Where Things Come Back, by John Corey WhaleySeventeen-year-old Cullen Witter's summer in Lily, Arkansas, is marked by his cousin's death by overdose, an alleged spotting of a woodpecker thought to be extinct, failed romances, and his younger brother's sudden disappearance. “Straightforward, yet increasingly complex, this novel masterfully weaves together themes of brotherhood, friendship, loss and religious obsession,” said Printz Award Committee Chair Erin Helmrich.
2012 Printz Award Honor Books: This group of four runner ups includes: a murder mystery set in Australia; a carnivorous horse racing fantasy; a realistic humorous story about dating, souvenirs, and breaking up; and a war story set in a medieval fictional society.
2011 Young Adult Massachusetts Book Award winner:
The Other Side of Dark, by Sarah Smith.Since losing both of her parents, fifteen-year-old Katie can see and talk to ghosts, which makes her a loner until fellow student Law sees her drawing of a historic house and together they seek a treasure rumored to be hidden there by illegal slave-traders. Set in Boston. Part ghost story, part romance, part historical mystery.
(I gave this book 4 stars after I read it last year. It's on the 8th grade Justice Unit bibliography.)
The other 2011 Young Adult "Must Reads" include: a dark fantasy about criminals with extra sensory powers; a realistic revenge/friendship story set in New Mexico; and a survival tale of 2 boys forced into a war in Burma. Bamboo People is also on the Justice Unit bibliography.
Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos.
In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, 12-year-old Jack spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with an unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.
Click on the link below to hear a funny interview with Jack Gantos about winning the Newbery Medal and about his life, which aired this past weekend on the NPR show, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!.
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.