unRequired Reading Blog
Raphael is fourteen years old and living in an unnamed, third-world country in Andy Mulligan's book, Trash. He and his friend Gardo spend most of their days picking through the huge trash pile looking for everyday items and food. Raphael and Gardo know that when the trash is dumped from the wealthy part of town they will have a heyday. Most of the children in Raphael's village drop out of school to spend their day sifting through the trash to help support their families. Families see school as a waste of time when their children could be helping out in a more productive manner with the trash picking.
Marcus, the new kid in town, wants to tryout for the undefeated high school football team in Pop, by Gordon Korman. While training by himself at a local park, he meets Charlie, a massive 50-something-year-old man with powerful football skills that he shares with Marcus. Estranged from the teammates who don’t want to accept an outsider, Marcus’s growing friendship with Charlie gives him a sense of belonging. But Marcus also begins to see that something about Charlie isn’t quite right. For an old guy, he’s a charismatic prankster who acts like a big kid, can’t remember Marcus’s name and runs away at the first sign of trouble. Then Marcus discovers that Charlie is actually a former NFL linebacker known as “The King of Pop.”
In the book Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry has created a post apocalyptic zombie infested world. Benny Imura and his brother Tom live in a safe zone that is separated from the zombies by a fence. They are constantly under threat of attack by the zombies. Benny is fifteen and it is time for him to find an occupation. After several failed attempts at employment he decides to learn his brother's trade which is bounty hunter. Benny eventually learns that his brother is not a typical bounty hunter. He does search for zombies but he is hired by family members with a special request. Benny and Tom head out together beyond the safety of the fence.
Benny never knew his parents. The night of the zombie apocalypse, Benny's father is infected and becomes a zombie. His mother who has been injured, hands the baby Benny off to his older brother Tom and tells him to run. That is the last that they see of their parents. Benny has believed for years that his brother is a coward. That happened fourteen years ago. Tom has been raising Benny ever since but their relationship is very strained. As they work and travel together Benny learns more about his brother and the reality of that night.
In A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine, young Elodie embarks on her journey to Two Castles with the warning of her family ringing in her ears: beware of ogres and dragons, and, even worse, the whited sepulcher. Elodie’s parents think she will apprentice to a weaver. But headstrong, independent Elodie dreams of becoming a mansioner--an actress. As she nears Two Castles, Elodie discovers that the free,10-year apprenticeships have been abolished. She does not have enough money to pay for an apprenticeship or to pay for the voyage home. What will she do? How will she survive?
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Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
Haunted by flashbacks, fifteen-year-old Meredith learns that three years in prison has not changed the abusive father who molested her.
If you like Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess, you might like these books:
Lessons from a Dead Girl by Johanna Knowles
An unflinching story of a troubled friendship -- and one girl's struggle to come to terms with secrets and shame and find her own power to heal. Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn't Laine make it stop sooner?
Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
Written from the point of view of 30-year-old Nicky as she recalls the vivid December day, 19 years earlier, when she and her father found an abandoned infant in the snow, this is a beautiful contemporary novel about love and memory.
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
LaVaughn is saving money for college, babysitting for a single mother whose life is out of control! Meanwhile, LaVaughn and her friends have other things to figure out.
In The Freak Observer, by Blythe Woolston, Loa Lindgren is not your typical 16-year-old and yet she is a quintessential one. Her life is certainly not the ideal. In the past year her family has fallen apart, having lost the one thing that their lives revolved around: her little sister, Asta, named for the stars. Born with Rett’s syndrome, she stopped growing after a few months and was destined to remain infantile her entire life, until she suddenly died. Without the constant need to care for Asta, Loa and her family are like planets without a star to revolve around, cut loose to wander the universe. They are, of course, also stricken with grief, each one reacting in their own way. Her father has fits of violence. Loa wakes screaming from nightmares--just one terrifying symptom of a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
If there was one thing that people across the country could agree on right now, it would be the ridiculously high cost of today’s college education. Most parents assume that student loans are a fact of life, and most students assume that student loan debt is a necessary and even positive thing. If you want to get a good job, it’s commonly thought that going to a good college (chosen in part by U.S. News and World Report rankings) and getting a good name on your diploma simply costs money and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Lennie, a 17-year-old bookworm and band geek, has always walked, safe and happy, in the shadow of her dynamic older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie is left to cope with life in this intense debut novel The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson.
A mountain of information has been written about Charles Darwin’s life, ideas and adventures, but this may be the first book about his romance with Emma Wedgwood. The dilemma? Emma was staunchly religious while Charles was bound to science and his revolutionary idea of the origin of species. Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, examines the true story of their courtship, marriage and family life as a backdrop to Darwin’s famous discoveries.
Faced with the question of whether or not to marry, Darwin, ever the scientist, compiled a list – a wife, he wrote, is “better than a dog” but then again he’d have “less money for books.” Eventually, Darwin did decide to marry Emma and the couple spent many happy years together.