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 →

Reading You Don’t Live Here left me wowed and gushing that author Robyn Schneider is a genius at capturing the search for one’s true self!  In her novel, Schneider not only shares insight into human nature and how keeping parts of ourselves hidden has consequences but includes multiple metaphors for the therapeutic power of art.  I also laughed out loud when she referred to high school as a “uniquely hellish social experiment” (70). Sixteen-year-old Sasha Bloom is a photographer, an identity she gravitated towards after her mother bought her a camera because Sasha would rather be invisible behind a camera lens than be a continuedRead More →

Here’ the dirt on Dirt by Denise Gosliner Orenstein: Eleven-year-old Yonder attends Robert Frost Middle School in Vermont, where her classmates are “just dumb losers with mean mouths full of empty words” (5). After her mother dies, Yonder screams and yells for her mother to come back but realizes that words don’t work, so she stops speaking since “silence seems safer.” Yonder’s father masks his grief and fills the empty void with alcohol: “My father drank and drank and drank and didn’t really know how to be a regular father at all” (48). Despite his sobbing and his littering the floor with beer bottles, YonderRead More →

If you’re looking for a novel this summer that will inspire thought about all of life’s big topics, like love, sex, kissing, loss, and death, Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue is that book.  Although a simple-looking book on the surface, Words in Deep Blue packs a philosophically powerful punch by asking some tough questions, inviting the reader to wrestle with a variety of options about topics that matter, questions like: Are all worthwhile things—like love and the ocean’s depths—also terrifying?  It poses some theories, too—about how people are like secondhand books, full of mysteries, or how science attracts us because it is rich withRead More →

According to seventeen-year- old Louna Barrett, “You can’t measure love by time put in, but by the weight of those moments” (115).  She had only loved Ethan Caruso for a short time, but he was her “once and for all,” until he wasn’t. Since losing Ethan, Louna is prickly, antisocial, and somewhat cynical about love.  Ethan, whose mother had been married multiple times, had been cynical about marriage, but Louna knows a lot about weddings, after having worked summers at her mother’s wedding planning business.   She sees a wedding as a series of special moments, strung together like beads on a chain.  A Natalie BarrettRead More →

Similar to Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott uses a road trip as a metaphor for the journey survivors take as they learn how to cope with death and loss. After sixteen-year-old Ashlyn Montiel dies in a freakish bicycle accident in Bend, Oregon, her boyfriend—Kyle Ocie, a baseball player who doesn’t believe in the afterlife—and her best friend—sassy, smart, cheerleader Claudia Marlowe—have difficulty overcoming the shock of having Ashlyn ripped from their lives.  Realizing they will never be with her again not only affects how the two live; the idea of going on withoutRead More →