Monday, June 27, 2016

Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

JT has only done drag once - and it was humiliating. Of course, it wasn't the best venue with the most receptive audience (high school talent show with jocks watching). JT will not put himself through that again.

The problem is that JT does not want to be stuck working in his family's gas station in Florida for the rest of his life. His parents do not have the money to send him to college and do not seem to care what happens to him as long as he works at the station. How can he escape? His boyfriend, Seth, discovers a teen drag contest that gives the winner a four year scholarship to college.

So here are the problems (as JT sees it): 1)The contest is in New York City and he has no money to get there and 2) He is not a real drag queen since his only performance was a total embarrassment.

It's a good thing JT has friends like Seth and Heather. They are constantly talking him through his insecurities. And they have a plan. JT just has to find the confidence in himself and trust the people who want to help him. In New York and on the trip there, JT finds many of those people.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Don't Get Caught by Kurt Dinan

Max is tired of being 'Just Max.' So when he receives a mysterious invitation  from the Chaos Club to meet at the water tower, he goes. For decades, the Chaos Club has pulled pranks around the school. Could this be an invitation to join the secret society?

Max soon realizes he is not the only one to get the invitation. The group includes a dumb jock, a tough girl, a slacker/troublemaker,  and the girl Max has a crush on. They make it to the top of the water tower as instructed only to realize they have been set up (and the whole thing is recorded and uploaded to the internet).

Tired of being pushed around, the group decides to pull their own epic pranks and take down the Chaos Club at the same time (and if they can make a certain coach look bad, too, all the better). Each group member will pull a prank to see who can do the best one.

How do you pull of pranks without involving innocent people? It's a question Max asks himself as the 'war' escalates. He wants to be somebody, but is it worth getting expelled?

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.



A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Holmes and Watson must solve the mystery before the killer catches up to them. No, not Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (they are long dead). This is Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, decedents of the famous crime solving team. Through coincidence (or is it?), they both end up at a private school in Connecticut. Watson knew of Charlotte, of course, but had never met her.

The death of a classmate finds them awkwardly paired. Jamie must adjust to Charlotte's unusual habits and eccentricities. From birth she has been trained in the Holmes tradition of crime solving and all the goes with it (observation, forensics, interrogation). Although the Holmes and Watson families have shared history, Jamie's mother has tried to keep him away from the Holmes'.

But once Jamie follows Charlotte through the dead student's window to examine the crime scene, there is no going back. Jamie is completely immersed in Charlotte's world. Adding another level of intrigue, the crime (and the ones that follow) mimics the stories of the original Holmes and Watson.

I have never been a reader of Sherlock Holmes (other than a few in high school), so I do not know how closely the characters of Charlotte and Jamie resemble their famous ancestors. I do know that there is enough mystery (mixed with teen angst) to keep the pages turning.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

Almost by accident, Normandy, Dusk and Neil start a movement to find the truth. They ask the questions everyone wants to know but are afraid to ask. Why did Aimee have plastic surgery over the summer? Is Tyler Jones gay? But how do you get the answers - you go right to the person of interest and ask them.

Normandy, Dusk and Neil attend the Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. It is a unique school that allows students to focus on different aspects of art. Neil is a painter (of the female form). He also likes to dress as characters from classic 60s and 70s movies. Dusk is currently working on taxidermy. She is the most effortlessly beautiful girl in the school. Normandy is a writer who is famous for being portrayed in her sister Keira's hugely popular graphic novel.

Normandy is uncomfortable asking others about their secrets because she has enough of her own family secrets (like how her sister has left college in California but won't tell anyone why including her agent). Normandy's family has always revolved around her sister's gifts and talents, so as long as Keira is working on her novel her parents will not do anything to upset her.

Normandy tells the story in a paper (aka the book itself) she is writing (complete with footnotes) for her Spring Special Project. She includes all the humor and drama that is her life: her sister's breakdown and her friend's quest for the truth that becomes bigger than all of them.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.


23 Minutes by Vivian Vande Velde

Imagine if you could go back in time to change something. Correct an answer on an exam. Take back something hurtful you said. Save someone's life. It seems easy enough, but time can be unforgiving. Suppose you can only go back 23 minutes. Zoe can. She doesn't know why, but she has the ability to jump back 23 minutes (and reset 10 times before the she reaches her oringinal starting time).

So on a rainy day, she ducks into a bank to stay dry and finds herself in the middle of a robbery. The young man who steps between her and the gunman should not have to die, no one should. Zoe tries to intervene using her time travel abilities.

It should be easy enough - call the police before the robbery happens; try to stop the robber from entering the bank; tell the young man not to enter the bank. Zoe has ten tries to stop people from dying. Her time travel has never been needed for something so important.

The author has given us a tight scenario with strict rules that makes for a tense story.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

I have started a few books assuming the gender of a character only to find out in a few pages that I was wrong causing me to rethink how I picture them. With this book, that's part of the point. Riley is gender fluid. Some days, Riley feels like a girl and other days Riley feels like a boy.

Starting a new school, Riley wants to go unnoticed. One problem is that Riley sometimes wants to dress like a girl and sometimes like a boy. Riley would never be able to do that - at school or home. So Riley dresses neutral, fighting anxious feelings and possible panic attacks.

Only Riley's therapist knows about being gender fluid. Riley's parents don't even know. It would be a particular sticky issue for Riley's conservative congressman father who is running for reelection. As election day gets closer, it is increasingly difficult for Riley to find a way to get out of attending campaign events - they only bring on the worst panic attacks.

Riley's attempt to be invisible at school does not last long either. Riley does meet a cool guy named Solo on the first day. But is he interested in Riley as a guy friend or a girlfriend? Riley is also taken with Bec, a girl who may or may not be flirting with Riley. But the new potential friendships are overshadowed by the taunts of star football player, Jim Vickers, and his snotty girlfriend. Everything Riley feared is happening again.

Following the therapist's advice, Riley starts an anonymous blog about being gender fluid that quickly finds a following. It is the blog that drives Riley and the story forward.

Many things in life are not as straight forward as people would like them to be including gender. This story reminds us that people need to be accepted for who they are and given the chance to find out who that is. Riley is a character you will not easily forget.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Character, Driven by David Lubar

Cliff's life changes when he sees Jillian for the first time. Yes, she is that beautiful. She is new to school, and everyone notices her when she walks into class. Cliff knows he does not have chance with her but that doesn't keep his mind from thinking up things to say to her.

Cliff is telling us the story of his senior year. Jillian is only one part of it. His dad lost his job and is pathological about saving money. Cliff works two jobs to contribute to the money his mom brings home from working at a bakery. Cliff's dad is constantly harping about what Cliff cannot do because it is a waste of money (like go to a concert of one of  his favorite bands). His dad also tells Cliff he is wasting his time with art. Cliff is not sure what he wants to do with his life, but he would like art to be an option.

Cliff has two best friends, Butch and Robert. Butch has changed her name many times since he's known her. She is "a little twisted, but in a good way" (her skull collection is a good example). Robert moved from Jamaica. Both are very smart and 'fight' with each other constantly.

Then there's Jimby whose mother drank a lot while she was pregnant. As described by Cliff, it messed up Jimby's brain a bit, but he would take a beating for Jimby. Cliff tries to help Jimby whenever he can.

Cliff knows he is writing us a story and makes occasional references to remind us. In reality of course, it is David Lubar who has (once again) given the reader a story filled with humor and poignancy. There are some basic truths to be found alongside the funny musings of Cliff.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.




Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Mercedes has sex with virgin guys. She wants to teach them so they will give their girlfriends a better first time than she had. It's not just physical instruction; she tells them how to dress and behave and where to go on dates. She is just providing a service.

She has to keep her sex life a secret (particularly from her best friend Angela) which is difficult because she has helped so may guys (even she is kind of appalled at the number). She thinks the boys will never tell anyone for fear of their girlfriends finding out. If it were to get out...her life would be over.

Mercedes' sex life is not all about virgins. She has a weekly Wednesday 'date' with her chemistry partner Zach. He wants her as a girlfriend, but she wants none of it. She likes their arrangement just the way it is.

Mercedes is just trying to bide her time until she can go to MIT next fall to study chemistry, but life is complicated. Mercedes' dad left when she was young and her mom might as well be gone to for the lack of attention (let alone affection) she shows to her only daughter. Mercedes at least has Angela, although it is becoming more difficult to face her. Angela started a prayer group that is only attended by Mercedes and Angela's boyfriend (who Angela won't have sex with until they are married).  Even the new girl Faye (who is gorgeous and seems to catch Zach's attention) is confusing Mercedes. Is Faye flirting with her or just wanting to be frieds?

Mercedes thinks she is in control, but nothing is as it seems. There is a lot more to Mercedes and this story than sex.

For more information, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Zero Day by Jan Gangsei

Addie Webster was eight years old when she was kidnapped from the governor's mansion. Darrow, her best friend, was the last person to see her. At the time, her dad was the governor. Now, eight year later, her father is the President of the United States, and Addie is back. She escaped her captors and is returned to her family to live in the White House.

So much has changed since Addie was taken. She has a sister who was born while she was away. Darrow is no longer the little boy she used to beat at games. Her parents have become very overprotective. They look at her like she could fall apart, but Addie kept herself alive for years without their help.

Around the same time Addie returns, terrorist attacks start happening in Washington DC, but with no injuries. Cerberus, the group taking responsibility, wants officials to see the flaws in their security systems before someone is hurt or killed.

To some, it is too much of a coincidence that Addie comes back at the same time that the attacks occur. Could they be related? Is Addie involved? It is only a matter of time before everyone is drawn into Cerberus' plot.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and author's site.

Friday, March 11, 2016

If Rock and Roll Were a Machine by Terry Davis

Bert Bowden wanted a motorcycle. His parents were against it, but he got one anyway. He doesn't feel like a motorcycle guy, but he feels good when he's riding it. It was something the he had to try.

Bert is not sure of himself anymore. He used to be a smart, outgoing kid until a teacher crushed his spirit. The teacher thought Bert was a know-it-all. He was personally irritated by Bert's classroom outbursts, so he turned the other kids against him. Since then, Bert has been adrift.

He tried out for football, but didn't make the cut. He tries writing for the school paper (his teacher even thinks he could write professionally some day). There's a girl he kind of likes, but he never expresses it.

This is a slice of Bert's life at a time when he seems to be finding his direction. Too often things happen in our early life that even we may not recognize at the time but have long lasting effects. Bert is lucky enough to find adults who want to help him and encourage him. Will riding a motorcycle help him? Maybe not, but riding one at least puts him on a road going somewhere.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.