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Acheson, Alison. Mud Girl. Regina, SK Cotteau Books, 2006.
Sixteen-year-old Abi is stuck at home. Her mother has disappeared and her father is too depressed to get out of his chair. Abi gets herself a job. And then a boyfriend, a young man in his twenties who has a young son. Should she follow this new romance or should she follow her best friend’s advice and start making her own plans for the future? For mature readers in grade eight and up. [Fathers and daughters; Single-parent families; Work; British Columbia; Young adult fiction]

Bauer, Joan. Best Foot Forward. New York : Putnam, 2005.
Jenna is busy running between school, Al-Anon meetings, and her job at a shoe store.  And life becomes more complicated when her boss, Mrs. Gladstone, hires another teenager: a boy on probation. Who can you trust in life? Can people really change? Readers in grades eight to ten will enjoy this humourous novel with a bit of romance and a lot of angst. [Stores; Old age; Shoplifting; Family problems; Work; Ethics]

Hope was Here

Bauer, Joan. Hope Was Here. New York: Speak, 2000.
Hope reluctantly leaves New York City to move to a small town in Wisconsin when her aunt gets a job running the local diner. Hope is a waitress and used to thinking on her feet, but she faces a lot more surprises than she expected when the diner’s owner decides to run for election against a corrupt mayor. Recommended for readers 13 to 16 years old. [Wisconsin; Aunts; Friendship; Cancer; Moving (Household); Waiters and waitresses; Newbery medal books; Young adult fiction]



Bauer, Joan. Peeled. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008.
Sixteen-year-old Hildy enjoys being a reporter for her high school newspaper. But enjoyment turns to anxiety when she discovers there may be more than ghosts causing the strange stories about an old derelict house. What will she discover in her determination to find the truth? A suspenseful yet thoughtful novel, full of realistic details about apple farms, for readers in grade seven and up. [Reporters and reporting; Journalism; Schools; Farm life; Haunted houses; Perseverance (Ethics); Fear; Cousins; Fathers and daughters; New York (State)]


The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks of Gardam Street. New York: Alfred A. Knopf 2008.
The four sisters are aghast when they suspect their widowed father has started dating someone. And so they make all sorts of crazy plans to put an end to any romance. A happy story for nine to twelve year olds who have enjoyed The Moffats by Eleanor Estes.  [Massachusetts; Sisters; Fathers and daughters; Single-parent family; Family life; Humorous stories]

Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre.
Jane, an orphan in 19th-century England, grows up unwanted and unloved until she turns eighteen, takes a position as a governess and falls in love with the master of the house.

Chat Room

Butcher, Kristin. Chat Room. Victoria: Orca, 2006.
Linda discover there is fun online when she starts spending time on an internet chat room. But she soon discovers some problems, as well. This short Orca Soundings novel is likely to be enjoyed by readers twelve to fifteen years old.  Contains some swearing.  [Friendship; Secrets; Internet (Computer network); Canada; Letter writing; Schools; Young adult fiction]

Clements, Andrew. Things Not Seen. New York: Philomel Books, 2002.
Fifteen-year-old Bobby wakes up, he is invisible. And the only person who can’t tell is, Alicia, who is blind. Together, they try to discover what has caused his new condition and what can be done to reverse it.  This well-paced novel, the first in a trilogy, is sure to be enjoyed by readers twelve years old and up. [Blindness; Science fiction; Faith; Friendship; Fear; Parent and teenager; Love]

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. 
Sixteen-year-old Katniss takes her sister’s place in an annual game in which only the winner survives. The first in a trilogy, set in a dystopian future, this novel-turned-movie will be popular among readers who enjoy reality television shows. [Science fiction; Loyalty; Friendship; Survival; Love; Young adult fiction]

Condie, Ally. Matched. New York: Dutton Books, 2010.
Cassia always trusted that the Society would make wise decisions about her future. But everything changes when she begins to doubt the Society’s decision regarding her ideal mate. This relatively long novel, the first in a trilogy, will be enjoyed by readers 12 to 16 years old. [Science fiction; Marriage; Secrets; Self-identity; Young adult fiction.]

Cuevas, Michelle. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016.
A lonely man lives his life by the sea, faithfully watching for letters to deliver. Messages that almost always deliver joy to the recipients. Will there never be a message for him? This poignant tale of hope – softly illustrated by Erin E. Stead – will appeal to gentle reflective readers 8 years old and up. [Friendship, Letters, Oceans]

Dessin, Sarah. The Truth about Forever. New York: Viking, 2004.
“The summer following her father’s death, Macy plans to work at the library and wait for her brainy boyfriend to return from camp, but instead she goes to work at a catering business where she makes new friends and finally faces her grief.” – CIP  If this story were food, it would be salty potato chips: easily eaten but a lot of calories for absolutely no nutrition. But for teenagers looking for a novel in which everything quickly turns out miraculously well for the main character, I can recommend this novel. There are the usual vulgarities and drinking parties. There is the usual contemptuous attitude that tries to hide itself with self-pity.  And the writing is banal. But there are 374 pages to consume, mindlessly. [Caterers and catering; Dating (social customs); Death; Family life; Grief; Libraries; Mothers and daughters; Sisters; Summer; Teenagers]

 Oy, Joy

Frank, Lucy. Oy, Joy!  New York: DK Publishing, 1999.
Fourteen-year-old Joy copes with her uncle’s effort at matchmaking by arranging a romance for him with a widow who lives nearby.  [New York City; Family life; Uncles; Friendship; Humorous stories; Brothers and sisters; Love]

Friesen, Gayle. Janey’s Girl. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1998.
Janey discovers a father she’s never known and develops a romance with a boy she’s just met when her mother takes her to visit her grandparents in a small town in B.C. A popular novel among 12 to 15 year olds.
“…gripping novel about Claire, a fourteen-year-old girl, who travels across Canada with her mom to visit her grandmother. Their trip unlocks secrets that Claire didn’t even know existed. She is faced with a dilemma: should she figure out the mysteries of her family’s past or should she just ignore them? Throughout the novel Claire discoveries both tragic and incredible things while she’s in the town where her mom grew up, the town where all the secrets started and where they have been hidden. This is a fantastic book and it’s very addicting. I definitely recommend it.” (Anna in grade eight)
[Divorce; British Columbia; Mothers and daughters; Fathers and daughters; Grandparents; Hospitals; Secrets; Young adult fiction]

Friesen, Gayle. Losing Forever. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2002.
…The main character, Jes, who alternates between living in a city with her mother and at a lake front called Myra with her father, faces a dilemma: her mother is getting married to a new man. There are many complications. Her mother’s fiance’s perfect daughter moves into her bedroom. Her best friend would rather spend time with her boyfriend than with her. And she and her male best friend are starting to like each other in a whole new way, but Jes is to afraid to admit it in case it ruins their friendship.  I can tell you that this is one of the most compelling novels that I have read in a long time. I would read this book over and over again. If you, too, like tragic books, this is the novel for you. (Melissa in grade eight) [Weddings; Stepfamilies; Divorce; Family life; Canada; Self-perception]

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Genevieve’s War. New York: Holiday House, 2017.
August of 1939. Summer is over. Time to leave France and go home to America. But thirteen-year-old Genevieve decides – at the last moment – to stay with her grandmother in the small Alsatian village rather than return to New York. Mere months later, Nazi soldiers arrive and life changes.
This story is among the best of Giff’s many novels. Who are your friends? Whom can you trust? For whom will you risk your life? All these questions are quietly and skillfully addressed in a compelling novel for readers 11 years old and up. [Courage; France; Grandmothers; World War, 1939-1945; Self-reliance; Underground movements]

Holubitsky, Katherine. Alone at Ninety Foot. Victoria, B.C. : Orca Books, 1999.
Winner of numerous awards including the Young Adult Canadian Book Award and the ALA Best Book for Young adults, this realistic novel describing the problems faced by fourteen-year-old Pamela after her mother dies and her father gets a girlfriend will be appreciated by readers in 12 to 15 years old.  [Vancouver, (B.C.); Grief; Mothers and daughters; Alcohol; Single-parent families; Peer pressure; Suicide; Bullying; City life; Schools; Friendship]

Otter and Odder

 Howe, James. Otter and Odder. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2012.
When Otter falls in love with his food source, a fish named Myrtle, he must decide whether to follow the way of the otter or the way of his heart.” – CIP. A cheerful picture book for all ages.

Going Over


Kephart, Beth. Going Over. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2014.
“In the early 1980s Ada and Stefan are young, would-be lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall–Ada lives with her mother and grandmother and paints graffiti on the Wall, and Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East and dreams of escaping to the West.” – CIP. Recommended for readers in grade 8 to 10. [Berlin; Germany; Graffiti; Historical fiction; Love stories; Young adult]


Kephart, Beth. Nothing But Ghosts. HarperTeen, 2009.
Sixteen-year-old Katie grieves the death of her mother, uncovers a mystery and acquires a boyfriend while working as a gardener on the estate of a recluse who has not been seen for decades. (Fathers and daughters; Grief; Gardening; Librarians; Mothers; Art; Summer; Secrets; Research; Painting; Young adult fiction)

Kling, Heidi R. Sea. New York: G. P. Putnam, 2010.
Fifteen-year-old Sienna accompanies her father on a trip to Indonesia to work with relief workers helping victims of a tsunami.  She has no idea that the people she meets will change her life forever. Teen readers who enjoyed Alexandria of Africa by Eric Walters are likely to find this novel, with added romance, even more enjoyable. In both novels, the main characters are typical self-absorbed teenagers who unwillingly leave California to discover the wider world.  [Tsunamis; Natural disasters; Indonesia; Orphans; Grief; Love; Humanitarianism]

Knight, Mary. Saving Wonder. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016.
Twelve-year-old Curley Hines lives in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Most of his relatives have died, his father in a coal mining accident and his mother and younger brother in a mud slide caused by the mine. So now he lives with his grandfather who – every week – gives him a new word to learn: 26 letters x 2 = 52 weeks and 52 new words every year.
Right from the first sentence, this debut novel is full of the joy of life: love, hope, and determination. And the power of words! Which is exactly what Curley needs to use when the mine announces their plans to blow the top of Red Hawk Mountain. Coal is needed and a new mine manager is resolute in his decision to expand operations. Curley and his best friend Jules – with the help with her new boyfriend, the mine manager’s son –  get together to oppose the destruction of their beloved home.
Each chapter in the story emphasizes one of Curley’s words and ends with a definition. The humour in the format is delightful and never feels overbearing or didactic, probably because of Curley’s spunk and his grandfather’s loving wisdom. This novel is highly recommended for readers 10 to 14 years old. [Appalachian Region; Coal mines and mining; Environmentalism; Friendship; Grandfathers; Kentucky; Orphans] 


Picture 2

Kuipers, Alice. Life on the Refrigerator Door: a Novel in Notes. Toronto: HarperPerennial, 2009, c2007.
“A single mother and her fifteen-year-old daughter communicate and cope with life’s joys and tragedies through notes posted on a refrigerator.” – CIP A compulsively readable novel, quick yet powerful, for readers 11-years-old and up. [Cancer;  Divorce; Dating (Social customs); Mothers and daughters; Teenagers]

Lear, Edward. The Owl and the Pussycat. London: Puffin, 2014.
This lusciously nonsensical poem was first published in 1871. Charlotte Voake beautifully illustrates it in pen and ink and watercolour. The layout of the pages and the size and style of the font enhance the romantic mood. Highly recommended for all ages.

Lord, Cynthia. Rules. New York: Scholastic, 2006.
Twelve-year-old Catherine loves her autistic brother but also wants time to be a regular fun-loving girl with time to herself. A memorable novel, full of quiet humour, for ten to thirteen year olds. [Autism; Friendship; Paraplegics; Self-acceptance; Brothers and sisters]


McIntyre, R.P.  Apart. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2007.
Sixteen-year-old Jessica, desperate to find her father who has unexpectedly disappeared, puts an advertisement in the Globe and Mail newspaper. Seventeen-year-old Sween writes back and a friendship develops. Instead of finding her father, has she found someone else who will love her?  [New Brunswick; Mothers and daughters; Letters; Family life; Friendship; Young adult fiction]

Franny Parker

McKinnon, Hannah Roberts. Franny Parker. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2009. 

“Through a hot, dry Oklahoma summer, twelve-year-old Franny tends wild animals brought by her neighbors, hears gossip during a weekly quilting bee, befriends a new neighbor who has some big secrets, and learns to hope.” – FVRL. A wonderful story of first love for readers 11 to 14 years old. [Artists; Coming of age; Droughts; Family life; Family violence; Farm life; Friendship; Neighbors; Wildlife rescue]

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Alice In Rapture, Sort Of. Toronto: Aladdin Mix, 2007.
Are you looking for a good summer saga book? Then check out Alice in Rapture, Sort Of. It is one of the twenty-five books in the Alice series written by Phyllis Reynold Naylor. The novel opens during “the summer of the first boyfriend”, as Alice’s father calls it: the summer between grade school and junior high. Alice’s many friends have told her what she has to do to be successful in junior high: have a boyfriend or you won’t have any social life. Luckily, Alice has Patrick. Even better, her two best friends, Pamela and Elizabeth, also have boyfriends. Meanwhile, Alice is having a great summer. There are ball games in the park, bike riding down the street, babysitting little kids. She spends lots of time sitting on the porch with Patrick and talking, sometimes eating chocolates and sometimes kissing. But life is not all a fairytale. There are problems. How do you make yourself look and feel beautiful when you don’t feel that way? How do you act with a boyfriend around? And most of all, how do you live without a mother in your life to tell you what to do? Alice is sure she needs a manual of instructions. Through triumphs and disasters at the beach, through dinner with Patrick, through moments of terrible embarrassment and discouraging attempts to sort out what having a boyfriend is all about, and through surprising thoughts and decisions, Alice persists in being just Alice, a girl who wants to be like other girls but doesn’t know quiet how to act herself. So read Alice in Rapture, Sort Of to find out about life and friendship. (Dana-lee in gr. 7) Click here to see the entire list in the Alice series.

Yellow Line

Olsen, Sylvia.  Yellow Line. Victoria: Orca, 2005.
In Vince’s small town, the First Nations people and the white people don’t mix. Not until Vince starts dating a girl from the reserve. And everyone seems determined to separate them. A short but powerful ‘Orca Soundings’ novel for readers in grades 8 through 12.  [Bullying; Racism; Prejudice; Courage; First Nations; Love; Canada; Peer pressure; Young adult fiction]

Olsen, Sylvia. Middle Row. Victoria: Orca, 2008. 
Vince and Raedawn are still dating, despite opposition. Together, they try to find a classmate, Dune, who has mysteriously disappeared. Once again, they battle prejudice and ignorance in this compelling sequel to ‘The Yellow Line’. [Drug trade; Prejudice; Courage; First Nations; Dating (Social customs); Canada; Family life; Young adult fiction]

Paulsen, Gary. Crush: The Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Love. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2012.
“Afraid to actually ask Tina Zabinski for a date, eighth-grader Kevin spends most of his time theorizing about love and romance and observing and analyzing male/female interaction.” – CIP. A short comedy for readers 11 to 14 years old. 

Pierre in Love
Pennypacker, Sara. Pierre in Love. New York: Orchard Books, 2007.
“Feeling ‘bloopy and love-swoggled’ in the presence of Catherine, the elegant ballet teacher, a humble fisherman tries to muster the courage to reveal his affection for her.” – CIP. A cheerful picture book for all ages.

Perkins, Lynne Rae. Criss Cross. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2005.
Teenagers in a small American town in the 1960s experience the surprise of changing friendships during a long hot summer full of shyness and misunderstandings. [Summer; Friendship; Love; Self-perception; Newbery Medal; Historical fiction]

Secret Keeper

Perkins, Mitali. Secret Keeper.  New York: Delacorte Press, 2009.
When her father moves to New York to find work, sixteen-year-old Ashi, along with her older sister and her mother, leave their home in New Delhi and move in with relatives in Calcutta. The new irritating restrictions are expected to be temporary.  Soon they will join Ashi’s father in America.  But when the household receives news that he has died in an accident, the future seems bleak. What will happen to them?   Set in 1974, this novel of cultural conflict and class distinctions will appeal to readers 12 to 16 years old.  [India; Historical fiction; Sisters; Marriage; Sex role; Family life; Cousins; Secrets; Perseverance (Ethics); Courage; Individuality; Love]

 Life as We Knew It

Pfeffer, Susan. Life As We Knew It. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006.
Sixteen-year-old Miranda writes in her diary about what happens to her family after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This first in a trilogy, winner of multiple awards and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, will be enjoyed by readers twelve years old and up. [Natural disasters; Science fiction; Survival; Single-parent families; Faith; Diaries; Young adult fiction]

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Reiss, Kathryn. Blackthorn Winter. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006.
Fifteen-year-old Juliana thinks that her mother has taken her and her siblings on holiday when they leave California and travel to a small town in southwest England. But she soon discovers her parents have separated and her mother plans to stay in the small artists’ colony. Life becomes even more complicated when she gets involved with a new boyfriend who tries to help her solve a murder. A action-packed novel sure to be enjoyed by readers in grades seven to ten. [Murder; Artists; Family life; Mystery and detective stories; Young adult fiction]

Bride's Farewell

Rosoff, Meg. The Bride’s Farewell. Doubleday Canada, 2009.
Pell Ridley runs away the morning she is to be married, taking only her white horse. But her little brother who never speaks is determined to come along and the two set off for Salisbury Fair, hoping to find work and a new life far away from the abuse and poverty of their childhood. However, life in 19th century England is full of suspicion and deviousness. Will Pell ever find someone who loves her? Will she ever find a place she belongs? (England; Historical fiction; Child abuse; Marriage; Runaways; Brothers and sisters)

Schlitz, Laura Amy. The Hired Girl. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2015.
“Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself – because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of – a woman with a future.” – FVRL. A marvellous 387-page novel for romantic readers 12 years old and up. [Baltimore (Md.); Diaries; Historical fiction; Jewish families; Maryland; Runaways; Servants]

Schmidt, Okay for Now. Boston: Clarion Books, 2011.
Fourteen-year-old Doug makes a new friend, Lil, when he starts spending time at the local library, the only place he feels safe from his brother, a Vietnam veteran, and from his abusive father. [Drawing, Fathers and sons; Vietnam War; Violence; Libraries; Friendship; Family life; Schools; Moving (Household); Child abuse]

Singer, Nicky. Gem X. New York: Holiday House, 2006.
Sixteen-year-old Max discovers some cracks in his face. Too late, he discovers that his father has made him the subject of a scientific experiment to prevent aging. But the programme isn’t working and now everything seems to be falling apart.  [Science fiction; Genetic engineering; Dictators; Self-acceptance; Family life; Trust; Young adult fiction]

Smith, Dodie. I Capture the Castle. New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks c1948, 1976.
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives with her father, her stepmother, her sister and brother in a decrepit castle in England. Her family wants to marry her off to a rich man, any rich man, who can save the family’s fortunes. But should she follow her family’s sensible advice or her own heart?  A satisfying love story for readers twelve years old and up. [England; Historical fiction; Family life; Eccentric and eccentricities; Castles; Love; Diaries]

Goodbye Stranger

Stead, Rebecca. Goodbye Stranger. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2015.

“As Bridge makes her way through seventh grade on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her best friends, curvacious Em, crusader Tab, and a curious new friend–or more than friend–Sherm, she finds the answer she has been seeking since she barely survived an accident at age eight: ‘What is my purpose?'” – CIP. Another great novel about friendship and love and forgiveness by a Newbery Medal winner. Recommended for readers 12 to 15 years old. [Famly life; Forgiveness; Friendship; Love; New York (City); Schools]

The Lily Pond

Thor, Annika. The Lily Pond. New York : Delacorte Press, 2011.

“Having left Nazi-occupied Vienna a year ago, thirteen-year-old Jewish refugee Stephie Steiner adapts to life in the cultured Swedish city of Gothenburg, where she attends school, falls in love, and worries about her parents who were not allowed to emigrate.” – CIP. This sequel to A Faraway Island  is recommended for readers who enjoy a bit of romance. [Jews; Foster children; Friendship; School stories; Historical fiction; Refugees; WW2; Loneliness]

Forged in the Fire

Turnbull, Ann. Forged in the Fire. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press 2007.
In this sequel to No Shame, No Fear, Susanna and William move to London where they face new challenges. [Historical fiction; Plague; England; Love; Marriage; Middle Ages; Renaissance; Quakers; Faith; Young adult fiction]

No Shame, No Fear

Turnbull, Ann. No Shame, No Fear. Cambridge, MA Candlewick Press 2003.
Fifteen-year-old Susanna, a poor Quaker, and seventeen-year-old William, a wealthy Anglican, meet and fall in love, much to the dismay of their parents. [Historical fiction; England; Love; Marriage; Middle Ages; Renaissance; Quakers; Faith; Young adult fiction]

Venkatraman, Padma. Climbing the Stairs. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008.
Fifteen-year-old Vidya, her older brother and her parents move to the home of her paternal grandfather after her father is severely beaten during a non-violent demonstration in 1941 India.  Instead of looking forward to someday attending college, she now has to face a life of servitude. This compelling young adult novel sensitively portrays different interpretations of the Hindu caste system, India’s struggle for independence and the complications of World War II. (India; WW 2; Historical fiction; Sex role; Hinduism; Family life; Brain damage; Prejudice; Love; Marriage; Jews; Courage; Guilt; Young adult fiction)

Seventeen Against the Dealer

Voigt, Cynthia. Seventeen Against the Dealer. New York: Simon Pulse, 1989.
Twenty-one-year-old Dicey has to make a decision about her future: should she marry her boyfriend Jeff or should she pursue her career as a boat builder? If she waits, will the right answer come to her?  It doesn’t matter how long she waits, her grandmother tells her, life is never settled. There will always be decisions to be made and we can never know the outcome ahead of time. This seventh novel in the ‘Tillerman Cycle’ will be appreciated by readers in grades seven to twelve. [Maryland; Entrepeneurs; Boats and boatbuilding; Grandmothers; Young adult fiction]

black and white

Walters, Eric. Black and White. Toronto: Puffin, 2009.
Thomas likes to play basketball. He likes to watch basketball. And when he stays after school to watch the girls’ team play, he notices one player in particular. Her basketball skills are incredible!  But as they become friends, a problem arises: neither of their parents want them to start dating. No one at school seems to approve of their romance either.  [Friendship; Basketball; Schools; Faith; Racism; Young adult fiction]

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