A blog for the members of the 2008 MLA Thumbs Up! Award Committee to discuss the books we are considering.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, is a smart, nerdy 14 year old who must straddle two worlds when he transfers to a rich, white high school in a suburb near the poverty-crippled reservation he grew up on. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, Junior finds friends and even love in his new surroundings, even as his family seems to be falling apart.
Outsider Tyler Miller has spent the summer on probation performing community service. When he returns for his senior year in high school with a new buff body he gets noticed by the beautiful and popular Bethany Milbury. But when he rejects Bethany and then appears the likely suspect for a crime, he begins to implode under everyone's accusations and hostility as he tries to clear his name.
In this psychological thriller, a teenage boy, clay Jenson, receives a package in the mail from a classmate, Hannah, who recently committed suicide. The package contains cassette tapes with Hannah's voice detailing the reasons she killed herself -- and Clay is one of the 13 reasons.
Ishmael LeSeur is certain his life is over when Barry Bagsley, 9th grade class Neanderthal, decides he has a funny name. But the winds of fortune change when the tiny, odd, but brilliant James Scobie not only declares war on Bagsley, but forces Ishmael to join the new, hilariously awful school debate team.
Beauty Shop for Rent: ...fully equipped, inquire within by Laura Bowers
Abby Garner, 15, is determined to be a millionaire by age 35. She lives with her great-grandmother, who runs an old fashioned beauty parlor that is currently for rent. The new owner, a sophisticated woman of the world, updates the parlor and turns it into a day spa, which causes chaos and resentment.
Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
Against the backdrop of a school-wide controversy, Mena, ostracized by her old friends and kicked out of her church, learns to think for herself and challenge her beliefs with the help of her lab partner, Casey, his super-smart sister, Kayla, and an army of adorable puppies.
Dashti, a royal maid, finds on her first day on the job that she and Lady Saren are to be locked in a tower for seven years. After she discovers that her lady is mentally fragile and has been terrified by something that happened in her past, Dashti uses her wits to fight for their very survival.
The One Where the Kid Nearly Jumps to His Death and Lands in California by Mary Hershey
Alastair, 15 and also known as "Stump," is forced to spend the summer in California with his father and stepmother. Alastair has been angry with his father since a ski trip they went on when he was 8, during which he jumped off the ski lift, resulting in a broken leg that led to amputation. Alastair meets a girl and to impress her he enteres a triathlon, but still needs to learn how to swim!
Avra is counting the days until the end of high school. That's when this undisputed "queen bee" will be leaving town with her boyfriend, Emil, and leaving her best friend Dana behind to deal with the fallout. Or so she thinks...
When Capricorn Anderson's hippy grandmother lands in the hospital, he is forced to temporarily relocate from their commune to a foster home and to attend the public school. He doesn't have a clue about popular culture, which in turns makes him a perfect target and an unlikely hero.
On her first night at her inherited estate, 12-year-old Stephanie is mysteriously attacked. Luckily, the living, wisecracking skeleton named Skulduggery Pleasant comes to her rescue. Stephanie is thrown into Skulduggery's world of trolls, vampires, and strange creatures as the duo tries to stop Nefarian Serpine from finding a powerful scepter and taking over the world.
When 15-year-old Tamar inherits a box from her grandfather filled with clues and coded messages, she decides to find out what secrets caused her family to shatter and her father to disappear. The narrative shifts between Tamar's story and that of her namesake grandfather as he and his fellow WWII spy and resistance fighter friend Dart land in Holland, determined to both help win an impossible fight and win the hand of the same woman.
When her family decides to adopt Pablo, an orphaned Mexican immigrant, Sophie embarks on a journey to Oaxaca to meet Pablo's extended family and get the adoption papers signed. The journey turns into one of self discovery as Sophie faces her lifelong anxieties and falls in love with Angel, a refugee from the Guatemalan Civil War.
When Billy Bloom's mother just can't handle him anymore, he's abruptly transplanted to live with his father in Florida. The students at his new backwater school don't have a clue what to make of this over-the-top drag queen diva. Despite the brutality of his classmates, Billy takes a stand and finds himself in this alternately heartbreaking and hilarious glamathon.
In the era of the Vietnam War, seventh grader Holling Hoodhood spends Wednesday afternons with his teacher Mrs. Baker while the rest of his classmates attend religious education classes. Though Holling is sure that his teacher hates him, she helps him to broaden hsi views of what life could be like.
It is 1960 and Louise's mother dresses up every day to go to the local elementary school and heckle Ruby Bridges as she bravely becomes the symbol for racial integration in the 9th ward of New Orleans. Louise and her mom eventually learn tolerance in this beautifully told story.
On the last day of seventh grade, Tracy is raped. Her turmoil that ensues is the loss of feeling safe through memories of her mother, the loss of being able to leave her home, to interact with her supportive friends, to find resolve in immediate therapy. Through music and courage Tracy fights her way back to "normalcy" and a feeling of being "safe."
Averie Winston travels to a new land to be reunited with her father and fiance who are in the military. Upon her arrival, Averie immerses herself in the culture, falls in love with someone else, and a final act of betrayal will surprise readers beyond measure.
On a high-altitude adventure, teenager Peak Marcello attempts to become the youngest person to make it to the top of Mount Everest under his father's guidance. As he makes the journey, he learns a lot about himself and his estranged father.
Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick
8th grader San Lee is in a unique position to reinvent himself at yet another new school, and the persona he chooses this time is Zen master. While trying to convince everyone else that he's genuine, he nabs the pretty girl and makes positive changes in his life.