Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker
Available in Print.
Girl meets boy. Boy likes girl. Boy and girl rob a bank. OK, it’s more complicated than that. Let’s start with the boy…
Christian lives in rough part of Los Angeles. Even though he is a good student and gets accepted to college, he has not been able to avoid being involved with a gang. The gang takes care of his alcoholic dad’s debts as long as Christian fulfills his obligations: robbing banks with his crew. The crew (aka the Romero Robbers) stage hold ups and keep some of the money with the rest going to the gang leaders. Keep the jobs quick and small – get too ambitious and you get careless. That’s how you get caught. But now Christian’s boss wants a big job: breaking into a vault.
Lexi goes to an exclusive private school. She, her brother and their friends do extreme activities (like illegally BASE jumping from the top of an office building). Her life is pretty good until her father is arrested for a fraud scheme at the bank where he works. Her family’s accounts are frozen and the school kicks her and her brother out. Lexi is so angry that her father’s boss is probably also guilty but continues to live his luxurious life. She must find a way to take him down even if it means breaking into the bank to find incriminating evidence.
After a few chance encounters, Lexi and Christian have an attraction, but are suspicious of each other. Once they reveal their plans, they decide the best course is to team up to rob the bank – him to get money and her to get documents. They need each other, but they have different objectives that do not always mesh.
The story is involved, suspenseful and a fun exploration of a topic not often seen in teen books.
Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy.
Available in Print and eBook.
A giant asteroid is heading for earth. Southern California is the target, but the whole world will be impacted. The smartest minds are assembled in a NASA facility in Pasadena to solve the problem. With less than a month left, a young Russian physicist arrives to join the team. Yuri’s mathematical skills are unquestioned, but since he is only seventeen he is often not taken seriously by his fellow scientists. That is most unfortunate when Yuri knows he has the best solution to stop the asteroid.
One day Yuri decides to eat lunch outside and finds a pretty young woman named Dovie. Having spent most of his life focused on physics, Yuri is socially awkward and does not know how to interact with other people his age. In addition, Yuri has never been to the U.S. and does not understand the customs (or often the subtleties of the English language). Fortunately, the artsy Dovie takes a liking to Yuri and invites him to her house. Dovie’s hippie parents and wheelchair bound brother Lennon are welcoming but live a very different existence than Yuri’s.
With the world in peril, Yuri gets to spend time as a regular teenager while simultaneously trying to convince his colleagues that his unique knowledge holds the key to saving the planet. It’s possible his overzealous behavior will keep him from returning to Russia.
This is a nice blend of science and teenage uncertainty about their own future.
Guest review from Mollie at the Lawrence Branch.
The Game of Love & Death by Martha Brockenbrough.
Available in Print, eBook & eAudio.
Love and Death come together once again to play the Game, a game played for centuries. Love has never won, ever. The date: Friday, February 13, 1920. Love choses his character, an infant boy. Death, her player is a baby girl. “Wearing a pair of soft leather gloves, Love’s opponent, known as Death, reached for the child, who woke and blinked sleepily at the unfamiliar face overhead.” Will he win this time? Death, and her history of successes, won’t make it easy for Love, especially when both can transform themselves to distract their opponent’s players!
Fast forward 17 years . . . to 1937.
The players in this round of the Game are seventeen-year-olds Flora and Henry. Flora, an African American singer/pilot, strives to be a strong woman. Henry, an orphaned white boy, living in the shadow of his well-to-do adopted brother tries to prove his worth. He and Flora meet and it is love at first sight for Henry. Can these two star-crossed lovers win the game for Love?
Short chapters keep the reader engaged; however, I chose to listen to the eAudiobook. I felt the narrator performed well. Songs were performed at the end, as a bonus section.
I recommend this book for teens that like historical fiction, love stories, or a modern-day Romeo-and-Juliet story.
This year the Big Library Read is showcasing a New York Times Bestseller that will appeal to teens and adults alike. This Is Where It Ends by debut author Marieke Nijkamp is told from FOUR different perspectives, blog entries and tweets, and covers a time span of 54 minutes. Imagine going to a school assembly and then getting up to leave, only to discover that you are locked in the auditorium with a fellow student who has decided to kill everyone who has ever wronged him or her. Not your typical feel-good happy ending book, but an important book and topic, nonetheless. If you read it, let us know what you think by dropping a comment below.
Available at your Indy Public Library in eBook and Print.
Want to read something similar? Check these titles out!
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.
Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.
Available in Print and eBook.
Shooter by Walter Dean Myers
Written in the form of interviews, reports, and journal entries, the story of three troubled teenagers ends in a tragic school shooting.
Available in Print.