The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

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This fast-paced caper à la Ocean’s Eleven sports a super savvy cast diverse in race, age, and interests.

Recommended grade level: 6-8

Pages: 240 (for ISBN 9780545525527)

Genre(s) and keywords: adventure, heist, diverse, African-American protagonist

Tone/Style: slick, humorous

Pace: fast

Topics: class elections, cons, lost friends

Themes: trust, forgiveness, honesty, friendship

Summary: Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good. Continue reading

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff (2015)

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A melancholy tale of a boy who acts out because of guilt, loneliness, and low self-esteem after causing the accidental death of a peer.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 304 (for ISBN 9780399164064)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic

Tone/Style: melancholy

Pace: leisurely

Topics: causing an accidental death, emotional problems, divorced parents, lost friendships, new friendships, brothers

Themes: reasons for misbehavior, coping with guilt, managing anger and other emotions, opening oneself to be helped by others, coping with feelings of inadequacy, earning trust

Summary: Seven months ago, a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent Zimmerman with a brain full of thoughts he can’t shake. Continue reading

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (2015)

51WLo5tAs3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This National Book Award finalist about a girl coping with grief is a thematically challenging read, but full of insight.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 352 (for ISBN 9780316380867)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, award winner

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Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend (2016)

whereAnna discovers some surprising things about herself and her loved ones as she struggles to come to terms with her mother’s suicide attempt in this painfully honest depiction of life with a bipolar parent.

Recommended grade level: 6-9

Pages: 272 (for ISBN 9780374302306)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, Kylie’s favorites

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