Surviving High School

Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron

Sammy Bojar plays guitar in Tragedy of Wisdom with a frightening and talentless lead singer (guess which member chose the name). Most of their practices end in a ragin' tantrum. It looks like a dead-end situation for Sammy and his crew, until a battle of the bands competition gives them a possible chance to record a song for radio play. As Sammy struggles to gain control of his songwriting career, he is helped by his paranoid jazz pianist grandfather and his old best friend/new girlfriend, Jen5. 

Jon Skovron’s debut novel Struts & Frets manages to be authentic in its language and characterization every step of the way. The book is littered with the sort of phrases and people that I can swear I heard and met in high school and at local concerts when I was a teen, right down to the friend who can play video game theme songs with his sweaty, sweaty hand-farts.

If you like Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

Here are some books that deal with themes similar to Thirteen Reasons Why:

Aimee by Mary Beth Miller
Aimee
by Mary Beth Miller
After she is accused of playing a role in her best friend's death, a young woman battles depression, anger, guilt, loneliness, and the problems of her own family as well as those of the families of her old friends.

 
 

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
by Julie Anne Peters
High school student Daelyn Rice, who's been bullied throughout her school career and has more than once attempted suicide, again makes plans to kill herself, in spite of the persistent attempts of an unusual boy to draw her out.
 

 

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Hate List
by Jennifer Brown
Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

 
 

Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Hold Still
by Nina LaCour
Ingrid didn't leave a note. Three months after her best friend's suicide, Caitlin finds what she left instead: a journal, hidden under Caitlin's bed.
 

 

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. In Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful, Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college but she gets pushed off course by her controlling father. When a handsome, quirky Goth boy sees her for who she really is Terra is forced in yet another direction.

The red-stained birthmark on Terra’s right cheek isn’t the only challenge she has to overcome. She’s with her insensitive boyfriend for all the wrong reasons. Her malicious father, a mapmaker with a humiliating secret, is critical to the point of verbal abuse. And her family is falling apart. But Terra is a likable girl, who desperately wants to be accepted for who she is – flaws and all. A cast of well-developed characters also make this a fun and touching story.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

This past weekend, the film adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story opened in theaters across the country. Vizzini’s book centers on a smart teenager named Craig Gilner, who has had growing issues of anxiety and depression since joining an extremely selective, intense private high school in Manhattan. After obsessively studying and getting a perfect score on the entrance exam, Craig finds himself in way over his head, drowning in a sea of labs and math equations. Partying and pining for his best friend’s girl doesn’t help matters either.

Craig can’t sleep or eat. During an especially fitful day, he makes a decision to call 1-800-SUICIDE. Their suggestion for him to check into an emergency room brings Craig to Six North, a Brooklyn psychiatric hospital...for adults. There Craig finds a collection of people at least twice his age with a variety of mental issues. Strangely enough, he finds it incredibly easy to make friends. Craig starts to compare his issues to his new peers, and finds life in Six North to be simultaneously simpler and more complicated than his regular life. His own evaluation of life, friendships, and his doctors help to push Craig in a better direction.

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

An anonymous blogger  named Str-S-d announces that she hates Lucy Cunningham and wishes her dead.  A few days later Lucy disappears. Madison Archer drove Lucy home the night she went missing.  Madsion receives messages that warn she could be next.  The mysterious blogger posts another name and that student goes missing...and then a third.  Madison decides that she needs to find her missing friends before it is too late. In addition to the strange blog postings, Madsion receives hastily scribbled notes from a "friend."  These notes provide clues as to the circumstances surrounding the disappearances of Madison's friends.

Madison is so freaked out by all of this that she hardly notices the attentions of Tyler.  He is the new boy in town and kind of mysterious.  No one knows much about him.  He and Madison work together to find their missing classmates.  As Madison and Tyler become closer, there are some details that are revealed about him.  He is not who he says he is and has a motive for being in that town that goes beyond going to the high school.

Another great book from teen favorite author Todd Strasser.  This one will keep you on the edge of your seat, and you won't believe the ending!!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

What would happen if you met someone who had the exact same name as you? Would you examine them, looking for any similarities and differences desperately trying to figure the other one out? Two high school students from suburban Chicago are about to find out, and both of them are Will Grayson in Will Grayson, Will Grayson  by John Green and David Levithan.

One lives by two rules: 1. Don’t care too much. 2. Shut Up. By following them, Will has made it through life without too many bruises. Unfortunately, his best friend Tiny Cooper is royally wrecking everything for him. Royal is appropriate for Tiny, a gigantic queen who just happens to be the school’s best football player and the writer/director/star of his own biographic musical, Tiny Dancer. This, along with Tiny’s constant attempts to get Will to go out with their mutual friend Jane, is exactly the kind of attention that Will does not want.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

This is Week 12 of a 12-Week series of blog posts reviewing new young adult books. To see all of the reviews, click here.

In Kathryn Erskine's "Mockingbird," Caitlin’s world is black and white, and she likes it that way, whether it’s her view of life or her meticulous monotone drawings. Since The Day Our Life Fell Apart when her brother Devon was killed in a school shooting, she and her widowed father keep to simple routines. This is important to kids like Caitlin, a fifth grader with Asperger’s Syndrome. Clear boundaries make it easier to cope, especially when she’s trying hard to follow her counselor’s advice to Look At The Person and Mind Your Manners. 

As I followed Caitlin through her days at school – meeting with the school counselor when she has a TRM (Tantrum Rage Meltdown), trying dutifully to make friends even though she prefers to be a “team of one” – I began to see the world as Caitlin does. She may be socially inept and literal-minded, but she also has a startling gift for humor and truth-telling. 
 

12 Weeks of Hot Summer Reads: Nothing by Janne Teller

This is Week 6 of a 12-Week series of blog posts reviewing new young adult books. Check back each Monday for a new review.

What matters to you? What really, really matters in your life?

What if someone told you that nothing in life matters? NOTHING AT ALL.
"It's all a waste of time ... Everything begins only to end. The moment you were born you began to die. That's how it is with everything." What if they kept saying it over and over again and you couldn't make them shut up?

This is exactly what happens to the students in class 7A at Taering School in Janne Teller's novel Nothing.

12 Weeks of Hot Summer Reads: After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

This is Week 4 of a 12-Week series of blog posts reviewing new young adult books. Check back each Monday for a new review. 

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
Tad Ibsen is a scrawny kid who walks into the classroom on crutches, muttering angrily to himself, with a huge red scar across the side of his head. Why does the teacher seat the new kid next to Jeffrey Alper? “Suddenly I get it,” Jeffrey explains to the reader. “I don’t always catch on so fast, but this time, I put two and two together…I lean over and whisper, ‘Hi, I’m Jeffrey. I had cancer, too.’ He looks at me like I’m a particularly loathsome slice of school-lunch meat loaf and says, ‘Wow, congratulations! What do you want, a medal?’” Of course, they’re best friends from that moment on.