Melody Bird’s favorite place is the graveyard.  It’s full of history and beauty, not sadness, and it’s always peaceful and absent of shouting. After her parents split up because of Dad’s deceit, team MC—Melody and her mom Claudia—support one another. One day while walking in the graveyard with her dachshund Frankie, Melody discovers a house overgrown by weeds and vines. After some research, she learns that this is a plague house, a quarantine facility that is hundreds of years old. Melody can’t wait to share her find with her best friend, Matthew Corbin. Matthew has a fear of germs and a tendency towards obsessive compulsiveRead More →

A senior at Grove Hill High School in Michigan, Aubrey Cash aspires to be a veterinarian, but her best friend Reese is cursed with a romantic streak.  As a cheerleader, she is constantly encouraging Aubrey to date. Using her “Disney Princess Face,” she plays matchmaker. But in Aubrey’s scientific mind, “The whole concept of true love is inherently flawed” (45). Basketball star, Webster Casey is new in town after his parents’ recent divorce. Because he lives across the street from Aubrey, the two form a connection until Webster inexplicably fails to take her to the homecoming dance as promised. After getting close to a boyRead More →

When “quiet, nerdy Ada Bloom finally has a verifiable love interest” (2), several people are surprised—including Ada. After five months, dating affable, athletic Leo Robinson, who is captain of the swim team, the two teens decide their relationship has reached the threshold of “the next step.” After Leo pops the question, Ada realizes she is not ready, and her relationship unravels from there. Cynthia Hand spends the rest of her novel With You All the Way exploring what makes someone believe he or she is ready for sex. She also addresses various motivations for the sexual act: curiosity, revenge, being sixteen, doing something risky andRead More →

Summer at Meadow Wood by Amy Rebecca Tan tells the story of thirteen-year-old senior camper Victoria (Vic) Brown who is not happy with her mother’s decision to ship her off to Meadow Wood, a beautiful lakefront campus in New Hampshire where Vic has spent previous pleasure-filled summers. However, this summer, Vic had plans for sleeping in, binge-watching old television shows, floating on a raft at the pool while checking out the lifeguards, and shining flashlight beams into the night sky as she and Jamie, her bestie in Pennsylvania, whispered their deepest wishes and fears to each other. Instead, she is covered in sweat, fighting aRead More →

A form of cognitive efficiency, labeling helps people make sense of their worlds. Although labels give our brains the ability to categorize and to draw useful conclusions, they can also limit thinking and lead to stereotypes. With labels like normal, mentally ill, or bipolar, we not only make assumptions about others but about ourselves and our potential abilities. These assumptions can even influence our identities. It is this identity labeling that concerns Journey Smith, the seventeen-year-old protagonist in Faith Gardner’s novel Girl on the Line. Journey doubts the truth about many of the things the world tells her and believes that her brain ruins everything asRead More →

Wrecked by her parents’ divorce and then her brother’s disappearance three years ago, Andrea Murphy’s life has grown awful. The empty seat at the table, her unrelenting guilt that her brother’s disappearance is somehow her fault, and his ghost in the boxes stacked in the garage all haunt her. “I’m fine” is the lie she tells to hide the cracks and holes in her heart. As a reminder of his memory, she carries a missing piece of her brother in her pocket. When the pain grows too intense to bear, she rides her bike far and fast, letting the breeze whip through her hair whileRead More →

Wrenched from her childhood home in Memphis and from a father she loves, sixteen-year-old Skye Rogers has been transplanted to New York City’s Upper West Side to reside with the ultra-wealthy—the American Royalty.  Calling The Monmouth School, which she attends with her twin brother Red, her personal hell, Skye lives with her mother, Deidre Allen, whom she despises, and a detached stepfather who tolerates her. While Red makes friends effortlessly, Skye (aka Blue) struggles to make tentative connections. However, she does befriend Jenny Johnson, with whom she bonds over a mutual wrist-slitting suicide attempt.   Both girls are also ambitious, with Jenny hoping to be aRead More →

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will likely find The Upside of Falling by Alex Light an appealing read.  Set in Georgia and bouncing between the two perspectives of the main characters, this debut novel tells the story of Brett Wells and Becca Hart, while also capturing  a glimpse of high school social dynamics. Brett is the captain of the football team and appears on the surface to have an idyllic life since he has been gifted with talent, good looks, and wealthy parents who love one another.  Despite his “swoon-worthy eyes,” readers will discover that cracks and dents mar his perfect life. Becca,Read More →