Four Three Two One by Courtney Stevens recounts the story of four young adults, all unique in their idiosyncrasies as they board Charter Bus 21 in New York City on June 15 bound for Ellis Island: Chandler Clayton is allergic to sudden changes but artistic with a sketch pad or a chain saw and logs; Golden Jennings is eager to explore the world beyond the towering oaks and billowing blue grass of Kentucky with her vintage No. 3 Kodak; Rudy Guthrie is a talented soccer athlete and a writer who has just won a scholarship to Emerson College in Boston; and Caroline Ascott from a wealthyRead More →

Hoping to be the next great foreign correspondent, Viola Wynne Li plans to attend New York University Abu Dhabi when she graduates from Liberty Prep School in Seattle.  Intent on being a voice for the powerless and the homeless, Viola envisions herself as a truth-teller in a conflict zone, one who covers “the forgotten issues, the ones more convenient to ignore” (117). Also passionate about comics, Viola especially loves Firefly, and considers her own super power to be researching.  Not only does knowledge empower, but data prepares a person to make a good decision in difficult circumstances.  She and her friends Aminta and Caresse areRead More →

Dana L. Davis is an actress, a classical violinist, and now an author.  Her debut novel, Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is a remarkable book about a sixteen-year-old young woman who has found herself in a tsunami of change after her mother dies from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Because Grams is an elderly resident in an assisted living facility, suddenly Tiffany is flying from low-income housing in Chicago to a mansion in Los Angeles to live with the doctor dad she didn’t even know existed.  Uprooted from her familiar neighborhood, school, and friends and suffering from anxiety disorder, Tiffany must find comfort with a stepmother, four sisters,Read More →

Misunderstood and somewhat disengaged from her sophomore classmates, Jess Cutter lives in a fictional town in Montana called Birdton, where not much happens and where “unwritten sock protocols” often marginalize her.  When her identical twin sister Anna—creative writer and out-going socializer—dies mysteriously, grief consumes Jess, but she’s afraid that if she begins to cry, she will “dissolve, leaving only a ring of salt behind” (22). Because her sister’s death leaves Jess feeling like a part of her is missing, she gives her life purpose by working to reconstruct the events of her sister’s death so that she can understand not only Anna’s motivations but the secretsRead More →

At seventeen years old, the protagonist in The Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy, Grace Marie Pierce, is living the life of a privileged girl, the pure embodiment of the American dream with money, security, friends, and hope for a golden future.  Hardly ever angry, Grace has been sheltered by wealth and fame as the daughter of Janelle Pierce, an investment broker who swaddles herself in luxury: exotic travel, expensive clothes, and other unlimited material comforts.  Janelle occasionally escapes the heat of Phoenix, Arizona, and the stress of the financial world by visiting her favorite place, Blue Lakes in Ridgway, Colorado, where the serenity and theRead More →

With his debut novel, Tyler Johnson Was Here, Jay Coles tells the story of Tyler and Marvin Johnson, twin teenage boys living in Sterling Point, Alabama.  In their neighborhood, they worry often about police visits, gang-infested streets, robberies, vandalism, and gun violence.  For eight years, their father has been in Montgomery Correctional Facility for a crime he did not commit, and Marvin would “kill to have him back” (19). Because he hung around men who committed crimes, Jamal Johnson received his sentence from a corrupt system.  To cope with his dad’s absence and to see past the shame, Marvin writes letters to his absent father,Read More →

Having been abandoned by a mother who can’t love like a normal mom, fifteen-year-old Sarah-Mary and her eleven-year-old brother Caleb live with their Aunt Jenny in Hannibal, Missouri.  And even though Sarah-Mary is normally a rule-abiding, responsible girl, her best friend Tess Villalobos convinces her to exchange school for a road trip to St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch.  While there, a mild case of claustrophobia and acrophobia overwhelms Sarah-Mary.  Because she passes out, she is found out, so her aunt tightens the rules and sends Sarah-Mary to Berean Baptist, a strict private school, not only to teach her the value of discipline but toRead More →

Somewhat like the choose-your-own-adventure books with alternate endings, Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore occasionally leaves the reader with the feeling of being lost in a maze, confused by the various plot twists and turns or coming upon a similar detail and experiencing déjà vu.  Although Cashore’s book is intended for linear, cover-to-cover reading, when the book’s protagonist, Jane, approaches an important choice, the reader follows her down that path to see how the decision plays out. The novel begins on a boat, with Jane travelling to Tu Reviens, a house on an island and a place of opportunity.  She had promised her deceased aunt MagnoliaRead More →

If you’re the sort of person who secretly reads the end of a novel first, then Emily Lockhart’s new book Genuine Fraud was written with you in mind because it begins with Chapter 18 and works its way to Chapter 1. Lockhart writes about two young women: Imogen Sokoloff and Jule West Williams, two orphans and school friends who defy social conventions but have histories that bind them.  Imogen, a New York City, private-school blond, is an open-minded, confident, and desirable friend and hostess who draws people in with her power, money, enthusiasm, and independence.  She refuses to strive for greatness or to work toward other people’s definitionsRead More →