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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Legend by Marie Lu (2011)

legendA super popular dystopian adventure.

Recommended grade level: 7-11

Pages: 305 (for ISBN 9780399256752)

Genre(s) and keywords: dystopian, science fiction, romance (just a little)

Tone/Style: bleak

Pace: moderate

Topics: military, outlaws, tests, epidemics, poverty, gifted

Themes: resistance, family

Summary: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. Continue reading

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (2015)

if iLewis Blake deals with heady issues of family, friendship, identity, and belonging in this candid and humorous story about life as a teenage Tuscarora Indian in 1975.

Recommended grade level: 6-9

Pages: 368 (for ISBN 9780545417303)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction, realistic fiction, diverse, Native American protagonist Continue reading