Author – Philip Pullman
Age – 15+ (Sexual Content)
When Chris helps a girl escape a group of guys at a posh party he is working at, he finds a love that consumes him. Jenny is funny, smart, beautiful and independent. She lives in a squat with two friends and one weekend he invites her to stay with him as he house sits his dad’s place and looks after their cat.
When Jenny goes home, her squat is boarded up, her friends arrested for drug dealing and she is without a home. Not wanting to go back to Chris’ dad’s place to ask where he lives, she loses contact with Chris. She doesn’t know his surname and doesn’t know exactly where he works. They both spend months searching for each other in the city of Oxford.
Jenny gets a job baby-sitting. She doesn’t know Chris works for the child’s father, or that the father is being hunted down by a killer. Somebody is going to die…
Quick but thrilling read by this master story-teller,
(Thriller, Love, IRA, Betrayal, Lies, Growing up, Blended family, Step mother, Abuse)
Author – Eileen Merriman
Age – 15+
Rebecca hates her new school and new home far away from her friends in another city. She’s lonely and lost. When invited to a party, she goes to try and make friends and maybe fit in a little more. But on the way home, drunk and alone she encounters a group of boys where one of them takes advantage of her condition. She escapes before she it goes too far but is left with feelings of intense grief, loneliness and guilt that it was her fault. She begins to cut herself.
But then there is Cory Marshall. He is the boy next door, friendly, funny and handsome and over a shared love of books and poetry, they become friends and then a couple. But the boy that hurt her is one of Cory’s friends and she can’t be anywhere he is. Every time she bails on Cory (parties and school ball), he gets more confused and then angry with her. But Cory is dealing with his own demons – meeting his birth mother and learning who and what his birth father is.
Eileen Merriman is new to the NZ Teen Fiction stage after winning many awards for other writing. Pieces of you is a stunning teen debut. The characters are real, believable and well written and any fans of David Levithan, Jon Green or Jandy Nelson will love them.
(Romance, Adoption, Truth, Cutting, NZ Author, New Zealand, School, Ball, Kiwi)
Author – Lauren Wolk
Age – 12+
Crow was found as a tiny baby in a boat set adrift among a group of islands. She was found and raised by a man she calls Osh. He is a man of little words, but he is wise and kind and has a past of his own that he never speaks of. No one on the islands knew where Crow came from but she is shunned just in case she came from the leper colony nearby.
As Crow has grown, her desire to know her roots has too, and when she sees a fire on the old leper colony island, she wants to investigate. But her curiosity brings more than the answers she seeks. Attempted murder, possible siblings, clues left among graves and abandoned places, and a treasure a madman is seeking.
This is a story about belonging, knowing where you come from and loving those who raised you as family, whether they’re blood or not. Another stunning story from this wonderful storyteller. By the author of Wolf Hollow.
(Mystery, Family, Blended Family, Action, Courage, Leper, History, Prejudice)
TEEN – JAC
Author – Tiffany D Jackson
Age – 15+
Mary B Addison was 9 when she killed 3 mth old Alyssa Richardson – allegedly. After spending time in ‘baby jail’ Mary is now 16 and in a girl’s group home, with an ankle bracelet to keep track of her. Life has been tough and Mary trusts no-one – not even her mother who visits her regularly.
Mary loved Alyssa and would never have killed her, and it’s only when she becomes pregnant herself (with the promise that her baby will be taken from her at birth), that she begins to tell the truth. With help from uncertain places she even reignites her dream to go to College (University).
But she is still wary of people and their motives, and suddenly she realises she wasn’t wary enough. The tension increase where it’s not just her and her baby’s future at stake, but both of their lives.
Allegedly has a very easy reading style as you get to know Mary. But do you trust her yourself? An amazing debut novel.
(Murder, Crime, Infanticide, Lies, Secret, Pregnancy, Courage)
Author – Elizabeth Laird
Illustrator – Lucy Eldridge (B & W chapter headers + double pages between Parts 1-5)
Age – 11+
Omar is 12 and he is proud of his town called Bosra in the country of Syria. Omar doesn’t enjoy school like his older sister Eman and brother Musa. But life is good and he dreams of the day of being a businessman like his cousin and uncle.
Musa has cerebral palsy and is incredibly smart. Omar has spent his life sticking up for his brother against taunts and trouble, but when Musa becomes involved with activists against the Syrian government (that their father works for), Omar is even more worried for him. And suddenly they have to flee. Ma, Baba (father), Eman, Musa, Omar, Fuad (5), and baby sister Nadia. After living out of Bosra on a family farm, they have to flee again. They have received word the government is after Baba, or is it Musa they want? Again they flee – this time, across the border with thousands of others to a refugee camp.
Although there are no guns in the camp, there is also no hope of returning home, nothing to do, severe cold, mud and slime in the winter, and queues, no privacy and camp gangs to contend with. But Omar is resourceful and strong and he makes the best of a terrible situation. Little does he know that wee Nadia is their way out, but only after they nearly lose her.
Welcome to Nowhere is a great way of learning about the Syrian crisis and what its people have faced and are still facing today. One painted slogan by a few teen boys is all it takes to light the flame that becomes the Syrian Civil War that we see on our news. Storytellers like Elizabeth Laird show the rest of the world truths that must be told.
(War, Syria, Refugee, Immigrant, Fear, Courage, Family)
TEEN – THU
Author – Helen Thurloe
Age – 12+
Azra loves school and science. She also loves her family. But when one is going to take the other away from her, she is faced with the biggest decision in her life.
This is Azra’s story of being faced with an arranged marriage a the age of 16. Her uncle has much influence in her family and he orchestrates the marriage even as she begs her parents to let her finish school.
She has to make a terrible choice – Family and their control of her arranged marriage or a future she chooses for herself. She can’t have both.
If you liked ‘Secrets of the Henna Girl’ you’ll like Azra’s story too. It shows her culture, customs and family traditions such as Ramadan, prayer and cooking – but also an important rule of her culture – obedience by woman.
Her brother gets away with much, including trouble with the law, laziness, unemployed etc, but Azra being a girl can’t even attend school events where there will be boys attending.
Azara’s uncle soon takes things into his own hands, with a shocking conclusion.
(Arranged Marriage, Ramadan, Pakistan Culture)