Surviving High School

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

In The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, Josh and his brother JB are the stars of their school basketball team. The sons of professional baller Charlie "Da Man" Bell are a force to be reckoned with. That is fine when Josh and JB work together, but trash talk, a family crisis, and a new girl is about to come between these two, making teamwork nearly impossible.

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

“She’s perfect now.”

Nicole Castro is the most popular girl in school—a brain, a jock, a great friend—but what everyone is struck by is her beauty. Her perfect, perfect face. Or, they were until somebody attacked her, erasing half of her. Or, did they? In Paul Griffin’s Burning Blue, the mysteries of who did this to Nic and who she really is are slowly revealed to everyone, including herself.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Level Up's title is a video game reference, but it is also a metaphor for accepting responsibility and gaining maturity as one ages, which are qualities that Dennis Ouyang needs serious help with.

From the first time Dennis ever saw a Pac Man console as a child, he was mesmerized by the power that video games had. The idea of endless entertainment, based on skill and incredibly interactive, transfixes him.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Troy Billings is about to kill himself. At 296 pounds, he's tired of being a joke. Every aspect of his life, the way he looks, moves, even the way he breathes, has become a punchline for his peers. If Troy had his way, Fat Kid Rules the World would be a pretty short read. Thank goodness Curt MacCrea enters the picture.

King Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork by Frank Portman

If King Dork's cover seems vaguely familiar, that's because it looks like a defaced copy of The Catcher in the Rye. The title and its author Frank Portman are scrawled in ballpoint pen with a blatant disregard for the granddaddy of all coming-of-age novels.

This sums up how Tom Henderson feels about Salinger's classic novel. He notices a Catcher cult amongst most adults, who sing the praises of the book changing their lives. Tom thinks all of this is, to borrow a phrase from Holden Caulfield, "phony," but a particular copy of the book is about to turn his world upside down and inside out.

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Tales of the Madman Underground is not the feel-good read of this or any other year, and yet I am completely enchanted with its accuracy of teenage desperation. It fills me with hope to see how author John Barnes has so succinctly summed up the powerlessness and determination of youth.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

The Vera Dietz of Please Ignore Vera Dietz is smart, hard-working, and haunted by the ghost of her best friend. Well...ex-best friend if you want to know the truth.

Shadows by Robin McKinley

Shadows by Robin McKinley

Maggie’s new stepfather gives her the creeps. Not only is he short and hairy and definitely not her Dad, but he speaks with a strange accent and spends most of his time in a shed doing who-knows-what. True, it is not his fault that he cannot replace her dead father, and her mother seems to really, really love him, but somehow that only makes worse the Shadows that follow him everywhere—dozens of them that no one else seems to see.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Art by Maira Kalman

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up is by Daniel Handler and features art by Maira Kalman, and both elements elevate it above your average high school romance novel.

Min has just left a box on Ed's doorstep. The box contains the pieces of evidence of their brief relationship, as well as letters explaining each piece's importance.

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

If I Ever Get Out of Here centers around Lewis Blake, a Native American teenager in a gifted junior high program. Lewis might be academically successful, but he has no friends. All his white classmates don't have much to say to Lewis, and all of the kids from the reservation are just in the regular classes.

It is 1976, and living outside of Buffalo, New York, Lewis wonders if the area's teachers are going to be surprised when they find that the Native American kids are not that excited about the country's Bicentennial celebration. His family has called this land "home" for much longer than a mere two hundred years.