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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, October 20 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

All Eyes on Her by L.E. Flynn
Imprint / Macmillan Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
ISBN: 978-1250158178

17-year-old Tabby Cousins and boyfriend Mike set out on a dangerous hike to picnic at a well-known lookout point. A shaking, bloody Tabby returns hours after dark, telling everyone that Mike fell from the mountain ledge. Mike was the town’s star athlete attending Princeton on a swimming scholarship, while Tabby is considered aggressive and “trashy.” Their passionate, obsessive relationship is the subject of gossip and speculation in small-town Coldcliff, Colorado, and as a criminal case against Tabby unfolds everyone quickly develops their own theory on what happened in the woods. 

Beginning with a direct, second-person address, All Eyes on Her pulls the reader in by inviting them to consider various versions of events and determine the truth for themselves. Told from the alternating perspectives of Tabby and Mike’s family members, friends, classmates and community members, this book will keep teens guessing up until the very end. News articles, blog posts, police interviews and online comments are interspersed throughout the narrative, a structure that will appeal to many reluctant readers. Hovering beneath the surface is a thought-provoking commentary on the polarizing ways in which girls and women are seen and depicted in the media. Chapters are short and complex relationship drama abounds.

Perfect for readers who enjoy unreliable narrators—such as in Tiffany Jackson’s Allegedly or E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars—or media-focused crime mysteries like Courtney Summers’ Sadie or Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.

–Elizabeth Giles

Nowhere On Earth by Nick Lake
Knopf Books for Young Readers / Knopf
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
ISBN: 978-1984896445

When the bush plane that teen Emily Perez and brother Aiden are stowing away on crashes in a remote stretch of the Alaskan wilderness, she is determined to protect 7-year-old Aiden at all costs. With the injured pilot, they build shelter and await rescue—but instead face the arrival of gunmen who chase the trio into the mountains. As they fight to stay ahead of their pursuers amid the harsh elements, pilot Bob’s suspicion of Aiden mounts and Emily struggles to find a way to get her brother home—even if it means losing him forever.

Nowhere On Earth is a vivid, gripping survival thriller with a science-fiction twist. Reluctant readers will be drawn in by short chapters and early scenes of heavy action (e.g., plane crash in the first pages, bear attack) and will continue reading to unravel the book’s many mysteries, including the siblings’ reasons for running away, Aiden’s true identity, and the origins of their armed pursuers. Despite the intensity of the survival plot, Emily remains a relatable protagonist with normal teen problems—she is angry about her family’s move to Alaska, feels misunderstood by her parents, and is reeling from the fallout of an incident at school. Rich relationships between the central characters and profound messages about grief and love coalesce in a gorgeous and thought-provoking conclusion.

Hatchet meets E.T., equally perfect for fans of wilderness survival stories like Mindy McGinnis’ Be Not Far From Me or lyrical, philosophical science fiction like Leah Thomas’ When Light Left Us.

–Elizabeth Giles