GEPL Teens Blog

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – If I Stay Book-to-Movie Review

Teens Blog BannerAfter getting to meet the star of the movie If I Stay, Chloë Grace Moretz, and the author behind the story, Gayle Forman, in Chicago this summer, I’ve been meaning to see the movie for a long time. But even though it took until late October, it was most definitely worth the wait.

Blog Entry 106 - Image 1The book If I Stay revolves around Mia, an aspiring cellist who loses her family in a car crash. While in the hospital, Mia remains in a coma and has to decide whether to die and be with her beloved family, or whether to stay and be with her rock star boyfriend, Adam. She relives many of her life experiences with them while in a coma and watches in the hospital as her grandparents, best friend and boyfriend witness the girl they love most struggle to survive. The book is painfully heartbreaking to read and is impossible to put down, so needless to say, I had high expectations for the movie.

The movie, directed by RJ Cutler, stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia. I have to say, at the beginning of the movie, I was worried about how closely it would stick to the plot and how good it would be. The opening scenes with Mia at school and with her family were very cheesy and the acting seemed almost fake. I remember thinking; please not another book-to-movie adaption fail. There were just too many forced jokes and unrealistic relationships, but then the car crash happened.  And after that, everything changed.

From about the second half of the movie and Blog Entry 106 - Image 2forward, the entire movie flipped from its disappointing start to an emotional rollercoaster. The movie is full of heartbreak and will make you want to run home and hug your family and tell all your friends how much you love them. I’m not much of a crier at movies, but I can sincerely say that I cried not once, but 5 different times throughout this movie. Scenes with Mia, her parents, and her brother make you realize the importance of family, and a scene in which her Grandpa cries over her hospital bed will make you choke up. Scenes with Mia and Adam will make you wish you could have a relationship like theirs. Moretz does an incredible job as playing Mia as a girl who loves her family, her boyfriend and who has a passion for music. That’s another thing; the use of music in the movie was amazing, showcasing just how important it was to the story. The music added to the strong emotions of the movie and the sadness that comes with the beautiful story.  If you haven’t read the book before, the movie will make you question the entire time whether Mia will stay or will go, leaving you on the edge of your seat.

Overall, If I Stay was an excellent movie that stayed close to the book and had great acting. I promise, once you get past the not-so-great beginning, you will not stop crying for the rest of the movie. I highly recommend picking it up on DVD when it’s released. And even better news? Chloë Grace Moretz is starring in another YA adaption of Rick Yancey’s The Fifth Wave. Hopefully in this sci-fi thriller her acting will cause a lot fewer tears because, as for me, I’m still recovering from If I Stay.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: What I Just Read – Rites of Passage

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 105 - ImageYes, I know that I am constantly talking about this, but once again, I decided to go outside my comfort zone a little recently. I picked up a book that didn’t seem like quite my “type,” and was completely blown away.  So thanks to the marketing team at HarperTeen, because without their work promoting the book, I probably never would have picked up Rites of Passage.  And I would definitely have been missing out if I hadn’t!

What I Just Read: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

Did I Like It: I loved it!

Thoughts: There were two parts of the synopsis of this book that made me think it might not be my “type” of book. The first was the over-emphasis on romance. I read the line about Sam’s attraction to her drill sergeant etc., and my first thought was “romance is all well and good, but it sounds like there are WAY more important things going on, and I sure hope this girl wouldn’t risk it all just for a boy.” More on that in a minute. The other thing that initially steered me away from this book was the military academy aspect. Something about that just didn’t gel with me. I love a good contemporary fiction book, I enjoy boarding school stories, and a huge chunk of the fantasy novels I read heavily feature a fictionalized and fantastical military, but I guess I just couldn’t get into the idea of those three worlds colliding.

How wrong I was. Rites of Passage brings military school to life in a completely absorbing way. I read this book so fast my head spun. I couldn’t help myself, even though by halfway through I knew I was going to be sad to leave Sam at the end of the book. Joy N. Hensley attended a military school, so she knows her stuff. From the crazy scary hazing-via-physical fitness (which simultaneously made me feel super weak and feel like working out all day) to the formal language for interactions with superiors to the camaraderie that being in such an intense situation can inspire, I was there.

Not only that, but Sam was a fantastic central character. She wasn’t flawless, but she was strong, stubborn, tough as nails, and determined to succeed not only for her own sake, but for the sake of her brother and the next class of female recruits as well. Having such a fantastic character at the heart of the book made it worth reading about the horrible abuse Sam suffers, because I was rooting for her so hard. And the romance was there, it was good, but it never detracted from the high stakes of Sam’s survival and success at the academy, and it never made Sam question her priorities. So in other words, the romance was perfect.

All in all, Rites of Passage was the kind of book that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. Sam was an inspiring protagonist, the world of the military academy was enveloping, and the side plots and characters were interesting and realistic without ever detracting from the main character and plot. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Stuck in Love

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 104 - ImageWe all want a little bit of romance (or at least I do), whether it be in novels, TV shows, or movies. But not all forms of entertainment have it, or they go overboard with it. I for one have trouble finding movies with the right amount of romance, but now I believe I found one.

What I watched: Stuck in Love 

What is it about:  Three years past his divorce, veteran novelist Bill Borgens (Academy Award nominee Greg Kinnear) can’t stop obsessing over, let alone spying on, his ex-wife Erica (Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly), who ignominiously left him for another man. Even as his neighbor-with-benefits, Tricia (Kristen Bell) tries to push him back into the dating pool, he remains blind to anyone else’s charms. Meanwhile, his fiercely independent collegiate daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) is publishing her first novel while recoiling at the very thought of first love with a diehard romantic (Logan Lerman); and his teen son Rusty (Nat Wolff) is trying to find his voice, both as a fantasy writer and as the unexpected boyfriend of a dream girl with unsettlingly real problems. As each of these situations mounts into a tangled trio of romantic holiday crises, it brings the Borgens to surprising revelations about how endings become beginnings. (Summary from

Did I like it: Yes absolutely

Thoughts: I thought this movie was cute, a little bit cheesy (in a good way) and a different style of portraying a romantic story. Each of the Borgens have their own personalities that are completely different from each other. The father is still in love with his ex-wife and may have become a stalker; the daughter, Samantha, doesn’t believe in love and has her guard up so she won’t get hurt; and the son, Rusty, just wants to be this one girl’s knight in shining armor. I also thought that this movie was different from other romantic movies because the romance, though a key part of the story wasn’t all that the movie was focusing on. Each character had challenges that they had to face throughout the film. What I thought was very relatable was the idea that they found love when facing these challenges and still had it when they overcame them.

I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to find a story with romance and other things in between.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: How to Read Non-Fiction

Teens Blog BannerJust in case it’s not already super obvious, I want to share something with you all: I am an avid reader of fiction.  (I know: mind = blown, right?)  I practically breathe novels.  What I am not such an avid reader of is non-fiction.  It’s not exactly a choice – in fact, I often tell myself I ought to read non-fiction, and on the rare occasions I do, I usually enjoy it.  But I just can’t escape the seduction of a novel – of getting sucked in to a story about fictional characters, and stepping into what is ultimately someone else’s creation from start to finish.

Now, that’s not to say I never read non-fiction – I just rarely read it in book form.  I am a pretty bit reader of blogs, articles, essays, etc. online.  I follow a wide variety of blogs, professional and personal.  I am addicted to essay-style writing in news outlets.  Reading reviews after I finish a book is part of how I process my latest novel.  And yet, trying to convince myself to pick up a non-fiction book is like pulling teeth.

Until now.  I may have finally learned the necessary steps to bringing non-fiction into my reading sphere a little more.

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Step 1: Choose a non-fiction book I’m practically guaranteed to love.  In this case, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.  Among other things, this book is an essay collection, so it kind of feels like reading a whole lot of blog entries and essays by a favorite online author, which I love to do!

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Step 2: Make sure the book is not in at the library.  If it is in and I try to go pick it up, I will end up picking up a novel instead.  Happens every time.

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Step 3: Put this non-fiction book on hold at the library.  This means it’s going to come and I’m going to get it without having a chance to be sidetracked by fiction.

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Step 4: Feel obligated to read the book before I have to return it for the next person on the hold list.

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Step 5: Enjoy!

I’m really loving Bad Feminist, and as I’m always saying, it’s good to occasionally step outside of our reading comfort zones and get into something a little different.  So if you’ve been trying to diversify your reading but having trouble, I can totally sympathize, and I strongly suggest the putting an item on hold method.  I’ll be back to novels once I finish these essays, but next time I think “gosh, I should really read some non-fiction, it’s been a while,” I now know how to do it!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – A Walk to Remember

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 102 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

Description: Every April, when the wind blows from the sea and mingles with the scent of lilacs, Landon Carter remembers his last year at Beaufort High. It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he’d fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town’s Baptist minister.

A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from the other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon would never have dreamed of it.

Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter’s life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood… (Description from

Review: A Walk to Remember is a very beautiful story. It’s about a 17 year old boy named Landon who is popular, and it seems like he’s very close minded at the beginning of the story. There’s also a girl named Jamie who is a part of a very religious family, and she’s also a talented singer. A Walk to Remember is also a movie but they’re both a little different. The story is about how Landon falls in love with Jamie (a girl no one wants to be around) little by little. Fate made him her homecoming date and nothing in their lives were the same afterwards.  Jamie showed Landon other depths of life and changed his perspectives on life. Landon started to lose his bad boy image when he started to go out with Jamie.

This book shows a very valuable lesson and that is people with different statuses, wealth, age, gender, race or religion can have friendships or something even more valuable with each other. No one should base their friendship on physical and changeable things and this book shows that perfectly. I absolutely loved how Landon took a chance with Jamie even though it took a lot for him to do it. This book shredded my heart to pieces and tied it back together and shredded back to pieces again. This is such a heart-warming story and it kind of reminds me of The Fault in Our Stars. A Walk to Remember is so inspirational and I loved it! The characters in the book are complete opposites of each other yet they make an impact on each other that is so great. I couldn’t believe how well written this book was and it was a million times better than the movie. Jamie’s character was so always so nice and she had an ongoing spark that never dulled out even when she was at her worst, and I loved her character so much. I would really recommend this book!


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Creepy Reads

Teens Blog BannerHalloween is almost upon us, and if you’ve Blog Entry 101 - Image 1been following our Tumblr, you know I’m pretty excited about that.  Among the things I love about Halloween are candy, costumes, pumpkins, cute black cats, and creepy reading.  Now generally speaking, I don’t like being scared.  I avoid horror movies like the plague.  I even avoid trailers for horror movies.  But this time of year, I can usually deal with it a little and subject myself to a creepy read or two.  There’s something compelling and engrossing about scary books, and this is the perfect time of year to cozy up with a pumpkin flavored something or a few handfuls of candy corn, and get a good case of the shivers.  Here’s a few books you might check out to give yourself a scare!

Blog Entry 101 - Image 2Dracula by Bram Stoker – Just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of spooky goodness in Dracula.  From the early pages carefully describing the creepy atmosphere in Transylvania, to the horrifying description of Dracula himself (spoiler: vampires were not always attractive; Dracula has blood red eyes and hairy palms, among other things,) to the gore of finally killing a vampire, Dracula has plenty spine-chilling scenes to go with its well-deserved literary classic status.  Bonus points for being able to tell people you’re reading a classic while you enjoy the horror monster goodness.

Blog Entry 101 - Image 3In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – One of last year’s Morris award (for best YA debut author) finalists, In the Shadow of Blackbirds was creepy enough that if it hadn’t been up for an award, I might not have read it.  Lucky for me it was a Morris nominee!  In the Shadow of Blackbirds was an engaging and exciting read, and although it definitely scared me, the creepiness is part of what made it so good.  In the Shadow of Blackbirds is historical fiction with a strong paranormal element.  Spiritualist photographers, ghosts, and a terrifying plague all come together to create a frightening, almost-real world, enhanced by real life black and white photos from around the fall of 1918 when the book is set.

Blog Entry 101 - Image 4Coraline by Neil Gaiman – Yes, Coraline is aimed at kids, but that didn’t stop it from scaring the pants off me the first time I read it.  I cannot overstate how eerie the other house and other mother and other world presented in Coraline are.  The fear of everything we know and love somehow becoming wrong is something I think anyone can understand and sympathize with, and Coraline plays on those fears.  And some images from Coraline I will never forget – buttons will never be the same for me, and sometimes I’m still kept awake at night by the thought of a sinister hand stalking me.

Blog Entry 101 - Image 5Scowler by Daniel Kraus – Main character Ry’s father has been in prison for the last eight years, but in Scowler, Ry is faced with the possibility of a monster returning – or being created.  I’ll admit: this one I haven’t read, because I’m just too darned scared of how terrifying it will be.  The audio version won an award, because apparently the narration intensifies the already intensely scary text.  Reading about the audio version was when I decided that I just couldn’t do this book.  But if you find real-world monsters to be scarier than made up ones, and psychological thrillers to be creepier than vampire attacks, then Scowler just might be the perfect frightening read for you this Halloween.

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Write – What You Need to Know about the We Need Diverse Books Campaign

Teens Blog BannerGrowing up it was always frustrating that many book characters I aspired to be like were often nothing like me. Say, for example, the pretty, popular girl who got the guy of her dreams in a romantic novel, or the handsome white boy who saved the day in an action story. None of these protagonists showed much diversity of any kind. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of these characters are still funny, strong, and inspiring heroes. Plus, there are definitely many authors whose characters defied this standard. However, there’s no denying that there is a lack of diversity in today’s young adult novels. A majority of the lead characters are white, showcasing few other ethnic backgrounds. Many characters are described with flawless appearances and feel unrealistic and un-relatable. While the personalities of these characters are great, it is hard for the diverse youth of today to find someone to relate to within their favorite teen books.

This year, a group on Tumblr sought to change that. Their blog titled “We Need Diverse Books” talks about the lack of diversity in youth novels inaccurately representing the world’s population. That’s why they decided to create the twitter movement that swept the world. They decided that on May 2nd, people on twitter could tweet using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks because _______ and then fill in the blank with why diverse books are important to them.

What started as a small movement ended up trending worldwide (tweeted 160 million times) and starting a brand new phenomenon with many of your favorite YA authors.

Check out some pictures below that people tweeted about why they think “We Need Diverse Books”!

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The movement not only promotes the use of racially diverse characters, but characters who aren’t afraid to be themselves, who aren’t just “popular”, who are of different religions or gay. Teens have responded with how diversity representation has made a difference: In Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, she introduced one of YA’s favorite couples “Malec”. By writing about a gay couple, Clare received messages from gay readers who have told her about how she has helped them be more comfortable about themselves. There’s also Sharon M. Draper’s novel Romiette and Julio about the struggles faced by a racially diverse couple that many couples can relate to today. Icons by Margaret Stohl tells the story of a Latino protagonist. Not only do these great books give diverse teens someone to relate to, but they also expose people to other cultures. They allow teens to be more accepting, and learn to stand up against discrimination and bullying.

Many authors fear about writing about characters that aren’t like them. Author Malinda Lo gives this advice, “Want to write a character of color, but scared you’ll get it wrong? Do it anyway.” It’s better to write about diverse characters and make a few mistakes then not write about them at all, that is what research is for. Part of the job that comes with writing is writing about things you don’t know- that’s what makes writing so fun!

So this is a call to authors and readers: read/write about something new, something different. Step out of your boundaries and expose yourself to the diversity that makes this world such an amazing, unique place! And go on Twitter to share with the world why you think “We Need Diverse Books”.

If you want to check out the campaign or find out about some diverse books in YA check out the official website for We Need Diverse Books:

To find more statistics about diversity representation in children’s novels and to read some people’s tweets check out this article by the Huffington Post.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: One Year Later

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 99 - ImageGuess what?  As of last week, I have officially been your teen librarian for a year now!  I hope some of you are excited about that – I know I certainly am.  It’s been a wonderful year for me here at GEPL, and my favorite part (by far!) has been getting to know some of the awesome teens in and around Glen Ellyn.  There’s not much I enjoy more than talking books, movies, fandoms, and more with you all, and I feel so lucky that I get to come to work every day and do just that.  It’s amazing.

So now that I’ve been here a while, I wanted to take a minute to talk about some of the awesome stuff the library has done with and for Glen Ellyn teens in the last year, and some of what we hope to accomplish in the next year.

For starters, we’ve had some really great programs this past year!  From Late Night Study to Homework Cafe to practice tests and college prep workshops, we’re really trying hard to support your education and your future, and hopefully make studying more fun.  So don’t forget to come get pizza when you study for finals, or coffee and hot chocolate on Thursday afternoons in the Teen Scene.  And keep your eyes open for programs from our community partners that will help you improve your ACT scores, write a great college application essay, and get some solid advice on planning for the future.

We’ve also had some programs that are just plain fun, and I think those are important too!  Whether it’s immersing yourself in a fandom, enjoying a book that wasn’t an assignment, or even shooting some Nerf darts, we think you deserve some relaxation.  So we’ve had release parties for some fan-favorite movies like Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars (and have another for Mockingjay coming up!), we’ve rewarded you for reading your favorite books over the summer during summer reading, and in August, we took over the second floor of the library during the National Teen and Tween Lock-In for some after-hours Nerf games.

On top of these great programs, I’m always reading books reviews and ordering great books for our Teen Scene.  We’re also doing our best to help you all find fantastic new reads, through online booklists, one-on-one recommendations, and reviews right here on this blog.  We’re keeping in touch with you on Twitter and Tumblr, and staying connected in a bit more depth in this blog space.

For the next year, we’re hoping to keep up the good work – and then some.  We’ll continue supporting your education with great programs throughout the year, but plan to keep having fun as well with programs like a Frozen watch party and sing-along in November, building marshmallow guns in December, and in the spring, another after-hours Nerf wars program.  After the remodeling on the second floor is done, we’ll be re-decorating the teen space with a teen art contest this winter.  As the school year ends, we’ll welcome new and returning volunteers over the summer to give you a chance to get involved in the library, and give us a chance to get more great feedback and ideas from teens.

Overall, I’ve had a wonderful time my first year here at GEPL!  I have loved getting to know this community, especially the teens here, and I hope to get to know you better over this next year.  So next time you’re at the library, stop by and say hi.

I can’t wait to for my next year with you!

Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: Teens Review – Tuesdays with Morrie

Teens Blog BannerBlog Entry 98 - ImageReviewer: Sabrina

Book Title: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Description: Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of ALS – or motor neurone disease – Morrie visited Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final class: lessons in how to live. This is a chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie’s lasting gift with the world. (Description from

Review: Tuesdays with Morrie beautifully shows the pain of losing someone. Mitch, a young adult, is completely caught up in his life of career, love, and money until he meets his former teacher, Morrie. During the last few weeks of Morrie’s life, Mitch and Morrie are again united. Every Tuesday Mitch comes to Morrie and brings him food and company. Morrie teaches him a new life lesson every week which changes Mitch’s life forever. These lessons are his final class from Morrie and they occur exactly when and where they used to in his college times, which I thought was very cool. Some of the lessons were: Regrets, death, aging, and forgiveness.

I think this story shows how the love between two people sometimes never changes over time, and there’s that tiny bit of hope for love. Morrie’s insight on some of the things are really hard to get now a days, so I believe that everyone needs this book in their lives. The lessons are so deep and it would be very hard for a person to get these thoughts and ideas from any other place. It really opens up this whole new world where feelings, thoughts, emotions, and internal love is more powerful than materialistic things. It teaches us that we shouldn’t let simple things get away from us because of life.

Tuesdays with Morrie is heavy and heartfelt, but also there’s a little bit of humor. Morrie teaches us to view the world from a completely different perspective. He makes us realize that we should be blessed for all the things in our lives. Every second is precious for Morrie because he never knows when his last second is. Honestly, that’s true for every human being because we never really know when our last breath is going to be. Emotions from the book are so easily felt. It’s hard not to be completely speechless after the book. The type of speechless where you feel like no word can compare to how you feel, where you feel a brighter spark inside of you. Every word is love, broken, empty, joy, and everything in between. I really recommend this book to every person out there because everyone has some lessons to learn from Morrie, and everyone deserves to have a word from Morrie.


Posted in GEPL Teens

GEPL Teens: World War II Historical Fiction

Teens Blog BannerLast time I discussed historical fiction on this blog, I specifically talked about how it sometimes seems like reading fantasy.  Well, today’s historical fiction list definitely does not feel like fantasy.  Perhaps it’s just because it’s a more recent period, or perhaps it is because as much as we might wish the events depicted were fantasy, we know they were not.  But either way, there is a lot of fantastic historical fiction about World War II that does an incredible job of bringing past events to modern readers, and helping us understand all the horrors and complexities of that war.  The list below highlights just a few of those books.

Blog Entry 97 - Image 1Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Part spy novel, part action adventure, and entirely a powerful exploration of friendship and strength, Code Name Verity is a seriously outstanding book.  It starts with Queenie, a British spy, writing out her confession to the gestapo after she is captured in occupied France.  Knowing she only lives until her story is completed, she makes her confession a long tale of her friendship with her best friend, Maddie, a pilot ferrying planes around England.  The girls developed their friendship while working on the war effort, and maintained it throughout the years and as Maddie trained to be a spy.  The second part of the book is from Maddie’s perspective as she worries about her friend.  There are twists and turns, tons of historical info (especially about planes), and plenty of cry-worthy moments.  Seriously, this book is just so good.  It’s intense and powerful and captivating.  If you end up loving it as much as I do, you’ll want to check out Elizabeth Wein’s other World War II historical YA novel, Rose Under Fire (warning: both books will probably make you cry.)

Blog Entry 97 - Image 2The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – You’ve most likely heard of this one, especially with the recent movie adapted from the book.  But hearing about it and reading it are two different things.  The Book Thief tells the story of Liesl, a young girl living in Nazi Germany with a foster family.  It’s an interesting look at life for regular German people during a terrible time in the country’s past.  The book explores Liesl’s friendships, troubles, relationship with her foster family, and habit of stealing books.  Narrated by Death – an appropriate narrator for such a bleak period in history – this book is literary, beautiful, and completely heartbreaking.

Blog Entry 97 - Image 3Mare’s War by Tanita S. DavisMare’s War takes place in two time periods – the present time, when Octavia and Tali are on a much-dreaded road trip with their grandmother Mare, and during World War II.  As Octavia and Tali discover, there is more to their eccentric grandmother than meets the eye.  Mare recounts how as a teenager, she was determined to join the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.  To do this, she had to escape her life in the South and lie about her age.  As she tells Octavia and Tali the story of her experiences in the Women’s Army Corps, readers can follow along with Mare’s World War II story as well as Octavia and Tali’s story as they ride with their grandmother.

Blog Entry 97 - Image 4Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet – Another book told in two time periods, Tamar tells the story of a granddaughter trying to learn more about her grandfather, and the story of two friends involved with the resistance in Holland during World War II.  After his death, Tamar receives coded messages from her grandfather (also named Tamar.)  She tries to follow up on his clues to learn the secrets of her grandfather’s past.  And during World War II, two young British spies in Holland desperately try to stay one step ahead of the gestapo, while at the same time navigating their friendship and a powerful romance.

Posted in GEPL Teens