Our 2022-2023 school year’s coming to an end soon. Are you looking for some great books to read over the summer break? Don’t look further than exploring our reading recommendation lists for Middle school and High school. Please contact your library specialist Michele Dang at email@example.com if you want to check out any books in these lists to read during your summer time.
Some of the titles in these lists were recommended by our IS students and parent volunteers. Thank you so much for your contributions!
Have a great summer and happy reading!
Middle School Summer Reading Recommendations
Gr 5 Up-When Sky Patel-Baum is sent to live with her mysterious uncle, she never imagines she’ll end up i nArea 51, a top-secret military base with a bajillion rules. Sky feels like she’s landed in a whole new world, even though she hasn’t left the planet. Because gues what? Area 51 is full of aliens. Lots and lots of aliens. But somthing even stranger is happeing in Area 51: aliens are going missing. Where could they be? How come everyone thinks sky and her uncle are involved in their disappearance? And why are there eyeballs in the macaroni and cheese at Area 51 Middle School? Sky must team up with her pizza-obsessed pet hedgehog, Spike, her otherworldly next-door neighbor, Elvis, and his fluffy pup, Picles, so solve the case!
Gr 4-8-This contemporary reenvisioning of The Secret Garden features Maria Latif, a Pakistani-Bangladeshi Muslim girl. Orphaned after her parents’ accident, Maria has been labeled difficult and is bounced from house to house. She is dispatched to stay with a friend of her father’s on Long Island, but arrives to find he is away on business and she is in the care of his second wife Lyndsay, his judgmental mother, and indifferent son, Colin. Exploring the grounds to escape the tense household, Maria discovers a locked gate and an old unkempt garden. With the help of new friends Mimi and Rick, Colin, and resources from Lyndsay, they collaborate to resurrect the garden that was originally cultivated by Colin’s deceased mother, Saira. Found family is a central theme as Maria struggles to find a place she can truly call home.
Gr 4-7. Lina was five years old when her parents and two-year-old sister moved from China to America, leaving Lina with her beloved grandmother. For five years, Lina has wondered why she was left behind. Now she is flying to Los Angeles to grow up with her sister and her parents. Confused by the disconnect between her dreams of America and the reality of her family’s poverty, she helps her mother make and sell items in hopes of avoiding eviction from their small apartment. Lina feels guilty about leaving her aging grandmother, and she avoids speaking English at school for fear of ridicule. But after she begins to accept help from others, Lina discovers allies, learns to express her emotions through words and pictures, and even finds the courage to speak up before the school board when a wealthy parent seeks to ban a book by a Chinese American writer. In this involving, realistic chapter book, a likable character overcomes a series of obstacles while forging strong connections with her parents, her sister, and two friends.
Gr 5-9.In 1989, 13-year-old Santat headed off to Europe for three weeks at the insistence of his parents. They couldn’t tavel much anymore on account of his mother’s lupus and wanted him to have that experience. Santat was less than thrilled, having just wrapped up junior high with more negative experiences than positive ones. Like the title indicates, this memoir explores young Santat’s first coming-of-age experiences. We see his first time away from home without parents, first discotheque, and first taste of beer in a German beer hall, among many others. One particular highlight is his first chance at young love with a golden-haired girl named Amy. This was also a trip for Santat to take his art seriously and share it with others without fear of being bullied.
Gr 4-7. Cory Tan is an eighth grader and part of a break dancing crew called Eight Bitz. There’s a big competition coming up, and the team captain is going hard on the choreography, but the team is getting out of step. Meanwhile, Cory’s grades slip, and his parents get him some tutoring sessions with one of his classmates, a quiet Hijabi girl named Sunna. Cory discovers that Sunna has a secret: she has amazing yo-yo skills. As his relationship with Sunna develops, his other friendships fall by the wayside, until he’s forced to find ways to be himself and also keep all his friends. Galligan adeptly depicts a large cast of characters and lots of break dancing in a narrative that focuses on taking responsibility for one’s actions, including when people at home have high expectations, as well as the impacts of the rumor mill and how people are not always what they seem.
Gr 6-up. There are rules for children who go into Malaysian jungles, and they shouldn’t be broken. On Hamra’s 13th birthday, Malaysia is under lockdown because of the pandemic, leaving her mother working long hours at the hospital, her father preoccupied with the vulnerable people his aid organization serves, and Hamra stuck at home looking after her grandparents. Hamra’s grandmother has begun forgetting things, wandering farther and farther away from home and leaving Hamra upset and perpetually concerned. In the middle of all this, Hamra stumbles upon a beautiful jambu air tree in the forest, but when she plucks a fruit from it, she angers the weretiger of Langkawi, leading her to make a deal to settle her debt and perhaps help her grandmother at the same time. Accompanied by the weretiger and Ilyas Chang Abdullah, her best friend and neighbor, Hamra sets out on a quest that will bring her face to face with creatures from Malaysian legends as well as her own fears and flaws.
Gr 5 Up-Maldonado’s latest tells a story many middle grade kids will have an immediate personal connection to: shouldering adult problems and taking them on as their own. Trev is scared after his abusive stepfather is sent back to jail and tries to prepare for the man’s imminent release by learning to box so he can defend himself and his family by fighting with his hands. Trev is a gifted artist and is constantly being told by the adults around him that he has promise and a future; fighting is not intuitive to him. He dreams of taking his mother and sisters away from the projects to a place that he will not have to “throw hands” as a method of defense.
Gr 5-8. Abena and Faiza, 14-year-old girls living in Ghana, have very different experiences and expectations in this middle-grade story, in which they learn that the ways society fixates on differences can’t hold a candle to the bright flame of friendship. Abena, the daughter of a wealthy doctor, spends the summer working at the Makola Market with her auntie, where she meets Faiza, a kaya girl who navigates the streets carrying shoppers’ items in the pot upon her head. Despite the only commonality being their age, Abena and Faiza quickly become friends, and Abena learns that her worldview must be broadened if she wants to be the kind of journalist she dreams of becoming. This book’s recommended by Porter Porter J.
Gr 6-up,Every morning, Hercules Beal gets up to watch the sun rise over the ocean in “the most beautiful place on Earth,” Truro, MA, on Cape Cod. The ritual is one the 12-year-old’s few comforts since his parents’ recent death in a car accident. His older brother Achilles is grieving, too, and has given up traveling the world writing for National Geographic to return home and run the family nursery business. The brothers’ numbed coexistence gets a jolt when Hercules starts sixth grade at a new school with an ex-Marine for a teacher. Lt. Col. Daniel Hupfer’s sensitivity-thinly veiled behind his steely exterior-leads him to assign Hercules a project to help the boy work through his grief. He must recreate and reflect on the 12 labors of his mythical namesake. The process helps Hercules realize that, like the classical hero, he has been to hell and back, but is still here and has something to live for.
Gr 6-up. Matthew is stuck at home during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and, like most 13-year-olds, he would rather play video games than hang out with his 100-year-old great-grandmother, Nadiya, or “GG.” Matthew’s mom has other plans. Forced to unpack GG’s storage boxes, Matthew finds a photo that sparks questions and ultimately unspools a long-hidden history about GG’s childhood in Stalin-ruled Soviet Ukraine. Alternating perspectives between Matthew and GG’s cousins when they were young girls, the story connects 1930s Brooklyn to Communist Ukraine during its devastating, man-made famine, the Holodomor. As the cousins’ narratives unfold, the book also links two moments in history deeply impacted by disinformation; it encourages readers to consider carefully their sources and emphasizes that “we need to tell the whole story” and be mindful of whose stories have not—or cannot—be told.
Gr 6-up. What better place for an unhappy preteen Californian to get his head straight than a summer farm camp next to a derelict French château? As Rylan knows little about farming or French and is traveling with former best friend Wilder, the long trip shows every sign of being a dismal failure. But the revelation that his dad, who left when he was 3, lives in Paris and may be open to reconnecting prompts him to go anyway. And though Wilder immediately disappears into the sneering cool kids’ clique, Rylan discovers that routine chores—milking a goat, laboriously clearing a garden, learning to cook—and bonding with fellow “weirdos” through shared moments, from setting up a competitive garden stand to being attacked by the pigeons that have taken over the adjacent stately home, make for an experience rich enough to compensate for other emotional trials.
Gr 6-up. A fictional Mars Rover narrates its own journey from the robotics lab to the Red Planet. When two scientists, Rania and Xander, build a Mars rover named Resilience, neither are aware that it is paying attention to every detail. Through journal-style updates, interspersed with letters from Rania’s daughter Sophie, Resilience meets robotic and human colleagues, survives a battery of tests, and travels millions of miles into outer space, all experienced through an emotional humanistic lens. The format of brief journal entries and letters is engagingly readable for even reluctant readers, and the humorous interactions between robots and machines keep the science-heavy story moving at a reasonable pace. Readers learn about becoming a Mars rover as Resilience does, turning into the expert as Resilience further learns how to be human.
Gr 6-9. This latest release in the Percy Jackson universe, a first-time collaboration between Riordan and the award-winning Oshiro, follows teen demigod Nico di Angelo, son of Hades, and his opposites-attract boyfriend, Will Solace, son of Apollo. Reflecting the two leads, themes of light and darkness abound; but rather than fall into the cliché of Nico having to be “saved” from his past by his sunshine boyfriend, Riordan and Oshiro lend nuance to the discussion of what it means to accept not only your past but the darkness within, of how love is a choice one continues to make, and of how you can change if given the opportunity. The action is intercut by the two teens sharing the story of their relationship, catching new readers up while also pacing out the intensity of the pair’s journey to Tartarus to save an old friend. While the adventure is properly thrilling, the heart of the book lies in the boys’ connection. Even those uninterested in romance will appreciate how their relationship reinforces themes of found family and belonging and the way the characters learn to navigate and communicate through their past traumas.
Gr 6-up-It all starts with a ghost story show on TV one night, a show self-proclaimed scaredy-cat Kazuhiro Sada knows he has no business watching. Late that night, Kazu sees a pale figure sneaking out of his family’s altar room. Could it be a ghost? Then he sees the same figure in his class the very next day-a girl known as Akari who all of his friends insist he’s known since kindergarten. When he learns the street he and Akari live on used to be called Kimyo Temple Alley, a name that implies the dead coming back to life, Kazu’s sure something fishy is going on. But as he spends the summer delving deeper into this mystery and befriending Akari, things will become even more complicated and strange than he could’ve imagined. This book’s recommended by Albert H.
Gr 6-up.Gloria Mae Wilson is a farmer’s daughter who has a great arm and is itching to play baseball with the boys in her small Oklahoma town. When area dust storms finally cinch the farm’s bankruptcy, the family packs up and heads west to find work in California. Luckily for Gloria, the kids at the Santa Ana Holdsten Peach Orchard, where her family gets jobs, have an underground baseball game against Michelson’s Apricot Grove next door. Will Gloria finally get a chance to pitch? Or will family and standing up for what’s right keep her off the field? This title is a solid addition to Great Depression historical fiction, as told from the perspective of a strong-willed girl with a lot of spunk.
Gr 5-9-Jarrow continues her “Medical Fiascoes” series with this concise yet fascinating history of hookworm disease in the American South. By the early 20th century, large populations in the South were suffering from an unknown illness that left them emaciated, anemic, and unable to work. This was primarily occurring in rural poor communities. At the time, hookworm disease was largely unknown and rarely diagnosed by American doctors, despite it occurring for several decades in the South as well as in other countries. One doctor, Charles Stiles, a renowned parasitologist who worked for the USDA and later the Public Health Service, found that it was easy to diagnose, treat, and prevent. He dedicated much of his career to educating people about this debilitating illness. He faced obstacles on multiple fronts, including cultural resistance to outsiders, economic obstacles to updating sanitary conditions, and his less than charming personality that did not win him many supporters. For the first half of the book, with her usual flair, Jarrow highlights the science of hookworms, which has plenty of gross appeal to keep readers engaged. The second half is equally intriguing as she focuses on Stiles’s tireless efforts along with the cultural and historical aspects of the period.
Gr 6-up. From the author of the adult title Sapiens (2015), an explanation of how physically weak humans came to dominate other animals. Spoiler alert: It was through human inventiveness and storytelling. Harari’s lively, reader-directed prose and Ruiz’s expressive graphics will help young readers grasp an almost-unimaginably distant past, from the start of toolmaking up to (in this volume) Homo sapiens’ collaborative extinction of mammoths. The text is dramatically punctuated by large and small illustrations. Ingenious use of perspective, imaginative details, and relevance to the text make the artwork integral to this book’s appeal. Most of the illustrations depict cheerful, brown-skinned humans. Bolded sentences in different colors break up text blocks and point to big ideas and questions. Humor is effectively deployed, and concepts like evolution, DNA, and religion are compared to kid-adjacent phenomena (to help kids grapple with the idea of human cooperation, for instance, the author asks readers to imagine all the people, from students to teachers to cafeteria workers to the people who create textbooks, who make a school possible), connected to the next topic, and paced to appeal to middle-grade readers. When an answer isn’t known, Harari admits, “We don’t know.” An enticingly depicted intro to human history and archaeology, simply expressed but extensive and engaging.
Gr 6 Up– Sepetys presents a humorous and winsome “how-to” for novice writers, offering anecdotes from her own life as a starting point. She asks readers and writers to think about the oddities in their own lives to craft memoirs and narratives that are unique, full of emotion, and enchanting. Sections of this guide are broken down by literary elements, including plot, setting, and dialogue, with smaller chapters in each section related to the building blocks and puzzle pieces of those elements. This scaffolding of questions and techniques, coupled with personal memories for context, offers an accessible and easily digestible approach. With the same skill and craft that Sepetys employs to write relatable and moving invented characters, she paints a picture of her family, friends, and acquaintances, proving she is capable of more than enthralling fiction. Further, her endearing stories of painting her bedroom “poop brown” and eavesdropping at restaurants to get ideas for dialogue and characters offer deeply personal snippets to establish trust and connection with her readers.
Please click here to view the full MS book recommendation list.
High School Summer Reading Recommendations
Gr 8-up. When 18-year-old Andy Criddle drunkenly tries to text his ex-girlfriend during a party, he instead mistakenly messages quiet classmate Shelbi Augustine, 16. He then leaves the party and attempts to drive home, wrecking his car and being charged with a DUI in the process. While conducting his court-mandated community service hours at a soup kitchen, Andy encounters Shelbi, and the two embark on a tenuous friendship. Their fluid, text-based conversations easily translate to IRL get-togethers and mutual personal revelations. These include Shelbi divulging her bipolar depression and her fears of connection after a traumatic experience at her previous school, and Andy’s struggles with grief brought on by his younger sister’s death, and his resultant alcohol binges. Further emotional challenges escalate Andy’s drinking, however, leading to an incident with Shelbi that results in potentially friendship-ending consequences.
Gr 9-12. As a Chinese Filipina girl in Manila, Chloe feels stuck needing to follow the path set by her loving but overbearing family. Her acceptance to the University of Southern California, therefore, is all the more meaningful, as it’s her ticket to a future of her own design—one in which she can pursue a career in animation. First, however, she must get through the elaborate party her family is planning for her eighteenth birthday, including the arranged dates her father sets up to help her find a partner for the big event (a mask for his sneaky scheme to persuade Chloe to stay in Manila). Indeed, when she seems to fall for one of her dates, it makes her question whether leaving is the right choice.
Gr 8-up. It’s 1910, and in Chicago, the Davenports are one of the few Black families to achieve wealth and status. Formerly enslaved William Davenport runs a successful carriage company and searches futilely for the brother he was separated from when they escaped slavery. His three children are preoccupied with the present. Olivia, the perfect society girl, knows it’s her responsibility to marry well. But as a handsome civil rights lawyer opens her eyes to the realities Black people face, she begins to wonder if there’s more beyond her world. Her younger sister Helen’s days spent fixing cars and dreaming of taking over their father’s business are the worst-kept secret in town, until her sister’s erstwhile suitor sweeps her off her feet. Their brother, John, is falling for Amy-Rose, the mixed-race maid saving up for her own shop and facing suspicion from the Black community for her lighter skin. And Ruby, Olivia’s best friend, tries to win John’s affections as her family’s fortunes fail, but she may accidentally be falling for the man she’s made her pawn.
Gr 9-up. Two girls wounded by their past relationships grapple with the undeniable intensity of their feelings for one another in this novel based on the pop-star author’s popular song and music video. Seventeen-year-old Coley, who is White and Japanese, braces for impact as a minivan hurtles toward her in a parking lot. The crash never comes, but in that moment, she and fierce Sonya, beautiful with her tan skin and dark hair and eyes, collide. Horrible circumstances brought Coley to small-town Oregon; after her mom’s suicide, she’s raw with grief and stuck living with the dad who abandoned her when she was 3. Wealthy, competitive dancer Sonya feels no less trapped. Afraid of rejection and loneliness, she buries her true self to appease her perfectionist mother and the demanding ex-boyfriend who refuses to let her go. Unspoken attraction pulls Coley and Sonya together, but the masks they wear to protect themselves from their pain create a barrier that may keep them apart.
Gr 9 Up-Romance author Hibbert’s first foray into YA fiction has all the signs of her lovable adult love stories placed squarely in the world of teen angst. Celine Bangura and Bradley Graeme were friends until a fractious turned them into enemies. Both are highly competitive for top marks in their school and know all too well how to irk each other. When a scholarship opportunity places them out of their comfort zone, they find themselves thrust far too close to stomach. As they trade barbs, they begin to experience other feelings for each other that they loathe acknowledging until a chance kiss changes the direction of their relationship. A series of unfortunate accidents happen that leaves Celine and Bradley no choice but to recognize their feelings and see where it takes them.
Gr 10-12-The personal nature of Ying’s graphic novel adds a deeply emotional layer to a book about disordered eating. Valerie Chu’s mother constantly reminds her to watch what she eats to remain thin, while Valerie strives to be a good daughter. The external dialogue of this mother-daughter dynamic is internalized and carries over to how Valerie views herself and others, painfully equating thinness with likability and love. Then tragedy befalls the family, and Valerie snaps at her best friend, Jordan, leading to a climactic understanding of her need for outside help. This is a heartrending read, with visual depictions of the harrowing extent of Valerie’s disorder; the ultimately hopeful ending underscores the need for counseling.
Gr 8 Up-Lee’s powerful memoir explores coming of age as a Korean American teen in New Jersey. Deborah (Jung-Jin) was always a good student and first chair violin in her middle school orchestra. It’s shocking to her family when Deb barely passes her freshman courses and drops her instrument in favor of art, and Deb’s mom becomes increasingly verbally abusive as year one goes on. Deb perseveres, making it to sophomore year and her new elective art class, where she meets Quinn. Though they’re inseparable at first, Quinn soon becomes distant, and that heart-sickening gap, paired with isolation from her few other friends and her mom’s escalating verbal and physical abuse, contributes to Deb’s worsening mental health. After surviving a suicide attempt, Deb begins to work through her trauma in sessions with a therapist, revealing more of her past.
Gr 9 Up-Seventeen-year-old Manny has been unhoused and traveling California for a year, ever since he was cast out of his deeply religious family. A Latinx-cued, queer adoptee, Manny has experienced multiple forms of trauma from previous foster families, but his last family, the Sullivans, are deeply devoted to televangelist Deacon Thompson. Thompson encourages white couples to adopt and “save” children of color. Manny and his biological sister Elena are quickly sent to Reconciliation, a religious camp that uses conversion style therapies to “re-educate” the adopted children. When Manny is unable to be “saved,” he is cast out and separated from Elena. With the help of the Varela family, Manny begins to process his trauma and sets out to reunite with his sister.
Gr 9 Up-Jade Miller can’t wait to put an entire ocean between her and her past. She’s embarking on her semester of Campus on Board, fulfilling her dreams of traveling the world while escaping two bad break-ups: one with her boyfriend, Silas, the other with her best friend and former Stanford roommate, Lainey. She and Lainey had been planning to room together aboard the Sea Voyager, but that plan came to a screeching halt over the summer, when Silas unceremoniously dumped her (via text, no less) for Lainey. So, Jade is understandably shocked when she spots Lainey and Silas together in the embarkation line. Thus, the stage is set for this clever revamp of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. As the ship sets sail, the tension mounts, but Jade does her best to move on. She befriends her new roommates, twin sisters Navya and Divya; burgeoning influencer Miguel; and cute, brooding Felix. In the chaos of a stormy night, the first murder occurs, and everyone’s a suspect. As the bodies pile up, so do Urban’s trademark twists, and readers will surely be shocked by the novel’s final reveal.
Grades 9-12. After a costly scandal involving her ex-senator father, Hana’s once flawless life atop the social scene of uber-elite St. Francis High crashed down. Now she resides on the fringes, occasionally dipping back in to “fix” problems (making sure secrets stay buried, managing reputations, pulling strings) in exchange for money. When she’s contacted by a mysterious client offering a paycheck she can’t refuse, Hana is tasked with delving into the underbelly of her community to expose a conspiracy that could rip her school—and what remains of her life—apart. This book’s recommended by Emily S.
Gr 8-12. Nigeria Jones is the warrior princess of her father’s Black nationalist movement, and she has never questioned her place in that world before. Her father’s movement is based in Philadelphia, and Nigeria’s life, from her veganism to her education, has always been carefully controlled: she is a proud Black nationalist who has never gone to either a public or private school. When Nigeria’s mother disappears, leaving behind the movement and her children, Nigeria starts to question everything about that life. Furthermore, when she finds out that her mother wanted her to go to school—specifically to a competitive private school—Nigeria feels compelled to see who she is outside of her father’s movement.
Gr 9-up. A French colonial house in Vietnam threatens to devour its modern-day occupants. If Jade Nguyen can leave her Philadelphia home with her younger sister, Lily, and last five weeks with her estranged father in Đà Lạt, he’ll help pay for UPenn, the dream school her nail salon employee mother cannot afford, even with Jade’s scholarship. Ba is restoring a house from 1920 to be used as a bed-and-breakfast, and he tasks her with creating its website with the help of Florence, his business partner’s niece, who went to boarding school in the U.S. and is just a little too attractive to bisexual Jade. Jade plans to keep her head down and get through the summer until she starts noticing strange, eerie things around the house, to say nothing of the ghosts appearing in her dreams. As she learns more about the house’s dark past, which is entangled with colonialism and her own family’s history and their reverberations in the present day, she finds herself drawn to the ghosts—even as she struggles to protect her family from them. Atmospheric descriptions and sharp plotting combine with slowly escalating danger from both supernatural and terribly real forces.
Gr 9-12. Abandoned as a child, Tamsin Lark has been raised, alongside her adopted brother, Cabell, as a Hollower, a mortal cursebreaker who steals ancient artifacts from crypts and ruins. When their foster father disappears without a trace, Tamsin and Cabell are left to survive in the only world they have ever known. But Cabell has been consumed all his life by a vicious curse that neither can break. When Tamsin hears about a powerful but deadly ring tied directly to Arthurian legend, she’s determined to find it, but her longtime rival Emrys, who hails from one of the most powerful Hollower families, is at her heels, and he has his own reasons for needing the ring. The search will take them out of the modern world and into legend—and also into more danger than even they could imagine possible.
Gr 9-up. To the world, Winter Young has everything. A Chinese American international pop superstar with the voice—and face—of an angel, Winter summons legions of fans wherever he goes. But Winter’s mother has grown distant since Winter’s elder brother died, and a string of romantic encounters with different men and women never fills the void. Enter the Panacea Group, a freelance intelligence agency. They’re hunting Eli Morrison, a criminal mastermind and drug lord, and his 19-year-old daughter, Penelope, is a major Winter Young fan. Panacea recruits Winter to help them get close by performing a private concert for Penelope’s birthday, but he won’t be alone. White teen Sydney Cossette was essentially raised by Panacea, and she’s up for a coveted promotion. But this mission means posing as Winter’s bodyguard, and Sydney’s dismissed him as just a pretty face. But Winter and Sydney both have secrets, and the closer they become, the more they grudgingly respect each other.
Gr 9-12. In a Freaky Friday meets Back to the Future story with a Korean American angle, Goo (Somewhere Only We Know, 2019) introduces confident and headstrong Sam as a teen who loves her maternal grandmother but struggles to connect with her mother. When a dire medical event puts Halmoni’s life in jeopardy and catalyzes a fight with her mother, Sam finds herself magically transported back to 1995, where she thinks the key to solving all her problems—and getting back to 2025—lies in ensuring her mother is elected homecoming queen. In an arrestingly charming story with plenty of heart, Goo expertly takes readers on a mother-daughter relationship journey full of lessons on empathy and perspective.
Gr 9-up. It has been a year since Imani’s brother disappeared. Since then, she has become a legendary Shield, a magical warrior that protects Qalia from the monsters that lurk in the Forbidden Wastes and beyond. When one such monster, a handsome Djinni named Qayn, says her brother is alive and that he knows where to find him, she illegally binds Qayn to herself and asks the Council for permission to venture beyond the Wastes to bring him back. However, her brother may have shared the key to their magic, exposing and endangering Qalia to the outsiders. To rescue him, the Council makes her go with three others, including Taha, her pompous Shield mate and possible love interest. Magic, monsters, and betrayals are at every turn in this Arabian-inspired fantasy. Middle Eastern culture is beautifully infused into the world, with vivid descriptions and ceremonies.
Gr 9-up. Mufleh recounts her experiences growing up in 1980s Amman, Jordan, all the while concealing her sexual identity as a lesbian. Despite being raised in a privileged household, Mufleh lacked the luxury to avoid her country’s misogynistic leanings. Her passion for sports and education was overlooked by society’s desire to make her behave “like a girl.” In order to find refuge, Mufleh emigrates to the U.S. to attend university. Her newfound freedoms convince Mufleh to remain in a country that is accepting of her identity, rather than return to one that would persecute her lifestyle choices. Mufleh details fears many Arab women commonly encounter, along with the political issues in her home country. She methodically shares her struggles with coming out to her family and coming to terms with sexual abuse.
Adult books recommended for advanced young readers
When Bringley’s beloved brother died while they were in their twenties in 2008, he needed a place of solitude and solace and found it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His warmly contemplative memoir, lustrous with nuanced and affecting musings on beauty and meaning and different ways of seeing, maps his transformative 10-year sojourn as a museum guard. Bringley delves ardently into the history and aesthetics of the paintings and sculptures he spends long days studying, sharing striking insights into the art and aesthetics of ancient Egypt, China, the Congo, the then new Islamic wing, and European old masters. He tells amusing and touching stories about museum visitors and his co-workers, weaves in fascinating behind-the-scenes information about the Met’s massive operations, and asserts that the museum isn’t only a place to learn “about” art but also to learn “from” art. This book’s recommended by Spencer R.
Robin, a Chinese orphan, has been raised by Professor Lovell to join Oxford University’s Royal Institute of Translation, commonly called Babel. The Institute plays a key part in the magical silver-working that has made Britain’s global empire-building machine a colonizing superpower. When war breaks out between Britain and China, Robin’s loyalties come into conflict, and he must choose between destroying Babel and trying to reform it.
“A kid is a terrible thing to be, in charge of nothing.” So says young Damon Fields, who’s destined to be known as Demon Copperhead, a hungry orphan in a snake-harboring holler in Lee County, Virginia, where meth and opioids kill and nearly everyone is just scraping by. With his red hair and the “light-green eyes of a Melungeon,” Damon’s a dead-ringer for his dead father, whom he never met. More parent to his mother than she was to him, he’s subjected to hellish foster situations after her death, forced into hard labor, including a stint in a tobacco field, which ignites one of many righteous indictments of greed and exploitation. Damon funnels his dreams into drawings of superheroes, art being one of his secret powers. After risking his life to find his irascible grandmother, he ends up living in unnerving luxury with Coach Winfield and his smart, caustic, motherless daughter. This book’s recommended by Ms. Patty McKnight-parent volunteer.
Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living in the Puget Sound’s Sowell Bay Aquarium, is running on borrowed time as he nears the end of his life. He is befriended by Tova, the 70-year-old widow who cleans the aquarium and shines the glass of Marcellus’s tank. Tova still grieves the disappearance of her only child Erik 30 years earlier, and the more recent death of her husband. Hundreds of miles away in California, Cam, a rock musician who’s lost his band, his job, and his girlfriend, finds the Sowell Bay High School class ring of his long-gone mother and heads out to track down the father he never knew. Cam’s hard-luck life follows him north, and he eventually crosses paths with Tova when he is hired to take over her duties as she recovers from a workplace injury. Marcellus-a thief, escape artist with a mission, and brilliant observer of human behavior-narrates his chapters with a whip-smart wit born of his nine brains, three hearts, and the impatient urgency of wanting to help his beloved Tova before his time runs out. This book’s recommended by Ms. Amanda Johnson-parent volunteer.
New Yorker staff writer Hsu braids music, art, and philosophy in his extraordinary debut. As a second-generation Taiwanese American coming of age in 1990s Cupertino, Calif., Hsu traversed an evolving cultural climate with rebellious gusto, finding creative expression in zines and developing, as he writes, a “worldview defined by music.” At UC Berkeley Hsu met Ken, an extroverted, “mainstream” frat-brother whose only similarity to Hsu was that he was Asian American. Yet despite their differences, an unlikely friendship bloomed. In lyrical prose punctuated with photos, Hsu recalls smoke-filled conversations-from the philosophy of Heidegger to the failures of past relationships-trolling chat rooms and writing a movie script with Ken as they navigated a world teeming with politics and art, and basked in the uncertainty of a future both fearsome and enthralling. That future came to a harrowing end when Ken was murdered, leaving Hsu to fend for himself while unraveling the tragedy. As he recounts sinking into songs “of heartbreak and resurrection,” Hsu parses the grief of losing his friend and eloquently captures the power of friendship and unanswerable questions spurred in the wake of senseless violence.
Please click here to view the full HS book recommendation list.