We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Available in Print, eBook and eAudio.
Marin is alone. She stayed in her college dorm (with special permission) over the holidays while everyone else went home. Marin feels like she has nowhere to go. Her mother died a long time ago while surfing and her grandpa (who she lived with) is gone now, too.
Marin lived in California until she fled to her college in New York two weeks before the semester started. She left abruptly and came with few possessions. She has tried to escape what happened back home. It is with mixed feelings that she awaits a visit from her best friend Mabel who she has not had any contact with since she left.
Something happened back in California that only Marin can explain and she has not been ready to do that. What will she say to Mabel? They were so close for so long and now they seem almost like strangers. In the middle of a snow storm, the two friends only have each other.
This is not a story of action; it is a sorrowful story of a lost young woman. Marin’s story is peeled back in small bits. Her secrets are revealed slowly through flashbacks and conversation with Mabel. It is a remarkable story that is worth the read to find out why Marin left everything behind. To tell more would be unfair to you.
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
Available in Print & eBook.
Two voices in one town separated by decades, but connected by one tragic event, the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.
Rowan is home when workmen find a skeleton on her family’s property. Whoever the person was, they have been buried a long time. Rowan enlists her best friend to help find answers when the authorities do not see the case as a priority.
William is the son of a white father and a Native American mother living in racially charged Tulsa in 1921. His confrontation with an African American man who was speaking to a white woman sparks more anger in a city already on edge.
Rowan’s and William’s stories are told in alternating chapters. William struggles with the open racism he sees in others (including his father) and his contact with two young African Americans he grows to like. He also feels the sting of being called half breed and threatened by the obnoxious shop keeper who works across the street from his father’s Victrola business.
Rowan, the child of a white father and African American mother, feels and sees racism in current society. Her parents are financially successful so when she starts working in a medical clinic in a low income area, her eyes are opened to the struggles of others.
This incredible story interweaves the past and present skillfully to show how much we have progressed as a society and how far we still have to go. Skin color is only that and has nothing to do with who people really are inside. Basing anything on people’s skin tone is just wrong and has lead to too much pain and anguish. Rowan and William, seemingly unrelated, show that we are never that far removed from out past. I highly recommend this book. It is, sadly, very relevant to today’s world.
Speed of Life by J. M. Kelly
Available in Print.
Amber and Crystal are twin sisters and high school seniors in Oregon. Even though they’re teenagers, they have adult responsibilities. When one of the twins got pregnant during her junior year, Amber and Crystal agreed to raise the baby, Natalie, together. Amber and Crystal don’t have easy lives, but they’ve learned to take care of themselves. They’re broke and busy. Amber washes dishes at her aunt’s tavern, the Glass Slipper, while Crystal works on cars and sells lottery tickets at Jimmy’s Gas and Auto Repair. Amber and Crystal’s gambling mom and beer-swilling stepdad, Gil, aren’t much help, but their friend Han is always willing and able to lend a helping hand.
Despite their difficulties, Amber and Crystal are committed to supporting each other and reaching their goals in life. They have made plans together for life after high school graduation. Amber is going to take over the Glass Slipper and Crystal is going to work full-time at Jimmy’s. The twins are going to move out of their mom’s home and get their own apartment. Above all, they want Natalie to have a better life than they have had.
Life gets in the way of their mutual plans when Crystal gets inspired to study auto restoration at a college far away in Kansas. Crystal — scared of blowing up the sisters’ plans — keeps her college dream a secret from Amber, even while taking practical steps to turn that dream into reality.
Will Crystal abandon her dream of going to college or will Crystal pursue her dream, thus betraying the twins’ plans? Can the sisters get the better future that they want for Natalie and themselves?
Recommended for readers who like: realistic fiction, stories about families, and thinking about their future.
by Gordon Jack
Available in Print.
Someone dressed in the school viking mascot costume is creating havoc – spray painting an unflattering message on the principal’s parking space, vandalizing the homecoming floats. Principal Stone knows it must be Lawrence Barry. Lawrence is always pulling some prank and has no respect for authority. It is only the intervention of the school guidance counselor that keeps Lawrence from being shipped off to Quiet Haven alternative school like his friend Alex after they disrupted the diversity assembly.
To stay in school, Lawrence must join the Buddy Club and mentor Spencer Knudson, a freshman student from Norway. Spencer dresses like an adult in freshly pressed clothes. He carries a violin case and is constantly reading text books. Spencer is going to need a lot of help if he is going to survive high school. At least that’s what Lawrence thinks.
But Lawrence is the last person who should be giving advice even though he thinks he knows what is best for others. If he had listened to Spencer (you know, taken advice instead of giving it), everyone would not believe he is the vandalizing viking.
Still, Lawrence is trying. He is giving up smoking pot (which loses him his old partying friends). He attempts to help his friend ask his dream girl to the homecoming dance. He tries to advise the plain girl who sits in the back of the classroom to reveal more of herself like she does when she is participating in live action role play. Lawrence is also trying to catch the real vandal (he knows it has to be that crazy goth girl Zoe who seems to be stalking him).
Even though you may find yourself scratching your head at Lawrence’s plans and begging him not to go through with them, it is a fun journey.
To Catch a Killer
by Sheryl Scarborough
Available in Print.
Erin’s mother was murdered. And Erin was there when it happened. She was just a toddler and was left in the house for days while her mother’s body lay on the floor in a puddle of her own blood. But Erin survived.
Erin was raised by her mother’s best friend, Rachel, who has always been overly protective. Rachel will not discuss Erin’s mother or what happened. But it doesn’t stop Rachel from wondering. Erin is drawn to forensics like her Uncle Victor whom she has never met. He works for the FBI and has written about his experiences in books that Erin has practically memorized.
Ultimately, Erin wants to solve her mom’s murder, but she can only do so much as a student. She is fortunate to have an encouraging biology teacher, Miss Peters, who helps her dabble in forensic science. Erin was delivering some important materials to Miss P’s house the night she finds her lying dead on the floor. Two dead bodies is too much for one lifetime.
That night Erin saw Journey Michaels near Miss P’s house, too. Erin has been fascinated by Journey for a while, but what if he killed her favorite teacher? Her best friends Spam and Lysa have never understood Erin’s attraction to Journey. They also worry about Erin’s obsession with her mom’s murder case.
So many questions to answer about the two murders with Erin the only obvious connection. There is much to keep the reader guessing, but it is well worth it.