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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15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (2013)

daysIn this British import, a teen goes to great lengths to keep anyone from discovering that he and his little brother have been abandoned by their alcoholic mother.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   302 (for ISBN 9780738736426)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, British

Tone/Style: humorous, distressed

Pace: moderate

Topics: alcoholism, siblings, contests, survival, cons

Themes: family, trust, responsibility

Summary: How far would you go to keep your family together?

Meet Laurence – fifteen years old and six feet tall – he’ll dress up as his mum and impersonate a dead man on the radio. Meet Jay – his six year old brother. He looks like an angel but thinks he’s a dog. He’ll sink his teeth into anyone who gets in the way.

Today is Tuesday – and the next fifteen days will change the boys’ lives for ever… (Source) Continue reading

Thick As Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (2017)

thickThis long-awaited addition to The Queen’s Thief series can also be read as a standalone adventure, and is packed with politics and bromance.

Recommended grade level: 8 and up (for reading comprehension reasons; there is little mature content)

Pages:   400 (for ISBN 9780062568243)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, adventure

Tone/Style: long-suffering, a bit archaic

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: slaves, kings, politics, escape, journeys, Eugenides (He should count as a topic, right? He’s basically the center of the universe in this series.)

Themes: freedom, trust, betrayal, friendship

Summary: Thick as Thieves is the eagerly anticipated new stand-alone novel set in the world of the Queen’s Thief. New York Times-bestselling author Megan Whalen Turner’s entrancing and award-winning Queen’s Thief novels bring to life the world of the epics and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power, passion, revenge, and deception. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R. R. Martin. Continue reading

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (2015)

redThis popular book hits all the right notes for dystopian fans.

Recommended grade level: 7+

Pages:   383 (for ISBN 9780062310637)

Genre(s) and keywords: dystopian, science fiction, some romance

Tone/Style: dark, twisty

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Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

spaceA well-crafted mystery with a healthy dose of sci-fi, a bit of humor, interesting characters, and a surprise at the end.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages:   352 (for ISBN 9781442494862)

Genre(s) and keywords: mystery, science fiction, adventure, humor

Tone/Style: intelligent, humorous

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The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

greatgreene

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)

lost

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