with one’s own sexuality, accepting that high school really sucks for a lot of students and the only solution is to graduate and get the hell out.

54. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler.  Emma and Josh, growing up in the late ’90s, are suddenly privy to information about their futures, via Facebook.  An interesting concept that turns into a snorefest.    I didn’t really care about the characters, and there were a ton of missed opportunities.  The Future of Us is really popular, but I’m not sure why.

55. Fugitives–Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.  Alex, Simon, Zee are trapped in a mall, finally escape and finally Alex battles the warden.  I started out loving this series and I still love the action scenes.  In this one, there were parts that seemed laborious and bored me.

☆ 56.  Go Ask Alice by Anonymous.  Despite criticism of this book for being revealed as a work of fiction, this is a harrowing account of a girl’s downfall through heroine.

57. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. A sixteen-year old is  hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital.

☆58.Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins. A murder mystery with three very unreliable narrators. So, I highly recommend this book even though I didn’t love it. Most of the plot kept me on the edge of my seat, and all the characters were so awful, yet I had no idea who the murderer was. There are tons of plot holes. Still, so many students are looking for that exciting murder mystery and I never have many I know of. I say give this one a shot and you’ll probably love it–like most of America. For me, someone who can sometimes be a book snob, I found it to be a guilty pleasure. If it helps, I had the same reaction to Gone Girl.

☆59. The Girl Who Played With Fire (The Millennium Trilogy)  by Stieg Larsson.  Once you get started, you won’t be able to put these books down.  There’s murder, mystery, and a crime solving heroine who behaves like no one you’ve read about before. Find out what all the hype is about.

60. The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die by April Henry.   A girl, suffering from amnesia, wakes up to find herself tied up and two men about to kill her.  Throughout the book she tries to find her family and why these men are after her.   The book is just OK. There is a lot of action, but the main character is never fully developed, making me not care very much about the story.  Also, the ending, which I will not give away, was extremely cliche.

☆ 61.  The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  A toddler’s family is killed in a brutal murder. The child escapes, crawling to a grave yard.  At the cemetery, he is raised by the dead.  If you’re a science fiction lover and you haven’t discovered Neil Gaiman, it’s time.

☆ 62.  Gym Candy by Carl Deuker.  Mick Johnson, high school football star, considers using steroids.

63. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. On their fifth anniversary, Nick’s wife Amy disappears and all clues point to Nick. Throughout the novel, Flynn’s narrators, Nick and Amy, are cagy, making them extremely unreliable narrators, which leads to incredible surprises and plot twists that I just never saw coming. I am by no means a mystery fan, but this one was hard to put down. One note, I was disappointed by the ending. For a novel with so many brilliant twists, I was hoping for something spectacular at the finish line.

☆64. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner.  Carver’s three best friends die in a car crash that may have been caused by him texting the driver a question. Carver faces possible prosecution for this act.   Meanwhile, he has to also confront all the people who were hurt by this accident, along with healing himself, with the help of a therapist.  Man, at first I didn’t want to like this book at all.  The Serpent King was just a wonderful book, and I was so offended by the ridiculous premise–that anyone would go to jail for an innocuous text is absurd beyond belief.  However, once I got past this I found a work of beauty, with poetic prose and scenes of characters finding redemption in the simple things that enrich our lives.  Also, the whole idea of goodbye days is such a unique and wonderful way of helping these characters find redemption.

65. Grashopper Jungle by Andrew Smith — In Ealing, Iowa, where nothing ever happens, sexually confused Austin witnesses the unleashing of the apocalypse, as 6 foot grasshoppers with a penchant for sex and eating humans begin to take over the world. How I wanted to love this novel, or even like it, but there are so many issues.  For one, this is a novel that seems to try really hard to imitate Kurt Vonnegut in “Slaughterhouse Five,” with it’s ironic look at America, but it works too hard. Also, there’s a lot, I mean a lot of history of the characters Polish background–so much that at times I was utterly confused.  I still really like the writing of Andrew Smith.   This is a writer who does not waste one sentence and throughout the prose is beautiful. It’s the overall story that didn’t work for me.

66. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle.  Quinn, a lover of watching and making films, is emotionally paralyzed by the death of his sister and his father walking out on the family.  His friend Geoff helps him recover, and along the way Quinn comes to terms with being gay and the truth about his sister.  Man, did this novel bore me.  For a book that talks so much about dramatic structure, it’s shocking that for most of the book there’s so little conflict.  I know the book is popular, but for me it was pure torture.

☆ 67.  Hate List, Jennifer Brown.  After her boyfriend shoots and kills her classmates, Valerie must return to school, even though most of her school thinks she was involved in the massacre. The author does a great job of considering how a person would have to deal with being a close relation to a mass murderer.

☆68. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Starr lives in a crime-ridden part of town and is in a car late at night that is pulled over by a cop who shoots the driver, a black man, without probable cause. This is a strong young adult novel that deals with racism on multiple levels–such as, interracial relationships, the importance of keeping businesses alive in areas such as these, along with the need to escape these surroundings when they prove to be dangerous to a family.  Structurally, the novel keeps the reader on edge throughout, with a gangbanger hell-bent on destroying the protagonist’s family.  I would not go as far as John Green and call this an instant classic.  At times, especially near the end, the story becomes a bit too cutsey and cliché.  I will say this:  the Hate U Give is a powerhouse.

☆ 69.  Hero by Perry Moore.  The story of a teenager growing up in a family of superheroes and confronting homosexuality.  The scenes of superheroes battling one another makes this book a true page turner.  Also, an interesting case study of a gay young man trying to please a homophobic father. One year this book went viral at my school.

☆70.  Homeboyz by Allen Sitomar.  A gripping novel about a young boy who avenges the death of his sister who was killed in a drive-by, even though she has no gang association. I avoided this book for a long time because it sounded like a white guy, the writer, trying to sound street. But I read it all the way through and was thoroughly engaged.

☆71. House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.  In the future, a scientist brings a number of clones to life.  A great story about one of these clones and his battle to not be dehumanized.

72.How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt.  After a war breaks out, Daisy learns to fend for herself and become a true survivor.  The novel also deals with anorexia and its subtle signs.  I know this novel was at one time popular and even made into a movie.  Still, I was bored.  It seemed like so much of the time was about waiting for the war to end and not much else happening.

☆ 73.  I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.  A botched bank robbery changes a nineteen-year-old’s life.  A great read, and many of my students have recommended this book to others.  Wouldn’t expect this form the guy who wrote The Book Thief.

74. If I Should Die Before I Awake, Han Nolan.  A Neo-Nazi in intensive care is forced to imagine what life was truly like for a Jew in Nazi Germany.

75. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman.   Mia, a cellist prodigy, is in car accident. Her whole family is killed and as she remains in a coma, she is allowed to look outside her body and explore whether or not she wants to live.  I love the concept of the book and wanted so much to like it.  Unfortunately, I was bored.  I though Mia just meandered through this journey, taking the reader through many flashbacks and not moving the plot forward.

76. It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini.  A teen seeks counseling in a psychiatric hospital. Wild story about a kid who actually decides to place himself in a mental hospital.

☆77.  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.  A classic memoir about the poet Maya Angelou who didn’t speak for two years after being raped at a young age. The memoir also contains plenty of humor and is an inspirational coming of age story.  Note: not an easy read for the reluctant reader.

☆78. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.   A brother and sister are extremely close until an incident happens that makes them almost irreparably asunder.  Some really strong, lyrical writing in the book.  There are also many beautiful scenes as the novel weaves a line examining love and art, particularly when it comes to marriage and the bonds we have.  I really liked the novel, I just wasn’t blown away.

☆ 79.  I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle.  Denis’s life changes when he blurts out at his graduation speech that he loves Beth Cooper.   Doyle’s a talented, funny author. The book is way better than movie.

☆ 80.  The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Hailey is the sole person taking care of her father, Andy, who suffers from severe PTSD.  Father and daughter have spent several years on the road, as Andy worked as a truck driver and home-schooled Hailey.  As the book begins, Andy has decided that it’s time for Hailey to return to high school for her senior year and hopefully begin a new life, but the  past haunts both of them.  The only survival technique Hailey and Andy know is to suppress their memories, making them human time bombs. Impossible Knife is a really powerful novel that deserves all the accolades it has received. The novel deals with addiction, loss and mental illness.   At one point Andy, when asked about his time in the war by a high school student, says, “Killing people is easier  .  . .  Staying alive is harder.”  Reading about Andy and Hailey grappling with this issue is heartbreaking, poetic, poignant and ultimately redemptive.

81. In The Time of The Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.  I know many love this novel, so sorry if I’m tainting the hallowed ground.  In the Time of the Butterflies is told by Dede, in  flashback.  Dede is the  lone survivor of her family, after her revolutionary sisters, the Maribels, are killed by the Dominican dictator, Trujillo.   One day a young reporter asks Dede about her past and this launches the novel.   From here on the story is told from all four sisters’ viewpoint, even though Dede tells the story.  Get that?   Although there is plenty of action, as the sisters are at the forefront of the revolution, there are just too many stories to follow, and after a while I just stopped caring about the Mirabel sisters, even though there was much to admire about each one.

☆ 82.  Invisible, Pete Hautman.  Doug, 17, has come to terms with a tragic past.  No book talk will do this book any justice.  Read it. This is a freaky book I just couldn’t put down.

83. Jumped, Rita Williams-Garcia.   Leticia, a gossipy teen, is going to get jumped at the end of the day, even though she knows nothing about it. Ending is brutal and doesn’t disappoint.

84.  Jungle Jenny by Jane Hancock.  The true story of an incredible woman who broke through stereotypes to become a curator for zoos around the world.

☆ 85., Katherine Tarbox.   A true story about a girl who befriends a man online, not realizing the possible consequences.

86. King Dork by Frank Portman.  Tom Henderson, who lives with his mother and 60’s hippy stepfather, comes upon riddles and clues to the way his father died. Along the way, he tries to live out his rock and roll fantasies.  I really wanted to like, even love this book. All the references to and rejection of  counter culture values rang so true, yet so much of the time I was just bored. The main character tries so hard not to be pretentious, he becomes really annoying and pretentious.  Many love this book; I’m just not one of them.

☆ 87.  The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini.  Two young boys in 1970s Afghanistan take very different paths. A novel that will stay with you the rest of your life.

☆ 88.  Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp.  Readers who liked Friday Night Lights will like this football drama

89. Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Georgie McCool, a self-absorbed writer of TV sitcoms, decides to stay home for Christmas and work on a new series, instead of enjoying the holiday with her husband and kids. During this time, she begins to realize that her marriage is falling apart. An old phone, a landline at her mother’s house, allows her to travel back in time and talk with her husband the week before they were to be engaged. Although an interesting idea, the novel meanders through lots of flashbacks and self-examination

90. Lemonade Mouth, Mark Peter Hughes.  Five outcasts in detention form a band.

☆91. The List by Siobhan Vivian. Each year at a high school a list is anonymously posted announcing the prettiest and ugliest girls.  The List follows the selected girls as they deal with their new labels.  I had a tough time getting into the book, the first hundred pages in particular, as there are a lot of characters to follow.  I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of “ensemble” novels.  Still, after problems I had with the first third, the book really took flight for me, and I was interested in how each character wrestled with beauty, internally and externally.

☆ 92.  Little Brother by Corey Doctorow.  A computer geek is on the lam from the government after he hacks into their system.  If you ever wondered how much the government really knows about your personal business, read this novel.

☆93.  Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith.  Alex is framed for a murder and locked up in an underground prison for kids, where he and other prisoners are tortured in a horrific manner.   What a great start to a series.  At first I thought, I’ve read this type of premise repeatedly.   I have.  Still, the villains are so original and scary.  I am hooked.

94. Looking for Alaska, John Green. Miles, 16, is an outcast sent to a boarding school. The first half was a little slow, but the second half is a serious page turner.

95.  Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill.  Baby, 12, lives with her abusive, heroin addicted father.  Forced to grow up on the streets, she embraces the seediest part of society, as she looks for love in drugs and men, only to be jaded and burnt out at a very young age.   I’m so mixed about this novel. The first third I was really bored. The story didn’t seem to go anywhere.  Then  a hundred pages or so in, a real plot developed that kept me hooked.  The books a little too heavy on the metaphors and descriptions.  So I’m left with a big “meh.”

☆96.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Greg Gains, a self-loathing high school student attempts to get by socially by casually fitting into groups, but never truly belonging to any group or befriending anyone, except Earl.  Earl is a tough talking, poverty stricken, social outcast, who comes from truly harsh circumstances. The two make bad, self-indulgent films that try to emulate artsy films they have viewed.  Add to this, Greg’s mother forces her son to befriend a girl dying of Leukemia.   I didn’t want to like this book, but it really grew on me.  At first I found it annoying to continually tell me how bad their bad movies are, but it seemed to be the point of the book, that we have to live life, despite how horribly mundane it is, how usually we fail in our dreams and that’s OK.

97. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Gabielle Zevin.  A teenager loses her memory after a bad fall.  This is a strong young adult novel, just not as good as her other book, Elsewhere.

98. Mexican Whiteboy, Matt De La Pena.  Biracial Danny is a pitching prodigy who doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere.

☆99.The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. An arrogant rabbit/doll who lives in wealth is forced to learn about compassion after he is cast into the sea and he learns about the real world. I so did not want to like a book about a selfish rabbit. This is a wonderful tale, and great for all ages. I know many who were moved to tears over this book. Even though I’m not one of them, I still highly recommend the book.

100.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. A boy discovers a dark secret about his grandfather and special the powers he possesses. Throughout the book are some of the strangest real black and white photos of people. The pictures are cleverly weaved into the story. There’s so much to like about the first half of this book, especially the relationship between the protagonist and his father. The second half takes a serious science fiction turn that wasn’t to my liking and was somewhat confusing. Still, I know many who really enjoyed the book.

☆ 101.  My Bloody Life: The Making of a King by Reymundo Sanchez.  Reymundo Sanchez recaps his time as the head of the Latin kings.  This memoir is extremely action packed and perfect for reluctant readers.  Warning: There is a lot of sex and violence.

102. My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult.  Examines the difficult choices a family must make when one of the children is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. A well told story.

103. Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult.  Another delicate topic: the consequences of a high school shooting.

☆104. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.  Cassie has a natural ability for reading people-from small details she can tell you all about a person. This leads to the FBI recruiting her for a special task force of teenagers who all have unique abilities and are responsible for investigating cold cases.   I would say more, but I don’t want to give anything away.   The Naturals is a serious page turner. I am ready for the next installment.  No, it is not beautiful prose like John Green or Laurie Halse Anderson, but it is an engrossing plot with on-the-edge-of-your-seat twists.

105. Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick. The true story of Arn, a child growing up as prisoner in the infamous killing fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime. McCormick deftly combines the horror of this tragic time, along with poetic prose.

106. No Easy Way Out by Dayna Lorentz.  A great set up as told from the perspective of group of teens, as a mall is quarantined after what seems a terrorist attack that has released biotoxins.  However, with so many plot lines to follow and a disappointing ending, I can’t recommend this one.

107. Noggin by John Corey Whaley. Travis, before his death due to cancer, allows for his head to be cryogenically frozen. He awakens fives years later with a new, healthy body. Throughout the novel he struggles to get his old life back, even though everyone is now five years older and have moved on with their lives. I really wanted to like this book, but it becomes a book about a guy who’s obsessed about getting back an old girlfriend, and not much else. So many missed opportunities

☆ 108. Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson.   Octavian and his mother, both of African descent, are exploited for experiments by wealthy aristocrats during the Revolutionary War.   I’ll admit, written in the dialect of the period, this novel does take some work and many times I didn’t comprehend the language.  Still, definitely worth it for a journey into the treatment of blacks during this war and how many tried to justify slavery, along with a real nail biter of a story.

☆ 109.  The Pact byJodie Picoult.  A teenage suicide has devastating consequences for two families. This book is my favorite out of Picoult’s books.

☆110. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.  Brittany hides behind a façade of cheerleading and dating the most popular guy in school, even though her home life is a mess.  Alex hides behind the façade of a gang banger who acts like he doesn’t care about school or much of anything else, even though he secretly wants to graduate and leave the world of street violence.  Despite the odds, these two fall in love.  I could not this book down.  Disregard the cheesy cover, this is an action-packed story that boys and girls will both be enraptured with.

☆ 111.  Paper Towns by John Green.   Quentin, in his senior year of high school, goes on a journey to find a girl who has disappeared, and on the journey learns about what life has to offer.   Truly love this book.  It is a love song to Walk Whitman’s “Leaves of The Grass,” and paints a vibrant picture of adolescence and growing up in America–one that rings truer than possibly any book I have ever read.

☆112. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky.  Charlie, a freshman, tries to find his way in a high school.  I truly do love the book, but I’ve never been blown away like everyone else is.

☆ 113.  Played by Dana Davidson.  A player takes on a dare and “gets with” a girl who his other player friends find unattractive.  This premise might sound cliche, but not in the hands of Dana Davidson.

☆ 114.  Reality Boy by A. S. King. Gerald, a former childhood reality tv star has major anger management issues and is permanently scarred due to his experience on TV and an abusive home.  A great read.  Something about the prose captures the universal problem of forever trying to shed the skin of our past and how it haunts us for the rest of our lives.

☆115.  Replay by Ken Grimwood.  Jeff, a beaten-down writer who is in a marriage that is falling apart, dies and is transported into his past.  He is forced to relive his past several times, each time trying to learn from his mistakes.  READ IT. READ IT.  I have never read a better novel about time travel.  Grimwood covers all the possibilities and thoroughly examines the existential issues. The novel blows the time travel genre out of the water.

☆116 .Rooftop by Paul Volponi.  A shooting becomes a focal point for social justice. Here’s the setup: two friends are in rehab, one for dealing and the other for selling.  A murder takes place and one of the boys is involved.  A little slow at first, but once the murder takes place the novel soars.

☆ 117.  The Rules of Survival, Nancy Werlin.  The story of three siblings struggling to overcome child abuse.  For my money, a way better book than A Child Called It in terms of describing abuse.

118. Room by Emma Donoghue.  A mother and son are held hostage for many years by a psychopath, in a room.  Much of the plot revolves around a five year old who has never been outside the room. When they finally escape, acclimating to the rest of the world becomes troublesome.  So I know this book has won some major accolades, but I just wasn’t as blown away as the critics. The first third  is extremely compelling.  The rest of the book is problematic–the escape is way too contrived and the plot really slows down.

☆ 119.  Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.  An account of growing up in an eccentric, dysfunctional family.  This family is truly freaky, beyond belief.  I must love reading about insane people going to extreme measures, because I could not put this book down.

120. The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos.  Harbinger is a severely burned teenager–caused by an act of bullying.  He’s also an outcast at school and treated like one by his father.  He  meets Johnny, a popular, somewhat control freak who takes him out of his shell and the two of them form a rock band that sees some minor success.  Ultimately, Harbinger learns to love himself.  I really wanted to like this novel.  It’s about rock and roll and these kids venturing out on a tour that goes awry. All the chapters begin with great song choices.   The biggest problem is the lack of any real conflict.   Yes, they go out on the road, but Harbinger never has any goals. Things just seem to happen. It seems, at least from Amazon, that many love this novel. For those who do, rock on!

121. Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid.  Set in the south in the mid ’60s, Lily, a white teenage girl who is abused by her father, runs away from her home with an African American woman who is unjustly beaten as she attempts to register to the vote. The two end up with three beekeeping sisters, as Lily learns about her past.  The language of the novel is beautiful, the characters have huge, gracious souls,  and I never thought bees could be such fascinating creatures.  My one problem with the book is that the second act really meanders.

☆ 122. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Three Tennessee friends/outcasts wrestle with the scars of growing up in a small town and their post high school decisions. I was not ready for such a great novel. Somehow the author weaves together this beautiful story, along with a profound message about how we can overcome our pasts and live in the moment. So many issues are dealt with–religious zealotry, the trappings of a small town and issues of leaving the people you love the most. Yet, this is all done in a respectful, loving tribute to the variations of life. It will take me a long time to recover after reading The Serpent King.

☆ 123.  The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman. A kid from Brooklyn befriends a classmate who seems to blend into the crowd so easily that no one ever seems to notice him. What a wonderful read. The novel is funny, yet touching as it explores what it means to exist outside on the margins of the social structure.

☆124. Scythe by Neil Shusterman.  A futuristic society where there are no crimes, no deaths and no suffering. Scythes–a group of mostly compassionate killers–take care of population control.   Rowan and Citra are selected to train as Scythes. They soon learn how this job could lead one to becoming a serial killer, or someone who loves people and searches for their humanity, while living in a utopia.  Neil Shusterman is at the top of his game here, creating one plot twist after another, and their all totally crazy and feasible   He does an amazing job of creating this world and taking us on a spectacular journey, and along the way Shusterman has a lot to say about empathy in a hedonistic society.

☆ 125.  Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick.  Pat has just been released from a long stint in a mental hospital where he has spent the last couple of years obsessing about how to win back his ex-wife.  He remains on this quest, even as an attractive woman enters his life.  What a great novel on so many levels.  One of the best funny obsessive stalker books I’ve ever read, if that genre existed.  Football fans will love Pat’s family, friends and  obsessive Eagles’ fans.  Yes, I used obsessive twice.  These characters are seriously neurotic, yet very lovable.

☆ 126.  Snitch by Allison van Diepen.  A teen tries to navigate between rival gangs. From a girls perspective, the protagonist seems to have no choice but to be involved in a gang once she snitches to save someone who means a lot to her.

☆127. Sold by Patricia McCormick.  A teenage girl in Afghanistan is sold into prostitution.

☆128.   Solitary–Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.  Alex is back, Caught by the warden, he enters a solitary confinement like no other.   What can I say?  I love these books.  A part of me keeps thinking, this series can go on and on, so it’s obvious that all of the escape plans will fail.  But it doesn’t matter.   The torture is extreme, the villains are gross and highly dangerous and if I were stuck in solitary, I would bring this series with me.

129. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron.  James, 18, is trying to find his way in the world after high school graduation.  For mature readers.  I have mixed feelings about this book. I love that the protagonist is so cynical about everything, but I have trouble relating to a rich New York kid.

☆ 130. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp.  A self-centered-life-of-the-party-raging alcoholic attempts to redeem himself by reforming a super-nerdy girl.   Tharp does an incredible job of taking us through the life of a teenage alcoholic without ever becoming preachy.  Reminds me of the movie “Leaving Las Vegas,” as you have a character who is so flawed and yet you see so much good in him.

131. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  Hadley, still reeling from her father divorcing her mother and marrying another women  across the ocean in England, is coerced into attending this wedding by her mother.  On the flight over, she meets Oliver and falls in love with hm.  Maybe this is a simplistic review of  a clever idea to tell a story that takes place  in a little over 24 hours, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much more to tell.   I liked the idea, but much of the action, especially between father and daughter, seemed cliche

☆ 132.  Street Pharm by Allison van Diepen.  A teenager takes over his father’s drug dealing business but must decide if it’s worth it.  What I especially like about the book is how the protagonist truly believes he’s too smart to get caught.

133. Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer.  Carson Phillips blackmails most of his high school student body into writing articles for his literary journal, in hopes of being accepted to Northwestern University.  I know this novel is popular, and kudos to Chris Colfer for being so young and so ambitious, but I just didn’t buy much of what transpired.  Carson easily finds major dirt on key influential people in his high school.   Also, there is nothing redeeming about this character.

☆134.  The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  She’s Puerto Rican and into science and, along with her family, is about to be deported. He’s Korean, his family wants him to be a doctor but he dreams of being a poet.  In the most unlikely of ways the two meet and fall in love.  Throughout the novel there are freaky coincidences that keep them together.  I so didn’t want to like this novel.  It’s corny, cliche, the inner chapter are really annoying.  Yet it grabbed hold of me and somehow this way too cutesy romance was a wonderful read.

135. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham.  Theo, the son of two respected lawyers, is a wannabe-lawyer himself, who spends his time hanging around the court, talking to judges and lawyers and helping fellow students in legal need.  A murder trial is taking place in his town and Theo is given information, through an anonymous source, that can change the verdict.  OK, I know this series is becoming popular, but for me it was a little too cutsey, ethical, good-natured and middle schoolish.  I must admit that I have high school students who have enjoyed this book.

☆136.  there will come a time by Carrie Arcos.  Mark suffers the loss of his twin sister–killed in a car accident.  Instead of allowing himself to grieve, he releases his emotions through anger and violence.  There’s something about this story that seemed so real and I just had to read on, every possible moment, in hopes that Mark would find some relief.

☆137. Thirsty by M.T. Anderson.  In a time where vampires are arrested and sentenced to death, Chris finds that he is suddenly becoming a blood sucker.   He is soon offered a deal that if he does a favor for Chet, the Celestial being, he can go back to being a human.  What sets off Thirsty from the usual Vampire fare is M.T. Anderson’s wit and sense of humor. Many times throughout the book I laughed out loud.

☆ 138.  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  A teenager receives haunting audiotapes after a suicide. So many students love this book. The novel takes us on a journey through this town and this girl’s life.

☆139.  This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.  Judd Foxman returns home after his father dies.  His life becomes an even bigger mess after his wife cheats on him, and he no longer has a job or a home.  Judd’s family has no inhibitions when it comes to speaking their minds, which leads to many, many laughs, along with insightful moments into the resilience of the human heart. This isn’t a young adult in its subject matter, but still I am reviewing it as many students have seen it in the theatre.

140. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray.  Marguerite, whose parents are renowned physicists, has to unravel a mystery of her father’s death  and stop a villain as she travels through time. Along the way, she must decide between two boys who are in love with her.  First off, some of the time travel stuff and how the pieces fit together make absolutely no sense.   There are parts that work well, depending on the different dimension the characters travel to.  Warning: this is definitely more of a girly novel.

☆ 141.  Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Tyler, busted for tagging, tries to find his way through his senior year.  A great read.  No summary can do this book any justice. Read it.

☆ 142.  Tyrell by Coe Booth.  Tyrell is determined to stay clean despite a father in jail and a mother who is involved in welfare fraud.  You will not be prepared for the twist at the end. There is some graphic sex in the novel.

143.The Uglies series, Scott Westerfeld.  Life in a futuristic society where everyone is transformed into a “pretty” once they reach 16.

☆144.  Undivided by Neal Shusterman–If you’ve been following the series, this is the last one and ties up all loose ends, as we find out what exactly Proactive Citizenry plans.  All relationships and conflicts, in the end, are resolved.  I thought I was done with this series–I am not a fan of trilogies or “dystologies.”  That being said, Shusterman once again hooked me.  I don’t know how, considering there are so many characters to follow, and yet I wanted to follow each one to their conclusion.  Although I’m still trying to work out who got wound, rewound, who got stuck with which parts, the ending to this series is still quite satisfying.

☆145.The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten. Adem, who is in group and private therapy, has severe OCD. In the book he falls in love, undergoes a huge transformation with the help and support of many and finds the courage to face his biggest fears. This a charming, touching read. As someone who is somewhat OCD, I found it inspirational and thought provoking, even as an adult. Much of the novel is funny and the characters are extremely lovable. There’s something special about this novel, and I hope I find the time to read it again.

☆146.  Unsouled by Neal Shusterman. A society in the future where parents can decide to have their children sacrificed and used for body parts.  I am not a sci-fi lover, but Shusterman tells a great story, including an ethereal experience of being unsouled.  Unsouled truly sold me.

147. Unwholly by Neal Shusterman.  This is just a great series.  Book two definitely does not disappoint. All the old characters are back, same type of plot structure, but somehow it seems totally new.

☆148.  Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon.  Two lovers are separated by a horrendous crime.  The book is written in letters.  A young man is in prison for killing his father.  His girlfriend tries desperately to believe in him.

☆149.  We Are All Made of Molecules by Susan Nielsen.  Stuart, a genius/borderline Aspergers, who has recently lost his mother to cancer, is forced to leave his beloved home as his father has decided to move in with a women he has fallen for, along with her daughter Ashley–a  highly self-absorbed, spoiled brat who is still recovering from her parents’ divorce and her father admitting he’s gay.   Molecules is a really enjoyable read.  Stuart is an extremely lovable geek-soon-to-be hero.  At first Asley was a little too annoying for me, but even she grew on me.

☆ 150.  Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.   Cullen lives in a small Arkansas town where he is surrounded by death and broken dreams.  When his brother vanishes he tries to solve the mystery and also redeem himself.  A must read.  The book reminded me a little of John Green’s Paper Towns as a search for an enigma leads to knowledge and hints of redemption.  When Things Must Come Back forces to reader to question their own faith and values, as the world around us crumbles physically and metaphorically.

☆ 151. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.   Two teenagers named Will Grayson inadvertently meet and change each other’s lives for the better.  This is a book I stupidly avoided for a long time.  John Green and David Levithan are truly gifted writers.   Still, although I don’t consider myself homophobic, I know that whenever David Levithan is involved there is a good chance that the story will revolve around a gay character.   Although I was correct, at least for one of the Will Graysons, this is a really well-told story about how we put up so many defenses in our lives, fearing we may get burned, especially in love and how we will only be happy once we understand we have to take chances despite never being able to achieve perfection in a mate. Green and Levithan are at the top of their game here.

☆ 152. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher.  No review can do this book justice.  The story of a teenager who forms a group of misfits into a swim team, at first, seemed mildly interesting, but what actually happens to the protagonist and  his family is an incredibly compelling story.

153. When Dad Killed Mom by Julius Lester.  Two children are left motherless after a murder.  Both children examine whether their father was capable of such a horrendous act.

154. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman. Min, a lover of older art-house movies, dumps Ed, her loser, jock boyfriend. The novel opens with Min leaving a box on Ed’s doorstep that contains items from their relationship and also a journal recounting why they broke up. There’s wonderful art throughout this book corresponding to the items in the box. This is an enjoyable read, with a narrator who is smart and funny. One small complaint, at times I got tired of Mia’s allusions to movies.

☆155. Winger by Andrew Smith. Winger is a child prodigy who attends an expensive prep school.  At 14, he’s two years ahead of his fellow classmates.  He’s also a pretty good rugby player.  Despite being a scrawny kid who gets picked on incessantly, he makes up his mind that he is going to turn everything around his junior year.  Throughout the book, Winger manages to suffer many physical injuries, as he sticks up for himself, others and also manages to continue to constantly be in the wrong place at the wrong time.   During this period, he falls in love and is forced to learn that love means acting in a responsible manner.  The novel is helluva of a fun ride.   Half the time I didn’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for everything this kid gets into.  Maybe that’s what I liked about it the most, despite making me laugh out loud, Winger is a touching novel.

☆156.  Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.  After the death of her friend, Cassie, Lia, who has spent time in a mental institution and suffers from anorexia, spirals out of control and hallucinates that her best friend wants her to end her life.  So, I am going to going to highly recommend this one with a caveat.  Although Laurie Halse Anderson definitely took me on a journey, like no other, with her amazing prose and richly drawn characters, sometimes I wanted the novel to move a little faster and not get so caught up in beautiful metaphors. Still, this is a must read.  For my money Laurie Halse Anderson is right up there with John Green as the voice of today’s youth.

157. Wonder by RJ Palacio.  The story of a kid born with a facial deformity who after years of home schooling enters middle school.  I know there are so many people who love this book and find it touching.  I’m probably alone on this, but the book ☆was just OK to me. There wasn’t enough action and some of it seemed contrived.

158. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by  Max Brooks. The world is threatened by a zombie invasion.

☆159. Zom-B by Darren Shan.  B lives with racist father and wrestles with whether he should hate or love him.  Meanwhile, news reports are telling of zombies invading cities.  Eventually, the zombies appear at B’s school.  OK, let me get this out of the way first:  I don’t like this as much the Cirque Du Freak series. That being said, Zom-B is still a great ride.  You will not ready for the surprise at the end.  I’m ready for book 2.

☆ 160.  47 by Walter Mosely.  47, a young slave working on a cotton plantation, is befriended by a mystical figure, Tall John, who claims 47 will be the person who will  save the universe.  The two go on to to fight for the freedom of those on the plantation as well as others trying to destroy the planet.  I believe this is Mosely’s only young adult novel.  I must admit, I’m not a big science fiction fan, but what makes this a really special novel is the friendship of the two boys.  It’s a beautiful and transcendent relationship that makes this novel well worth the read.

☆161.  100 Sideways  Miles by Andrew Smith.  Finn struggles to claim his destiny, as his father wrote a best-selling novel with a protagonist who is namd Finn and strongly resembles him.  He also suffers from epilepsy after a horrible tragedy killed his mother and sent him to the hospital.   Finn sees the world and his life through miles, while his best friend is vulgar and yet a very fitting buddy and girlfriend help him claim his identity.  The characters are extremely engaging, with a great backstory about a California Dam and William Mulholland.  Bring on Winger-a book I should have read a long time ago.  Andrew Smith is one talented guy!

☆162.  One of The Boys by Daniel Magariel. Two boys are lost in the world of their abusive dad and the lies he makes up to control and manipulate them. This is an incredible debut novel.  Magariel has the gift of playing with his audience, but still putting the reader in the hands of an author who knows exactly where he’s going.  I don’t want to give away any of the novel, but nothing prepared for the beautiful epilogue.

☆163. The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home and recollects on a magical journey.  Neil Gaiman somehow  always combines beauty and great story telling. Every time I think I know Gaiman, he surprises me not only in how he draws me in to a wonderous tale, but how he touches my soul.

☆164.  Luna by Julie Ann Peters.  Told through the story of a sibling, Regan, who experiences her brother deciding to make the transition and embrace herself as a  transgender.  I thought I truly understood what it meant to be transgender, but I didn’t until reading this novel.  In the voice of Regan the author does an amazing job of showing the affects this could have on a loving yet definitely out of touch parents.

☆165. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schmitz.  A puppetmaster who manipulates two orphans to do his bidding, uses magical spells to turn children into puppets and collect ransom from bereaving parents. Don’t worry if this doesn’t make any sense, it will.  This is a wild ride filled with intrigue, mystery, magic and shadowy figures and events. All told in beautiful prose, and a bit longer than most young adult novels, this is a great fireside/summer read.

166. Gabby, a girl in pieces, by Isabel Quintero. Gabby, a senior in high school is dealing with a lot–her father is a heroine addict, one of her close friends just got pregnant and the other just admitted to his family he’s gay. All this plays out in in a Latino society, where these teenagers fight stereotypes and try to reclaim their independence.   This is also an interesting feminist novel as Gabby deals confronts issues of obesity and her own self esteem. I wanted to like this novel and I’m sure others will.  There’s lots of humor, even more if you speak Spanish. My main issue is that the novel just meanders along with no real plot points.

167.  Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.  Mare Barrow grows up a poor commoner, a Red, until she finds out she’s a mutation with special powers.  Actually, it’s way more convoluted but I don’t want to go into it.  I slogged through this book, never really caring about this girl or this red and silver world.  Strangely, I could still see why it’s so popular, and I could easily imagine it realized as movie. Still, it did nothing for me.  At 380 pages, I couldn’t wait for it to end.

☆168.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  Wade lives in 2044 and reality is a pretty horrible place. The only place he can be free is on OASIS–a virtual reality world like no other.   On OASIS, the founder dies and offers his fortune to whoever can solve an online puzzle.  All the pieces of the puzzle involve playing video games from the ’80s.   This is an incredibly fun ride–a gamer geek’s heaven: tons of great battles, lots of video game jargon, and tons of ’80s allusions.  For me, this was like modern-day Ender’s Game.

☆169. We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach–Four kids in high school have to deal with the possibility of an asteroid hitting the earth and destroying most of the world.  Wallach has an incredibly keen eye for how high school kids think.  There is something so believable about the characters and how they handle this crises, their parents and, many times, unrequited love.


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