Posted in Guest Post, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

The Worst/Best Day of My Life

guest post by B. Lynn Goodwin author of
Disrupted (Olympia Publishers, January 25, 2024)

“O.M.G. This is the worst day of my life. Bowen gave us double homework in algebra and Diego walked right past my locker as if I was invisible. Probably his head is in his music, but where does that leave me?”

Sixteen-year-old Sandee Mason is living her life one moment at a time and one issue at a time. Sometimes it seems like everything’s a crisis, but when a real earthquake rocks the school while she’s on top of a ladder, she gets a new perspective on what’s vital. Staying alive is vital. Her brother, who was killed by an IED six months earlier, didn’t have the privilege of staying alive. As her parents mourn, she tries to show them that she’s still here and still matters. She tries to make right choices, and some days she succeeds.

If you have a teen in the house or a good memory of your own experiences, if you teach teens or coach them, you know intense and dramatic the teen years can be.

Loss hits teens with the same intensity as returning a promise ring or losing a lead role or having someone else picked as team captain. It’s horrendous. Bone-chilling. A disaster of unequal proportions. Everything shifts and in that moment many teens are filled with the fear that nothing will ever be the same again. Some lash out. Others shut down, and why wouldn’t they? They’re still acquiring coping skills.

One wise solution for teens, or any of us, is to find a person to listen. Fortunately, Sandee cares, and she listens to her friends because someone was there for her when she lost her brother. She offers help when Nicole finally asks for it. Eventually she finds the courage to ask the new boy, Pete, probing questions when his story doesn’t add up, even though she has no idea how big of a loss he’s been through. It’s amazing, but I’m not giving you any spoilers. Suffice it to say that Sandee uses her own creative spirit to take solution-oriented actions.

Loss hurts and it’s something we’ll all relate to sooner or later. Disrupted shows teens how characters cope with their losses, how they recover, and that things are not always as they seem. I’m being deliberately vague about the plot because I’d love to have you click on the link, read about the book, and maybe read the opening for yourself. There you’ll get a first-hand look into how teens cope. Keep reading. Pick up some ammunition for your worst days. It’s so much better than floundering in the dark.

Disrupted is Lynn’s 5th book, and her 2nd for teens. She’s been helping writers with Writer Advice ezine since 1997.

Posted in Award Winners, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Learning not to drown.

Learning not to drown. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014) by Anna Shinoda is such a spooky good read. Gripping. Puzzling. Moving. Hard to put down.

You know right away that something bad has happened, but not what. The book is divided into THEN chapters and NOW chapters.

Seventeen-year-old Clare has let her memories of THEN cloud over and NOW she’s working on focusing on the good memories. But there’s a thing about skeletons in the closet–they won’t stay there.

I don’t want to say too much about this story of a great girl in a dysfunctional family, but her mother made me so angry.

The book was translated into German and received a German Academy of Literature for Children and Young Readers) Book of the Month Award in 2015. Anna doesn’t seem to be active on her website, but you can check it out here. (That may be because she’s married to musician/singer Mike Shinoda.)

Posted in So Many Good Books, YA Novels

The Enigma Game

If you like YA books set in World War II and haven’t read the award winning author Elizabeth Wein, you’re missing out. I just finished the wonderful The Enigma Game (‎Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020). It was fascinating and I learned some new facts too.

Fifteen-year-old British Jamaican Louisa Adair wants to do something to fight the Nazis. Both her parents were killed in the War. But it’s hard simply finding a job. She finally gets one in Scotland, but how can taking care of an elderly German woman accomplish anything for the war efforts?

We also meet Ellen McEwen, a volunteer driver with the Royal Air Force, and Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, a flight leader for the 648 Squadron, and read about their struggles. The three get involved together because of an Enigma machine.

I love the elements of music in this book. And the fact that we meet some characters who often aren’t mentioned positively in books from the time period.

If you’ve read Code Name Verity, you’ve met Jamie before.

Read about the author here and check out her other books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Two Books – Same Theme

As a kid I was horrified to learn about Nazi Germany and the holocaust. How could people think like that?! My naive self thought antisemitism would disappear. And, of course, so would Nazis. Unfortunately not. Here are two books to help middle grade and young adult readers with these topics. Both are told in multiple points of view.

Linked (Scholastic Press, 2021) by Gordon Korman deals with what happens when a student paints a swastika on the school walls. Meet Michael, Lincoln, and Dana all struggling with the aftermath in their quiet town. Who did it and why? (mg novel)

The Assignment (Ember, 2020) by Liza Wiemer starts out with the good intentions of a teacher wanting his students to understand how horrific the genocide of the Jews was, but his approach is wrong and two students–best friends Logan and Cade–take on the battle to get the assignment canceled. (YA novel)

Both stories have surprising twists and are thought provoking.

Gordon Korman is a many-times-published author. On his website this time, I learned his first book was published when he was fourteen!

The Assignment is Liza Wiermer’s second novel and has won numerous honors. Check it out here. Read about Lisa here.

Posted in So Many Good Books, YA Novels


Winterwood (Simon Pulse, 2019) is another winner by Shea Ernshaw the author of The Wicked Deep.

Each month at full moonrise, Nora Walker enters the woods in search of lost things. “The things that are lost at Jackjaw Lake in summers past are once again found in the woods. Appearing as if the forest is giving them back.” But she never expected to find a body.

I found this spooky romantic book unputdownable. There’s a fun trailer on the author’s website for this book.

Read about NY Times bestselling author Shea and her other books here. I’ve got more books to read! 🙂