Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee (2017)

every falling starThis tense, heartbreaking true story about a boy’s struggle to survive on the streets of North Korea offers a rare glimpse into a country shrouded in mystery.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   336 (for ISBN 9781419721328)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, survival, diverse, dystopian, current events, Kylie’s favorites

Tone/Style: grim, determined

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: North Korea, gangs, orphans, poverty

Themes: loyalty, trust, injustice, family, friendship

Summary: Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.  (Source)

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Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

jazzReading this memoir of one of today’s most famous transgender teens feels like sitting down for an eye-opening conversation with a friend.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   256 (for ISBN 9780399554643)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, LGBTQA+

Tone/Style: personal, youthful

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: transgender people, coming out, media attention, dating, legal battles

Themes: courage, gender identity, being oneself, speaking out

Summary: Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults. Continue reading

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon (2005)

burnAn intensely honest and personal memoir about physical and emotional recovery.

Recommended grade level: 8 and up

Pages: 336 (for ISBN 9781400096428)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction

Tone/Style: personal, honest, humorous

Pace: moderate

Topics: burn recovery, suicide

Themes: healing, mental illness, regaining something that was lost, discovering the purpose for one’s own actions

Summary: In 1991, fourteen-year-old Brent Runyon came home from school, doused his bathrobe in gasoline, put it on, and lit a match. Continue reading

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai (Young Readers Edition) (2014)

malala

Inspiring, heartbreaking, and timely, this is must-read nonfiction.

Recommended grade level: 6-12

Pages: 240 (for ISBN 9780316327930)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, current events, international, diverseMiddle East (Pakistan),  Kylie’s favorites

Tone/Style: personal, resolute

Pace: moderate

Topics: women’s rights, education, Al Qaeda, terrorism, war, Islam, assault, politics, activism, survival

Themes: social justice, courage, standing up for beliefs, reaching for dreams

Summary: I Am Malala. This is my story.

Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school. Continue reading