Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged young adult

The Latte Rebellion

Asha Jamison’s classmates are quick to categorize her. She is called both a “towelhead” and “barely Asian.” Asha and her best friend Carey have a harder time describing their own ethnicities. Asha is part Indian, part Mexican, and part Irish, while Carey is half Chinese and half Caucasian. When they begin describing themselves as lattes—a mix of coffee and milk—they start brainstorming ways to distribute their idea to other multiethnic teens and coffee lovers.


Those who are avid readers often fondly remember the books that seemed to have changed our lives. Many of the books that have stuck with me, I read during my teenage years. Adolescence is a time in life when people struggle with identity and seek to be understood. The books we connect with at this time can be an extremely powerful influence—sometimes as powerful as a friend, a counselor, or a family member. Not much time has passed since I was a teen, but young adult books seem a lot different to me now.

Chasing Alliecat

In this action-packed thriller written for a young adult audience, author Rebecca Fjelland Davis brings multiple themes to the forefront, places them on the table and gets dirty—dirty as in riding mountain bikes in the woods of a small town and scarily getting involved with some unsavory characters in the wilds of northern Minnesota. With a plot interwoven with themes of death, friendship, family, and abuse, this novel provokes your senses and makes it all worthwhile.


School is let out early because of a massive blizzard. Everyone is supposed to get home before the weather gets worse. But Scotty Weems and his friends decide to stay after for a couple hours to work on a shop project, figuring that one of their parents will be able to pick them up on the way home from work. This turns out to be a really bad (and really deadly) decision. Along with several other students and one teacher, they are trapped in the school by the snow. And it keeps coming. And coming. It doesn’t take long before this becomes a survival story.


XVI is not a feminist novel. I’m opening my review with this caveat because, as someone who owns a dog-eared copy of The Feminine Mystique, whose heroes are Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin, and who has, at times, stopped shaving her armpits (sometimes one just can’t be bothered), accounts of feminist content in Julia Kar

Luka and the Fire of Life

The world according to Salman Rushdie post-fatwa is a very bad place. If his books from this era are anything to go by, most people are judgmental, small-minded, and intolerant. In this book, and its prequel Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Rushdie is passing that same worldview on to his sons. Buried under verbal twists and turns and puns and slapstick, Luka and the Fire of Life is about a boy undertaking a quest through a mythical world (created, it seems, by his father’s stories) to save his father’s life. He braves great challenges and finds courage he did not know he had. Ostensibly, Luka is on a quest to find his own voice, but the voice he actually finds his father’s.

The Way It Is

Donalda Reid is gutsy to take on heavy racial undertones in her first novel They Way It Is. The story is historical fiction; although, aside from the creation of the main characters, this young adult book is more history than fiction.

The Keening

A. LaFaye’s The Keening is one part poem, and one part novel. Though the narrative is strong, it is the layered, considered language, and the dance with fantasy that make this novel something special. Both a modern-day ghost story and young adult novel, the book is complex, something that can’t be tied to just one genre. This book’s protagonist, Lyza, lives with her father on the fringe of a Maine fishing village.

Guardian Spirit

Every good young adult book needs a strong adolescent female heroine, and Guardian Spirit has one in Sadie Madison. Despite the challenges she has faced in her twelve short years, or perhaps because of them, Sadie maintains a resilient, practical core that propels her through her mother’s decision to run away from an abusive husband with Sadie and her younger brother.

8th Grade Superzero

Reggie "Pukey" McKnight has decided to run for class president of his eighth grade because he believes that "it's not negative to want to make things better" and he's tired of the school elections being a popularity contest that promises outrageous things that will never get done. He hasn't been popular since “The Incident”—not that he was every really popular, but now he's even more uncool. (“The Incident” is not fully explained in detail until much later in the novel, but it’s embarrassing.) With the help of his two best friends, Ruthie and Joe C., Reggie's out to prove that you can win if you really believe in something, even if you’re unpopular. He's doing it for the underdogs.


Mockingjay has finally arrived to conclude the breathtaking trilogy that began in 2006 with the conclusively-titled The Hunger Games. And this time, things have changed. In global effect, for better or worse, the main characters are bringing the furious fight to the enemy’s doorstep, in an act of rousing rebellion.

Fearless Female Journalists

Fearless Female Journalists is a set of ten short profiles of female reporters, photojournalists, and newscasters hailing from various times and places over the last two centuries. Among the women featured is one of the early pioneers of modern journalism: nineteenth-century American newspaperwoman Nellie Bly, a daredevil stunt reporter.

Claire de Lune

Claire de Lune, Christine Johnson’s debut novel, is a good, but not standout, addition to werewolf lit. The simple way that this twist on werewolf lore is presented will make it a quick and satisfying read to ardent werewolf lovers, though it will have a tougher time winning the hearts of others.

The Mockingbirds

I don’t know how many times I can say a book is one of the best I’ve read this year and maintain any credibility; we’ve still got quite a few months left in 2010, so I guess we’ll find out. The thing is, I’m pretty convinced that this is a golden age for YA, and Daisy Whitney’s The Mockingbirds really is a phenomenal debut novel–one of the best I’ve read this year. Last summer, I took a Children’s Lit class at Cal State University, Northridge.

Girl Parts

I almost wrote realistic fiction for the category on this book—and it's basically about robots. I know that's a weird start to a review, but that's how I felt about the book. This story is about the Internet age and how it's keeping people connected online... but totally separate in real life. One company decided that the way to cure alienation for the many boys who waste their days online was to create a girl for them! A really hot, really devoted girl. At first, my feminist sense started going off when I heard the premise. I mean, all a boy wants is a chick to love him? Really?

American Girl Magazine (May/June 2010)

I recently reviewed New Moon Girls Magazine and was particularly impressed with the way it provides interesting and encouraging content to young girls without succumbing to the harmful media trends that can potentially harm their self-esteem. American Girl Magazine is another publication that appeals to girls without excessively highlighting gender stereotypes.

September Fair: A Murder-by-Month Mystery

Librarian and small-town reporter Mira James discovers the dead body of the latest Milkfed Mary, Queen of the Dairy, while covering the Minnesota State Fair for the local newspaper. Milkfed Mary is teenaged Ashley Pederson. Mira is covering a carving of Ashley’s head in butter as part of the Queen of the Dairy ceremony when the lights go out in the Dairy building. A few moments later Mira finds Ashley on the floor of a refrigerated booth, her skin a strange shade of red. Ashley’s body is the fifth Mira has discovered in the last few months.

Shark Girls

Shark Girls presents the reader with something horrific, and turns it into something humane. When a shark attacks eight-year-old Willa, her older sister Scat realizes that their lives are about to shift. At school, Scat becomes the one made fun of, because her peers don’t know what to do with the traumatic situation, but they know it would be mean to make fun of the victim of a shark attack.


As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, I was very eager to dig into Thinandbeautiful.com. This young adult book was written by Liane Shaw, a teacher who once struggled with anorexia. The story follows Maddie, an anorexic teenage girl who finds herself sucked into the "pro-ana" (pro-anorexia) website thinandbeautiful.com.

How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation

The world of young adult books never ceases to be amazing. With a range of topics reminding us of our stressful adolescent selves, young adult books hold a set amount of information about friendships with other girls, jealousy, boyfriends, questions about sex, and overall embarrassing experiences that the characters will laugh about when they look back on their lives. How to Ruin Your Boyfrend's Reputation fits perfectly into this mold.

Hollywood Is Like High School With Money

In the new novel Hollywood is Like High School with Money, Zoey Dean explores high-stakes backstabbing amidst the glamorous realm of movie making. This book is reflective of the author’s typical genre: juvenile novels set in ritzy realms where teenagers act like jaded adults beyond what is typical among American youth.

Racing the Dark

Racing the Dark is unique among fantasy books. The world draws upon Pacific Island and East Asian cultures to create a rich blend very different from fantasy canon—an island nation with an animist religion centering on sacrifice and binding.

Perfect Chemistry

I can pinpoint exactly where I fell for the charms of Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry due to the disappearance of my “reflective” notes in the margins: Chapter eleven. Page sixty-seven. The initial sixty-seven pages were rather laborious, as my first reaction was that it was going to be another predictable American teen novel and—to an extent—it was. Boy meets girl at school. They both proclaim their hatred for one another. Boy makes a bet to woo said girl.

Home Free

Books with young female characters who love books make my heart smile. Home Free by Sharon Jennings made my heart shine with a full-faced grin. Meet Leanna Mets. She loves books, aspires to be a writer, and is trying to figure out what life means. This alone is no easy task, but it’s especially hard as she’s trying to navigate her blossoming life under the strict and watchful eye of her conservative mother. Leanna just wants to feel free.

The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour

I should come clean about this now: I was a total mystery addict as a kid. Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and The Boxcar Children were my favorites.

Coffeehouse Angel

Life my feelings for a cup of coffee itself, I had high expectations before opening the book’s cover, but I wasn’t convinced Coffeehouse Angel was for me. At first it seemed kind of bitter, but quickly the story grew on me until I was hooked. Suzanne Selfors’ latest book tells the tale of teenager Katrina Svensen as she faces some typical and not-so-typical growing pains. Like most teenagers, she is trying to find her place in the big world.

Beyond the Station Lies the Sea

Cosmos and Niner are homeless. Niner, who has been given this name because he is nine-years-old, was thrown out by a violent stepfather. After that, Niner used to sneak into his house at night to eat the dinner his mother left on the table for him. When his mother was taken away in an ambulance, the house was locked up and he couldn’t get in anymore. Cosmos, an adult, has been homeless for a long time, and has teamed up with Niner on the streets. More than anything, Cosmos and Niner want to go to the seaside, where they can live without the worries that plague them in the city.

Skunk Girl

Skunk Girl is Sheba Karim’s first novel. It is told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Nina Khan, self-described as “a Pakistani Muslim girl” and from a small white town in upstate New York. Although published in 2009, the story is set in approximately 1993. In a fast-paced, entertaining read, Nina narrates her life and drama as the only Pakistani and Muslim girl in her high school.

Privacy, Please!: Gaining Independence From Your Parents

Privacy, Please! is a very entertaining and informative book written for teens, but I think parents will find Odile Amblard’s advice just as useful. This 112-page book is written in the second person, which makes it feel very personal. The lighthearted style makes the sometimes serious subjects—such as alcohol and drugs—less daunting.

Be Strong and Curvaceous

It is not easy to like Be Strong & Curvaceous, especially if you are not a Christian and die-hard fashionista. In this novel, believing in a Christian god is as usual as fancying the latest Chanel dress or a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. Don’t let the title fool you either.