The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

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Genre: Mystery/Supernatural

A 2013 Edgar Award Nominee 

The Edge of Nowhere is the first YA title from George, who is best known for her mystery novels featuring Inspector Lynley, which are now a BBC series. It centers around Hannah Armstrong, who immediately reinvents herself as Becca King in order to escape a murderous stepfather. The main plot point hear is that Becca can hear others’ thoughts – a trait she must keep hidden both to avoid detection from her stepfather and keep from bringing other conflicts upon herself. This becomes increasingly difficult as she is separated from her mother and left to fend for herself on Whidbey Island in the state of Washington. She finds help from a kind dog owner, a grandmotherly recovering alcoholic and the town delinquent, but finds herself once again at the center of the drama when a boy she has befriended is found wounded in the woods. Continue reading »

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Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

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Genre: Realistic/historical fiction

A 2012 Michael Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Honor Book

Jasper Jones was one of those books I wanted to start recommending before I had finished reading. This is what young adult fiction should be.

Jasper Jones is the store of Charlie, a teenage boy growing up in a small Australian mining town in the 1960s (of particular interest to me as my sister currently lives in a small, rural Australian mining town). When the town delinquent, Jasper Jones, shows up at his window one night, Charlie makes the pivotal choice to follow him, and as a result becomes caught up in…well, a lot. A town scandal/mystery. A personal and moral crisis. A search for justice on many levels. The solution to the book’s mystery won’t leave anyone reeling, but by the end, everything has come together so gracefully it feels satisfactory. The writing is beautiful, descriptive and readable. Continue reading »

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The Diviners by Libba Bray

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Genre: Historical/Fantasy

A Young Adult Library Services Association 2013 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults pick

I didn’t realize who the author of this book was until I was a little ways into it, and when I did my initial reaction was, “Ugh….Libba Bray.” If you’re not familiar with her, Bray is the author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy which starts with A Great and Terrible Beauty. Needless to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of those books. Her writing is terribly unsubtle and unsophisticated and lacks a certain purpose to it. Continue reading »

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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Genre: Realistic fiction/mystery

Winner 2013 Alex Award, the ALA’s award for “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.”

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was a good read that didn’t quite deliver in the end. It started out promising and did keep me reading for most of it – I love a good mystery, especially one that contains ancient knowledge hidden in dusty old books. I did read it over a much longer period that was optimal – life got in the way for a bit, and also my toddler kept hiding it on me – so that broke up the momentum a bit. Overall it ended up being a good read with a few things wrong.  I would not design a unit around this but it could be a fun outside read for the right sort of student…I would recommend maybe 9/10th grade or 11/12 for students who need an easier read. Continue reading »

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