Beastly by Alex Flinn

beastlyKyle Kingsbury is many things:

Popular , rich, good looking, smart.

But he is also arrogant, shallow and mean to anyone he considers beneath him.

So it is a big surprise when he asks Kendra, the new girl in his class, to a school dance. She is a goth chick with all black clothes, green hair and a long hooked nose.

But of course, it is all a cruel prank. He shows up with his girlfriend and makes Kendra feel like a fool.

What Kyle doesn’t know is that Kendra is a witch and she is going to teach him a lesson. She casts a spell and turns him into an hairy, ugly beast, with hair all over his body, fangs and claws.

She tells him that he has two years to try to get a girl to fall in love with him and to prove it with a kiss.

If he can’t, then he will remain a beast forever.



The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneidder

thebeginningofeverythingBy Junior year, Ezra Faulkner had it all. He was the captain of the tennis team, he hung out with the most popular kids in school, including his girlfriend, who was one of the hottest girls in school.

And then, the summer before his senior year, he catches his girlfriend making out with one of his best friends at a party.  He storms out into the street and a passing car hits him and then takes off. A hit and run. Ezra’s knee is shattered. He can’t play tennis anymore. He needs to use a cane. He loses his spot on the tennis team, his girlfriend leaves him and his former friends ignore him.

When senior year starts, the only people who seem to want to talk to him are Toby Ellicott, his former best friend who he lost when they went their separate ways socially and Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is  the very cute, smart, funny and mysterious new girl in his English class.

Ezra starts to rebuild his life. He is no longer a jock or the same popular kid he was before. Toby talks him into joining the debate team. He starts making friends with Toby’s friends. His old friends have started to acknowledge him again. He and Cassidy have become a couple and it seems a new Ezra Faulkner has emerged from the accident intact, happy and in love.

But then Cassidy, always a mystery, starts to get moody and pushes Ezra away. And suddenly, things start to change again and Ezra may be in for an  even worse crash than before.



The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

thefirstpartlastImagine this. You are a guy in high school and you have your whole life ahead of you. Graduate and then college. But then your girlfriend gets pregnant, and even worse, she develops a condition called eclampsia that sends her into a coma. You will have to raise the baby on your own without much help from either of your parents.

That is exactly what happens to New York teeenager Bobby in the book The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Sometimes he doesn’t even know if he can handle it–the lack of sleep, the crying–even though he knows he loves his little girl more than anything.



An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

anabundanceofkatherinesColin Singleton

Former Child Prodigy

Loves Math, anagrams (can anagram anything), languages (knows 11), and odd facts

Trouble making friends (kind of a loner)

Has only dated (and been dumped by) girls named Katherine. 19 of them.

On the morning after Colin graduated from high school and was dumped by Katherine number 19. Depressed about the latest breakup and convinced he never will reach his true potential, he just wants his parents to leave him alone.

And then, Hassan came to visit:

Best Friend Hassan (“a rather fat, hirsute, guy of Lebanese descent,” loves Judge Judy and Hardee’s Monster Thick Burgers, is a slacker and swears a little bit less than a sailor)

Hassan had an answer to all of Colin’s problems:

Road Trip

It didn’t matter where. They would take a trip in Colin’s car (aka Satan’s Hearse) and go anywhere besides here (here being Chicago). Along the way they will see the sites and Colin may finally get a chance to work out his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability.

This is a mathematical formula that will predict the course of all relationships  and explain why he always tends to be the dumpee instead of the one doing the dumping.

After passing up a chance to see the World’s Largest Crucifix (in Bardstown, KY), they come to a stopping point in Gunshot Tennessee, the (alleged) grave site of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Also home to Lindsey Lee Wells and her mother Hollis. Hollis is the owner of a textile plant that provides jobs for many people in town. Although, instead of making textiles, these days they make the strings that go in tampons.

It is the unlikeliest of places for Colin and Hassan to spend the summer. He might even finally prove the Katherine theorem and finally get over the abundance of Katherines. Maybe…



Recommended Reading: We Shouldn’t Feel This Way, Should We?

Tales of forbidden romance, love triangles, friendship enders and other bad ideas.

F Cohn,R

Cohn, Rachel and David Levithan. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List.

Naomi and Ely are best friends who have been inseparable since childhood.. They decide to create a No Kiss List of people neither is allowed to kiss to make sure nothing will come between them. There are only two problems. Naomi is in love with Ely and Ely has just kissed Naomi’s boyfriend, Bruce. Will their friendship survive?

F Elkeles,S

Elkeles, Simone. Perfect Chemistry.

Brittany Ellis is popular and wealthy with a seemingly perfect life. Alex Fuentes is a gang member from the other side of town. When they are forced to be lab partners, their contempt for each other is undeniable. When Alex makes a bet with his friends that he can win her over, both of their worlds are turned upside down.

F Korman,G

Korman, Gordon. Son of the Mob.

Vince Luca has a normal teenage life. He worries about high school, acne and getting a girlfriend. And of course run-ins with the police and FBI! His dad is a mob boss, and even though he tries to keep the family business out of his own, Vince sometimes has to deal with dead bodies in trunks and listening devices in the house. So it figures that when he finally finds a girl he really likes, she turns out to be the daughter of the FBI agent who is after his dad.

F Nelson,J

Nelson, Jandy. The Sky is Everywhere.

Lennie Walker, poet and band geek, has happily spent most of her life in her sister Bailey’s shadow. But when Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie, her family and Bailey’s boyfriend Toby are left to deal with their grief. Even though they feel guilty, Lennie and Toby find themselves powerfully attracted to each other. When a gorgeous new guitar player in town, Joe, starts to pursue her, she has to decide between a boy who understands her grief and one who understands her passion for music.

F Perkins,S

Perkins, Stephanie. Anna and the French kiss.

Anna is not happy about shipped off to boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school. After all, her best friend and the cute guy she has been flirting with at her movie theater job are back in Atlanta. Then she meets Etienne St. Claire, a beautiful French speaking, English accented boy who is absolutely irresistible. They become fast friends, and potentially something more—if only he didn’t have a girlfriend.


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

theglasscastleJeanette Walls is a successful journalist and novelist. She and here husband live in a beautiful apartment in New York City. So it’s really strange when we are introduced to Jeanette’s mother in the introduction to the book .

Pg. 3

Things weren’t always this way. Not exactly.  Jeanette and her family grew up dirt poor. They never stayed in one place very long. Running from the police or bill collectors or just out of boredom, they ended up in Arizona, California, Nevada, West Virginia, New York.

You have so much sympathy for this family at one moment and then you want to strangle her parents the next. Will they make it? Everything seems fine one moment. Her dad has a new job and then, because he is an alcoholic, he starts drinking again. Their parents are charming, smart and capable and also total screwups. Let me read you an example:

Pg. 106



Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

thirteenreasonswhyTwo weeks after Hannah Baker committed suicide, Clay Jensen received a mysterious package in the mail. Inside he finds 7 cassette tapes.

Here is what he heard when he played the first tape. [Play audio file]

Clay borrows a friend’s Walkman and spends the night travelling alone around town listening to each side of the tapes. He carries a a map provided by Hannah has starred locations where the events described took place.

But what could Clay have done to Hannah? He barely knew her.

When he finally hears his own story, the answer is one he could never have imagined.



The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez

thepregnancyprojectIf you didn’t know her, you might assume Gaby Rodriguez’s destiny was set in stone. She was one of 8 kids raised by a single mom who never had enough money to pay the bills. Her mom never finished high school because she got pregnant, and Gabby’s sisters and brothers all became teen parents just like their mother. Research shows that because of Gabby’s family circumstances, she herself was practically guaranteed to be pregnant before she graduated high school.

But Gaby, like all of you in this room,  wasn’t a statistic, a stereotype. And she wanted everyone else to know they didn’t have to be either. By the time she got to high school, she was an honors student. She couldn’t even imagine having a kid until she was through with college.

So for a senior project, Gaby decided to challenge people’s assumptions. If she became pregnant, what would her classmates and teachers and her family say about her? Would they treat her any differently? To find out, she decided to fake a pregnancy to see what would happen.

She could never have imagined how everything would turn out.


I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

ihuntkillersCan anyone name a famous serial killer? [elicit responses] These people did some pretty horrible things.
Now I want to you to imagine if one of these guys was your father.
For 17 year old Jazz Dent, he doesn’t have to imagine, it’s true. Before he was put in prison, his dad killed over 100 people. His dad used to take Jazz along on his kills, teaching him everything he needed to know to take over the family business. Jazz knows everything there is to know about how to kill someone and get away with it from the point of view of the killer himself, not a textbook.

Now, years later, a string of murders that look a whole lot like his dad’s killings have started to occur in Jazz’s hometown. The police are stumped, and Jazz knows he can help., even though the police warn him to stay away. He knows he can solve the case with his specialized knowledge and skill set, but that isn’t the only reason that he wants to help them. Serial killers are incredibly rare. With his family’s reputation, he knows he is bound to become the prime suspect. But as he and his friends get involved in the investigation, Jazz finds out he is a lot more like his father than he ever thought.



Swim the Fly by Don Calame

swimtheflyEvery summer since third grade, Matt, Sean and Coop do two things 1) compete on the  community swim team. They are the proud holders of more 5th place medals than anyone else in the league. And  (2) come up with a goal that the three of them will achieve by the end of the summer. Usually this means something like playing so many games of ping pong or something like that. But this summer is the big one. They decide that for the first time, they are going to see a real…live…naked…girl…

Their crazy schemes get crazier and more dangerous. Sneak into a nude beach, dress as girls and go into the girls locker room, go to a party and hide in a closet in a room where a hot girl is about to have sex. None of their attempts end well.  Powerful laxatives doing their work and getting knocked out by some huge musclebound jerk are just a few examples.

But seeing a naked girl isn’t Matt’s only goal that summer. Though he can barely tread water, Matt volunteers to swim the butterfly race at the league championships. The butterfly, the hardest stroke known to man or God. Why would he do such a thing? For a girl, of course. He wants to impress the smokin’ hot new girl on the swim team, Kelly.

By the way, the boys do get to see a naked woman, a woman they would never choose to see naked in a million years. And poor guys, that image will be burned in their brain forever.



Right Behind You by Gail Giles

rightbehindyouKip McFarland was nine what it happened. He and his dad lived in Alaska at the time. He had lost his mother in April of that year.

That night his dad and Aunt Jemma were fighting about what to do with Kip. Maybe it was because of all the bottled up feelings. The anger. The pain. Here is what happened:

Read pp. 11-13.

After that night, Kip was catatonic because of the shock. When he came out of it, he was moved to “the state mental ward for dangerous juvenile offenders. ” Now, after four years, his doctor says it’s time for Kip (whose name is now Wade) to be released back into the world.

A new name and a new chance. But how do you start over when you’ve done something so horrible?



Educating Esme by Esme Codell

educatingesmeEsme Codell sounds like the sort of teacher you would love to have in elementary school.

She insists that her students call her Madame Esme.

She does fun things like holds a fairy tale festival with a fashion show and a carnival. She creates a time machine for her students so they can “time travel” while they read.

Instead of Math, Science, and Social Studies, they have puzzling, mad scientist time, and time traveling and world exploring.

She gets her students excited about learning.

But her first year isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. She teaches in Chicago Public Schools and her students bring their problems to class even though she would love to protect them from the outside world.

The parents of some of her students are in prison or in extreme poverty. There are parents whose idea of supporting the teacher at home is to beat good behavior into the kids. On a field trip, gang members surround the bus and throw stones at the windows.

A normal person might have given up mid-year. A person who follows the rules. But not Esme. She does things her own way. Let me read you an example.

Read January 12 on pg. 88.