Girl Mans Up

Author – M-E Girard28217802

Age – 14+

Pen loves hanging out with her friends, gaming, wearing her brother’s clothes and just being herself.

She hates being called Penelope, people thinking she dresses and acts the way she does because she wants to be a boy, her mother wanting her to be a pink, sparkly, princess type of girl, and guys acting like douche bags.

Her best friend (since age about 9) is Coby. He’s popular, good looking, shares her love of gaming (even though she can thrash him at it), but he can be a douche bag to girls.

Coby is always talking about loyalty, so when Pen learns about a girl he has treated badly and tries to help, he calls her out on it. Pen is torn at first. She’s already angry at people who just won’t let her be herself, always trying to stick a  label on her. Bi, Trans, Lesbian, Gay. Pen just wants to be Pen – it’s that simple.

Her parents are always talking about respect, but the only person in her family Pen has respect for is her brother Johnny who has come to her rescue multiple times. She feels she can look after herself, but their bond is what keeps her sane.

Dealing with family pressures, toxic friendships and new relationships, Pen finally finds her own identity, her own tribe (without Coby), and a deeper understanding of the people who share her life – at home and high school.

I loved Pen. She was strong, brave and determined. She loves her parents but has to come to terms with the fact they may never understand who she really is. The friendships were real, the banter convincing and the relationships (both toxic and supportive) were intense. I wanted to climb into the book and slap some of the characters. You’ll have to read it and find out who!

(Diversity, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, School, Friendships, Secret, Relationships, High School, Family, Portuguese)




Author – Tony Abbott

Age – 8+

This story is as thought provoking, sad and truthful as WONDER and should be read by anyone 8+

Tom is shy at school, his only friend being Jeff Hicks, who is a little “off the wall” sometimes. Most days they hang out after school at Jeff’s house and talk cars, and comics. They sit next to each other in class and they like their teacher Mrs Tracy.

One day, Mrs Tracy seems more serious than normal and tells them they will soon have a new girl in their class – Jessica Feeney. But Jessica is a little different. Something terrible happened to her and she has terrible deformities from burns.

From the moment Jessica arrives, Tom begins a journey many students face. Should he stick with his friends who are being unkind to the new kid, or stick up for the newbie when he feels his friends are wrong?

Tom is suddenly in a constant battle in his thoughts or what’s right and what’s not, and how he can deal with it. This first person inner conflict is written brilliantly.

There are questions at the end of the novel that teachers could use in their class. This would make a great Year 6 – Year 8 read aloud.

(Read aloud, School, Friendship, Differences, Guilty, Conflict)

The Boy Who Lost his Face


Author – Louis Sachar

Age – 11+

(Contains Swearing)

David is worried. He’s also feeling a bit mean, because while he was trying to be cool with three other boys, he watched them tip an old lady out of her chair, pour lemonade on her face and then steal her carved walking stick. Because all he did was watch, he flipped her the bird as they escaped

His mind is racing afterwards, wondering why he did it? Maybe she wouldn’t even know what it meant? And what mumbo jumbo was she saying as they left?

Things aren’t improving for David. Scott (ex best friend) now ignores him, choosing to hang out with Randy and Roger. He broke a window playing catch with his little brother Ricky, and fell off his chair in class (like Mrs Bayfield). He walked into class with his fly down. He’d seen Mrs Bayfield’s underwear when she fell off her chair. Everything that happened to her is happening to him! Maybe she cursed him?

This was a story about making new friends, being brave enough to ask out a girl and how powerful the subconscious can be.

(School, Peer Pressure, Bullying, Curse, Friendship, Humour)

All I Ever Wanted

TEEN WAK11058320

Author – Vikki Wakefield

Age – 14+

Vikki Wakefield is an amazing new Australian author for teens. All I ever Wanted is about a girl who is determined not to end up like her overweight, overspending mother, her tattooed and boy crazy best friend or her two brothers – both in prison for drug offences.

This would make a fantastic school character study as the reader gets to know the main character so well. And as the story progresses, the main character learns about herself and her family too. Maybe all is not what it seems?

(Friendship, Crime, Conflict, Peer Pressure, Drugs, Fear, Flight)



Author – Erin Lange

Age – 14+

Butter is big. Or as the kids at school call him – the fat kid. He got his name from a bullying prank and it’s stuck. This story is about Butter’s relationship online with a pretty girl from school, who has no idea who she is talking to. When she finds out, she breaks his heart and helps him make a terrible decision – which actually makes him popular for once.

A heart breaking but believable story about the power of peer pressure and social media.

(Bullying, Peer pressure, Popularity, Social media, Love, Suicide, Obesity)



Author – Justine Larbalesteir

Age – 14+

Just as the title says, this is all about lies. The main character Micah admits to being a compulsive liar and has a few goes at telling her story. Each time we learn a little more of the truth – a truth that will surprise you.

The novel jumps between BEFORE, AFTER, FAMILY HISTORY (Back story) and back again but is easy to follow as you discover truths and lies and grief and love and something not quite right….

(Conflict, Love, Peer Pressure, Bullying, Family, Secret, Werewolves)


TEEN CLA12968828

Author – Cat Clarke

Age – 15+

A creepy, intriguing story about peer pressure and popularity.

When Alice goes on a school trip with her best friends Cass, all she wants to do is get it over and done with. But something happens that she will never forget.

She groans when super popular (and her ex best friend) Tara is allocated to their cabin. When Tara pulls a mean stunt on one of their other cabin mates, Cass decides to get even. But the practical joke goes terribly wrong.

Full of lies and secrets Tara and her classmates return to school to face the awful truth behind the practical joke. Was it planned all along or was it an accident?

(Peer Pressure, Popularity, Ghost, First Love, Revenge)