We Were Liars by e. Lockhart

we were liars

We Were Liars by e. Lockhart

In some families telling the truth is valued. In others it’s doing whatever it takes to move on and move ahead. The Sinclairs are a wealthy clan who ‘summer’ on their own private island where the cousins frolick all the day long. But something has gone terribly wrong and Cadence can’t put it all together. She remembers waking up on the beach, being in the hospital, taking pills and seeing a therapist, but the rest of it is a mess from day to day. She writes herself post-its to try to keep track. Meanwhile The Family seems to crumble before her eyes, and none of it makes a whole lot of sense in the big picture.

Cadence can’t figure out why her mom is always weepy, why her cousin won’t write her back, and how the boy she has loved her whole life is slipping away from her before they even get to know one another off the island.

This book is a mystery that reveals itself along the way. Fans of 13 Reasons Why and Jodi Picoult books will enjoy the journey. It worked for me.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

ImpossibleKnifeThe Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Most of the time we think of the parent taking care of the child, but sometimes life turns the relationships upside down and the kids are the ones keeping it all together. Hayley and her father were always on the move, until her father finally decides to return to his hometown and try to settle down. But keeping still is a struggle for a war veteran who is constantly traumatized by PTSD and can’t hold down a job for any length of time. Hayley does her best to both fit in and remain anonymous, since she knows nothing can last for long and too much attention will get her and her dad in trouble. But that’s not easy to do in a small town with a long memory.

Hayley is constantly worried about her dad’s safety to the point that her life is consumed by the task of keeping him alive. She is often isolated and even those who try to help her find it hard to get in. If you love someone with PTSD this book may help you see them, and yourself, in a new way. And maybe offer some ideas of how to make a change.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner


The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

If you have always lived in Berkeley, or a city of any size, then it is hard to fathom what it means to be from a small town. Always the same kids in your classes. Everybody doing the same thing on Saturday night. And you inherit the legacy of the life your siblings, parents and grandparents led before you ever got here. If you are lucky this is a good thing. But Travis or Dill it’s a heavy burden to carry. Dill has a dad behind bars and a fanatical mom at home who wants him to keep his life as small as possible. Travis’s dad drinks himself into a fury at his son whose world revolves around a fantasy book. Both boys are big disappointments to those around them. Lydia, their one other friend, is the saving grace of the group. With a supportive family and the desire to live bigger than the small fish high school they are trapped in together, she helps them grow dreams that expand beyond their town.

But nothing can protect everyone from the potential tragedies of life. They strike at random times and random places, and, for better or for worse, make us into who we are. These three friends will never be the same when high school ends, and they have their senior year to do the unthinkable. This is a brave story about what it means to be different and what it takes to make a difference.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Gabi A Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quintero

GabiGabi A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi is a good girl who is questioning the hypocrisy of just what exactly it means to be “good.” In Gabi’s mother’s and Tia’s world her brother can do no wrong (even when he is obviously doing wrong), girls who get pregnant are sluts and always to blame, and being fat makes you destined to be single forever. Except that Gabi knows that none of this is true. She sees right through all the double standards and BS thrown her way. Gabi is smart and articulate, she is a writer and a poet, and she isn’t going to let her dreams die, like going to UC Berkeley, just because her family judges her harshly for her choices.

Written in the form of journal entries, this book is entertaining and heartfelt. It reads like a true-to-life high school experience. Gabi is from Southern California and shares a Latina perspective on growing up and coming of age. There is poetry and letters mixed in, all told in an authentic voice of a girl who is confident and insecure all at the same time.

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

Runner by Peter McPhee

RunnerRunner by Peter McPhee

Having moved from a comfortable home in Toronto to an apartment in Calgary after his parents’ bitter divorce, Kyle, his mother and sister Meghan are barely getting by. Kyle has begun to fit in at his new school, joining the football team, but Meghan feels like an outsider. On her own at the mall, 14 year old Meghan meets an older boy. Flattered by his attention, she begins staying out late and cutting school to be with him, eventually leaving home to move in with him. Their mother files a missing person report and Kyle begins staying out late, searching for Meghan among street kids. Kyle gets drawn into street culture himself while looking for his sister. This title is part of the Orca/Lorimer Side Streets series, written specifically for young adults. A fast read, the characters and setting are realistic, and it does not promise a happy ending. Especially good for Urban Drama fans.

Reviewed by Ellie Goldstein Erickson

Red Glass by Laura Resau

RedGlassRed Glass by Laura Resau

At 16 years old, Sophie considers herself an amoeba, floating freely without an attachment to any group at school since her best friend transferred to another school. Her drug dealer biological father left when she was a baby and she and her mom were on their own until she was 7, when her mom married her good stepdad Juan. Having been fearful o being left alone if anything happened to her mother, Sophie worried twice as much after her mother married Juan. When Border Patrol calls to say a lone survivor of migrants crossing the desert near their Arizona home is a young boy with Juan’s business card in his pocket, they take him in as a foster child. Their extended family also includes great-aunt Dika, a boisterous refugee from the Bosnian civil war. Barely speaking, on his third day with them the boy says his name is Pablo, weeks later he tells them his age is 6, then says nothing for another nine months. Choosing to sleep outside next to their chicken coop, Pablo starts talking the following spring, telling about chickens in his hometown. Calling the town, they learn he has a large extended family. A plan evolves to drive Pablo, Sophie and assorted friends and family members in a VW bus to Pablo’s village in Mexico. When friends travel on to Guatemala to trace family members missing from civil war, Sophie has to overcome her imagined fears to face real dangerous situations to help them.

Laura Resau has created an amazing panoply of larger than life characters all connected to each other through improbable but believable circumstances. As I read this book I found myself hoping for each of them to reach a positive resolution of all the challenges they faced. Without giving away the ending, I was glad with the wathe book finished.

Reviewed by Ellie Goldstein Erickson

Book trailer by Sarah Rogers