2010 Nominee Reviews

Find out more about the 15 amazing books on the 2010 shortlist.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Kyra is fourteen and has one father, three mothers, and twenty siblings.  Her family structure is not at all unusual in her community, which is a polygamous cult run by the Prophet Childs.  Kyra loves her family and tries hard to follow the rules of her community, but she doesn’t always succeed.  Despite the fact that most books are prohibited, Kyra often sneaks out to meet the bookmobile where she checks out and reads many forbidden books.

Dating is also not allowed for Kyra, but she breaks this rule too.  Kyra has formed a secret relationship with a boy her age named Joshua, who hopes one day to marry her.  However, Kyra’s dreams are destroyed when Prophet Childs announces that she will become the seventh wife of her 60 year old uncle.  Although Kyra and Joshua both try to fight this decision, Prophet Childs will not change his mind.  Kyra must now choose between a life of misery or escaping the cult.  If she escapes, the family she loves will be punished for her actions.

The Chosen One is an exciting book that will leave you in shock of the atrocities that occur in Kyra’s polygamous cult and hoping for her escape.  It’s a fun and fast read that will get your heart racing with every turn of the page.

Posted by: Emily on February 23, 2010

Response by Paul Volponi

Noah and his two buddies started the night planning to steal a car.  Noah’s girlfriend has been riding him pretty hard about coming up with more money to help out with their baby girl, and when his friends invite him along for the ride, he figures it’s a quick way out.  Instead of stealing from their neighbors in almost all-black East Franklin, the boys head over to white, Italian Hillsboro.

The guys back out of their plan, and decide to go for pizza at a Hillsboro joint before heading home to East Franklin.  Where they meet three white boys, who are pretty intent on keeping their home turf free of East Franklin trash.  A fight breaks out, Noah trips, is left behind, and ends up with a fractured skull after a brutal encounter with one of the white boys’ baseball bat.

There is no question of Hillsboro boys’ guilt – Noah’s shoes, diamond earring, and blood are found in the van they drove away.  But what really happened that night?  Were the Hillsboro boys protecting their neighborhood from thugs trying to steal a car?  Or was Noah a victim of a racially motivated hate crime, viciously attacked and beaten for no other reason than the color of his skin?

As Noah heals and the trial begins, he finds himself in the middle of a firestorm of hate, prejudice, class division, and family crisis.  Response is a stark, brutal look at a sharply segregated community and one young man’s struggle to stay strong and break free.

Posted by: Megan on February 18, 2010

Burn by Suzanne Phillips

Cameron has been bullied all his life.  When Cameron was a child, his father was abusive toward his mother, his brother, and him.  Now, even though his father is out of his life, Cameron faces bullies every day at school.  As a friendless freshman, who hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet, his day centers around just avoiding getting beaten up by upper-classmen jocks.  Cameron’s grades and relationships with his family are suffering because of the abuse he endures.

The bullies go too far one day when they assault Cameron in the locker room before gym class and post a video of the assault online for all of the school to see.  The abuse is finally too much for Cameron to endure and he snaps, leaving a path of devastation behind him.

Burn is a psychological thriller and a page-turner that creates a realistic and sympathetic portrait of a teen being tortured physically and emotionally by his peers.  This intense book gives readers a clear insider’s view of what it’s like to be a victim of bullying and leaves them thinking about the real effects of bullying on victims and society.

Posted by: Emily on February 16, 2010

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Set in a world filled with “noise,” Todd is constantly bombarded by the thoughts of men.  Todd lives in a secluded community of only men, the women have all died from a mysterious disease that has given men the ability to hear each other’s thoughts.  Or so Todd has been told.  When Todd meets Viola, a girl his age, alone in the swamp, he begins to question everything he knows. Where did Viola come from?  Why hasn’t she been infected? Why can’t he hear her “noise?”  After Todd saves Viola from being killed by a man from his town, the two set off to find another community that may protect them.  Accompanied by Todd’s faithful dog, Manchee, Todd and Viola must learn to trust each other if they hope to survive long enough to find answers to their questions.

An emotional, suspenseful, and tense morality thriller, The Knife of Never Letting Go is a story that lingers in your memory long after you finish reading.

Posted by: Tiffany on February 12, 2010

Peace, Love & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

When free-spirited Carly heads home to her upscale Atlanta gated community from wilderness camp the summer after her freshmen year, she can’t wait to see her little sister Anna.  Anna’s going to be a freshman this year, and Carly can’t wait to show her the ropes at Holy Redeemer, their prestigious, posh prep school – she even waited to take gym so they can take it together.  Until she gets home, and discovers that shy, sensitive little Anna has transformed into a curvy beauty over the summer, one who looks more like the older sister than Carly.

Still, Anna definitely still needs her big sister – Carly bails her out with the headmaster the first day of school, protects her from their critical dad, and gives her advice on how to stand up to their bullying swim coach.  And even though Anna wishes Carly would just act normal sometimes and ditch her new hippie ideals, clothes and music, she still thinks of her big sis as her best friend, even when Carly makes it really hard.

Add in cute, super-cool, guitar-playing Cole with the soulful eyes and really gets Carly (or at least, that’s what she keeps telling herself, and everyone else), and Carly’s buddy Roger from Holland, who is completely in love with Carly (and who everyone keeps trying to tell her is meant to be her love boodle), sophomore year is looking to be pretty complicated.  This is a tale of two sisters who fight to stick together even when it’s the last thing either of them wants to do.  By turns hilarious, heartbreaking, and sweet, bold Carly and shy Anna will have you cheering, gasping, and laughing as they figure out what it really means to be sisters.

Posted by: Megan on February 8th, 2010

Hero-Type by Barry Lyga

Kevin never considered himself a hero.  He’s ugly and awkward and wants to avoid the public eye.  However, one evening he is forced into the limelight when he rescues his classmate Leah from a rapist and serial killer known as “the surgeon.”  Now Kevin is in every newspaper, on national television shows, and even received a key to the city.  Kevin is everybody’s hero.  That is, until he is photographed acting “unpatriotic” by throwing away a Support Our Troops ribbon.

Just as things were starting to calm down, Kevin is once again forced into the public eye, but this time as a villain.  He now chooses to use his fame to challenge his classmates and town to think about what it really means to love your country and support the troops.  By sticking up for himself and his beliefs, Kevin slowly learns to accept his faults and love himself.

Hero-Type will really make you think about your beliefs and question what it means to be a hero without being too political or too heavy-handed.  There are also plenty of funny moments.   Don’t miss this unique book.

Posted by: Emily on February 4, 2010

Jumping off Swings by Jo Knowles

Ellie doesn’t know why she does it; maybe he will love her forever this time. Josh does it because he is the last of his friends who is a virgin, and Ellie will do it with anyone. One night, one slip is all it takes and Ellie is pregnant.

Told by Ellie, Josh and their friends Corinne and Caleb, Jumping Off Swings takes us through Ellie’s pregnancy. Each voice gives us a different side of the story, from Ellie’s desire to be loved, to Corinne’s support even if she does not totally understand Ellie, Caleb’s blind devotion to Ellie, and Josh’s uncertainty at with his life home.

Jo Knowles gives us an even story about how teen pregnancy affects not just the mother and father of the child but their families and friends as well. Every character has something to say, and all their voices ring true for teens dealing with life and pregnancy.

Posted by: Katie on February 1, 2010

King of the Screw-Ups by K.L. Going

Life should be easy for Liam. With a former supermodel for a mother, and a respected banker for a father, he has never wanted for anything. In spite of this, Liam is a screw-up, going from one mess-up to the next. After walking in on Liam and a girl in his office, his dad has had it, and he is ready to send Liam off to his super-strict grandparent’s house.

Liam’s mom has an alternative: live with his Uncle Pete while things calm down at home. The last time Liam saw “Uncle” Pete, he was wearing a red dress, crashing his mother’s retirement party and being kicked out of his grandparents’ house. His dad does not approve, but this might be just the thing Liam needs to get his life back in order.

Forced out of his New York penthouse and into a trailer park in the middle of nowhere, Liam is trying to not screw-up. He wants to take school seriously, not be popular and hopefully win some approval from his father. With help from Uncle Pete, his friends, and new school friends Liam might have chance to prove he’s not a screw-up.

King of the Screw-Ups is heartbreakingly told by Liam with flashbacks to his youth spent traveling with his mother, and talking with his father. Liam tries so hard to win his father’s respect and attention, that when he does screw-up, it hurts.

Posted by: Katie on January 28, 2010

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia has often felt like she doesn’t quite fit in with her family.  Her father even jokes that maybe she was switched at birth.  After all, she has brown hair and dark eyes and her parents and little brother are blond and fair.  Mia likes playing the cello and listening to classical music and her family likes punk and hard rock.  Despite their differences, Mia actually really loves her family and her parents have always been very supportive.  Then one February morning Mia’s whole life is changed.

Mia suddenly “wakes up” to discover that her body is in a coma as a result of injuries from a devastating car accident that killed the rest of her family.  While trying to decide if she should fight for her life or join her family in death,  Mia spends the night viewing (in an out-of-body experience) her situation and how it affects her extended family and friends and remembering her life with her parents and little brother.

How can Mia go on living without her family?  But how can she die and leave her best friend and boyfriend behind?  If I Stay is a compelling book with realistic and relatable characters.  You won’t be able to put it down as you struggle with Mia until the end.

Posted by: Emily on January 25, 2010

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Academic, insomniac, socially clueless Auden’s entire life is devoted to school.  Until the beginning of the summer before her freshman year in college, when a strangely inspirational gift from her irresponsible brother, Hollis, leads her to make the un-Audenlike, impulsive decision to spend the summer with her professor dad, his new wife, Heidi, and their new baby daughter (and Auden’s sister), Thisbe, at their house on the beach.

Baby Thisbe does nothing but scream, Heidi is way too cheerful (even when she’s clearly exhausted from trying unsuccessfully to handle Thisbe on her own) and Auden’s dad might be home all the time working on his book, but he’s pretty much useless.  So when Auden offers to help Heidi out in her boardwalk shop, her summer of study, and her life, is turned upside down.  Suddenly, her life is full of all the things she’s never had time for – friends (especially Maggie, who wears A LOT of pink, but is a lot deeper than Auden thinks) hanging out, riding bikes, and boys, especially stoic Eli, fellow insomniac and biker boy with a tragic past who keeps showing up in Auden’s path.

Ride along with Auden as she tries to figure out family during the day and learns how to be a friend (and maybe a girlfriend) at night, navigating the dark, sleepless, coffee-filled summer nights with Eli.  For fans of realistic fiction, anyone with a family that might be a little crazy sometimes, or anyone who’s ever felt a little awkward, Along for the Ride is one beach read you won’t want to leave behind with summer.

Posted by: Megan on January 21, 2010

Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford

For Will Carter the perfect end of summer is finally mastering a gainer off the diving board at the pool. A gainer is the hardest dive to do, and Carter has done every other dive this summer. This is his last chance to land a gainer, all eyes are on him, and he goes for it… and SMACK…belly flop.

And so begins Carter Finally Gets It, the story of Will Carter’s freshman year in high school.  Starting in the last weeks of summer before school starts and ending in the spring, we get to experience life as a freshman boy in high school. Carter shares his successes (dating formerly Chubby Abby) and failures (breaking her heart in the worst possible way). Each story is episodic (that is you don’t get the full story of this school year, just the really good parts), and hysterical. You can’t help but cheer for Carter as he starts to figure out what he wants from school, and tries to do the right thing.

Carter takes us inside his mind and life, and yes it can be a scary place to be. For anyone who ever was, ever will be or ever knew a 14 year old boy, Carter Finally Gets It is a must read.

Posted by: Katie on January 18, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In this dystopian novel set in a futuristic North America, the capital, Panem, controls the 12 districts with totalitarian rule and a large amount of fear.  Every year two teens from each district are chosen via lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, the government’s televised survival competition.  This fight-for-your-life reality show brings glory and wealth to the winner and their district.  However, to win, the ‘tributes’ must endure harsh natural obstacles, including the weather, finding food and water, and evading wild animals, all while being hunted by the other tributes.  Katniss Everdeen finds herself a part of the Games when she volunteers in place of her younger sister.  With her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, Katniss begins her journey from the depths of poverty to the opulence of the capital to the frightening reality that is the Hunger Games.

The first in a trilogy, The Hunger Games is a national bestseller and has been optioned for a movie.  Don’t miss book two, Catching Fire, and book three coming this fall.

Posted by: Tiffany on January 14, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In The Seven Kingdoms, a select few are born Graced with skills that can be matched by no other. Called Gracelings, they can be recognized by their eyes, each of which is a different color. Some are Graced with cooking or dancing, others with archery or sword fighting, and some are burdened with more powerful Graces, such as mind reading. Katsa is Graced with perhaps the most terrible gift of all – killing.

The niece of the king of Middluns, Katsa’s Grace is controlled and employed by her thuggish uncle to bully the people and enforce his will. Disgusted with the petty cruelty of her uncle, Katsa, together with other members of the court, work secretly to subvert the king, and to do what little good she can. When word comes that the grandfather of the Lienid king has been kidnapped, Katsa sets out with her men to retrieve him. But when she meets Prince Po of Lienid, a fellow Graceling, on the midnight rescue mission, she is drawn into a conspiracy whose dark threads run deeper than she could ever have imagined. Together, Katsa and Po must work together to unravel a mystery whose roots lie in deceit and evil, and discover the true power and meaning of what it is to be Graced.

A fantasy epic packed with action, adventure, mystery, and what may be possibly the creepiest villain I’ve ever met between the pages of a book, Graceling is not to be missed. For more Kristin Cashore, check out the prequel, Fire, and don’t miss her author blog for lots of fun stuff!

Posted by: Megan on January 11, 2010

Geektastic edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Have you ended a friendship because someone preferred Star Wars over Star Trek? Did you letter in Academics and fight for a letter jacket to wear at school? Do you have an interest in RPGs or baton twirling? Then I have the book for you.

Geektastic is collection of 15 short stories and 14 short comics that celebrate geeks of all interests. From the Cheerleader who wants to understand all that sci-fi stuff, to the girl who wants to be the lead in this years school play, there is a story for everyone. You’ll laugh out loud at the humorous stories, sigh at the star-crossed lovers, and maybe even cheer when the geeks triumph over all.  Trust me there is a story for everyone here. The comics teach you how to pick up people at a science fair as well as five Klingon words you need to know.

Geektastic reads like a “who’s who of teen literature,” with entries from Holly Black, John Green, Libba Bray and many more.  Each story can be read in one sitting, and there is something for the geek in all of us.  (Also, check out the Geektastic game from the Little Brown website!)

Posted by: Katie on January 7, 2010

WintergirlsWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“I step on the scale…099.00 pounds. I am officially standing on Goal Number One…If my docs knew, they’d bodyslam be back into treatment. There would be consequences and repercussions because (once again) I broke the rules about the perfect-sized Lia.”

Lia hates her body, she berates herself, lies to her family, and viciously counts calories. As a girl struggling with an eating disorder she is infected with malicious thoughts. She’s been hospitalized twice, but begins another downward spiral after learning her best friend, Cassie, has died from an apparent suicide. Lia is guilt ridden, believing she could have helped Cassie. But how could Lia save someone else when she can’t save herself? Wintergirls is a beautiful, haunting look into the struggle between anorexia and the will to live.

Posted by: Tiffany on January 4, 2010

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