Teen Fiction Provides the Perfect Escape During the Summer

Cover to After the Shot Drops

Summer was made for reading: carefree vacation days, sitting at the beach or by the pool, relaxing outside in a deck chair or hammock. I’ve been enjoying my summer reading time immersed in teen fiction, ranging from fantasy to books that delve into realistic explorations of characters' lives. I’ve read several books this summer that have met my reading needs, whether I’m looking for escape and entertainment or to get a window into someone else’s life.  

After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay

Nasir and Bunny have been best friends since childhood, but all that falls apart when Bunny takes an opportunity to leave his lower-income neighborhood school to go to a private school. The school wants him for his basketball skills, but they also have better academics, and Bunny knows attending St. Sebastian’s gives him a better chance at achieving his goals. Bunny’s focus is on his future, about finding a way to college so he and his family can have a better life.  But Nasir feels betrayed and cannot forgive Bunny for leaving him behind. Both boys are left struggling to fill the void left by their absent best friends. Nasir begins to spend more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is driven to make a series of bad choices that lead to him being in debt to the type of people who don’t forgive. In trying to help Wallace, Nasir finds the person who can really help is Bunny, but what Wallace has set in motion may be too powerful to let the boys go back to who they were.

Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

From the opening scene, when a group of armed warriors sweep in on horseback to murder two young princes (first and second in line to the throne of Del Mar), this quick-moving story of intrigue is a page-turner. Eighteen years after the murders, the third brother, Ulises, becomes king. He is barely an adult, learning how to be king, and still carrying the memory of his brothers’ tragedy. When a map with a mysterious message about his brothers is brought to the king, he wants to get at the truth but also understands the truth could weaken his kingship. Ulises calls in his two closest confidants: his cousin Mercedes and his friend Elias, to find out what it all means. Mercedes and Elias follow the clues on an adventurous trail that uncovers a series of secrets, betrayal, and lies.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

In this humorous modern-day take on A Christmas Carol, Holly Chase is the teenage embodiment of Ebenezer Scrooge. She is not a good person. Obviously, having her mother die unexpectedly is difficult, but that still doesn’t completely excuse the heartlessness with which Holly treats everyone. Making the maid work on Christmas Day and miss the holiday with her own child really crosses the line. When Holly’s mother comes to her as a ghost on Christmas Eve, followed by the expected succession of ghosts, Holly doesn’t take any of it seriously, even when shown the future and that she will soon die. The experience has no effect on her, and Holly goes on about her life until a freak accident on New Year’s Eve results in her being killed when a car hits her while leaving her yoga class. She “wakes up” to find herself part of Project Scrooge, a team who visits people in the spirit of A Christmas Carol, visiting “Scrooges” to get them to change their lives. Holly’s bitterness and cynicism remain the same, even with what she sees every year playing the Ghost of Christmas Past.  This changes when Ethan Winters is selected as a Scrooge, a 17-year-old hottie whom Holly instantly finds attractive. She really cares about this Scrooge, and caring about him finally allows her to examine herself more closely.