Watched by Marina Budhos

Watched by Marina Budhos

Watched-When Naeem first arrived in the US he did all the right things – obeyed his parents, worked hard at school, hung out with the good kids. But now that he’s a senior in high school things aren’t going so well. Not only is he totally behind in school, but his so-marina_budhos_author_photo_credit_franck_goldberg_78c1833de7b4fc88870335fcc53a3df9.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000called friend sets him up to take the fall for a crime. Waiting to be booked Naeem is approached by two police officers who have a
proposal – instead of going to jail, he can pass information to the police about people in his community. Watching what people do doesn’t seem so bad, Naeem even thinks he is probably keeping people safe. But as he gets to know
both the watchers and the watched, Naeem realizes that playing for both sides is a sure way to get caught in the middle.

Review by Ms. Rosenkrantz

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

The thing I liked least about this book was the title. Th18599754e thing I liked most about this book was THIS BOOK! Say What You Will is what happens when Wonder gets to high school. This book affirms that we are all lovable and unlovable, regardless of where we are as people31a25S68fDL._UX250_ on the able-bodied, able-minded spectrum. Amy and Matthew begin to get to know each other when Matthew is hired by Amy’s parents as her peer-helper, because Amy needs help with many things – she has cerebral palsy, uses a walker and a computer voice box, and can’t eat solid foods. On the other hand she is hella smart, creative and determined to be a part of the high school experience. Matthew, while his body works just fine, has a mind that is constantly tricking him into doing things over and over again, counting and ordering and clearing. He has undiagnosed OCD which separates him from his peers. Their story is complicated, but isn’t love always?

Definitely check out this book if you enjoyed John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars or Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park.

Review by Ms. Rosenkrantz

Graffiti Moon

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Image result for graffiti moonSenior year and graduation is over.  Daisy, Lucy and Jazz want a little adventure and fun.  Lucy thinks that it will come in the shape of the mural artist known as “Shadow”; if only she can find him.  Jazz wouldn’t mind finding his partner “Poet.” Daisy just wants to forget about her boyfriend who stupidly egged her after school.  Instead they wind up hanging out with Ed, Leo and Dylan (Daisy’s dumb boyfriend).  Told in alternating chapters by Ed and Lucy a story unfolds of loneliness, longing, fear and unanswered questions – and it all happens in one night. The characters are smart and funny as well as realistic and honest.

Review by Ms. Brenner

When I Was Joe by Keren David

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When I Was Joe by Keren David

Fourteen year old Ty recounts to police a murder he witnessed in a park committed almost by accident by his best friend, Arron. Another older boy pushes the victim on to Arron’s knife. Ty runs for help, stopping a bus to call for an ambulance, while everyone else runs away. Ty doesn’t know one of the boys is the son of a crime boss who is determined to prevent Ty from testifying. After hours with the police Ty and his mother are taken back to their apartment to pack some clothes; while they’re there someone throws a gasoline bomb into the shop right below them.. The police hustle them out the back as the building is on fire. After they spend two weeks in a motel a police specialist changes their appearances with haircuts, new hair colors and colored contact lenses before they’re moved to their new home, 50 miles from London where they lived. Ty enrolls in a new school under the name Joe with a younger age and grade. As Ty/Joe settles in to his new school, his mother struggles with her isolation, missing family and friends, and wants to stop her son from testifying. When the criminals beat up Ty’s grandmother in an attempt to stop his testimony, Ty realizes how serious his situation is. At the same time he is dealing with a bully at his new school.

A sequel to this book, Almost true, continues the story of how Ty, his mother and family deal with the decisions they have to make. While Ty, in the witness protection program, waits to testify about a murder he witnessed, he comes back to police cars at his home and a pool of blood at his front door. He learns his family is safe but hitmen shot a man they thought was Ty. When Ty’s aunt starts believing the police can’t protect him anymore, she makes him move to live with people she knows out in the country. Even as Ty adjusts to a new living situation he still has to go to court several times to testify. Without giving any of the plot away, I can say these two books present teenager readers with some ethical dilemmas to consider.

 

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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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

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

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