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.)
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.
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.
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! 🙂
Don’t Get Caught (Sourcebooks Fire, 2016) by Kurt Dinan was a compelling read.
When Max gets a note from the prank pulling Chaos Club to show up at the school at 10 pm, he’s suspicious why they chose him. But since he’s tired of being “Just Max,” he shows up. Along with four others who get busted by the campus “cop” and blamed for the graffiti they found. Max and his newfound friends decide to get payback.
I loved Max’s voice, the humor, how characters changed, and the heist movie references.
You can get a bit of the author’s sense of humor by reading his bio. I hope we see more books from Kurt.