2013 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

View all Recommendations by Subjects > Reluctant readers book lists; This list was last updated on 7/22/2014
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This top 10 list was complied by ALA

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1 - 11 of 11 results
release date: Feb 07, 2013
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Beneath a Meth Moon
Hurricane Katrina took her mother and granmother. And even though Laurel Daneau has moves on to a new life--one that includes a new best friend, a spot on the cheerleading squad, and dating the co-captain of the football team--she can't get past the pain of that loss. Then her new boyfriend introduces her to meth, and Laurel is instantly seduced by its spell, the way it erases, even if only temporarily, her memories. Soon Laurel is completely hooked, a shell of her former self, desperate to be whole again, but lacking the strength to break free. But with the help of a new friend--and the loyalty of an old one--she is able to rewrite her own story and move on with her own life.

Dreamlike in quality and weaving flashbacks to the hurricane in with Laurel's present-day struggles, this is a stunning novel that readers won't want to miss.
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Unchained
Sometimes we find ourselves on a gravel road, not sure of how we got there or where the road leads. Sharp stones pellet the unprotected, and the everyday wear and tear sears more deeply.

After two years in a loving home, TJ's mother got him back. She was clean. No pot. No meth. His chest felt like it was burning. His heart was racing. Trapped. He felt trapped. He didn't have a say. Everything he had come to care about would be gone: Miss Dixie, hot meals, friends, Mae's little hand, and Annabelle. And the brutal life he'd escaped quickly reclaimed him. Kaden Cruz didn't run after him. Instead his voice boomed, You owe us.; TJ didn't look back. But he knew this wasn't the end of Kaden Cruz. He could still hear his father's voice. It's not free. You'll have to pay them back one day.

release date: Jun 19, 2012
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This Is Not a Test

It's the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won't stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn't sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she's failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she's forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group's fate is determined less and less by what's happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life―and death―inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

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The Pregnancy Project
When Gaby faked a pregnancy to challenge stereotypes, she also changed her life. A compelling memoir from an inspirational teenage activist.

Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider's perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn't include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others' expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby's high school senior project: faking her own pregnancy to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever—and made international headlines in the process.

In The Pregnancy Project, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend's parents—and reveals all that she learned from the experience. But more than that, Gaby's story is about fighting stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.
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Ten

From Possess author Gretchen McNeil comes this teen horror novel inspired by Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Perfect for fans of Christopher Pike's Chain Letter and Lois Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer, Ten will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page!

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie are looking forward to two days of boys, booze, and fun-filled luxury. But what starts out as fun turns twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. And things only get worse from there.

With a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the outside world . . . so when a mysterious killer begins picking them off one by one, there's no escape. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on one another, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

release date: Apr 01, 2012
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Vietnam #2: Sharpshooter
Of all his friends, Ivan is the only one looking forward to war.

That's because Ivan has never backed down from a fight--especially when it comes to fighting for what's right. He has protected his friends from bullies for years. And now, as war erupts in Vietnam, Ivan wants nothing more than to fight for his country, just as his father did in World War II.

Enlisting in the United States Army, Ivan is trained to be a sniper. And he's good at it. Very good. But Vietnam is not the war he was expecting. Somehow the glory and heroism of his father's war stories do not come so easily in the jungle.

Now, for the first time, Ivan is forced to question what he's really fighting for... and whether it's a fight he can hope to win.
 
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I Pledge Allegiance
"The best Vietnam War novels yet for this age range." - KIRKUS REVIEWS

Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck are best friends for life. So when one of them is drafted into the Vietnam War, the others sign up, too - each with a different branch of the US military.

Morris joins the US Navy, and he makes it his personal mission to watch over his friends from the USS Boston. But the Boston itself isn't safe from attack. And although Morris means to keep his friends safe, he may have his hands full just watching out for himself.
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I Hunt Killers
It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field.
Except for the body.

Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, "Take Your Son to Work Day" was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminals' point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo's Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn't run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

From acclaimed author Barry Lyga comes a riveting thriller about a teenager trying to control his own destiny in the face of overwhelming odds.
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The Night She Disappeared

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part-time as a delivery girl at Pete's Pizza. One night, Kayla―another delivery girl―goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working.

Gabie can't move beyond the fact that Kayla's fate was really meant for her. She becomes obsessed with finding Kayla and teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete's. Together they set out to prove that Kayla isn't dead―and hopefully to find her before she is―in The Night She Disappeared by April Henry.

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My Friend Dahmer
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
2013 ALA/YALSA Alex Award
2014 Revelation Award at Angoulême
2015 ALA/YALSA Alex Award (Excellence in Narrative Nonfiction)
 
You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, "Jeff" was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.
 
Also available by Derf Backderf, Trashed.


Praise for My Friend Dahmer:

"The tone is sympathetic and enraged ('Where were the damn adults?'), while not excusing or making the story unduly fascinating. Backderf's writing is impeccably honest in not exculpating his own misdeeds . . . and quietly horrifying. A small, dark classic." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)?

"One of the best graphic novels I've read this year." -- USA Today's PopCandy

"One of the most thought-provoking comics released in a long time." -- Slate.com?

"Carefully researched and sourced with ample back matter, Backderf's tragic chronicle of what shouldn't have been is a real butt-kicker for educators and youth counselors as well as peers of other potential Dahmers. Highly recommended for professionals as well as true crime readers." —Library Journal

"This isnt a cautionary tale. Its insight sharedinsight arriving too late to save Dahmers victims, let alone Jeff himself, but perhaps soon enough to remind both teens and their caretakers that questioning peculiar behavior might be a better tack than ignoring or exploiting it." -- School Library Journal?

"Fortunately, cartoonist Derf Backderf isn't one to avoid the troubling, even terrifying, truths that lurk in the dark recesses of that notorious serial killer's early lifeand modern American life itself." -- Foreword Reviews

"A powerful, unsettling use of the graphic medium to share a profoundly disturbing story. . . . An exemplary demonstration of the transformative possibilities of graphic narrative." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Masterful. . . a rich tale full of complexity and sensitivity . . . There's something about Dahmer's life and crimes that seems almost crafted for treatment in the murky world of comix. Yet it's empathy and nuance, not gore, that put My Friend Dahmer alongside Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and David Small's Stitches in the annals of illustrated literature." —Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A new classic of the graphic novel genre. . . . A moving book that qualifies as one of the great graphic novels, a work of art." —Creative Loafing

"A well-told, powerful story. Backderf is quite skilled in using comics to tell this tale of a truly weird and sinister 1970s adolescent world."?—R. Crumb?

"Anyone who opens My Friend Dahmer to satisfy a morbid curiosity, and likewise anyone who expects to find no more than a cynical publishing venture here, is bound for disappointment. It is a horrifying read, yes, not so much for what it reveals about the sad early (and inevitably terrible) life of Jeffrey Dahmer, but because of what it reveals about the bland emotional landscape of Middle America, in this vision a petri dish for psychoses in many degrees and forms.?Backderf's odd stylization, with figures that look like organic robots, is a perfect vehicle for this conception. His graphic approach is grotesque, droll, and it rags on reality as masses of kids knew and still know it.?Lots of books exist about the agonies and cruelty of the adolescent high school experience, but few so compellingly bring us straight into that soulless environment, showing the ways it can shelter, allow to burgeon, and, at the same time, be completely blind to real madness.?It wasn't easy reading this book, but I'm glad I did."?—David Small, author and illustrator of Stitches, a National Book Award finalist and #1 New York Times bestseller

"Stunning. Horrifying. Beautifully done."?—Alison Bechdel, author and illustrator of Fun Home, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist

"My Friend Dahmer is a brilliant graphic novel and surely ranks among the very best of the form. Like Alison Bechdel'sFun Home, the book plumbs a dark autobiographical mystery, trying in retrospect to understand actions and motivations to piece together the makings of a tragedy. Like Charles Burns's Black Hole, it's a starkly etched portrait of the horror of high school in the 1970s. Comparisons aside, My Friend Dahmer is entirely original, boldly and beautifully drawn, and full of nuance and complexity and even a strange tenderness. Out of the sordid and grotesque details of Dahmer's life, Derf has fashioned a moving and complex literary work of art."?—Dan Chaon, award-winning author of Among the Missing and You Remind Me of Me

"Just when you think you know all there is to know about Jeffrey Dahmer— one of the most notorious criminals of the past century—along comes My Friend Dahmer, which adds significantly to our understanding of this rare form of psychopathology. The graphic novel format helps the reader appreciate the adolescent mind-set of Dahmer's high school classmates. Although none of those who grew up with Dahmer expected to hear what they learned on July 22, 1991, when he was caught, no one was really surprised, either.?This unique book allows the reader to listen in on the fascinating reminiscences of those who watched the developing mind of a future serial killer."?—Louis B. Schlesinger, PhD, Professor of Forensic Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

"It'd be so easy to pigeonhole and think that the reason you can't stop reading My Friend Dahmer is because it offers a voyeuristic peek inside the monster. And it does. But as it turns its self-aware eye on the boy who doesn't belong, the real magic trick is how equally hateful and sad you feel for the monster himself. This one's still haunting me."?—Brad Meltzer, author of Identity Crisis and The Inner Circle, a #1 New York Times bestseller??

"As someone who walked the halls of Revere High School with both Backderf and Dahmer and was there from the beginning, I am astounded by the accuracy and truthfulness of this portrait. I know of no other work that so clearly shows the teenage days of an American monster, long before the rest of the world heard of him. Mesmerizing."?—Mike Kukral, PhD, Revere High School class of 1978, Professor of Geography, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, author of Prague 1989: Theater of Revolution

"If you want to read a heavy story about a disturbing teenager, My Friend Dahmer will certainly quench your dark little desires. But this book is about a lot of other things that matter much, much more: the institutionalized weirdness of the suburban seventies, what it means to be friends with someone you don't really like, a cogent explanation as to why terrible things happen, and a means for feeling sympathy toward those who don't seem to deserve it."?—Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto?and The Visible Man

"A solid job. Putrid serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's origins are explored in this fine book. Dig it—it'll hang you out to dry."?—James Ellroy, author of My Dark Places and L.A. Confidential
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