- Darcie Caswell
Through a partnership between Central Rappahannock Regional Library and 14 area middle schools, each year seventh and eighth graders across Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, and the City of Fredericksburg participate in Cafe Book. Reading from among 16 recently published young adult books, they have lively book discussions over lunch and vote on their favorites. This year’s Cafe Book favorites have the teen “stamp of approval,” and run the gamut from sci-fi to realistic drama (they are great reads for adults as well).
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
When Jack's family takes in Joseph as a foster child, they know about his history of violent episodes and that he was incarcerated. On Jack's family farm, Joseph gradually lets down his defenses and opens up. He bonds with Jack, begins to smile sometimes, and even starts to play like other boys his age. But the pain he carries with him never goes away and seems nearly impossible to overcome.
House Arrest by K.A. Holt
Right and wrong are not always so clear. Or, even when they are clear, sometimes people do what is wrong for what seems like the right reasons. With his family in financial straits and the medical expenses building from his baby brother’s chronic condition, Timothy’s desperation to help his brother leads him to steal a wallet. Sentenced to house arrest and threatened with juvenile detention, Timothy must show he regrets what he did and that he can stay out of trouble. He is required to keep a journal to reflect on what he did and have regular visits with a probation officer and a counselor. Timothy wants to do what is right, but, when faced with impossible choices, it can be hard to know what is truly right or wrong.
Need by Joelle Charbonneau
Teenagers at Nottawa High are joining the latest social network, Need. Need promises to deliver members’ deepest desires; all that is required is to complete one task. While most members of Need are looking for material gain, such as a new phone or tickets to a sold-out concert, Kaylee needs a kidney donor to help her brother. Need builds a disturbing network of lies, deceit, and danger, turning classmates against each other in deadly ways.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
When their planet is attacked, Kady and Ezra find themselves part of a massive evacuation, barely making it out alive. That safety is short-lived, as a whole new set of problems surface. A destructive artificial intelligence system emerges on one of the evacuation ships and a deadly plague on another. With enemy ships quickly gaining on them, Kady and Ezra find themselves fighting for their lives.
Code of Honor by Alan Gratz
Kamran’s mother is from Iran, but Kamran has always felt 100% American and completely accepted in his community and school. He is a football star, dating one of the most popular girls in school, and up for homecoming king. His older brother, Darius, is a hero to him: an officer in the U.S. Army, fighting terrorism overseas. When Darius is accused of deserting and joining the terrorists he had been fighting, Kamran’s world falls apart. When damaging video of his brother is broadcast, Kamran is shunned by kids at school, including his friends. Things go from bad to worse when he and his parents are detained and questioned by U.S. officials. Kamran cannot believe his brother would go against everything he has believed in and sets out to find the truth.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Part historical fiction, part science fiction, and full of action, Wolf by Wolf imagines a world where Hitler and the Axis powers won World War II. Set after the war, with the world divided between Germany and Japan, Wolf by Wolf is centered on an annual motorcycle race across Europe and Asia that celebrates the Axis victory and ends with a celebratory ball where a reclusive Hitler makes one of his few public appearances. Resistance fighter Yael is determined to assassinate Hitler and knows that winning the race and getting close to him at the ball is the only way to do it. But, to get to the ball, the race must first be won, which means surviving the grueling pace as well as treacherous competitors determined to win at any cost.
This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.
Below, check out a book trailer for Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman.