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.
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Stella and Will are teens living with cystic fibrosis (CF) who happened to land in the same hospital for various treatments. Their lives are held hostage by the disease and the need to stay alive by staying at least six feet apart from anyone who could infect them with germs that will worsen their condition. When these two meet and feel the bond between them, they have to decide how close they are willing to risk coming in contact with each other, both physically and emotionally.
Stella is relatable as a sheltered and innocent teen who wishes for more opportunities to live her life as a normal girl. A teen audience will be drawn in by Stella’s struggle between saving her own life and risking everything to experience romance. The plot moves along well, even though the majority takes part in the hospital. While relatively PG with regards to the romance, the lightheartedness of Stella and her friendships with other hospital residents and staff will draw readers into an engaging world that rounds out and complements the more dramatic components of the story.
For fans of The Fault in Our Stars, Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything, and Rainbow Rowell.
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
When softball standout Mickey Catalan is seriously injured in a car accident, she turns to opioids to relieve her pain and social anxiety. As her addiction spirals out of control, her family and her teammates struggle to keep Mickey from losing herself, and all she’s worked for, to the drug.
This is a compelling take on the traditional young adult “problem novel.” As the book opens, Mickey is waking up to find her new friends (and fellow addicts) dead after shooting tainted heroin. The story then unfolds through short chapters that move quickly and realistically through Mickey’s descent into addiction. McGinnis includes many gritty details, such as descriptions of injecting drugs and graphic depictions of the body’s response to withdrawal. There’s plenty of drama to entice readers in addition to Mickey’s addiction, including her adoption, her parents’ divorce, her father’s new family, a doomed romance, and the stress and elation of competitive sports. Mickey is a sympathetic character, whose desire to be loved for herself, as well as her false sense of control over her addiction, will resonate with young adult readers. There is no happy ending, but rather relief that Mickey survives to manage her addiction.
Perfect for fans of Ellen Hopkins’ Crank series, Jacqueline Woodson’s Beneath a Meth Moon, and the realistic fiction of Laurie Halse Anderson.
–Kathleen J. Barker