Category Archives: Staff Recommends

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman REVIEW

alexAlex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

 Available in Print.

Alex was born with a rare condition that makes her physically both a boy and a girl. When she was very young, her parents decided to raise her as a boy, but at fifteen she knows she’s a girl. She stops taking her hormone medicine and starts wearing girl clothes. Her mother freaks out (as usual) and her dad walks out.

Alex enrolls herself in a new school where no one knows the truth or that she was recently a boy. Her hopes for a clean beginning are dashed when the school asks for a birth certificate. It’s not her fault she was declared a boy at birth, but it is her burden to bear. Alex stops at the first barrister (aka lawyer) she sees to learn how she can change her birth certificate.

Even though Alex lives in constant fear of being discovered, she likes her new school. She meets a group of friends including the beautiful Amina (yes, Alex is crushing on her from their first meeting). She gets the opportunity to be a model and wear amazing clothes and make up. It is such a girly thing to do and Alex loves it.

Alex’s parents have never dealt with her condition in the best way for Alex, and this new decision has pushed them beyond their limits. Her mother (who we follow in her blog posts) is convinced it’s just a phase and Alex is too young to know what ‘he’ really wants. Her judgment is questionable at best. Alex’s father tries and is more accepting but still struggles with the change. Of course, guilt is weighing on them as well.

Alex has had a tough road and it’s never going to be as easy as it should be. Society has a difficult time dealing with things that do not mesh with the perceived norm. Alex is just another teen with more obstacles than most struggling to find her place in the world.

~Review by Will Smither, Indy PL Librarian and Teen Services Committee. You Know You Wanna Read It Blog.

Follow Alyssa Brugman on Twitter and GoodReads.

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist REVIEW

hangWe Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist

Available in Print and eBook format.

Have you ever thought about tracking down all your exes to find out the real reasons you broke up? If you have, why stop there? Why not ask all the ones you dated one time or kissed a few times or held hands with once in 6th grade? Josh Lindquist wanted to know why by the age of 25 he had never had a girlfriend, so he decided to investigate and yes, this is a true story. 

Before we delve into Josh’s quest, it is important to know that Josh had his leg amputated at age nine due to cancer. As much as he tries to not draw attention to it being an amputee definitely affects his behavior and psyche.

Josh contacted each significant girl from his past and analyzed their reasons for not wanting to take their relationship further. We get the background of each ‘relationship.’ Sarah is the first. During a game of Truth or Dare on a school bus, Sarah said she didn’t like Josh, but he found out later that she did. We learn how awkward Josh can be when trying to figure out if Sarah wants to be his girlfriend. Josh is clueless about girls which makes him a normal eighth grade boy. Of course when you are in the middle of your awkwardness, you don’t realize that you are a normal teenager. You only know that you are embarrassed and feel completely stupid.

Josh follows up with a hypothesis on the reasons the relationships ended. He then recounts what happened when he met each girl (who are now women) again. He calls this part the ‘investigation.’ Charts and graphs are included (although they are not really based on data).  

As a real life inspirational speaker, Josh tells his story with humor and purpose. I laughed out loud many times and sympathized with his difficulty trying to interact with girls. If you’ve ever been a teen interested in having a relationship, you will relate to something in this story. 

~Review by Will Smither, Indy PL Librarian and Teen Services Committee. You Know You Wanna Read It Blog.

Follow Josh Sundquist on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,  and Instagram. Read reviews and more on GoodReads.


Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers REVIEW

midnightInherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers

Available in Print and eBook format.

Eight people flying around the world to historic locations, solving riddles, tackling physical challenges – the latest reality show? No, it is Avery’s life, at least until she or one of her family members wins this contest.

After a nearly successful escape from her boarding school, Avery is returned to the mansion where she grew up under the watchful eye of her Grandmother VanDemere. For Avery, the mansion was like a prison – no sleepovers, no dating, no leaving the house except for school.

Grandmother is obsessed with family history and preserving the name VanDemere. Avery’s existence is a black mark on that heritage. Her father had an affair with the nanny and Avery was the result. After that her alcoholic father disappeared, so Avery grew up with only her grandmother and occasional visits from her snobby cousins who look down on her.

Grandmother Vandemere is not happy with her sons or grandchildren and decides the only way to find a worthy heir to the family fortune is to pit them against each other. If it means Avery doesn’t have to return to school, she will try her best at the competition. She faces backstabbing, cheating and uncles more knowledgeable in family history.

With the family lawyer’s attractive son at her side, Avery sets out to the seemingly impossible task of taking on the family she loathes. Avery is not prepared for the things she discovers about herself and her family along the way.  

~Review by Will Smither, Indy PL Librarian and Teen Services Committee. You Know You Wanna Read It Blog.

Check out Kate Kae Myers on Facebook, Goodreads, and  YouTube.

Surf Mules by G. Neri REVIEW

surfSurf Mules by G. Neri

Available in Print.

For surfers, it’s all about the next big wave. Hitting the surf whenever possible to ride that perfect wave is a lifestyle. Logan and Z-boy never want to give that up. Just after high school (Logan graduated, Z-boy was short a few credits), they wonder about the rest of their lives. It’s tough to make a living as a surfer, so they decide to become drug runners to make a lot of money quickly.

There are better ways to deal with your future plans than getting involved with drugs, but the opportunity presents itself at moment when their lives aren’t exactly stellar. Logan and Z-boy just lost their close friend, Fin. He was an excellent surfer, but took a hit on a huge wave and never came back up. Logan recently fought with Fin and never reconciled. Also, Logan’s deadbeat dad has his college fund tied up in debts. Z-boy has nothing to look forward to except the waves.

If the two could make enough money to buy a nice place near the ocean, they could live carefree for the rest of their lives surfing, smoking pot and meeting women. When someone connects them to a big time dealer who will pay them to drive a car filled with pot across the country to be sold, they see the possibilities of a bright future. They’ve never really traveled beyond California, but now they must drive to Florida under the guise of being young Republicans out to recruit for the party. Two inexperienced surfer dudes crossing the country on their own for the first time with a car full of illegal drugs, what could go wrong?

Even though we know these young men have made a stupid decision (not mention an illegal one) we hope they succeed. We want them to get back safe. They have long lives ahead of them and plenty of waves to catch.

Follow author G. Neri on Facebook and Twitter.

~Review by Will Smither, Indy PL Librarian and Teen Services Committee. You Know You Wanna Read It Blog.

I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil REVIEW

gladI’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

Available in Print and eBook.

JJ Green wants to be a professional songwriter. Her mom is a lawyer. Her dad is a judge. Her brother is in law school. Hmmm…I wonder what they want her to do?

Luckily for JJ, she lives in New York City. In 1963, there is no place better for aspiring songwriters than the Brill Building, home to successful music composers and publishers.

JJ’s mom has nothing kind to say about the music business (largely due to her brother Bernie), but has agreed to let JJ work the summer as an intern in the Brill Building with the stipulation that JJ has to write a song that becomes a hit record by the end of summer or she gives up her dream of becoming a professional songwriter.

JJ often has lunch with her estranged Uncle Bernie (who is a big executive in the building). She is happy to learn from him, but she would never tell her mother about their contact. She meets Luke, who at first is aloof and mysterious, but turns out to be a lyricist who immediately understands her music. JJ befriends the night janitor who turns out to be the once famous singer Dulcie Brown herself. It is a fateful friendship that reveals much about everyone’s past. And then there is the murder…

…Or is it suicide like the police think? This is not just a story of a girl trying to prove something to herself and her parents (with a little romance thrown in, too). JJ must solve the murder of someone close to her – it becomes more important than anything else that summer including songwriting.

Cynthia Weil, the author, is a songwriter who worked in the Brill Building in 1960s and along with her husband wrote some of the most famous pop songs of the time.

~Review by Will Smither, Indy PL Librarian and Teen Services Committee. You Know You Wanna Read It Blog.