When eighth graders Andrej Tschichatschow and Mike Klingenberg don’t receive invitations to the popular Tatiana Cosic’s birthday party, they set off to make their own fun on an epic adventure across Germany in a stolen Lada.  Bound for Wallachia without a map, the boys experience “the feeling of invincibility. No accident, no authority, no law of nature could stop us” (209).  As they travel, they discuss life, death, love, and sexuality.  They also encounter Isa Schmidt, who lives in the dump and shows them how to siphon gasoline; Horst Fricke, a former military sharpshooter who shoots at them and then offers them an orange soda andRead More →

Having spent grades 7-11 in the cab of a semi-truck, home-schooled on the road by her father, Hayley Rose Kincain doesn’t know the rules for high school, where flaunts, taunts, and poses are all part of what she calls the zombie life.  Refusing to be colonized by the hive at Belmont High, Hayley spends a good part of her senior year in detention for correcting teachers’ mistakes and for committing other rule infractions.   Quiet, gawky, awkward, strangely smart, and “adorkable”—according to her friend Gracie Rappaport—Hayley wants to have a good time and make the world a better place. Those aspirations are nearly impossible, though, forRead More →

Written as letters from a sixteen-year-old girl to an inmate, Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher tells the story of Zoe.  This British girl, who dreams someday of becoming an author of children’s books, has killed someone she was supposed to love.  With the guilt weighing heavily on her, Zoe locates a man on death row in Texas, guilty of his own crime of passion, and adopts him as her pen pal—a kindred spirit who might understand “the pain and the fear and the sadness and the guilt and the hundred other feelings that don’t even have a name in all of the English language” (7). Read More →