Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler

When you were a freshman, did you wonder who you would be when you graduated? Did you think about what your life would be like over the four years of high school? I didn't. At least, I don't remember giving it any thought. I sure didn't know what I wanted to do after high school.

At freshman orientation, five students (Gregor, Zoe, Jake, Whitney and Mia) are assigned to the same group and must complete a project together. They choose to write letters to their future selves and agree to meet after graduation to read them.

We follow each of them through the four year of high school. Whitney is beautiful and popular. Gregor is not so popular but totally taken with Whitney. Jake is athletic (but no longer on the football team) and has a crush on his best friend, Ted. Zoe is the daughter of a famous actress who has a scandalous secret. Mia is searching for her identity and casually watches the others.

We follow each student through their ups and downs. We see how they change and grow and how their lives intersect with each other. In order to tell the story over a four year period, the author jumps several months at a time often leaving us with mini cliff hangers. The letters themselves aren't really important; they are just the vehicle for bringing the five together.

I found this story intriguing because it is different from many other books about teens. Normally, we see teens and their lives change around major events. This story allowed us to see a group of teens changing as a normal course in life.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Losers Take All by David Klass

In school, I never played sports. I was just not interested. And if my P.E. classes are any indication, I had little athletic ability anyway. Thankfully, there was no one who forced me to play organized sports. The same cannot be said for Jack and his fellow non-athletes.

At Fremont High, sports rule. And football rules most of all. Due to unforeseen circumstances (and the school board's obsession with sports), Head Football Coach Muhldinger is made principal and declares that all seniors must join an athletic team.

Jack Logan is one of the seniors who does not want to be on a team. He could be good at sports. His dad is the all-time football star ever at Fremont (and could have gone pro if he hadn't injured his knee in college). Jack's brothers also played. How can Jack defy the Logan family legacy?

Needless to say, Muhldinger (being a total maniac) is furious when Jack refuses to play football after demonstrating his quick speed. Instead, Jack and his friends decide to form a soccer team. A bunch of non-athletes who don't care about winning turns out to be the worst soccer team ever. You might even call it anti-athletics. For Muhldinger, the very legacy of the school is at stake - although not the way he thinks.

In our world of social media and the internet, small actions can become big issues particularly when recorded and posted online. Things get crazy and messy for all concerned before the Losers (the team's unofficial nickname) even play their second game. It's an interesting and fun look at school sports and the role they play in the lives of students.

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

From the moment Phillip Digby first appears on Zoe's porch, he will not leave her alone. Digby pops up at any moment and seems to know way too much about what is going on. It's kind of creepy and yet Zoe is drawn into his schemes even when she is breaking the rules.

And breaking the rules will not get Zoe into Princeton. Her goal is to get into the exclusive Prentiss Academy in New York first. Since her parents are separated, she will move in with her father and his new wife in New York (which her mom is not thrilled about).

After the divorce, Zoe and her mother moved to River Heights, a small town still reeling from the abduction of a local teen. Digby's mission is to find the girl or at least the person (or persons) who did it. It's just possible that this kidnapping may be connected to the disappearance of his own sister eight years ago.

Digby drags Zoe and his friend Henry through a series of investigative adventures: stakeouts, break-ins, interrogations, vandalism - you know, general mayhem that eventually involves the police.

Zoe keeps following Digby because she has no other friends and he at least gives her something to do. Plus Digby is smart and has studied police methods and procedures. He is passionate about finding this missing girl. It's suspenseful, a bit chaotic and fun.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sophomores and Other Oxymorons by David Lubar

It has been a long time since we followed Scott Hudson through his freshman year in Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, but for Scott it has only been a summer. Freshman year was a tough one, but he knows that sophomore year will be easier. Well...maybe not so much.

Let's start with Lee, Scott's best friend. He wants to ask her out, but doesn't know how. He's also afraid it will mess up their friendship - she might freak if he tells her how he feels.

At the bus stop on the first day, Scott protects a scrawny freshman named Jeremy from bullies. Jeremy is chatty, but he's not so bad. Scott decides he can help Jeremy by passing on all his words of wisdom from his own freshman year (for a small fee, of course).

The worst of it all is Scott's new English teacher, Mrs. Gilroy. Scott is an aspiring writer. He is on the newspaper staff and really liked his English teacher last year. Once he fails to impress Mrs.Gilroy on the first day, it all goes down hill from there. Scott makes it a personal vendetta to impress her or expose her silly 'arbitrary' rules (that he can't seem to follow).

A few other things: Scott does not impress his biology teacher when he vomits on the first day in class. His former best friend, Kyle, still seems to hate him. And he is still adjusting to his new baby brother (although Scott is writing down his own experiences to assist his brother when he is a teen).

Scott's life has its ups and downs, but it is a humorous story and even when he is making stupid choices you will be cheering him on.

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

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shackled by Tom Leveen

Pelly's friend Tara is gone. When they were ten, she disappeared from the mall. An innocent game of hide and seek has turned into a six year nightmare for Pelly. She barely functions from day to day. Having a stranger stare at her is enough trigger a panic attack. She never goes out at night and started smoking to help calm her nerves.

Working at the coffee shop has been a huge step in her recovery. If only she can keep her co-workers from discovering her issues (not made an easier since she stopped taking her meds and going to therapy). David, the co-worker who is nicest to her, saw her having an attack, so keeping her secret has not really worked out.

One afternoon, an older man with a teen girl comes into the coffee shop. Pelly knows the girl is Tara. The girl mouths 'help me' as they rush out the door. Not satisfied with the police response, Pelly decides to hunt down the man herself and free her best friend.

Pelly would do almost anything to find her best friend, but she cannot manage it alone so she risks bringing David along on her dangerous and suspenseful quest. It is worth the read to see if Pelly can save Tara and herself.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Another Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan is one of the most original teen books I have ever read. It is the story of someone named A who wakes up in a different body every day. A only gets one day in that person, boy or girl, it doesn't matter. A knows no other life; he/she has always lived this way. It is difficult to connect to anyone when you are shifting lives all the time, so A is truly surprised when he/she meets Rhiannon while spending a day as her boyfriend Justin. It could be love, but the only way to know is to try to return to Rhiannon (as other people) whenever possible.

Every Day is told from A's perspective; Another Day is the same events from Rhiannon's perspective. Fortunately for me, it has been a long time since I read the first book. I had forgotten enough of the story that this was one was fresh and new to me. The stories are so parallel that you could probably alternate back and forth between them to get the full perspective.

In the first book, we learn about each person that A is inhabiting and the daily struggles of learning all about their lives. We also see A struggle to return to Rhiannon without disrupting the life he/she is inhabiting. In this book, we follow Rhiannon as she struggles with the idea of someone like A existing and how they could ever be together.

I think I would have enjoyed this book less had I just read the first book. Still, I recommend them both. It is a fascinating story about sexual identity and judging people based on their outward appearance.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Con Academy by Joe Schreiber

Will Shea attends the exclusive Connaughton Academy. He grew up on a tiny island in the Pacific. His parents were missionaries and died tragically. Sad story really - except none of it is true. Will is from New Jersey and is the son of a con-man. True to his upbringing, Will is pulling a con on Connaughton, successfully getting a scholarship to one of the most exclusive private schools in the country.

This con has no angle. Will wants to go legit and make something of himself. That hope quickly fades when another student Andrea discovers his secret and challenges him to a con-off. The first to fleece a load of money from the king of the campus, Brandt Rush, gets to stay and finish school.

Ah, Brandt. He's obnoxious and arrogant. Half the buildings on campus are named after his family. He throws crazy huge gambling parties and gets away with everything. Brandt is just asking to be taken.

And so it begins, Will versus Andrea. Who's conning who? Will brings in his uncle for help with his first big con, but did not intend for his alcoholic dad to get involved. With such a huge payoff that his dad is depending on, the stakes are even higher.

The story has twists and turns that keep everyone guessing. The story does borrow a few things from the movie The Sting, but it is still fun and suspenseful.

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