With I Am Not Alone, Francisco X. Stork has penned a powerful and poignant story. His protagonist Alberto Bocel is an undocumented Mexican in the United States working in order to send money back to Ticul, Mexico, for his mother’s medical bills. Alberto endures symptoms of a mental condition that leaves him oscillating between a cloud of forgetfulness or battling the voice in his head. As a result, he feels broken. When Alberto is accused of murdering Mrs. Macpherson, he wonders if he is capable of such cruelty. Did the voice in his head—whom he has named Captain America—use his hands to commit murder? AtRead More →

Readers of Sarah Dessen and Kasie West will likely enjoy This Might Get Awkward by Kara McDowell. Set in Page, Arizona, McDowell’s novel tells the story of Gemma Wells, who finds social situations awkward and awful and who—of her own admission—doesn’t know how to have fun. Despite her challenges to conquer her social anxiety disorder (SAD), Gemma can’t just “suck it up.” So, when her favorite beach is overtaken by a teen party at the end of the school year, her fantasies kick into high gear. Beau Booker, captain of the swim team and the most popular person at Page High, is in attendance. JustRead More →

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 →

Set in Ashfield, Australia, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim features the story of the Chiu family and the challenges they face with a mother who endures mental illness and a “wrapped-up-blanket sadness” (58). Anna (16), Lily (14), and Michael (6) watch for signs that mark good days and bad days and dread the days when Ma has a psychotic episode. Their father, who knows the work ethic of a provider, immerses himself in his work at the Jade Palace, a Chinese restaurant that he owns in a distant city. Because Baba rarely comes home, preferring to sleep on the cotRead More →

Sheltered on a remote island and taught to think that the rest of the world has been destroyed by swelling tides and rising temperatures due to the effects of global warming and selfish, greedy people, Moss lives a nearly idyllic existence with her Pa and their dogs, Jess and Adder. On Flower Island, Pa experiments with magic since the storm-flowers that grow there have healing properties and their petals are capable of engendering a buzz of relaxation, happiness, and queasy-strange feelings—even hallucinations.  When Pa is “flower-struck,” his thinking buzzed, he dances and tells stories.  In this hopeful and happy state, he pushes healing pollen toRead More →

Her brother Nolan is dead, her parents are divorced, her aunt Joan is a “hurricane,” and Mel Hannigan has one of many versions of bipolar disorder, but some things you just don’t tell the world.  In the same spirit with which Terry Spencer Hesser skillfully and credibly illustrates obsessive compulsive disorder in Kissing Doorknobs  and Mark Haddon writes about life for someone coping with autism in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Eric Lindstrom shares his honest and informative novel,  A Tragic Kind of Wonderful.  Books like these, with realistic representations of people who experience mental health issues, can help readers notRead More →

Had Molly Rosenberg known that middle school was going to be the high point in her life, she would have tried harder to enjoy it.  Now, she’s a freshman at Santa Monica High School in Southern California, and she’s friendless and living a life haunted by past mistakes and regrets.  Because she suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks, her service dog Pixel coaxes her to breathe. But life wasn’t always like this.  Before everything changed, the Rosenbergs were a regular family who played Monopoly or snuggled under blankets to watch old movies together.  “After the awful thing that happened last winter” (47), Mom became addictedRead More →

Lucille “Lucy” Peevey dreams of leaving Sunnyside Trailer Park and becoming a famous scientist. She lives with her mother, Margaret, and her younger sister Izzy. Lucy’s biggest supporter, her grandmother, recently passed away. Before Gram passed, Lucy promised her that she would participate and win the annual BotBlock competition. The BotBlock competition requires applicants to create and program their own robots to complete various challenges. Lucy and her best friend Cam have created their step by step plan to succeed in their goal and win the competition with their own robot, PingPing200. Easy enough right? Wrong. First, Lucy is struggling to survive seventh grade. There is aRead More →

Sarah Nelson is not your typical twelve year old. While most kids her age enjoy watching action movies and playing sports, Sarah prefers to read books and write letters to Atticus Finch, a fictional character from her favorite novel. Her best friend happens to be a plant and she has never known her mother. While Sarah wants to know her mom and see her, she is unable to because Sarah’s mom is living in a mental institution. Sarah and her father have moved around Texas so many times, Sarah has never felt as if she has had a home. Once a neighbor, classmate, or co-workerRead More →