MAY
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Graphic novel. very graphic. I'm passing this one on to a high school. It's excellently drawn--the artwork is so much of the story. But the language is pretty crude in a lot of instances. Not one I want to argue the literary merit of with a 6th grader's parent. Two girls meet every summer at a beach cottage community. This year something is wrong with one of the mothers. Arguing, refusal to take part in the usual activities and Dad leaves for a while. Side story is about the checkout guy at the local convenience store and a girl he has apparently knocked up. (That's a nice way of putting what they put less nicely.) Our preteens are pulled into that story. Not recommended for my school.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Ally loves to draw and do math but here she is in 6th grade and her secret-she can't read. You could almost make up this story yourself: She is teased and shut out until she makes two close friends who are also "different" (who isn't?) Her substitute teacher is perfect and figures out her problem without her misbehavior driving him crazy. She gains self-confidence and everyone starts to like her except of course the evil bully (yes, bullies are evil) who ends up losing her powers. This was a nice story. The friends are great characters and Ally's hurts are definitely realistic. I'm less likely to believe Shay the bully loses friends. It's good but not on my favorite list. 4th+

Salt by Maurice Gee
This is older but apparently a classic. Winner of the NewZealand book award for Young Adult Fiction. It's something of a fantasy dystopia. Company (the dictators) have taken Hari's father away and because of his resistance he is being sent to Deep Salt where no one ever returns. Hari vows to rescue him. The same night Pearl and her caretaker Tealeaf flee the city to avoid a marriage to evil Ottmarr. The story line is terrific and full of life and death escapes. Lots of topics here: racism, slavery and class warfare, evil hearts vs the good calling, survival, weapons of mass destruction. I liked it. It has closure even though there is a sequel.

all the broken pieces by Ann E Burg
Matt Pin was airlifted out of Vietnam with other children as Saigan fell. But he left behind a mother and handicapped brother. The nightmares plague him. He also lives in a world where there is overt hatred of Vietnamese even though his father had been American. He begins to come to some understanding as he attends a support group for wounded soldiers. A novel in verse, this is heavy with emotions from all sides. I'm still not sure whether it should be YA just for the emotional weight. To quote the adoptive father, "War is a monster with a mind of its own."

All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Not quite Gallager Girls. This is the story of an Embassy Row daughter who has lost her mother and is just returning to her ambassador grandfather. But she knows she saw her mother shot by a scar faced man. Lots of multicultural characters. Intrigue. and super surprise ending. Excellent. YA.

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett, Jory John and Kevin Cornell
Whew. I needed this piece of escapism. Miles Murphy is the new guy and wants to be known as the King of Pranksters. But his first day he is paired with Niles as his buddy. Niles seems to be the opposite of Prankster. This is fun, with lots of conflict and resolutions. I loved it. 3rd+

Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Milo thought Christmas would be quiet until a houseful of odd guests show up at their ancient inn. All of them seem to have a secret agenda which Milo starts investigating with his friend Meddy. The underlying story about family and adoption is worthy of thought. And the mystery is complicated like The Westing Game. Good. 4th+

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
He's done it again! Sheinkin takes a moment in history and makes it a living story. Much like the Notorious Benedict Arnold and Bomb, Sheinkin pulls you into the story of 50 black sailors accused of mutiny because they were afraid to go back to loading ammunition onto boats in dangerous conditions. In July of 1944 an entire pier in Port Chicago (CA) was obliterated and 320 men died. Even that late in the war the Navy had segregated units of black sailors with no black officers. The story of segregation and courage in the face of it is the real story. This is good. 5th+

Evil spy school by Stuart Gibbs
Once again our hero Ben Ripley seems to be in over his head. On opening day of the CIA's secret middle school spy academy, he manages to blow up the Principal's office and get expelled. SPYDER swoops him up and the plot is on. I can't even tell much because there is so much intrigue and so many surprises. Let it suffice to say that the overall idea is brilliant and pretty fresh. This is pretty intense, but 4th and 5th graders will love it. Excellent

Undertow by Michael Buckley (netgalley)
Lyric Walker lives in the Zone: the sealed off area of Coney Island where a group of Alphas, living undersea warriors, has taken over the beach. More like the Sisters Grimm books than his NERDs books, this is a running commentary on segregation, integration, war, friendship, and anything else you can think of. The Alphas are a mix of every mythological creature you know from the ocean. And they are pretty scary. There's some great elements of romance thrown in without going over to the high school content. I read this in one long sitting because I just didn't want to quit. Excellent. I just wish the ending were a bit more satisfying. Sequel? YA for violence (and lots of it) and passion.
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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (netgalley)
Sam (who is conflicted about being called Samantha) is OCD. In a crippling way. She's making progress with therapy and meds, but still is tortured over the smallest things. Especially her Crazy Eight friends who are the school's "perfect" girl crowd. Summer Sam is closer to her ideal self, but that's for a few short weeks every year. Then she meets Caroline who introduces her to the Poets' Corner which will change her life. This book has a lot going for it. The OCD part is something I've never seen addressed and it would be useful. The poetry as outlet part is handled especially well. The plot twist is good although the story drags just a bit in the middle. My biggest concern is that Sam decides to have sex (for the first time) and it's not really necessary to the story. And it's not discussed much either. She's 16. I just feel that sex is a big deal, not just incidental. YA obviously.


everyday angel: New Beginnings by Victoria Schwab
a mashup of Touched by an Angel and Ghost Whisperer. This is written at a pretty low level for such serious content. Gabby has just moved to a new city to be near the hospital where her brother is being treated for cancer. Her mother ignores her and she's frustrated at being ignored all the time. Aria appears (from nowhere apparently) to help her. The rules of being a guardian angel are a bit mushy. Plus Aria doesn't seem to know what she's doing. I do have theological problems with this book. It's not terrible. It's not great either. 4th+