Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jumper : Griffin's Story

Jumper : Griffin's Story by Steven Gould

Griffin O'Connor has a secret: he can jump--teleport--anywhere in the world he has visited before. His parents attempted to keep Griffin's talent hidden, but when he was only nine years old, a secret organization killed his parents and tried to kill him. He barely escaped the assassins, and went into hiding...until he decided it was time to avenge his parents.

Breakneck-paced action and adventure, sweet romance without a happily-ever-after-ending, and even more fast action. This book was written as a companion to the film, and there are major differences in the world of Griffin and the world described by David in this author's original books Jumper and Reflex.

No cussing; some off-page sex and violence. This is a fun, quick read and will appeal to readers ages 14 to adult who enjoy action/adventure series such as Alex Ryder (Horowitz) and Maximum Ride (Patterson) as well as those who enjoyed the film Jumper.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Marcelo in the Real World

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
17-year-old Marcelo is on the very high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, and his classes at Paterson have taught him many skills for living in the "real world." However, his high-powered lawyer father isn't satisfied with Marcelo's progress, and insists that the boy take a summer job at the law firm, rather than working with the ponies in the therapeutic riding center at Paterson.

At the law firm, Marcelo meets people from all ends of the "real world" spectrum, including musically-talented Jasmine in the mail room, snobbish personal secretaries, and the lecherous son of one of the lawyers. Marcelo also becomes personally involved in the law firm's biggest cases when he discovers the photograph of a victim in the trash, and decides that he must take action.

Marcelo's strong, distinctive voice tells the unusual story of a self-possessed teen who is eager to fit in without sacrificing his own values and interests. No cussing or kissing; however, there is much thought and discussion about sex and sexual attraction (the whole concept baffles Marcelo), but no action on-page.
Highly recommended for readers ages 14 to adult. Those who enjoyed the voice of Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Haddon) will love reading about Marcelo's adventures in the real world.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
16-year-old Astrid Llewelyn's mother had always told her daughter that real unicorns are not flying, sparkley, pinkish-purple fairy-tale beasts, but rather murderous, poisonous monsters (now extinct) that could only be killed by virgin girls like Astrid.

Of course, Astrid's mom was a complete kook.

That's what Astrid thought, anyhow, until the night when her boyfriend got himself gored by a murderous, poisonous monster with a single horn growing out of its head.

Sent to Rome against her will to train with other virgin huntresses against the re-emerging threat of bloodthirsty unicorns, Astrid learns about magic, romance, and her family's history...and learns some interesting stuff about her mother, as well.

A strong narrative voice and some excellent butt-kicking battle scenes, interspersed with scenes of sexual questioning, including the role of virginity, the definition of rape, and the power of love.

No cussing, a fair amount of blood spilled in battle, no sex on-page, and lots of kissing and sexual longings. For readers tired of vampires and zombies, this is a natural next choice. Recommended for ages 12 to adult.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Along for the Ride

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
In the summer between graduating high school and beginning college, Auden leaves her mom's house to spend some quality time with her dad, his new wife, and their new daughter Thisbe in the little beach town of Colby. Auden's hopes of spending the summer studying college textbooks and having meaningful discussions about life with her father are quickly dispelled: the baby cries continually and her father insists on keeping distance between himself and the other family members so that he can finish writing his book.

Left to herself for much of the summer, Auden wanders the streets of town at night and meets up with Eli, another teen with time on his hands. Together, Auden and Eli do the things that she never did as a kid: bowling, food fights, and delivering newspapers. But just because she learns to ride a bike doesn't mean Auden has really changed, does it? And will her family ever change?

A sweet story of friendship, families, and growing up. The book contains some kissing and a tactfully-vague "hooking-up" scene on the beach, but no cussing or violence. Fans of the author will enjoy the cameo appearances of characters from earlier books.

Recommended for readers ages 12 to adult.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sex in the Library at the Washington Library Media Association conference in Yakima!

We had two great SITL sessions at the WLMA conference this week.

As always, we feature the newest, hottest titles for teens--the good, the bad, and the "so-bad-I-can't-believe-they-killed-a-tree-to-publish-it."

If it's got sex in it, we'll talk about it!

Lots of door prizes. Doesn't everyone love prizes?

Especially when the prizes are books!

Thanks to all the sexy librarians who participated--
we hope you go back to your schools and have lots of sex there, too!

Remember to send this page to your administrators, proof that you really did go to the conference and had Sex in the Library while you were there.
As always, we welcome your feedback on the sessions and suggestions for books we need to include on the SITL list. Leave a comment so we can all feel the love.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pretty Dead

Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block
Charlotte is a vampire. She collects beautiful clothing, shoes and handbags from the greatest designers, witnesses human tragedies all over the world, and now lives in Los Angeles where she befriends Emily, a human girl. When Emily commits suicide, Charlotte finds comfort in spending time with Emily's boyfriend Jared...and discovers that she is gradually returning to mortality.

In a genre that has been worked, re-worked, and over-worked, here is a new--and welcome--twist. The story is surprising and engaging, and told with the author's trademark lushness of language.

Sexual situations are common but mostly off-page; there is some cussing including a few f-bombs. And, of course, there is blood. It just wouldn't be a vampire novel without blood, after all.

Recommended for readers of vampire lit who want something new, ages 14 to adult.

The Color of Earth

The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

Ehwa is seven years old on the first page of this beautifully illustrated manhwa, interested in bugs, flowers, and her own body. As she grows and matures, she discovers the physical differences between boys and girls, grows into young womanhood and undergoes her first confusing experience with romance and sexuality. Her mother, the keeper of a small tavern in rural Korea, also experiences changes as a traveling artist reawakens her affection, and mother and daughter are able to share their experiences in a lovely, open, and age-appropriate manner. Themes of love, sexuality, and natural beauty abound in this attractive volume, which is first in a trilogy translated from the Korean by Lauren Na.

No cussing or killing; nudity and sexual situations are portrayed. According to the notes at the end of the story, the popularity of this series in Korea is surprising because it is written by a man and read by both men and women there.

Recommended for readers ages 12 and up, even those who do not normally read graphic novels. The next books in the series continue telling the story of Ehwa's maturation into adulthood.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Garden

The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff

In the beginning, God created everything: the earth and sea, the sky, the animals...and Adam and Eve. Eve narrates this story of her childhood in Eden, where Adam is raised by God, and she is tutored by the Serpent, who is possibly the only thing that God did not create.

Eve learns to think, to reason, and to question. She explores the entire Garden, and then, assisted by the Serpent, she explores the world outside the Garden in preparation for the days ahead when she and Adam will go out into the world and away from the direct influence of God.

The bones of the story are familiar: Eve and Adam eat the forbidden fruit and are expelled from Eden. But the author explores the motivations, the questions, and the possibilities that the old story does not address: if they know the fruit is forbidden by God, why would Eve offer it to Adam, and why would he accept it?

This book invites the readers to ask questions and challenge their own long-held assumptions. There is a disturbing scene mid-way with some sexual and violent content which may upset sensitive readers.

The Garden will certainly be controversial, and is an excellent choice for book groups who like to argue about what they read. For readers ages 14 and up.

Geography Club

The Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Russel knows what it's like to be different: he's convinced that he's the only gay kid at his high school. He also knows that he doesn't dare tell anyone else--if anyone found out the truth about him, Russel is sure that he would be ostracized and tormented by the other kids.

One night, while searching for kindred souls on the Internet, Russel chats with another gay kid from his town--in fact, this kid attends his school. Discovering the truth about Kevin leads to even more revelations: there are other gay kids in the school who are lurking below the "student body radar." The gathering of this group eventually leads to the formation of a student club, which they name "The Geography Club" in order to dissuade others from joining. After all, what could be more boring than a geography club?

This is not just a book about gay kids and straight kids. This book is about being different, and being afraid to be different. One of the best characters in the story isn't even homosexual--he's just an outcast, poorly-dressed, unconventional nerd. There is no tidy ending, and not everyone emerges from his or her personal closet, but each character does grow and change in the course of the book. And that is what makes a really good book. No strong language or graphic descriptions, but some sexual situations.

For ages 14 and up.


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

For reasons of her own, 17-year-old Bella chooses to move to her dad's house in the rainy town Forks, Washington, rather than go with her mom to Florida. Bella describes herself as pale, average, and awkward, but that is clearly not how she is viewed by her new classmates--especially Edward Cullen, a gorgeously graceful and handsome senior who seems oddly fascinated by Bella and her tendency towards clumsiness. Then Bella discovers that Edward and his family are vampires--members of a clan which has chosen to hunt only wildlife instead of humans. But just because Edward doesn't want to feed upon humans doesn't mean that Bella is completely safe with him....

This quick-paced, locally-based vamp novel is cool, tense, and scary. We know from the first page that Bella will be confronted with a hunter intending to kill her--but which hunter? And why?

Descriptions of the dreary weather in Forks may be considered exaggeration by non-locals, but native northwesterners will recognize the truth of life on our wet peninsula, and the joy inherent in sunbreaks. And a climate lacking sunshine really would be attractive to vampires, wouldn't it?

Recommended for readers ages 14 and up. No cussing; violence is mostly implied and threatened rather than carried out "onstage", and though sexual tension runs high between the girl and her vampiric boyfriend, their relationship is necessarily cautious!

Totally Joe

Totally Joe by James Howe

Joe Bunch's English teacher has assigned the class to write an "alphabiography": an alphabetical review of their lives. Joe's alphabet begins with his friend Addie, who knew him when he was a little kid and they both liked to play with Barbie dolls. His story continues on towards Colin, the boy he has had a crush on since fifth grade, and finally ends with Zachary, the new boy in school who has much in common with Joe.

During the course of the school year as Joe writes his alphabiography, he faces a lot of realities about his life. He has always known that he was different from "guy-guys" but finally is able to use the word "gay" to himself--and his mostly-supportive family. Not everyone is supportive, however: the school jock torments Joe and spreads the false rumor that Colin and Joe have been kissing, which is hurtful to Joe...and devastating to Colin, who is not ready to come out of the closet.

Joe's voice is unique and strong as he relates the story of his 7th grade year. Any reader who has ever felt different from the rest of the crowd will find a friend in Joe, and those who loved his earlier adventures in The Misfits will be happy to see him again.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

A Bad Boy Can Be Good For a Girl

A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Josie is a strong, opinionated, self-assured freshman when the popular senior jock asks her out. She falls for his charm, and finds herself amazed at her own hormonal response to him...until the guy dumps her because she won't "put out." Furious, hurt, feeling stupid and rejected, Josie finds solace in Judy Blume's Forever, a book about teens, love, and sex. In the blank endpapers of the school library's copy of Forever, Josie writes a warning to other girls about the guy who "only wants one thing."

Nicolette has always used boys--not the other way around. But when she meets up with the same popular boy, she finds herself drawn deeply into a one-sided relationship with him--sexual, but secret. She thinks she's in love...until he drops her. Nicolette's rage is powerful and true--and she records her feelings and opinions alongside Josie's in the blank pages of Forever.

Time has passed, but this guy hasn't changed his approach. When he breaks up with Aviva following their disappointing night together, she joins the ranks of girls who find solidarity in the scribbled margins of Forever.

Written in verse form, this hot, topical novel is a quick, vital, and sometimes painful book to read. Josie is the most eloquent of the girls--and her desire to take action in response to a horrible experience is brave and laudable. If only more library books had similar annotations--think how many mistakes we all might avoid!

A few cuss words and sex scenes with "details" make this book rated PG-13; recommended for readers ages 14 and up.

Fly On the Wall

Fly on the Wall : How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart

16-year-old Gretchen Yee doesn't understand boys at all. To Gretchen, boys are a lot like aliens, and she just can't understand why they do the things they do. In desperation, she makes a very unusual wish: to be a fly on the wall in the boys' locker room...just so she could figure out what boys are all about!

And then, her wish is granted.

For an entire week, Gretchen is transformed to a fly: six legs, two antennae...and an unobstructed, uninterrupted view of boys. Are they really idiots all the time? How can they take themselves seriously, with those goofy-looking gherkins hanging around? And, are boys actually people...sort of?

Gretchen learns a lot from her weeklong experience as a fly, and her observations--funny, poignant, and truthful--will answer the questions that many readers have about the bodies, conversations, and lives of boys when girls aren't in the room.

Some strong language and sexual situations, recommended for mature teens.

Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love

Sex Kittens and Horn Dawgs Fall in Love by Maryrose Wood

14-year-old Felicia and her pals call themselves the Kittens--supposedly the "Sex Kittens", although they admit that they aren't very experienced in the "sex" part yet. Felicia and the other Kittens attend the Manhattan Free Childrens School, and spend much of their school day skipping class, (supposedly) in order to work on independent and original learning projects. For example, Felicia writes poetry...endless reams of haiku poems mostly focused on the "Horn Dawg" (boy) of her desires, Matthew.

Matthew doesn't dream of poetry OR Felicia...he dreams of science. By making her science fair project a study of the "thing that makes the one you love love you back," Felicia hopes to finally capture the scientific heart of the Dawg of her Dreams.

Together Felicia and Matthew research, interview, hypothesize, and test their theories of love attractiveness: The Romeo/Juliet thing, the Romantic Setting, the Mutual Rescue, and the Opposite Attraction. But could it be possible that sometimes "Love Just Happens"? And why isn't Matthew falling in love with Felicia?

Light, fluffy, and fun, the racy title is the only racy thing about this book. There are no scenes of violence, no drugs, and no sexual situations--but there are many giggle-ful moments and a few sweet but unexpected kisses in the lives of the Kittens.

Recommended for girls ages 12 and up who enjoy The Princess Diaries and other tales of modern adolescence.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick: onstage with the band, totally not prepared for his Evil Ex-Girlfriend to show up and prove how much his heart can hurt.

Norah: watching the band, mailed her refusal to Brown University this morning in favor of joining her Evil Ex-Boyfriend on a kibbutz in South Africa--and just discovered that Tal isn't there, he's here.

And f*** you so much for asking.

In first-person chapters alternating between Nick and Norah, they journey through the New York music scene, to an all-night Korean grocery, an all-night Russian cafe, and eventually to the ice room of the Marriott. In 24 hours they cover a lot of territory...but are they getting any closer to love?

Co-written by two exceedingly hip authors, David Levithan (voice of Nick) and Rachel Cohn (voice of Norah) explore the lives and musical passions of two 18-year-olds who have experienced infinite heartache...but are gonna survive. The language is honest, painful, and heavily strewn with cussing, showing the strength of tender feelings each character hides within.
Recommended for mature teens who want to know more about life in the big city--and I'm not talking about Seattle.


Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

When Cal arrived in New York City to attend college, he promptly went out to lose his virginity--which he promptly did. Unfortunately, in the process Cal also picked up something else: a parasite which causes all the symptoms (and strengths) of vampirism. Fortunately, he is partially resistant to the bug--so although he is strong, pale, light-sensitive and hungry for meat, he doesn't (immediately) go crazy and start eating people.

Unfortunately, the Night Watch organization which assists and oversees the control of vampires in NYC seems to be hiding some important information from Cal...and the rest of humanity.

Alternating chapters of Cal's story include scientific, graphic, and tremendously icky information about real parasites: toxoplasma gondii, pigeon mites, various lices, screwworms, and many other really yucky bugs that have plagued (literally) humans and animals throughout history.
The "eewwww" factor is high--and it's absolutely fascinating. Highly recommended for readers with a strong stomach, ages 12 and up.


Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

Julie's best friend Ashleigh has gotten obsessed with candy-making, military strategy, reptiles, and the newest album by the Wet Blankets. But now Julie is enthusiastic about Julie's all-time favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. Determined to emulate the world of Jane Austen's characters, Ashleigh and Julie don vintage gowns and sneak into the only place where they might meet dashing swains dressed in formal attire with whom they may dance in a Quadrille.

At the private boarding school on the hill, the girls meet Grandison Parr and his friend Ned Downing. But, alas for Julie, Ashleigh thinks that Parr is her own true love--without realizing that Julie already has a crush on Parr.

Comedy, music, poetry, and heaps of happy surprises to satisfy readers who love modern love stories and old-fashioned romances.

Recommended for readers ages 14 and up.

Dangerously Alice

Dangerously Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Alice is now a junior in high school, squabbling with her step-mom, working on the school newspaper, hanging out with her friends, stressing out about the PSATs, and pretty sure that she's ready to unload her "Miss Goody-Two-Shoes" reputation. She knows what bad-boy Tony has in mind when he invites her home, and she's ready...right?

The twenty-second (!) book in the Alice series will not disappoint long-time fans, yet it stands alone nicely for new readers. Alice has come a long way since she appeared as a 6th grader in Agony of Alice (1985) but she is still clearly the honest, endearing and sometimes agonizing teenager that readers have loved for all these these years.

Recommended for readers--especially girls--ages 14 and up. No cussing or violence, but more than a few "body parts" are exposed in the course of the story. As always, Alice's adventures include laugh-out-loud embarrassing and awkward details; sensitive readers may be uncomfortable with the "heavy petting" scene with Tony.

The publisher has launched an "all-alice" website worth exploring: especially the Guide for Reading Groups, which proposes some excellent questions for discussion.

Before I Die

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

British teen Tessa is dying of leukemia. She has already survived treatments, remissions, and recurrence, and at the beginning of the book, she faces reality: she is dying, fast. And she's not ready yet.

Tessa makes a list of things she wants to do before she dies. Some are sweet, others are dangerous. She has nothing to lose, and she doesn't have much time. Sex tops the list. Drugs are #2. Travel the World is #7, but she's willing to swap that for Get Parents Back Together. Fall in Love isn't on the list at all...but it happens anyhow.

A friend describes this book as "the book Lurlene McDaniel wishes she could write, " and it's true: the McDaniel books all focus on love and death, but not much on life. This book is much better than that.

Not much cussing, but there IS sex, and drugs. And life. And death. Read it with a hankie or two handy.

Recommended for readers ages 16 and up.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
cartoon illustrations by Ellen Forney

14-year-old Arnold Spirit ("Junior") describes himself as a weird-looking dork Indian. Born with water on the brain, a talent for cartooning and a brilliant sense of the absurd, Junior's diary and cartoons chronicle his simultaneously tragic and outrageously funny attempt to escape from life on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Junior's parents want to support him in his new adventure, but their own alcoholism often interferes with their good intentions. Most of the other tribal members, including Junior's best friend Rowdy, think that Junior is just a traitor--an "apple" who looks red on the outside but is really white on the inside. Junior knows that he'll always be an indian...but he wants out of the society that seems to be mostly drunk indians killing themselves and each other with their destructive addictions.

Sherman Alexie's "semi-autobiography" is clearly based on real events and people near to the author's heart, and Junior's coming-of-age story will certainly appeal to adults as well as teens.

I predict that the Part-Time Indian will be included on high school required reading lists in the future, despite some minor cussing and a few references to teen masturbation. The writing is that good, and the story depicts a portion of American culture rarely addressed in modern literature.

Recommended HIGHLY for teens and adults, ages 14 and up.

Does My Head Look Big in This?

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

I'm experiencing a new identity, a new expression of who I am on the inside, but I know that I'm not alone. I'm not breaking new ground. I'm sharing something with millions of other women around the world and it feels so exciting. I know some people might find it hard to believe but walking around the mall tonight I'd never felt so free and sure of who I am. I felt safe from people judging me and making assumptions about my character from the length of my skirt or the size of my bra. I felt protected from all the crap about beauty and image. As scared as I was walking around the stores in the hijab, I was also experiencing a feeling of empowerment and freedom. I know I have a long way to go. I still dressed to impress and I took ages to get my makeup, clothes and hijab just right. But I didn't feel I was compromising myself by wanting to make an impression. I was looking and feeling good on my own terms, and boy did that feel awesome.

Against the advice of her parents and some of her friends, Australian teen Amal has decided to wear the hijab, the Muslim headscarf, full-time. The story of her 11th-grade year chronicles her experiences with family, friends, classmates, neighbors, and total strangers as she comes to terms with her religious beliefs.

Amal's life isn't always focused on religion --rather, she lives much like other girls her age, worrying about grades, zits and peers pressure, constantly wonders about boys, friends, and curiously anticipates the future.

Be prepared to laugh out loud as Amal comments on her life, school, friends, and parents. Be prepared to love Amal and her family. And be prepared to learn about the life of one Muslim teenager who will provide insight into ladies all over the world who choose to wear the hijab.

The audiobook read by Rebecca Macauley provides an auditory "Aussie immersion" experience for the listener, and is highly recommended for readers and listeners ages 14 and up (especially girls).


Beastly by Alex Flinn

New York City highschooler Kyle Kingsbury figures he's got everything: good looks (okay: great looks), money (lots of money!), the right clothes, a hot girlfriend...and his future looks pretty great. But when he flaunts his good looks and money once too often by mocking an ugly girl, he angers somebody. And that "somebody" is determined to teach Kyle an old lesson in a very new way.

Transformed into a Beast so hideously ugly that his own father refuses to be seen with him, Kyle must find a girl who will love him enough to kiss him despite his ugliness. He's pretty sure it will never happen. He only has two years to break the curse, or he will spend the rest of his life as a Beast.

This is a fresh retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale, from a seasoned author of teen novels. I finished reading this book in one night...and when I left it unguarded for a few minutes, I found somebody else in the house was already on chapter three! This quick, engaging story is recommended for ages 12 and up. No cussing, sex, or violence.


Deadline by Chris Crutcher

18-year-old Ben Wolf gets the news right before he starts his senior year in high school: he's dying of a rare and aggressive blood disease. Against the advice of his doctor, Ben decides to forego treatment entirely. He also decides to keep his illness secret from everyone, including his family, friends, teachers and coach.

Ben's last year is full of courage. Though scrawny, Ben makes the football team at his tiny Idaho high school and plays a successful season alongside his brother Cody. He gathers the courage to talk to his secret love, super-hottie-athlete-girl Dallas Suzuki, and she actually asks him to Homecoming! He is so affected by Alex Haley's biography of Malcolm X that he not only challenges the classmates and his town to overcome their prejudices, he seeks out late-night discussions with the only other person in town who admits to loving the book: the town drunk. And just when Ben is really enjoying life, his illness starts to intrude.

If you're seeking a light and fluffy tearjerker, avoid this book--in fact, avoid everything ever written by this author. Crutcher is well-known for award-winning stories of substance abuse, bigotry, child molestation and neglect, and this book is no exception.

However, despite the heavy subject matter, one message shines through: "Life is short. Whatever you really want to do, do it now."

Highly recommended for sports fans (Crutcher makes football sound soooo cool, even to a non-fan like me) and readers looking for a well-written, substantial book about one kid's attempt to leave the world a better place.

Ages 15 and up; contains cussing and some off-page sex and domestic violence.


Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Quincie Morris has grown up in the family restaurant business. At age 17, she is the driving force behind opening a new restaurant with a unique image: Sanguini's, the first restaurant in Austin with a vampire theme. The food will be exquisite, the staff will be thematically costumed...and then the chef is murdered. And Quincie's best friend --a hybrid-werewolf -- is the primary suspect.

Werewolves and vampires are just the beginning in this suspenseful and tangled plot. There are also were-alligators. And were-armadillos. And even were-vampires!

Alternately creepy and fun, with lovely (and later, horrible) descriptions of menu items from both the Prey Menu and the accompanying Predator Menu. No cussing; contains a sprinkling of off-stage murders and sexual situations, and a generous portion of sensual wishful thinking. Recommended for ages 14 and up; readers who enjoyed Twilight will pounce on this new vampire offering.

Getting It

Getting It by Alex Sanchez

15-year old Carlos is a desperate virgin. All of his buddies say that they've hooked up with girls. Why not him?

In desperation, Carlos asks a gay kid at school to do a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy makeover on him, and Sal agrees...provided that Carlos helps to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at their school. The guys hang out and become friends. But Carlos is getting lots of pressure from friends and family not to "turn gay", and when the girl of his (ahem) dreams beckons him, Carlos abandons his new friend to hook up with her.

Carlos and his friends are mostly great guys, trying to figure out who they are and what is important to them. They make mistakes, and sometimes even learn from their mistakes. Mostly, the characters in this book are like real people: doing the best they can.

There is Spanish, mostly. There is sex...sorta...including an oral sex scene that's so tactful that it would be difficult to point at and scream "eeek" at any particular word or passage. Realistically, many of the relationships (positive and otherwise) begin online, and communication takes place at all times of the day and night via Instant Messaging.

Recommended for any student at any school that has a Gay/Straight Alliance, or at any school that needs one.

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

You don't ever know what goes on in anyone's life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person's life, you're not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can't be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person's life, you're messing with their entire life.

Everything...affects everything.

When Clay Jensen receives a shoebox in the mail filled with cassette tapes, he doesn't know what to think. He finds a tape player (who has tape player anymore?) and starts to listen. The voice he hears on the tape is Hannah Baker...who killed herself.

Using the cassettes, Hannah tells the stories--thirteen stories--to explain the reasons why she committed suicide.

If you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why.
There are only two rules.
Rule #1: You listen.
Rule #2: You pass the tapes on to the next name on the list.

Compelling, powerful, and deeply affecting.

Read the book...and pass it on.

Highly recommended for readers ages 13 and up.

Derby Girl

Derby Girl by Shauna Cross

Bliss has plenty of reasons to be unhappy. After all, she doesn't live with hip parents who understand her, in a socially-savvy city on the coast where she can shop for her favorite indie clothes and music. Instead, she lives in a small backwater Texas town where the music is "all country, all the time" and top social honors are reserved for beauty queens with gigantic hair.

Then Bliss discovers roller derby and almost immediately she lies about her age, gives herself a "derby name" and joins the team. Her life as a derby girl, complete with fishnet stockings, wild makeup, wild parties, and a brand-new boyfriend with great taste in music brings Bliss more happiness she ever envisioned....until her parents find out. And her best friend gets mad. And she gets busted for being under-age.

But there's still that great boyfriend....right?

All the leaping, diving, blocking, spinning, blood, and orneriness you expect from a sassy girl with pent-up energy to burn. Some cussing, underage partying, and sexual situations.

Recommended for readers who want some action in their fiction, ages 14 to adult.Click here for more information about roller derby in the Seattle area: the Rat City Rollergirls!


Sold by Patricia McCormick

If I bring a half-dozen men to my room each night, and each man pays Mumtaz 30 rupees, I am 180 rupees closer each day to going back home. If I work for a hundred days more, I should have nearly enough to pay back the 20,000 rupees I owe to Mumtaz.

Then Shahanna teaches me city subtraction.

Half of what the men pay goes to Mumtaz, she says. Then you must take away 80 rupees for what Mumtaz charges for your daily rice and dal. Another 100 a week for renting you a bed and pillow. And 500 for the shot the dirty-hands doctor gives us once a month so that we won't become pregnant.

She also warns me: Mumtaz will bury you alive if she sees your little book of figures.

I do the calculations.

And realize I am already buried alive.

Lakshmi is 13 years old when her stepfather sells her to an "auntie" travelling to the big city. The auntie has promised Lakshmi's mother that the girl will go to work as a maid in the city.

In fact, the fictional Lakshmi--and up to 12,000 real Nepali girls each year--has been sold into a life of sexual slavery in an Indian brothel.

Gradually, Lakshmi forms friendships that help her survive--with the other girls in the "Happiness House", with the boy who sells tea from a street cart, and with the young son of another prostitute. Still, her life is mostly without hope, for Mumtaz cheats the girls outrageously and then abandons them on the street when they become too sick or broken to work. The girls fear Mumtaz. They fear the corrupt police, who take payments from Mumtaz to look the other way. And they fear the Americans who might take them from the brothel only to shame them and abandon them on the streets. How will they ever escape--and if they did, how could they ever return home?

Tha author's research for this novel visits to shelters in Kathmandu, the Himalayas, and Calcutta, where she interviewed women and girls rescued from the sex trade. The sexual situations are tactfully described; they are, nonetheless, appropriately horrible.

Recommended for readers ages 12 and up.

Last Exit to Normal

The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

When Ben was 14 years old, his dad came out of the closet. Shortly after that, Ben's world fell apart. His mom moved out, Edward "the Boyfriend" moved in, and Ben started an active campaign of bad behavior to make his dad miserable...or at least make his dad pay attention to Ben's unhappiness.

Three years (and a ton of joints plus a few encounters with the police later) Ben is yanked out of his familiar Spokane surroundings and moved with his unconventional new family to a small farming community where "different" often means "outcast"....or worse. And there is no doubt that Ben's spiked hair and tattoos and two-dad family will label him different from the neighbors.

But somebody in Rough Butte, Montana is more unhappy than Ben.

The potentially angst-filled tale is lightened by Ben's own sense of humor, and highly recommended for readers ages 12 and up who sometimes feel different from the people around them. The story contains some minor cussing, a few innocent kisses and a couple of dirty jokes, but everybody keeps their clothes on (even Ben and his awesome new girlfriend).

My Big Fat Manifesto

My Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
I'm not chubby. I'm not chunky. I'm not hormonally challenged or endocrine-disordered. I do not prefer platitudes like "large" or "plus-sized" or clinical words like obese.I'm fat, fat, fat. If the word makes you uncomfortable, that's your problem.... F-A-T. That's the word. Get used to it. Get over it. I have to. Every single day of my life.

Jamie is a high-school senior and author of a weekly column in the school newspaper. Her column, "Fat Girl" is (hopefully) her ticket to a gigantic scholarship to the college journalism program of her choice. In it, she promises to chronicle the life and adventures of herself as a Fat Girl, enemy of cute fashion stores like Hotchix.Then, Jamie's boyfriend "Fat Boy" Burke drops his bombshell: he's going to have his stomach stapled. What will happen to Fat Girl when her boyfriend gets Skinny?

Jamie's strong adolescent voice shines in this high school coming-of-age novel. Recommended for readers of all sizes, ages 12 to adult. A little bit of cussing, and some references to off-stage sexual activity, but everybody keeps their size XXXX-L clothes on throughout the book.

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

High school freshman Robin Murphy has been the class loser nearly forever, until Sophie Stein becomes his girlfriend. Then Sophie becomes ostracized as well, which makes Robin feel simultaneously bad for Sophie and happy that he isn't alone anymore.

In the midst of Robin's romance with Sophie, he joins a college art class and is attracted to classmate Tessa, who doesn't realize that Robin is a high school kid...or a loser.

The blank-verse story is a sequel to What My Mother Doesn't Know (which is told from Sophie's viewpoint) but stands strongly on its own. Robin's longing for companionship and intimacy may be "too much information" for younger or more sensitive readers. No cussing, plenty of kissing, and heaps of unfulfilled sexual desire--as appropriate for a book told from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy. Recommended for ages 14 to adult.


Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In the future, things are different. Abortion is forbidden by law; instead, the constitutional amendment called "The Bill of Life" allows parents to choose retroactive abortion for children between the ages of 13 and 18. It's not really murder, insists the law: "unwound" children continue to a divided state.

When Connor accidentally discovers his unwind order, he runs away. While trying to escape, he joins forces with Risa, an orphan ordered for unwinding due to governmental budget cuts in her institution, and Lev, a boy marked from birth as a religious "tithe unwind" given to society.

What will happen when the harvesters catch up to them?

Only Neal Shusterman could successfully interweave issues like abortion, terrorism, suicide bombers, religious obligations with a suspenseful survival story. The story works...powerfully.

Recommended for readers ages 12 and up. No cussing or kissing. The premise of the story may disturb sensitive readers. An excellent choice for book group discussions.
This book has been nominated for the 2009 Evergreen Award, which is decided by readers in grades 7-12. Participants must read 2 or more nominated books and vote for the best. The list of 2010 nominated books is found online:

The Luxe

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

The year is 1899, and amid the decadent parties of the very rich, New York's high society is talking about the astonishing betrothal of the prim-and-proper Elizabeth Holland to the well-born but badly-behaved Henry Schoonmaker. On the day of the wedding, however, Elizabeth's life is the center of her funeral.

Here is a steamy and suspenseful historical tale of scandalous affairs, clandestine trists, and backstabbing "friends". The clothing is gorgeous, the food is sumptuous, and the love interests are tangled. The book is light, but thoroughly enjoyable, and recommended for girls ages 14 to adult. No cussing or bloodshed; sexual situations are tactfully "off page."

This book has been nominated for the 2009 Evergreen Award, which is decided by readers in grades 7-12. Participants must read 2 or more nominated books and vote for the best. The list of 2010 nominated books is found online:

King of the Screwups

King of the Screwups by K.L. Going

16-year-old Liam takes after his retired-supermodel mom: he is athletic, good-looking, and has inherited her eye for fashion. However, according to his dad, Liam is a continual disappointment, a slacker, a screw-up. When Liam is caught in the act with a girl on his dad's office desk, he gets kicked out of the house and goes to live with his "Aunt Pete," a cross-dressing glam-rocker who lives in a trailer park. In his new surroundings, Liam tries harder than ever to earn his dad's approval -- concentrating so much on what his father wants him to be that he cannot recognize his real strengths and talents until he nearly screws up his life for good.

Awesome, quirky characters in a small town where everybody knows the business of everybody else (at least, they think they do). Liam is likeable, Aunt Pete is terrific, the glam-rockers are supportive and fun, the class nerds are enjoyable, and even the school jocks and cheerleaders are people worth knowing. Only Liam's dad lacks virtues....or does he?

Recommended for ages 14 to adult. No sex on-page (the incident in the office is interrupted while the kids are still half-dressed), some minor cuss words, some underage drinking, and at the end, enough redemption to leave the reader smiling.


Eternal by Cynthia Lietich Smith

Guardian Angel Zachary is attached to his subject, Miranda. He is so attached, in fact, that when she is scheduled for death at age 17, Zachary steps in to block the fall that will kill her...and inadvertently causes her to be transformed into a vampire and thus probably damned for all eternity.

Stripped of his wings and his heavenly power, the angel Zachary seeks redemption not only for himself but also for the vampire Miranda. Is it possible that the newest daughter of Dracula has retained part of her mortal soul?

Quirky character, zing-y one-liners, sweet touches of romance and plenty of vampires. This book will be popular with the vampire-loving crowd and anyone else who enjoys a sweet story with lots of love and blood. Some minor cussing and mostly-off-page sexual situations, recommended for ages 14 to adult.

Because I am Furniture

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

Anke's father beats up her brother, sexually assaults her sister...and ignores Anke. She must be the lucky one, to escape his rage, his harm, but sometimes Anke feels that he must love the others much more than he loves her. Against her father's wishes, Anke joins the school volleyball team and it is there that she finds the strength and the voice to speak up and defend her family.

Written in sparse verse form, Anke's inner turmoil finally boils over. Will speaking up destroy her family?

A moving, disturbing story recommended for readers ages 14 to adult. Violent and sexual situations are indirectly referenced, as Anke and her family try to deny that they occur. This book may be distressing for fragile readers.


Alis by Naomi Rich
14-year-old Alis has always been happy with her life in the community of believers. She has always assumed that she would marry, have children, and become a respected Elder like her mother...until her parents tell her that she must marry the Minister, a stern man more than twice her age.

Alis runs away from her small community, and falls in love with a boy named Luke. Then her circumstances change again, and she runs again, this time to a bigger city to seek her older brother. Life in the big city very different from anything she has known, and eventually she returns to the smaller town looking for Luke...but circumstances have changed again.

This novel seems to be trying a little too hard to be a story about questioning faith, finding oneself, the strength of love, and half-a-dozen other things. Alis tries to be loyal and intelligent, but she makes a lot of really dumb mistakes, and even when she was certain to be sentenced to death by hanging, I wasn't very worried about her. With all the books written recently about a young girl forced by her religion to marry an older man,Alis will probably be overshadowed by similar and stronger stories.

Sister Wife

Sister Wife
by Shelley Hrdlitschka

15-year-old Celeste has always questioned her faith, but has never known any life outside of her small, old-fashioned, polygamous faith-based community. Although she is intrigued by the stories told by a girl from outside the community, Celeste was raised in a family with multiple mothers and many children, and has always assumed that she would live in a similar family when she reached the age of marriage,

She is attracted to a young man of her faith, but he wants to leave Unity and want her to accompany him rather than marry the man chosen for her by the Prophet. Celeste wants more than the community can give her, but how can she shame her family and leave them behind?

A nicely-balanced story, told from the perspective of Celeste, her sister Nanette, and several other characters. Some tactful sexual situations, but no cussing or violence. Recommended for readers ages 14 and up.