Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ask the Tank

At the April meeting of the Teen Think Tank (the Library's teen advisory board), I asked the members in attendance what their genre strengths are, and what titles they could recommend. They said their strengths were sci-fi; zombie/survival apocalyse; trashy romance; heavy books; and versatility. So, here, straight up from the Tank, are a few titles they recommend you read: 
Daniel  recommends   :

Red Rising, by Pierce Brown, 2014. A tale set in a bleak future society torn by class divisions follows the experiences of secret revolutionary Darrow, who after witnessing his wife's execution by an oppressive government joins a revolutionary cell and attempts to infiltrate an elite military academy.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, 2011. Immersing himself in a mid-twenty-first-century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty, and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's creator.



Jumper series, by Steven Gould, 1992-2014. Jumper, first book in series: Blessed with the unusual ability to "jump"--to teleport himself to any place on Earth that he has been to before--Davy is determined to locate others like himself, but interference from the government could prevent him from doing so.


Game Slaves, by Gard Skinner, 2014. "A highly intelligent group of video game enemy non-player characters (NPC) begins to doubt they are merely codes in a machine. Their search for answers leads them to a gruesome discovery"-- Provided by publisher.

Ella recommends  :

Ashes trilogy, by Ilsa J. Bick, 2011-2013. Ashes, first book in trilogy: Alex, a resourceful 17-year-old running from her incurable brain tumor, Tom, who has left the war in Afghanistan, and Ellie, an angry eight-year-old, join forces after an electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky and kills most of the world's population, turning some of those who remain into zombies and giving the others superhuman senses.

The Girl With All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey, 2014. Not every gift is a blessing. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh. Melanie is a very special girl. 


Walking Dead series, Robert Kirkman, 2009-2015. Police officer Rick Grimes is shot on the job and wakes up a month later to find that the world that he knows is gone. Zombies have taken over and are killing and eating those who are still alive. He sets out toward Atlanta in the hope that his family is still alive and endures many horrors along the way.


Monument 14 series, by Emmy Laybourne, 2012-2014. Monument 14, first book in series: A group of kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves, as a series of disasters, from a monster hailstorm to a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world apart.



Benny Imura series, by Jonathan Maberry, 2010-2013.  Rot & Ruin, first book in series: In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother's footsteps and become a bounty hunter.

Jeffrey recommends :

The Night She Disappeared, by April Henry, 2012. Told from various viewpoints, Gabie and Drew set out to prove that their missing co-worker Kayla is not dead, and to find her before she is, while the police search for her body and the man who abducted her. Realistic fiction, Suspense.


Winterspell, by Claire Legrande, 2014. To find her abducted father and keep her sister safe from the lecherous politicians of 1899 New York City, 17-year-old Clara must journey to the wintry kingdom of Cane, where Anise, queen of the faeries, has ousted the royal family in favor of herown totalitarian, anti-human regime. Historical Fantasy.


Josh  recommends  :

V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore, 2005. In a near-future Britain ruled by a totalitarian regime, Evey is rescued from certain death by a masked vigilante calling himself "V," a beguiling and charismatic figure who launches a one-man crusade against government tyranny and oppression. Suspense, graphic format.



Watchmen, by Alan Moore, 1987. Exceptional graphic artwork brings to life the story of the Watchmen as they race against time to find a killer, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Suspense, graphic format.




Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, 2003. The great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contradictions between public and private life. Autobiography, graphic format.


Slaughterhouse-Five: or, The Children's Crusade : A Duty-Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969. Billy Pilgrim, a chaplain's assistant during the Second World War, returns home only to be kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, who teach him that time is an eternal present. Science Fiction.

Nathan G. recommends 

My Friend Dahmer: a graphic novel, by Derf Backderf, 2012. In graphic novel format, the author offers an account of growing up in the same schools as Jeffrey Dahmer, who went on to become one of the most notorious serial killers and cannibals in United States history. Biography.
Avatar Chronicles series, by Conor Kostick, 2006-2011. Epic, first book in series: On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, fourteen-year-old Erik pursuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik's father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families. Science Fiction, Dystopian.


Forgotten Realms. Icewind Dale trilogy, by R. A. Salvatore, 1988-1990. The Crystal Shard, is the first book in this trilogy, which is within the larger Forgotten Realms series.  Bruenor, a dwarf, Drizzt, a dark elf, and Wulfgar, a barbarian warrior, try to unite the people of Ten-Towns to face the dangerous magic of the crystal shard. Fantasy

Lockstep, by Karl Schroeder, 2014. 17-year-old Toby wakes from hibernation to find himself lost in space. Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Toby wakes to discover that he's been asleep for 14,000 years, and is shocked to learn that the Empire is ruled by its founding family: his own. Science Fiction; Space Opera.

Skinjacker trilogy, by Neal Shusterman, 2006-2011. Everlost, first book in series: When Nick and Allie are killed in a car crash, they end up in Everlost, or limbo for lost souls, where although Nick is satisfied, Allie will stop at nothing--even skinjacking--to break free. Fantasy.


Trust Me I'm Lying, by Mary Elizabeth Summer, 2014. Having learned to be a master con artist from her father, Julep Dupree pays expenses at her exclusive high school by fixing things for fellow students, but she will need their help when her father disappears. Suspense.


California Bones series, by Greg Van Eekhout, 2014-2015. California Bones, first book in series: Years after swallowing a kraken bone fragment and then witnessing the killing of his magician father, Daniel endures a life of thievery until his crime-boss uncle compels him to steal his father's sword and fight a corrupt regime. Urban Fantasy.


Nathan M. recommends 

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, 1895. Henry Fleming, a young Union soldier, struggles with his conflicting emotions about violence, death, and the nature of bravery in this ironic, skeptical account of the Civil War.


The Fort: a novel of the Revolutionary War, by Bernard Cornwell, 2010. After the British establish a fort on the Penobscot River, the Massachusetts patriots--among them General Peleg Wadsworth and Colonel Paul Revere--mount an expedition to oust the redcoats.



All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, 1929. The testament of Paul Baumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of World War I, illuminates the savagery and futility of war.




The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, 1974. Book 2 in the Civil War trilogy by Shaara. Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet tell the Southern view of the battle at Gettysburg while Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and General John Buford present the Northern view.

Monday, March 16, 2015

31 Memory Lanes


After working on this list of memoirs for a few days, (begun in response to a student assignment alert from a teacher at HWRHS) I started to see that the majority of Young Adult memoirs are wrenchingly bleak, gritty, and/or bittersweet. In other words, with a few exceptions such as, Popular:Vintage Wisdom..., and Funny in Farsi, these are not humorous accounts. It was difficult to limit this list to only YA memoirs. I was tempted to throw in some of my favorites from the adult collection such as Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman, and Garlic and Sapphires, which are humorous. However, since they cannot readily be called YA memoirs they were not included here. But, while also not strictly YA, I could not resist dangling here a volume of Mark Twain's satirical travel accounts.
In addition to the descriptions from our online catalog, I have included page totals, and Lexile scores,(where available), to help you browse.
For further browsing: a search in the catalog with the following limits: Subject: personal memoir; Item Type: books; Literary Form: nonfiction; and Audience: teen, resulted in 27 entries. If you leave off the limiter: Audience: teen, the result is then over 300 entries.
When I searched the NoveList database using the parameters: Subject: memoir, and Alex Award, there were 36 results. (Each year The Alex Award is given to 10 books written for adults that are judged to have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.)

Young Adult Memoirs

The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky, by Farah Ahmedi, 2005. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan at the peak of the war between the Soviet Union and the mujahideen, a young woman's memoir intertwines the story of her childhood in the war-torn country with her experiences as a Afghan American adolescent in Chicago. 249 pages, Lexile: 850.
Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen, by Arin Andrews, 2014. "Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning teen memoir"-- Provided by publisher. 256 pages.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, 1970. A black woman recalls the anguish of her childhood in Arkansas and her adolescence in northern slums. 289 pages, Lexile: 1330.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah,2007. In a heart-wrenching, candid autobiography, a human rights activist offers a firsthand account of war from the perspective of a former child soldier, detailing the violent civil war that wracked his native Sierra Leone and the government forces that transformed a gentle young boy into a killer as a member of the army. 229 pages, Lexile: 920.
Warriors Don't Crythe searing memoir of the battle to integrate Little Rock's Central High, by Melba Beals, 1994. The author describes the threats and emotional abuse she endured from white students and adults along with her fears of endangering her family as she committed to being one of the first African American students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. 312 pages, Lexile: 1000. Sequel: White is a State of Mind, 1999.

Laughing At My Nightmare, by Shane Burcaw, 2014. With acerbic wit & a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw's YA memoir describes the challenges he faces as a 20-year-old with muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to trying to finding a girlfriend and everything in between-- Provided by publisher.  250 pages, Lexile: 1110.
The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream, by Sampson Davis, 2002. George, Sampson, and Rameck were three African American kids living in Newark, all from broken homes, all living amid poverty, crime, and drug abuse. They met in high school and together they made a pact to support each other for as long as it would take for them to become doctors. 240 pages, Lexile: 940. Shorter version: We Beat the Street, 2005, 194 pages.

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, by Firoozeh Dumas, 2003. An autobiography of growing up as an Iranian-American describes the author's family's 1971 move from Iran to Southern California, the members of her diverse family, and their struggle with culture shock. 187 pages.


Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos, 2002. The author relates how, as a young adult, he became a drug user and smuggler, was arrested, did time in prison, and eventually got out and went to college, all the while hoping to become a writer. 199 pages, Lexile: 840.



Stick Figure: A diary Of My Former Self, by Lori Gottlieb, 2000. Based on diaries written in 1978, when she was 11 years old, the author offers a chronicle of her battle with anorexia and the pressures from family, peers, and society that led her to starve herself. 222 pages, Lexile: 1100.


Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, by Bethany Hamilton, 2004, 2011.  The teenage surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack in 2003 describes how she has coped with this life-altering event with the help of her faith, the changes in her life, and her return to the sport she loves.  288 pages, Lexile: 960.

Basketball Junkie: A Memoir, by Chris Herren, 2011. Traces the author's journey from a promising high-school basketball star to a recovering drug addict, describing his struggles with addiction throughout his college and NBA years, the overdose that nearly cost him everything and his subsequent work as a mentor for young athletes. 275 pages.



Rocket Boys, by Homer H. Hickam, 1998. The author traces the boyhood enthusiasm for rockets that eventually led to a career at NASA, describing how he built model rockets in the family garage in West Virginia, inspired by the launch of the Soviet satellite "Sputnik.". 368 pages.

Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition, by Katie Rain Hill, 2014. "In this young adult memoir, a transgender girl shares her personal journey of growing up as a boy and then undergoing gender reassignment during her teens"-- Provided by publisher. 264 pages.



Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution, by Ji-li Jiang, 1997. Provides the story of Ji-li Jiang a twelve-year-old girl growing up in China in 1966, the year that Chairman Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, and the changes it brought to her and her family. 285 pages, Lexile: 1997.
Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen, 1993.  Recounts the two years the author spent in the McLean psychiatric hospital and examines the reality of the hospital world. 168 pages, Lexile: 760.




The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, by William Kamkwamba, 2009. William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country withered by drought and hunger; where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one to bring electricity and water to his village. 347 pages, Lexile: 960. Shorter version: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, 2015, 304 pages.


Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter, by Adeline Yen Mah, 2001. The daughter of a wealthy Hong Kong businessman describes her very difficult childhood and the psychological abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepmother. 205 pages, Lexile: 960.


The Other Wes Moore: The Story of One Name and Two Fates, by Wes Moore, 2010. Traces the parallel lives of two youths with the same name in the same community, describing how the author grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar and promising business leader while his counterpart suffered a life of violence and imprisonment. 256 pages, Lexile: 990. Shorter versionDiscovering Wes Moore: Chances, Choices, Changes, 2012, 160 pages.

Woodsong, by Gary Paulsen, 1990. For a rugged outdoor man and his family, life in northern Minnesota is a wild experience involving wolves, deer, and the sled dogs that make their way of life possible. Includes an account of the author's first Iditarod, a dogsled race across Alaska. 132 pages, Lexile: 1090.

The Pregnancy Project, by Gaby Rodriguez, 2012. A high school senior chose, as a school project, to fake a pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. 224 pages, Lexile: 970.

Mark Twain: On Travel, by Mark Twain (1835-1910), 2005. Selections from Twain's five travel books. Twain's observations on 19th century America and Europe as he experienced them firsthand are captured in this collection. 278 pages.

Bad Boy, by Walter Dean Myers, 2001.  The author relates his experiences growing up in Harlem, the home of Sugar Ray Robinson and Langston Hughes, in the 1940s and 1950s. 214 pages, Lexile: 970.

Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-year-old GI, by Ryan Smithson, 2009. Recounts the author's experiences as an Army engineer in the Iraq War. 321 pages, Lexile: 750.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed, 2012. A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again. 315 pages.



Popular: A Memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, by Maya van Wagenen, 2014. Documents a high school student's year-long attempt to change her social status from that of a misfit to a member of the "in" crowd by following advice in a 1950s popularity guide, an experiment that triggered embarrassment, humor and unexpected surprises. 259 pages, Lexile: 730.


The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, 2005. The child of an alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family's nomadic upbringing, during which she and her siblings fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities. 288 pages, Lexile: 1010

Ryan White: My Own Story, by Ryan White, 1992. Ryan White describes how he contracted AIDS, the negative response of his friends and neighbors in his home town, his battle to reenter school, and his fight to educate people about the disease. 326 pages, Lexile: 860.


Night, by Elie Wiesel, 1960.  A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family.  116 pages, Lexile: 570.
I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai, 2013.  Describes the life of a young Pakistani student who advocated for women's rights and education in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley who survived an assassination attempt and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. 327 pages, Lexile: 1000. Shorter version: I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education and Changed the World, 2014, 230 pages.

Smashed: The Story of a Drunken Girlhood, by Koren Zailckas, 2005. A 24-year-old survivor of alcoholism recounts her journey from teen experimentation to binge drinking, a process during which she endured depression, rage, sexual exploitation, and troubled relationships before making the decision to heal, in a personal memoir that also offers insight into youth alcohol abuse. 342 pages.