Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

sloppy firsts Sloppy firsts by Megan McCafferty

Almost 16 year old Jessica Darling has started an occasional diary in January of a new year to chronicle her life after best friend Hope has moved with her family from their New Jersey shore town to Tennessee. Each month starts with Jessica’s monthly snail mail letter to Hope, giving her a summary of the most important events and her thoughts each month. Without her best friend, Jessica eats lunch with three girls she calls the Clueless Crew, since as a sophomore she can’t sit with upperclassmen. She doesn’t fit into other social groups and has no interest in joining them. Smart and diligent, Jessica ranks near the top of her class and is also a champion runner on the school track team. An insomniac, Jessica is faking being sick to nap in the nurse’s office when she is awakened by Marcus Flutie, a notorious Dreg, to supply urine for an unscheduled surprise drug test for his parole officer. Jessica surprises Marcus and herself by agreeing to do it on his promise he won’t narc on her. The surprises continue as she and Marcus start a tentative friendship.

The first in a series, this diary reflects a true to life teen girl’s voice, full of drama about family, friends, school and life in general. I am eagerly anticipating reading more about Jessica’s adventures as her life continues.

Reviewed by Ellie Goldstein-Erickson

Author Highlight: Una LaMarche

UnaLaMarche Una LaMarche is an author, journalist and blogger who spent the first 14 years of her life with a very impressive unibrow. UnibrowShe writes with great humor online – her blog is hilarious, if a bit adult themed (her adult curse world coloring book give-away contest, sadly, has ended). LaMarche’s books for young adults are all very different, although each contains a tale of struggle and overcoming, along with a taste (or sometimes more) of romance. Una LaMarche currently lives in Brooklyn, which is often where her stories take place. I enjoyed her books, and I liked learning about her even more! Her website will link you to articles that she has published (including in the New York Times) which can be laugh out loud funny!
Don’t Fail Me Now

This book features a road trip with half-siblings who meet for the first time as teen-agers and share a totally dysfunctional father. One half of the family has been growing up in extreme poverty, while the other half leads a well financed and sheltered existence. Trying to find common ground can be difficult, but nothing brings people together like being broke, with a broke down car, and no one to count on but each other.

No Other
Teen-age love is hard enough without the added stresses of parental disapproval and the gulf between culturally divergent worlds. Devorah is from an Hasidic Jewish family who have very strong ideas about who is appropriate to mix and mingle with and who is not. Jaxon is definitely “not”. He might be from the same neighborhood but he is not a Hasid. The two teens meet unexpectedly in an elevator and a beautiful, yet seemingly doomed, relationship blossoms.

Five Summers
Five Summers
They were inseparable every summer for years, before their teenage lives drew them apart. Now they are coming back for a reunion and a last chance at their friendship that seemed strong enough to last forever. But they are different now than when they were younger. Each holds secrets and pasts that have yet to be shared. Are they really best friends or is their friendship about to end?

Post written by Sarah Rosenkrantz



Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez


Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Out of Darkness is woven together from tragedy, heartbreak, hard times, and resilience. Naomi’s life is complicated. Her mother is dead. She is living with her white step-father in a racist town where her Mexicanidad makes her a target for her white school mates. Naomi runs the household and takes care of her twin younger siblings, and she has met a special young man, Wash. But everywhere she goes there is danger. Her beauty gets her unwanted attention from the boys. Her color gets her banned from stores where she is supposed to shop. Her step-father starts to see her as a woman and not a girl. Meanwhile, Wash and Naomi are falling deeper and deeper in love. The number of secrets keep piling up and tangling the web of lives. When tragedy strikes at the school, everyone is looking for an easy scapegoat in their darker skinned neighbors. Not everyone is going to survive living in this Texas mining town.

Read the New York Times review of Out of Darkness here. You can also check out What Can’t Wait and The Knife and The Butterfly, also written by Ashley Hope Perez.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

AudioSync for free Young Adult Audiobooks


This great program starts in just a couple weeks.  SYNC a free summer audiobook program for teens. Starting May 5th 2016, SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads a week – pairs of high interest titles, based on weekly themes.  The weekly downloads will be a pair of related current YA and classic novels.  You can also  sign up at their website for for text or email reminders when new books are available for free download.

Each book is only available for download for one week, but can then be listened to when you want.  The downloads are in the MP3 format , compatible with both Macs and PCs.  The titles are downloaded through the Overdrive Media Console app, the same one used by the Berkeley Public library for audio and e-books.  Although the first download is a little tricky, it’s easy once you get the hang of it.  Here is their link for very simple download assistance!  (The beauty part is that then you can use it to get e-books for your smart phone, iPad or computer using the same app!)

Here is a humongous list containing all 30 titles, Teen books and the classics with which they are paired.  You can click each hotlink to get a description of the title and a listening sample.

Happy Listening!

Dime by E.R. Frank

DimeDime by E. R. Frank

This is a gritty, and traumatic story about what can happen to a girl who has no one to care for her. And the only people who help her want to use and abuse her. Dime is a young teen-ager when she finds herself sitting at the bus stop with no coat or home to go to in the middle of an East Coast winter. The handsome manipulative pimp “Daddy” that takes her in, convinces her that she is the one that he loves, and not the other two working girls. Dime wants to give Daddy everything and it doesn’t take long till she also finds herself working the streets at night.

Throughout the book Dime tries to keep up her school attendance and stay in the thinking game by not drinking or using drugs like some of the other prostitutes. Unfortunately no one seems to be around to help Dime. Not teachers, her parents, elders, people in the neighborhood or…ANYONE! It takes some extreme circumstances for Dime to really understand the life situation that she is in, including a very disturbing series of sex-crimes with a pre-teen girl.

To be clear, this book is about the sex-trafficking of minors. This book is about young girls coerced into prostitution. And this book is detailed about what that means and how that happens.

If you enjoyed Sold, Speak or Kendra you may also like this book.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier


Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier

It’s her second year in high school and she’s pretty much alone. It wasn’t that April was an outcast, or super unpopular, or anything. She’s mostly a quiet girl who’s best friend left, and now she eats alone at lunch time and stays home practicing piano on the weekends. It’s a pretty obscure life until Jonah arrives. He’s cute, artistic, witty, and, best of all, he’s into April.

April and Jonah become friends, bestfriends, and a couple. It has it’s bumps but they are both happy they found each other. That is until the voices find Jonah and won’t let him go. They twist and turn him, competing for reality, and he’s spiraling into a world where no one can reach him. Not his mother, not his sister, not even April.

This book is about how it feels to be in love with someone who is losing control of their mind. April has to grapple with what it means to be supportive versus enabling, and how to navigate her world as well as Jonah’s. It’s a complicated love story, and the answers are never easy.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

RollerGirlRoller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

It’s the summer before junior high and Astrid is going through the changes. Breaking up with a best friend, finding a new passion, lying to her mom and dying her hair blue. Astrid wants to become a roller derby girl but her long-time best friend Nicole is more interested in ballet, boys and fashion. What’s worse is that Astrid doesn’t even know how to roller skate, or how she’s going to make it through the derby summer camp. But the bumps and bruises start to pay off. Her skating improves, she makes a new friend, finds a new she-ro and learns to put on a mean game face.

Roller Girl is an awesome, fun read!  Life lessons are sprinkled throughout this face-paced graphic novel. These girls are gritty and fun, and the story rolls along to the end. Take a reading dive into the exciting world of the Roller Derby created by new comer graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson (aka Winnie the Pow).

CLICK HERE to read about the author and The Making of Roller Girl

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz


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