The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

TV vs. Movies (Take Two)

By: Sean Mc., Teen Blogger

Picture of an old TV on one side and a movie reel with film streaming off it on the other.TV has been a medium that has fascinated the nation since the 50’s when people really started to make their way out to the suburbs and start new lives there. With the advent of this new technology, people in the storytelling business found a whole new way to get their products to the public at large, and began filling every American home with shows of all kinds, although the number of channels has seen a decent increase since then, as well as the kinds of shows and the subjects they cover.

One of the big issues in television has been that more and more people want to stay home and watch things there, rather than go to the movies, where they have to pay to go see something once and sit in (formerly) not-too-comfortable chairs. Especially with channels like HBO and Starz, people are becoming more and more likely to stay home, and wait until a movie comes out on a channel like this or on Netflix, where they can then watch it at their own leisure, and for a much better price (especially in regards to the food served).

The question has risen in some circles of whether movies are a thing of the past, and whether TV will replace them, or even become the only place that they are shown, because companies could make more off advertisements rather than huge productions and marketing campaigns to get people to go out to the theatres. In response, this has led to campaigns to get people to go to the movies and support the production companies, even having a little video by one of the actors in the film you are about to see thank you for going to the movies. These campaigns, as well as a rise in popularity of the dine-in theatre and the new design for chairs, have helped to increase attendance, especially for movies with less of a fan following.

Movies overall do not seem to be suffering, save for those that absolutely bomb on the openings (Batman v. Superman, I am looking at you), yet people still think that TV is the new way to go. Nobody has to have a campaign to make people watch more TV, and it is much more accessible to the general public.

However, there is a very important comparison to make, one that can be looked at through something which also began to gain a lot of popularity a bit before TV was invented. Comics were something that had rarely been seen before the 1930’s in America, although serial stories were not unheard of (see: Great Expectations). These short and colorful tales were enough to capture the reader’s attention, especially in the younger generations, who leaned towards comics instead of full length novels.

TV is much like this in the sense that they are short issues that come out every week or so and give the reader a short amount of time to travel to another place, without losing those with shorter attention spans. In fact, many of the TV shows that fared best were those that, like comics, could still create a following, but required less time to make than a full movie, and could be marketed to the public as a simpler alternative to movies.

Classic shows like The Simpsons, Star Trek, and Batman, featured a bright and colorful show but still tackled themes in society and politics that movies simply did not have the reaction time to deal with. This allowed TV to be a more versatile medium, still moving, but more available, and very different from movies. Movies still excel in areas like moving people and telling beautiful stories, allowing them to be a much better place to demonstrate the new technical capabilities of film-making, rather than on the TV or even phone screen.

Movies even tried to copy TV in creating series, some more successful (such as the widely followed Marvel movies), some were less successful (such as Jaws, which, on its own was a masterpiece, yet by the third movie, the audience lost interest). It was here that the movie industry found its weakness. It had great stories to tell, but when those stories went well once, the tendency to tell the same thing over and over created an air of repetitiveness that has led to a general distrust of sequels to critically acclaimed movies, in fear that they might ruin the experience that was gained from the original.

Books and comics are two very different mediums that both captured the attention of the nation, over and over. As time has gone on, they have changed forms, from long novels to short online stories written by fans, and from comic strips in the newspaper to web comics followed more for the author than the story, yet neither has faded. Neither has taken a hold of the culture completely, although they have fought for it constantly. TV and movies are much the same. They will fight for the spotlight until we can stream both directly to our brains, and even then will never relent in their struggle to be the best.

The one issue with this is that neither truly can be “better” than the other. For every James Bond film, there will be another season of Law and Order. For every Star Trek movie, there will be another season of The Simpsons. The two are so fundamentally different, it is almost impossible to truly compare the two under the same light. Some studios, like Marvel and DC, have even accepted this, and have worked on creating a world in both, doing shorter stories in TV more like individual issues, yet also doing larger projects in the movies, more like novels. This has helped both companies greatly (save for the latest attempt at movies from DC’s end) yet both have realized how different the mediums are. This is a realization that seems like more common sense than anything, but it really truly is something new to many people.

TV and movies cannot replace one another, and other mediums are coming into view as well, such as in video games, which have a long way to go until they are critically recognized at the same level as TV and movies, but it shows that consumers are more than willing to accept these stories in more than one way, and that is something that will never change. They may fight, but in the meantime, we can still go out to midnight premiers of our favorite movies, and then relax at home and binge-watch a whole season of our favorite show, and in the end, both can be just as amazing.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Animated Movies

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Zootopia Movie PosterLast week, I settled in to my apartment on a Friday night and watched Zootopia. Yes, very exciting night for an adult woman living in Chicago, right? Anyways, I was excited to watch the movie after being on the holds list for it at the library for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. Hilarious jokes (seriously, the sloths slayed me,) astute social commentary, a sweet friendship, and all packaged as a solid buddy cop movie. I loved it.

It got me thinking though. I rarely watch movies, since I find TV shows a little easier to work in to my daily schedule. And in the last few years, a lot of the movies I’ve seen have been animated. If I were to actually count, it would probably be a hilariously large number of animated movies for an adult. Whether it’s re-watching Beauty and the Beast or Mulan for the 20th time or finally getting to Zootopia (and, soon I hope, Finding Dory), I’ve found animated movies for kids are some of my favorites. And you may have noticed a couple weeks ago, a teen volunteer reviewed Finding Dory and gave it eight out of ten stars, so it’s not just me who’s finding enjoyment in movies aimed at a younger audience.

So why is it that animated movies hold such a wide appeal, even for teens and adults well outside their target demographic? I don’t have any actual answers, because that would probably require tons of research by several very smart people with doctorates, but I do have some ideas. One is that, by and large, kid’s movies are positive. They’re not all sunshine and roses (Lion King or Up anyone?) but most of them involve good triumphing over evil, limited death and destruction, and a happily ever after style ending. And I love that. I love finishing a movie and feeling happy and satisfied, and I bet I’m not the only one who finds that to be a huge appeal of these movies.

Another factor is almost certainly nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, as Beauty and the Beast’s Oscar nominations prove, it’s an excellent movie. But it was also the first movie I remember seeing in theaters, and a childhood staple, and I doubt I’d be watching it quite as often if I didn’t have such great memories of it.

But what about current movies, without the nostalgia factor? Well, since my childhood, there’s been a shift in a lot of animated movies to including more content specifically for adults. I don’t mean anything inappropriate, but rather things like pop culture references, wordplay, and jokes that go right above the heads of the main child audience. Shrek is probably the biggest example of this (and one of the earliest) but at this point, it’s become the norm for most animated movies. That doesn’t mean the movies have changed their intended audience or become inaccessible to kids – Frozen mania and Finding Dory’s lucrative opening weekend definitely prove that these movies are still hits with young children. But the extra little Easter eggs and more grown-up humor really help the movies appeal to older audiences as well (much to the relief of parents everywhere, I’m sure.)

What’s the point of all this? To be honest, mostly I wanted comment on a phenomenon I’ve noticed and talk about movies I love. But if you have shied away from animated movies in the past, consider giving them another chance – many of them are for you too, not just little kids. And if you already love them, you can join me in singing it from the rooftops. Because who doesn’t love talking dogs, powerful ballads, and a happily ever after?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Diversity in Media

By: Hannah S., Teen Blogger

We Need Diverse BooksDiversity in media has become increasingly popular and is shining light on discussions about inclusion. Along the way, however, there has been an increase in misrepresentation in media regarding people with disabilities and how they live life. This is due to the stories being written and portrayed by able-bodied people with no disabilities. Why is this harmful and what can be done to make sure people with disabilities are accurately portrayed in media?

The misrepresentations of disabilities in movies, books, etc. are causing people to have a skewed view on how to treat people with disabilities and how to view them within society. It is important for people to understand different disabilities from the perspective of those who experience and live with them. A simple approach to improving the inaccurate portrayal of people with disabilities is to have writers and actors people with disabilities create these roles or to have a consultant to help along the way. This will not only help educate people of what disabilities are really like but they will also help people with disabilities feel more adequate and represented. It is especially important for children and teens with disabilities to have a character they can relate to and see themselves in. I, as a teenager who is disabled, have trouble finding characters who accurately portray my disability. This struggle can lead children and teens with disabilities like me to feel different and left out.

On the other hand, a handful of stories have done a great job with representation and accurate portrayal. Some authors clearly did their research and consulted with people with disabilities before writing anything that could possibly be upsetting or inaccurate. Some authors also do a good job of using the proper terminology and using appropriate wording to avoid offending anyone. This makes a big difference in how people with disabilities view themselves and also how they are seen in society. People with disabilities’ confidence can vastly improve when there is a character that they can read about in a book or see in a movie that portrays their thoughts and sensitivities accurately.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – Summer of Sloane

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check out Summer of Sloane by Erin L. SchneiderEarlier this month I went on vacation with my family, which meant I packed plenty of light (but not too light) summery reads, full of fun, romance, summer camps, or in the case of this What I Just Read, beaches.

What I Just Read: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

Do I Like It: Beaches, friends, family, and a dash of romance…what’s not to love?

Thoughts:  Okay seriously, if you are looking for ideal beach reads, you need to add Summer of Sloane to your list. Like Lisa Freeman’s Honey Girl, which was probably my favorite beach read last year, Summer of Sloane is the perfect combination of realistic family and friend relationships, drama, romance, character development, and a gorgeous setting. Don’t let this fool you into thinking it doesn’t have substance though. From the very first pages when Sloane realizes that her boyfriend and best friend have betrayed her, Summer of Sloane gives real emotional depth to the reading experiences and the main character.

I think the friendships in Summer of Sloane were my favorite part, but not in my normal “I loved seeing these dedicated and loving friendships” way. While Sloane’s relationship with her brother, her Hawaiian friend Mia, and her coworkers were delightful to watch, I think it was the complications of her relationships to her best friend Mick and (ex) boyfriend Tyler that were the most compelling. It would have been possible to make either character a villain, or to exonerate both of them, but that would have been taking the easy way out. Instead, Erin L. Schneider does a great job of portraying Sloane’s mixed emotions, the real pain suffered by Tyler and Mick as Sloane ignores them, and the complications of dealing with being hurt by some of the people dearest to you.

But of course the friendships, while my favorite part of the book, are not all of what makes this book a great beach read. Summer of Sloane is also full of pools and oceans, surfing and sun, beach bonfires and lanais, and everything that will make you wish you were in Hawaii yourself. The romance that develops between Sloane and Finn adds an element of heat, but never overwhelms the main story of Sloane figuring out who she is without two of the most important people in her life. So if you’re looking for a summer read, pick this up immediately. And even if you aren’t specifically looking for a beach book, you’re likely to find something compelling in Summer of Sloane.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

TV vs. Movies (Take 1)

By: Hafsa A., Teen Blogger

Picture of an old TV on one side and a movie reel with film streaming off it on the other.

Lately, television series and shows are more preferred over movies in our society, possibly because TV has a more visual depiction of the characters, main points, and major plots. The events and other details are described and outstretched among many seasons to show more of the visual storytelling. There are probably many reasons why TV is the cultural centerpiece as it is being produced more often than movies. But, I think it is because TV series have more reactions by audiences and encourages them to think and visualize what is going to happen next. Also TV shows can be freeform, which can vary from thriller to horror to comedy or even romance.

Movies on the other hand, have a desperate need to be marketed properly, so they simply make movies just to sell. I see TV shows as an emotional roller coaster because you always have to wait eagerly to find out what happens in the next episode. Also movies are made over a shorter period of time than the time spent on TV shows. So TV shows are attracting the best acting talent and they are able to do their best on TV shows because they have a longer time to practice.

Today in our society and culture, TV shows may have started small but, thanks to new distribution methods and word-of-mouth recommendations from audience who’d seen it and loved it, shows such as Breaking Bad, or even The Vampire Diaries, have really taken off.

You can’t continue the last movie you saw. Although there may be series and endless sequels, there would be no excitement in that. Paranormal Activity had come out three years ago, and though the first one was okay, the studio’s determination to suck its bones dry with endless sequels wasn’t such a great idea.

What I Think: I love TV shows because they make me feel all types of emotions such as fear, happiness, sadness, and most of all eagerness. The emotional roller coaster makes me want to keep watching and I’m not able to do that with movies because they don’t continue.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Movies are short, simple, and have good endings. However, movies don’t show small details that may have some audiences wondering. TV shows on the other hand show more detail and explanation, with new characters and plots throughout many seasons. The bad thing about TV shows is that viewers have to wait for the next episode to air and the eagerness of waiting could make me go insane. Just kidding, I’ll make it.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Prep for College Series

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

College Kids Walking Down PathSummer is in full swing, and we know the last thing anyone probably wants to think about right now is college applications. But we also know that many of you probably are! Whether you are going into your junior year and just starting to think about the college search process, about to start your senior year and facing the terror of applications, or newly graduated to heading to college in the fall, we’re betting it’s on a lot of minds.

We also know that there can be a lot of stress surrounding each part of the process, from deciding which colleges to consider to making a final decision to getting to know your freshman year roommate. So we hope that this summer, our Prep for College series won’t bring you down by reminding you of what’s ahead, but instead make the whole process just a little less stressful.

We’ll be kicking off the series with the aptly named “Where Do I Start and How Do I Choose?” sponsored by the library’s Teen Leadership Council. This panel discussion will feature college application and selection experts, as well as current college students. They will delve into how to start building a list of colleges to look at and apply to, what the application process is like, how to decide which school is right for you, and what the transition into college life is like.

Once you get your bearings in this panel, we’ll be offering a Practice ACT and Practice SAT over the next two weeks, as well as a presentation on how to “Think Like a College Admissions Officer” and one on Essay Writing and Using the Common Application. All of these, we think, will help you prepare for college searches, applications, and decisions. So take some time over the next two weeks to come to any or all of these that you think might help you (keep in mind that if you actually make it to all five, you’ll be eligible for a prize from us or our sponsors, C2 Education.) College is stressful, we know, but a little knowledge can go a long way to make the process easier!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Finding Dory Review

By: James M., Teen Blogger

Finding Dory Movie Poster with DorySomething that I probably should clear up in advance is that I’m a fairly caustic critic, particularly when it comes to movies and other storytelling mediums. As such, while I may dislike certain aspects of a feature, others likely won’t share my sentiments.

Now, onto the review. Be aware that it does contain some vague spoilers.

In case you’re strapped for time or can’t be bothered to read the rest of my critique, here’s the short version: Finding Dory is a good film. If you already plan to see it, odds are you’ll forgive its few mistakes or fail to notice them entirely.

However, if you have a bit more time to spare, I’ve obviously prepared a longer, more detailed review. Be warned that I will be potentially painfully honest.

First, the good:

Finding Dory builds on its predecessor without simply milking the success of Finding Nemo, something which I highly respect; at times, it almost seems as though the film actively tries to avoid mentioning its little brother, with the movie only occasionally making nods to the prior movie (usually in the form of self-referential jokes). The events of Finding Nemo are all but skipped in a brief cut at the beginning of the movie. In this way, it could be said that this sequel doesn’t lean on Finding Nemo’s popularity.

The movie’s plot is engaging and constantly interesting to watch, especially surrounding the titular character. Dory’s development as a character is outstanding; we learn about where she came from, what she was like before the events of Finding Nemo, and why she is the way she is. Even with all of her flaws, one can’t help but care about her by the film’s close.

The movie’s message is made abundantly clear by the credits and comes from the heart; however, unlike Inside Out, which made a point to “show, not tell,” Finding Dory doesn’t follow that guideline quite as well, although that by no means ruins the narrative.

The animation quality is top notch, and I’ve come to expect no less from Pixar. The water and lighting effects are stunning and unbelievably realistic, making the sea appear even more beautiful than in Finding Nemo. The film makes excellent use of its stellar animation in a variety of energetic action sequences which liven up the movie significantly.

I should also mention that the pre-film short, Piper, was surprisingly good; it’s no Paperman, but it still manages to convey a touching and engaging story with absolutely no dialogue. While the ending felt a bit abrupt, in retrospect, the film’s length was ideal; had it been any longer, it would have overstayed its welcome and would have likely ran out of material.

Now, for the bad. Mild spoilers lie ahead. If you don’t want to see me critique the weaker aspects of this movie, turn back now.

The plot, at times, feels like a bit of a rehash of the past movie, but superimposed on itself; whereas the previous movie involved a dad trying to find his son, Finding Dory is about a dad and his son trying to find a family friend… while that family friend tries to find her parents. Same varied cast of helpful fish and vicious antagonists. Same stealth, action, and adventure alongside a character’s “jailbreak.” Same themes of trust and the importance of family. While the film still throws enough new content to appease any ordinary viewer, I could trace a number of scenes in the movie to equivalent scenes in Finding Nemo.

Perhaps my greatest complaint regarding Finding Dory is the lack of development its characters receive. In Finding Nemo, it was excusable for characters (like the turtles or the occupants of Nemo’s aquarium) to appear one-dimensional, as they only had center stage briefly and were painted as caricatures from the start. Additionally, the aforementioned characters had a lot of personable charm to them, unlike some of the characters from this second installment. Bar two characters (who were only shown in two scenes), it seems that every character in Finding Dory is either a dedicated parent or has a disability, and in both scenarios, that unfortunately seems to be one of their only character traits. The characters this movie introduces lack a lot of depth and, oftentimes, seem to lack any desires outside of helping Dory; only one new character appears to have an ulterior motive for assisting her, and even he abandons his separate goal on a dime at the end of the movie in order to help her. (I don’t think we’re ever told why he cares so much about his goal either, which disappoints me all the more.) Of course, it isn’t a problem for the characters to care about our forgetful blue friend, but these characters have no motives beyond this relatively weak one.

(Sorry if I seem a little too harsh, but, given the studio’s outstanding track record, I expect nothing but perfection from Pixar. Many of the problems I discuss here are relatively minor and, all in all, don’t dramatically detract from the experience; as I said at the beginning of this review, this movie is good enough to please all but the pickiest of moviegoers [which I happen to be]. If you’re considering seeing this movie, by all means, do so.)

A number of characters in the movie seem to exist solely to propel the plot and are developed even less.  Nemo, in particular, fits this bill; he repeatedly eggs on Marlin to the next part of the plot, often so absorbed in his encouragement that he fails to express any worry, irritation with Dory, or panic when things go awry, as one might be expected to do when in his shoes. Fish ”extras” also appear at the end of the movie and, once again, they all seem to care solely about supporting Dory.

The middle of the plot also falls into an unfortunately repetitive pattern; something goes terribly wrong, and our protagonists must work around it- but, before you can catch your breath, something goes wrong with their work-around and the cycle continues. Rather than present the characters with a few large problems (giving the characters enough time to interact with one another and show how they attempt to solve them,) Finding Dory flies from hurdle to hurdle with such speed and regularity that new conflicts begin to feel trivial, and characters seem to find solutions absurdly quickly.

Don’t let my criticisms deter you from watching this film. It deserves to be watched, and it’s certainly far better than most films I’ve seen; I just happen to be an incredibly meticulous moviegoer, and I exaggerate to get my points across. However, regardless of who you are, bear in mind that this movie is not without its flaws. It’s not quite on the level of the Toy Stories or even Inside Out, but it’s a good find nonetheless.

Overall: 8/10.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Geek Out

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Caution May Geek Out Without WarningWhen I was a teenager, I was obsessed with a series of novels featuring what I still think are the greatest dragons in the fiction (The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, if anyone cares.) I read and re-read, wrote fanfiction, interacted with other fans online, and basically geeked out to an extreme degree.

As an adult, I’ve found the novels more problematic, and obsessing over them less of a priority in my life. Instead, I read young adult literature voraciously, cook, watch hockey, and nerd out about these and other things, although to a lesser degree. I think everyone can relate to this to some extent – we all have some things we geek out about or are a complete nerd about. And that’s awesome, because our passions and interests are part of what make us such interesting, rounded human beings.

So this July, we have a display entirely centered on characters who are geeking out, nerding about, or fangirling/fanboying about something – maybe even one of your interests. You might be into baking or scrapbooking like Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Or maybe you’re obsessive about a MMORPG like Anda in In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang. Perhaps like me and Cath from Fangirl, your tendencies run to the book nerd, fanfiction side of things.

Maybe you’ve considered making your own mermaid tails like Jazz Jennings, real life author and subject of her memoir, Being Jazz. You could be into superheroes like Kamala in Ms. Marvel (though unlike her, you probably won’t be turning superhero yourself and meeting your idols.) Whether you’re into music, musical theater, math, photography, computers, renaissance fairs, a TV show, dragons, or anything else, take a look at our Geeking Out display this month. Even if you can’t find a character who shares your specific interests, you’ll probably relate to the passionate, dedicated, geeky, and occasionally obsessed characters in the books.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Daughters Unto Devils Review

By: Elsa F-T., Teen Blogger

Check Out Daughters Unto Devils by Amy LukavicsLet me start out by saying that this book was incredibly well done. It terrified me and gave me chills even when I was reading in broad daylight or in class surrounded by people. I questioned my sanity at times, and I was kind of scared of other people as well.

The main character, Amanda, was relatable and had a strong development throughout the book. I loved her siblings and most of her family. There was a very noticeable contrast between all of the moods, between happiness when they find a cabin and terror closer to the end, and often there was no warning before it turned dark, which was a wonderful surprise. Amanda’s separation from the other characters and her own thoughts made it more eerie, as though you were trapped inside her mind next to her.

The author, Amy Lukavics, really knows how to write a horror book-it seems she cut nothing out for fear of it being too dark. It also was a fairly quick read-I remember my brother remarking that he thought I was less than halfway in a couple hours ago. I replied that I was, and I had finished the second half in the past half hour.

That said, I think the climax could have been brought to a much higher point of conflict and lasted for longer than it did. I also would have appreciated it if the parts with the post boy were shorter and had less focus. Finally, it was confusing to not know what happened “last winter” until later in the book. Neither of these things took too much away from my enjoyment of the book, however, so I would rate Daughters Unto Devils at eight and a half out of ten stars.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

YA Fiction for Pride Month

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

As you may know, June is LGBTQIA+ Pride month, home to parades, marches and other celebrations of the LGBTQIA+ community. We always like to celebrate with a good old fashioned book list, so today, we’d take advantage of a loooooong acronym, and pick one book for each of the letters – including one for the “+”.  It was hard to pick just one book for each letter, and the usual disclaimers apply – obviously we can’t cover all the wonderful books out there in just one blog post, and of course, none of these books will cover everyone’s experience. But this list, which covers a variety of genres and styles, is just the starting point. There is plenty more fantastic YA fiction out there, so don’t hesitate to ask for more! Descriptions are from goodreads.com.

Check Out If You Could Be Mine by Sara FarizanL – If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

Check Out More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveraG – More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Check Out Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah MoskowitzB – Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.

Check Out If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoT – If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Check Out Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff GarvinQ – Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out and risk everything.

Check Out Pantomime by Laura LamI – Pantomime by Laura Lam

In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Check Out This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura NowlinA – This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin

Bandmate, best friend or boyfriend? For Ramona, one choice could mean losing them all.

Ramona and Sam are best friends. She fell for him the moment they met, but their friendship is just too important for her to mess up. Sam loves April, but he would never expect her to feel the same way–she’s too quirky and cool for someone like him. Together, they have a band, and put all of their feelings for each other into music.

Then Ramona and Sam meet Tom. He’s their band’s missing piece, and before Ramona knows it, she’s falling for him. But she hasn’t fallen out of love with Sam either.

How can she be true to her feelings without breaking up the band?

Check Out Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate+ – Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School