Holiday lit guide: Books for young adults

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by Scott Westerfeld

This is the first book in a new series for Westerfeld. It is set in the future in the world of his best-selling "Uglies" series. Frey and Rafi are sisters who are basically inseparable, mostly because they are one person to the outside world. Frey's identity is hidden from all but the closest of their father's confidantes. Rafi is the charming daughter of the ruthless ruler and Frey's only job is to protect her at all costs, even her own life. The action doesn't stop in this page-turner.

— Lisa, Bartleby's Books

"Fountains of Silence"

by Ruta Sepetys

From the author of "Salt to the Sea," "Out of the Easy" and "Between Shades of Gray" comes another novel with emotional impact and an historically evocative setting. Sepetys' writing has the unique ability to bridge the divide between young adult and standard adult fiction, making it a compelling read for a wide audience. This time Sepetys' setting is the turbulent and repressive era during Spain's dark post-civil war period when Francisco Franco's violent, autocratic, and repressive government was in full swing. The author includes historical photographs, commentary, and reporting to bring the story alive. A beautifully told story about the consequences of war, love, and identity.

— Betty, Bartleby's Books

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"Frankly in Love" by David Yoon

Frank Li is an American teenager growing up in Southern California. His Korean-American immigrant parents run a convenience store and Frank is expected to focus on his studies, and date and eventually marry a Korean girl. Things get a little challenging when Frank begins to date a girl from his high school who is not Korean and he must keep it from his parents. He and a family friend decide to pretend to date in order to trick their parents so they can date the people they want, but sometimes it takes some figuring out to know what you really want. This book has it all: a coming of age tale, a love story, as well as issues like racism and privilege. Funny and moving!

— Lisa, Bartleby's Books

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"Me, Myself, and Him"

by Chris Tebbetts

Summer starts with the promise of typical fun and friends for recent high school grad, Chris, before he heads off to his dream college in the fall. But when he breaks his nose doing whippets behind the restaurant where he works, life takes an unexpected twist. So begin two parallel narratives tracking the outcomes of Chris' choices. In one version, Chris must spend the summer with his father, a rigid, no-nonsense physics professor, proving his worth as a substance-free and responsible son (and meeting his first boyfriend in a drug-rehab group). In an alternate reality, Chris stays at home and watches as the fall-out from his accident threatens the future he imagined for himself (and he struggles through becoming a third-wheel to his newly dating best friends). This smart and engaging young adult novel, written by Vermont author Chris Tebbetts, is an exploration of what-ifs. Sometimes a worst-case scenario might not be so bad after all.

— Ana, Bartleby's Books

"Roll With It"

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by Jamie Sumner

This middle-grade novel tells 12-year-old Ellie's story of moving from Nashville to living with her mother and grandparents in small-town Oklahoma when her grandfather is ill. Ellie has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Moving to a new school is challenging, but she makes two great friends who she becomes close to. Ellie is also a baker and plans to compete in the baking contest at her grandparents' church. This small town move may be the best thing for Ellie and her mom, if only she can convince her mom to stay. Great writing and a compelling story.

— Lisa, Bartleby's Books

"The Hate U Give"

by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter lives in two worlds: the struggling neighborhood where she lives, and the middle-class suburb where she attends school, one of only two African-Americans in her grade. She adjusts her style and her speech to blend in with the different environments. But this creates an inner conflict. At a neighborhood party one night, shots are fired. Starr escapes with her friend, Khalil, but they are stopped by the police. The scene rapidly deteriorates and the unarmed Khalil is shot by the police officer. In the aftermath, Starr continues to be conflicted, questioning who she is, and what she believes, and how best to achieve justice for Khalil. This is a gripping novel; it's a book for our times.

— Phil Lewis, Bennington Bookshop


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