unRequired Reading Blog

Jane by April Lindner

 What if Jane Eyre fell in love with a rock star? This is what happens in April Lindner’s Jane, a modernization of Charlotte Brontë’s classic work. The result is a hot retelling that teens will relate to in a heartbeat. Rock star with a wild past? Check. Teen girl with a family who doesn’t understand her? Check. Passionate, roller coaster love story? All right!

When author Lindner first saw a Pride and Prejudice remake, she thought, “Not bad, but couldn’t they have chosen a better book?” Looking at her favorite classic authors, she realized that Brontë’s Jane Eyre would make for a good challenge. That challenge would prove to be steep, however. She wanted to remain as faithful as possible to the original work but make it inviting and understandable to the average young adult reader. The first difficulty was finding a modern reason for the class differences between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Then she thought, “What bigger chasm exists than between a poor orphan and the rich and famous?” (Not direct quotes).

Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

For most of us, peanuts don’t usually conjure up thoughts of sickness and death, but for Ambrose Bukowski that’s all they have to offer. The main character of Susin Neilsen’s Word Nerd has a serious allergy, but his real problem is the fact that he’s so awkward. His classmates tease him nonstop for the way he acts, the way he dresses, and the things he says. When they hide a peanut in his sandwich at lunch, the hospital visit afterwards convinces his overprotective mother to homeschool Ambrose.

One day Ambrose meets his landlord’s son Cosmo, who just got out of prison. You might not think that a nerdy kid and a twenty-something ex-con would have anything in common, but the game of Scrabble works in mysterious ways.
 
Ambrose hates Cosmo’s smoking habit and tattoos, and Cosmo doesn’t want to be seen with Ambrose when he’s wearing his lucky purple pants. Still, these two unlikely friends try to make things better for themselves, the only way they know how. But how can they play together when Ambrose’s mom won’t let him near Cosmo? And why does a scary-looking guy named Silvio keep showing up in front of their house, asking for Cosmo?

If you like Cut by Patricia McCormick

Cut by Patricia McCormick

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.

Cut by Patricia McCormick
While confined to a mental hospital, thirteen-year-old Callie slowly comes to understand some of the reasons behind her self-mutilation, and gradually starts to get better.

If you like Cut by Patricia McCormick, here are some other books you may like based on shared issues or themes:


Self-mutiliation: 

Blade Silver: Color Me Scarred by Melody Carlson
Blade Silver: Color Me Scarred
by Melody Carlson
Ruth copes with an abusive situation at home by cutting herself, until her high school counselor helps her get the treatment she needs to start a new life. (Christian fiction author)

 

 

Crosses by Shelley Stoehr
Crosses
by Shelley Stoehr
Unhappy at home, Nancy and her friend Katie adopt punk lifestyles and find relief in cutting themselves, until Nancy is forced to confront her problems.



 

Institutions/therapy/suicide attempts:

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
The Boyfriend List
by E. Lockhart
A Seattle fifteen-year-old explains some of the reasons for her recent panic attacks, including breaking up with her boyfriend, losing all her girlfriends, tensions between her performance-artist mother and her father, and more.
 

 

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon
The Burn Journals
by Brent Runyon
Brent Runyon was fourteen years old when he set himself on fire. In this book he describes that suicide attempt and his recovery over the following year. (autobiography)

 

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.
 

 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games - twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. A revolution is unfolding, and it is up to Katniss to accept her role as the eponymous Mockingjay in Suzanne Collins' third and final installation of the series. In the first book, The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta manage to survive. In book two, Catching Fire, they are sent back in to the arena. Mockingjay picks up the action with the rebels advancing on the Capital and races to a violent conclusion.

In an interview with School Library Journal, author Suzanne Collins explained her obsession with war. She’s the daughter of an Air Force and Vietnam veteran who taught her from an early age about history and war. Inspired by her combination of combat knowledge and reality TV, The Hunger Games is a dystopian country in chaos, in which teenagers are forced to compete to the death as punishment for an earlier rebellion. Mockingjay examines the necessity of war and answers the question: Will Katniss take on the responsibility for countless lives and change the course of the future of Panem?

If you’ve read the first two books in the trilogy, then you must find out how this gripping story ends. If you’re still a newbie to the Hunger Games phenomenon, you’ll want to get on board. The books deliver action, romance, and depth of characters all in a brilliantly visualized future.

If you like The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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.

The Name of the Wind
This is the tale of a magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story.
 

If you like The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss here are some other titles you might like:


The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass
(His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman
Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

  
 

Imager: The First Book of the Imager Portfolio by L.E. Modesitt
Apprentice portraitist Rhennthyl begins training as a covert operative after he discovers that he has the magical ability called Imaging. When his martial training kicks into high gear though, an unknown assassin tries to kill him.



 

Fallen by Lauren Kate

In Lauren Kate’s Fallen, Luce starts life at her new boarding school with a secret. Well, to be honest, most kids there have secrets. The Sword & Cross school is hardly a swanky prep school, with doors open to anyone with enough cash. Rather, it’s a reform school for the hardboiled repeat offenders who really have no where else to go, except behind bars. Luce has been court-ordered to attend The Sword & Cross after the mysterious death of her boyfriend in a fire, where she was the only other person present.

Luce already has a tarnished past, having complained of seeing dark shapes since early childhood, which lead to years of psychiatrist appointments and anti-psychotic medication. She has always seen the shadows: “No one knew about the murky shapes she sometimes saw in the darkness. They’d always come to her.” However, Luce learns early on that no one else can see them, and so tries to keep her fear to herself. Unfortunately, the shadows make things happen, things that can hurt other people, like her doomed boyfriend Trevor.

If you like Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

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.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

When she is abandoned by her alcoholic mother, high school senior Ruby winds up living with Cora, the sister she has not seen for ten years, and learns about Cora's new life, what makes a family, how to allow people to help her when she needs it, and that she too has something to offer others.

If you like Lock and Key then you might like:

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
Because I am Furniture
by Thalia Chaltas
The youngest of three siblings, fourteen-year-old Anke feels both relieved and neglected that her father abuses her brother and sister but ignores her, but when she catches him with one of her friends, she finally becomes angry enough to take action.

 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta
Abandoned by her drug-addicted mother at the age of eleven, high school student Taylor Markham struggles with her identity and family history at a boarding school in Australia.


 

Push by Sapphire
Push: A Novel
by Sapphire
A self-portrait of a black teenage girl, big, fat, unloved, with a father who rapes her and a jealous mother who screams abuse. For Precious, as she is called, hope appears when a courageous teacher, a young black woman, bullies, cajoles and inspires her to learn to read.

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.