Poppy, Marcus, Azumi, Dash, and Dylan are five children who do not know anything about one another until they meet in the Shadow House. Poppy is an orphan living in a group home with other young women. She is different than the other girls and has difficulty making friends. Recently, every time Poppy looks into the mirror, there is a Girl staring back at her. Suddenly, Poppy comes across a letter addressed to her from a Great-Aunt Delphinia who invites her to come live with her on her estate. Poppy eagerly grabs her belongings, and runs out the door. Marcus, a talented musician, seems toRead More →

Joanna Gordon is a high school senior, who is looking forward to her last year with her best friend Dana. Joanna and Dana have experienced a lot together; both girls came out of the closet and have stuck by one another when faced with issues regarding their sexuality. Even Joanna’s father accepts who she is, which means a lot because he is an evangelist with his own radio show. However, Joanna is not the only woman in her dad’s life anymore. Elizabeth Gordon, or as Joanna likes to call her, “Three”, is her dad’s new wife. (She’s his third wife, hence her nickname.) Joanna does not mindRead More →

In The Littlest Bigfoot, New York Times Best Seller Jennifer Weiner delivers the first of what I hope to be many books for young adults.  This is a story about two girls from two different worlds who have always felt like outsiders but somehow form an unlikely friendship.  There is twelve-year-old Alice, who is ashamed of her unruly hair, and larger-than-average body, and has difficulty fitting in at school. She is being shipped off to her either boarding school at The Experimental Center for Love and Learning, where “everyone has a thing,” and lentil loaf is a dinner staple.  There she meets her bunkmates RiyaRead More →

Inspired by ancient Chinese folklore and woven with both adventure and villainy, When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin is a lyrical, well-told tale, complete with full-color illustrations.  It is the tale of Pinmei, a shy girl whose words freeze in her throat at the sight of anyone unfamiliar, and of Yishan, a boy who often forgets he is young and speaks with a confidence and vehemence that belie his youth. Both Pinmei and Yishan live on a remote mountain, a place of solitude.  But the tranquility of their lives is shattered when soldiers come and capture Amah, Pinmei’s grandmother, who is the famous storyteller.  People areRead More →

Keeping secrets can lead to danger, and danger gives life to fear, but fear can sharpen you and make you stronger.  Under the influence of fear, the challenges you encounter can, in fact, help you to grow into your best possible self.   These are the truths that eleven-year-old Reuben Pedley learns in Trenton Lee Stewart’s new release Secret Keepers. In many ways, Stewart’s book parallels The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; the main character, whose father is also dead, is a thief of sorts with an interest in clocks, although not for the same reason.  Reuben, too, must solve a mystery which began several generationsRead More →

Love isn’t all emotion; it is also biology and chemistry, and according to Krystal Sutherland in her debut novel, Our Chemical Hearts, “all love is equal in the brain” (287).  Like hunger and thirst, love drives us to act, and satisfying that craving becomes a goal.  Although we tend to identify love most often with euphoria, that is hardly the only emotion we feel when under its influence. Ecstasy, compassion, surprise, anxiety, anger, jealousy, and despair, all play a role as the brain releases chemicals like pheromones, dopamine, and serotonin. Sutherland’s seventeen-year-old protagonist, Henry Isaac Page experiences these emotions as he swings between highs and lows,Read More →

In this rational, scientific age, can people still take the leaps of faith necessary to believe in miracles?  This is the question explored by James Patterson in his mystery-thriller Cradle and All in a fashion similar to that pursued by Dan Brown in books like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.  During a second coming of the dreaded disease polio, thought eradicated by Dr. Salk’s and the Sabin vaccine, people—mostly children—are dying or surviving with deformed limbs and crippled spines.  This unusual pandemic seems connected to the lives of two girls.  Kathleen Beavier, a seventeen-year-old with a model’s beauty and a Catholic girl’s innocence,Read More →