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Welcome to the book blog, featuring reviews for teens from InfoSoup librarians and users!

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Title: No Place
Author: Todd Strasser

Things have been going well for Dan, he is doing well in school, excells at baseball enough to potentially earn a scholarship, has a girlfriend, and lots of friends, but he knows things are not right at home. His family has always been middle class, but lately things seem to have gotten tight financially. What his parents haven't shared is how close they are to being homeless. 

When it finally reaches that point, they are forced to live with relatives. That only works for awhile until they are forced to move to "Tent City." An area set up by the city for the homeless to stay.

The book focuses on Dan coming to grips with his new reality and learning navigate the new challenges of being homeless and its effects on his relationships and his future. It also takes a hard look at the very real problem of homelessness and how society and communities deal with it.

Make Your Own Music

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Author: Eric Gansworth

Love this cover! .... school, bullying, family, friendship, dating, and one of the best parts..... links to classic rock music from the late 1970s!  Queen, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Wings....  Smart 7th grader, Lewis Blake, is a Native American attending a public school that is filled with unrest.  HIs friend, George, has a mutual interest in music and the forge through middle school with all its bumps and growing pains.  This book kept me riveted through to the dramatic end.

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Author: Susann Cokal

In the fictional Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn the royal court is trying to produce a male heir to keep the family line in power. This proves difficult when mysterious illnesses and other traumatic events keep killing members of the family. Like every royal court there are circles upon circles of people close and not so close and all of them have motives of one kind or another that impact the royal family in one way or another. Innocents are caught up in this constant grab for power and are subject to fates mysterious and dark. This book was awarded a Printz Honor award and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. This book has a beautiful quality to it and a very well paced sense of time and place, but it is definitely for mature readers. Publishers Weekly's review ended with this sentence "Though the novel’s frank and upsetting depictions of rape, child-marriage, miscarriage, and syphilis mark this title for mature readers, its brutality, eloquence, and scope are a breathtaking combination. Ages 16–up".

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Author: Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor comes from a home that is pretty much terrorized by her mother's second husband. When the story opens she has just returned "home" after being shipped out to one of her mother's "friends" for over a year. She shares a room with three others and guards her space and her belongings closely on the top bunk she occupies. She gets no relief on the bus or at school. Park comes from a loving home but he stands out for various reasons and while he is not subjected to the bullying Eleanor is he lives just under the radar. Park reluctantly offers Eleanor the space next to him on the bus one day and so begins an evolving friendship that eventually turns to love. The portrayal of the home life of these two characters is very real and in Eleanor's case very stark. The day to day obstacles that young people face are well drawn in this story. It has a hopeful ending too.

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Author: Holly Sloan

This book reminded me of Out of My Mind and Wonder (both books I loved by the way) being that it is about a 12-year old girl who is a genius, but feels detached from her peers.  Suffering the loss of her parents in a tragic accident sets this story on a hopeful mission to find Willow Chance a new family.  But what does it take to be a family?  Readers will have a lot to talk about after reading this book.  What is strange?  Are we all strange or at varying levels of strangeness?  Is it fair to group like strangers?  Hmmm.

Picture Me Gone

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Author: Meg Rosoff

Mila notices and senses things other people seem to miss.  A trip with her father to visit his college friend Matthew is disrupted when Matthew disappears days before their arrival.  Mila and her father make the trip from London to upstate New York anyway, hoping to discover the answers behind Matthew’s disappearance.  Through the home, wife, infant son and dog Matthew has left behind, Mila slowly gains an understanding of him and his life.  Can Mila and her father find Matthew?  Why did he disappear?  Mila’s faith in those closest to her will be tested as she struggles to unravel the mystery.

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Title: Sold
Author: Patricia McCormick

This story is sad.  There is not way around that fact.  The main character is Lakshmi, a 13 year old girl, who is sold by her family into prostitution.  I could almost feel the dirt and grime in Lakshmi's living quarters and the abuse made me want to cry.  I had to remind myself that although this was a book of fiction, these types of places do exist.  Heartbreaking.  The author based this story on interviews she had done with girls who were in the slave industry as well as aid workers who try to help them.  What Patricia McCormick created from these interviews is a story of resilience and hope.  Just when you think Lakshmi's life can't get worse, it does, but she doesn't give up hope.  

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Author: Stephanie Kuehn

This heart breaker of a book is riveting. I read it in two days! I just could not put it down.

For the protagonist 'Drew/Win', growing into adulthood is ripping him apart both physically and mentally. The author slowly gives you all of these clues about why. At first I thought I might be reading a fantasy. I mean, exactly why is this poor kid vomiting all the time? Well, you find out it is with good reason.

The teen years are confusing enough without the baggage that this character is carrying. I loved how the characters of Lex & Jordan rallied and came to his aid. I also liked how the terms of atomic science were interwoven into this book.

This line was pure poetry and repeated twice in the book: "I don't feel the presence of God here".

Congrats on this debut!