Five questions for Neal Shusterman

Brendan and Neal Shusterman.

Neal Shusterman’s novel Challenger Deep (HarperTeen, 14 years and up) is a swirling, surrealistic look inside the mind of one teen, Caden, who is struggling with mental illness. Chapters narrated by Caden alternate between a bizarre shipboard setting and the world we know, all viewed through the teen’s sometimes impenetrable perspective. It’s a very personal […]

Truth, lies, and secrets

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Adolescence is a time of self-discovery — and of deciding how much of that self to reveal to others. These new YA books explore themes of honesty and dishonesty, secret selves and public personas. When compiling the book Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves, editor Ann Angel asked contributors to write “about […]

Review of The Walls Around Us

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The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma High School   Algonquin   321 pp. 3/15   978-1-61620-372-6   $17.95   g e-book ed. 978-1-61620-486-0   $17.95 Orianna Speerling — the so-called “Bloody Ballerina” — is just fifteen when she is convicted of murdering two rival dancers. A month after her sentence begins, all forty-two girls interned at the Aurora Hills […]

Review of Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny

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Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman; illus. by the author Primary   Holt   128 pp. 10/14   978-0-8050-9970-6   $13.99 e-book ed. 978-0-8050-9972-0   $9.49 Young rabbit Isabel is known as Bunjitsu Bunny for her proficiency in martial arts class. Himmelman’s thirteen short, generously illustrated chapters relate Isabel’s adventures as she demonstrates that “bunjitsu is not just about […]

Review of Paper Things

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Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson Intermediate, Middle School   Candlewick   378 pp. 2/15   978-0-7636-6323-0   $16.99   g Before her death four years earlier, Ari and Gage’s mother had urged them to “stay together always.” Now it has been two months since nineteen-year-old Gage and eleven-year-old Ari left their overbearing guardian’s home to strike out on their […]

Review of I Was Here

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I Was Here by Gayle Forman High School    Viking    272 pp. 1/15    978-0-451-47147-5    $18.99    g Meg Garcia is brilliant and passionate — a standout in her dead-end Washington State hometown and a constant in best friend Cody’s unstable life. But just months after escaping to college on a prestigious scholarship, Meg checks into a motel […]

Bad company

myers_on a clear day

Conspiracy theory or everyday life? These new YA novels — three thrillers and one dark comedy — star teen protagonists finding their places in worlds manipulated by not-so-scrupulous corporations. Walter Dean Myers‘s posthumously published On a Clear Day takes place in 2035. The Central Eight (C-8) companies rule everything, enriching themselves while the rest of […]

Review of The War That Saved My Life

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The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley Intermediate   Dial   316 pp. 1/15   978-0-8037-4081-5   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-101-63780-7   $10.99 Ten-year-old Ada has suffered almost unimaginable deprivation and abuse due to an unrepaired clubfoot: she has never been outside her squalid London flat; she’s hit, underfed, belittled, and locked inside a dark cupboard […]

Review of Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly

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Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly by Grace Lin; illus. by the author Primary   Little, Brown   44 pp. 11/14   978-0-316-18402-1   $16.00 Lin’s third Ling and Ting easy reader (Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same, rev. 7/10; Ling & Ting Share a Birthday, rev. 9/13) is certainly a silly one, with each of the six […]

Review of Stella by Starlight

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Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper Intermediate   Atheneum   324 pp. 1/15   978-1-4424-9497-8   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9499-2   $10.99 Eleven-year-old Stella Mills may have trouble getting words on paper for school, but she’s a deep thinker, “a gemstone hiding inside a rock,” her mother tells her. Even on the coldest of nights, she sneaks out […]