By Lyn Miller-Lachmann 288 pages
Daniel’s papá, Marcelo, used to play soccer, dance the cueca, and drive his kids to school in a beat-up green taxi—all while publishing an underground newspaper that exposed Chile’s military regime.
After papá’s arrest in 1980, Daniel’s family fled to the United States. Now Daniel has a new life, playing guitar in a rock band and dating Courtney, a minister’s daughter. He hopes to become a US citizen as soon as he turns eighteen.
When Daniel’s father is released and rejoins his family, they see what five years of prison and torture have done to him. Marcelo is partially paralyzed, haunted by nightmares, and bitter about being exiled to “Gringolandia.” Daniel worries that Courtney’s scheme to start a bilingual human rights newspaper will rake up papá’s past and drive him further into alcohol abuse and self-destruction. Daniel dreams of a real father-son relationship, but he may have to give up everything simply to save his papá’s life.
THE ORANGE HOUSES
By Paul Griffin 160 pages
This story follows three kids through the pressure cooker of inner-city teenage life as it moves toward its crushing conclusion. The three characters couldn’t be any more different: Tamika Sykes is a partially deaf student agonizing over whether she really wants to hear all the noise surrounding her; Fatima Espérer is a 16-year-old refugee who fled the violence and poverty of her unspecified African country to live in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty; and depending on who you ask, Jimmy Sixes, already a disturbed veteran at age 18, is either a street poet or a junkie. The three form an unusual friendship, connecting both artistically and emotionally. All this is set in a city that has become a powder keg of anti-immigration sentiment (thanks to a recently passed law that rewards citizens for reporting illegals) and is perilously close to the ever-present spark of gang violence. Griffin clearly knows teens, especially the way they speak. Although readers will be prepared for an unnerving journey from the opening scene, they will nevertheless be floored by some of the turns in this swift, tense, and powerful book.
By Jennifer Brown 432 pages
Valerie is alone. Her family tiptoes around her, her friends act like she doesn't exist, and most of the people in the community think she should be dead.
Valerie's boyfriend, the person she trusted more than anyone else, shattered her life when he brought a gun to school and wounded several students and killed many others, including himself. Most people believe Valerie was involved, but she had no idea what Nick was planning.
After spending weeks in the hospital recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound to the leg, Valerie is moved to the psychiatric ward for observation. Afterwards, during her many therapy sessions, she begins to think back on her relationship with Nick and all the events that led up to the terrible act that changed an entire community.
HATE LIST is an extremely powerful story.
Warning: Language and Mature Content
THE REFORMED VAMPIRE SUPPORT GROUP
By Catherine Jinks 372 pages
Nina Harris is 15 years-old living at home with her mother. She’s also a vampire and hasn’t aged since 1973! The highlight of dreary existence is her Tuesday night meetings with a miserable group of vampires, and being lectured. But then a member of this motley crew is murdered and the others are now prime targets. It is now up to Nina and her punk rocker side-kick Dave to find the killer. Nina Harris will find out what it means to be a vampire.