Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Sleeping in My Jeans by Connie King Leonard
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Sixteen-year-old Mattie is homeless, living with her mom and her little sister in the family’s old station wagon. When their mother disappears, leaving them stranded on the streets overnight, it’s up to Mattie to keep their family together. Can she trust the police, or her new friend, Jack, to help her?
In this fast-paced story, readers will find familiar themes including pressure to succeed in school and a potential romance. These are twisted around Mattie’s homelessness and her fear of being separated from her mother and sister. The story includes violence, homelessness, and references human trafficking, but also finds joy, love, and hope in surprising places. Mattie’s vulnerability, combined with her fierce devotion to her family, make her a sympathetic and engaging narrator. This story is filled with drama until the very end.
This book is perfect for fans of Ellen Hopkins’ realistic fiction. Readers intrigued by nonfiction works, such as Monika Davies’ True Stories of Teen Homelessness (2018), or Laurie Halse Anderson’s Shout (2019) will appreciate this title as well.
You Owe Me A Murder by Eileen Cook
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
On a school trip with her ex-boyfriend Connor (and his new girlfriend), Kim meets a charming stranger, Nicki, at the airport. Kim is a quiet, science-loving teen who’s not quite over being dumped by her boyfriend, while Nicki is everything Kim wishes to be: clever, adventurous, and interesting. The two bond instantly, and fantasize about killing those who have wronged them. When Connor ends up dead in London, Kim begins to suspect that Nicki’s murderous offer wasn’t a joke.
Reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, this fast-paced read is full of plot twists and turns, as well as a dash of romance. No one in this story is quite who they seem, and every character has something to hide. Kim is an unreliable narrator, one who admits to lying and manipulating others. She often makes questionable decisions, many of which only entangle her further in Nicki’s diabolical web. Nicki’s motives remain an enigma, even as Kim races across London to exonerate herself and protect others from Nicki’s actions. Overall, there is plenty of psychological suspense and drama to keep a reluctant reader turning the pages.
Fans of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (2017), or the novels of Megan Miranda will enjoy the tense and suspenseful atmosphere of this book.