Screenshot by Donna Cooner
Scholastic Press / Point
Publication Date: May 29,2018
Skye, an ambitious and determined teen, is focused on winning a coveted summer internship with a senator. Her social media image has been perfect … until now. One embarrassing video of Skye, posted and quickly deleted, has still been seen. Skye receives a screenshot and a series of anonymous messages threatening to release the photo if she does not follow the increasingly humiliating directions she’s given.
Screenshot is a realistic look at the power and influence of social media in the lives of teens. The plot starts out slowly, but the pacing intensifies once Skye begins receiving screenshots and anonymous messages. Teens will keep turning pages, anxious to find out who is blackmailing Skye. Donna Cooner’s winning combination of a great hook, a realistic portrayal of teen lives and relationships, plus a social media themed plot make this a Quick Pick.
Teens who enjoy Screenshot may also enjoy The Takedown by Corrie Wang or The Fall by James Preller.
That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Leanne “Lee” Bauer is one of a handful of students that survived a school shooting. Traumatized and trying to move forward, the survivors each remember the shooting based upon their own experiences. Lee knows the truth, though, and seeks to dispel the myths perpetrated by the media and the community.
The ripped from the headlines subject matter is unfortunately all too common and grabs immediate attention. Shooting victim Sarah McHale was made to be a martyr, known as the “girl with the cross necklace” who died tragically. Three years later, Sarah’s parents announce they are publishing a biography about Sarah and how she died defending her religion. However, Lee was in the bathroom with Sarah and Kellie when the shooter entered, and knows what really happened. The plot moves quickly as Lee contacts the five other survivors and requests they tell their sides of the story via a series of letters. The emotionally intense situation escalates when some are upset their recollections don’t match. Each of the six survivors evoke sympathy in their own way, as they seek the courage to remember that haunting day and present the truth as they know it. The culturally diverse cast of characters also includes a survivor who is blind and a main character who is asexual, which adds even more to the compelling and intensifying story.
Readalikes include Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong, also a school shooting account that questions what really happened, and How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, which depicts different points of view in a neighborhood shooting.
— Lisa Krok
Tight by Torrey Maldonado
Penguin Random House / Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
What happens when your best friend goes too far?
Bryan is a pretty normal kid. He lives with his mom, dad, and sister in New York City, goes to school (even though it isn’t his favorite), and loves comics. When Bryan’s dad feels like there isn’t enough positive male influence in Bryan’s life, he introduces him to Mike. Bryan and Mike hit it off right away, especially when it comes to comics. So when Mike starts taking Bryan on little adventures like cutting class and subway surfing, Bryan realizes that Mike may not be the positive influence he was talked up to be and must choose to follow in Mike’s footsteps or have the courage to say no.
The cover of Tight has a lot going on. From the first look, this book grabs your attention with the two subway cars zooming by and a boy in the middle of them looking confused on where to go. This is all a great first look as this book is fast paced, deals with real issues in an urban community (who you are friends with, what it means to be a man, being tough, etc), and that there are a lot of emotions and issues packed into this slim book of 192 pages. The characters are relatable, diverse, and compelling with a setting that feels genuine and relatable to urban tweens.
Tight feels inspired by the works of Walter Dean Myers and Jacqueline Woodson. Give to readers of Jason Reynolds and The Stars Beneath our Feet by David Barclay Moore.
— Anna Taylor
No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli
Fish Out of Water Books
Publication Date: February 20, 2018
Life as he knows it changes overnight for 18-year-old Gabe LoScuda when his parents are killed in a freak accident and he becomes the sole caregiver for his Grandpa, who has dementia and is prone to violent outbursts, putting Gabe in a position to make a gut-wrenching decision.
No Sad Songs is a universal read that is both emotionally raw yet refreshingly funny. A little over 200 pages, this title explores the often undiscussed scenario of teens who are thrust into adulthood when they become caregivers, both in friendships and family. Although the book may cover unfamiliar topics (i.e., Alzheimer’s), the realistic portrayal of sacrifice and responsibility will hook teens also experiencing the intensity of losing innocence and freedom so early in their lives.
Teens seeking books about the perils of growing up will appreciate the way No Sad Songs intertwines humor with heartbreaking sadness to effectively convey Gabe’s feeling of abandonment and need for self care.
Titles that cover similar ground to No Sad Songs include Clete Barrett Smith’s Mr. 60% (a 2018 Quick Picks title) and How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss.
— Ally Dowds
Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy
Penguin Random House / Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
A horrific, not-entirely-accidental childhood incident marks the beginning of Jenny’s obsession with fire. While her stepfather undergoes an investigation for her most recent crime, Jenny goes to live with her father across the country in New Mexico at the hotel he is remodeling. Someone seems to have figured out her secret, though, and is following her and threatening to reveal the truth about her late-night walks.
Watch You Burn has a plot that races along and a cast of intriguing (if not particularly deep) characters. Red herrings abound, and readers will be kept guessing who is actually after Jenny all the way to the big reveal at the very end. Although Jenny is not a reliable narrator and makes some very questionable decisions, she’s nevertheless a sympathetic and endearing character in her own way. A creepy tone and atmosphere, secrets hiding around every corner and in every character, and lots of suspense built into situations with the potential to go very, very wrong add up to a dramatic, enjoyable mystery that asks questions that demand answers.
Read-alikes for Watch You Burn feature very unreliable narrators and include titles like One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud.
— Allie Stevens
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