Fiction. While swimming in Seattle's Lake Union, 18-year-old Mads Murray makes a shocking discovery: the body of Anna Floyd, a woman who jumped off a nearby bridge. Though Mads is supposed to spend the summer focusing on real estate classes to please her unstable mother, she can't stop herself from obsessing about Anna. She even tracks down Anna's son, Billy. The two teens bond quickly over parental issues and a shared love of a quirky children's book...but can their fragile relationship survive if Mads tells Billy about her connection to his mother? Told in alternating voices, Essential Maps for the Lost offers a sensitive look at grief, guilt, and finding yourself.
Fiction. Hiding in your room with your phone off for months might sound awful, but for aspiring screenwriter Quinn, it's easier than facing the world after his sister Annabeth's death last winter. Now it's summer, however, and Quinn can't hide anymore -- he lets his persistent friend Geoff drag him to a party, where he meets Amir, a hot college guy. As the attraction between him and Amir grows, Quinn (who tends to narrate his life like a screenplay) sorts through his messy past while trying to make sense of his future. By turns witty, sardonic, and heartbreaking, The Great American Whatever is a great pick for fans of Jesse Andrews' Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Historical Fiction. "Nothing in this war is what it seems." That's certainly true of innocent-looking Hanneke, who cycles through Nazi-occupied 1943 Amsterdam without anyone suspecting that she's a black market smuggler. Grieving the loss of her soldier boyfriend, Hanneke tries her best to ignore the war -- until a customer asks for her help in the search for a missing Jewish girl, drawing Hanneke into the Dutch resistance and forcing her to confront the limits of her courage. Similar to Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, Girl in the Blue Coat combines wrenching emotional truths, a vivid setting, and a gripping pace to create a truly unforgettable read.
Fiction. Every graduating class from Palermo Heights, Ontario, has one student who dies and one who gets pregnant -- it's practically a tradition. Cheer captain Hermione Winters never would have guessed that she'd be the pregnant one...or that it would be a result of being drugged and raped at cheer camp. In the aftermath of the assault, Hermione's confidence is shattered, as is her reputation and her relationship with her boyfriend. Yet with the support of her best friend and the reassuring routine of sports, she holds tight to her identity as not a victim, but a survivor. Inspired by Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, this emotionally charged story will speak to readers who relish unflinching, empowering realistic fiction.
Fantasy. Facing an unwanted arranged marriage, the Countess of Rothford decides to run away and take her chances in Adoria, the New World. Adopting her maidservant's name and identity, the countess (now called Adelaide) joins the Glittering Court, a school that teaches upper-class manners to lower-class girls before sending them off to find husbands on the Adorian frontier. Well-bred Adelaide does her best to fit in, but keeping her secret isn't easy -- especially not after she finds herself falling for Cedric, the son of the Court's owner. Intriguing world-building, forbidden romance, and sweeping adventure all come together in this series debut from the author of the Vampire Academy series.
Fiction. Competitive swimming is Abby's life, but if she keeps pushing herself, it might also cause her death. Just when she's about to qualify for Olympic trials, Abby faints at a swim meet and is diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It's not fatal, but it could be if she doesn't take medication that slows her down in the pool. After being so focused for so long, Abby's not sure who she is if she's not swimming. Is achieving her dream worth risking her life? If you prefer sports stories with a healthy side of drama, A Matter of Heart is for you; for a more upbeat spin, try Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Dairy Queen series.
Realistic Fiction. In a dismal Pennsylvania town that has more than its share of violence, Finley, a.k.a. "White Rabbit," is the only white player on his high school's varsity basketball team. He keeps his head down and his mouth shut, focusing most of his energy and attention on the game -- and on escaping his messed-up town with his girlfriend, Erin. But then Finley's coach insists that he befriend a new player, Russ, a wealthy African-American guy who has an odd way of coping with the trauma of his parents' murder: he claims that he's from outer space and calls himself Boy21. If you like carefully crafted characters and intense stories of friendship, conflicting loyalties, and tragedy, don't miss this "unusual and touching" (Booklist) read.
Fiction. As the youngest guy in his 11th grade class and the skinniest player on the rugby team, Ryan Dean knows what it's like to be the underdog. His over-the-top attitude gets him in trouble with teachers and sports rivals alike, and his awkwardness with girls (especially his friend Annie) leads to a lot of hormonal frustration. Like Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Winger offsets angst and tragedy with realistically raunchy teen guy talk and hilarious comics. For a memorable novel with an "unexpectedly ferocious punch" (Booklist), check out Winger and its sequel, Stand-Off.
Nonfiction. After immigrating to the United States from war-torn countries all over the world, many of the boys in Clarkston, Georgia's refugee resettlement center were learning a common language besides English: soccer. Led by their determined coach, Luma Mufleh, the boys formed 3 soccer teams known as the Fugees, and though they didn't have much when it came to equipment and fans, their unusual team spirit began to attract attention. Pairing play-by-play action with the all-too-real struggles of adjusting to life in a new country, this "uplifting underdog story" (Kirkus Reviews) is a winner for sports fans and nonfiction readers alike.
Realistic Fiction. Jessica is a runner -- it's her identity and the only thing she wants to do -- but after a tragic car accident leaves her a partial amputee, she thinks that her life might as well be over. As Jessica tries to cope with physical therapy, adjust to using a prosthetic leg, and catch up on all the work she's missed in school, she has a revelation and decides that she will run again. This ultimately upbeat and inspiring story will captivate readers who like tales of triumph over adversity (such as Bethany Hamilton's faith-focused memoir Soul Surfer).