The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

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

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

Blurryface Review

By: Hannah O., Teen Blogger

Check Out Blurryface by TwentyOne PilotsBlurryface is an interesting album by a musical duo that is quickly gaining popularity, twentyønepiløts. The album consists of 14 songs, each one different from the next. The album’s main idea is of the villain, Blurryface, who creates vibes of depression, anxiety and insecurities. When I listened to this album, there were a lot of emotions, such as happiness, emptiness, sadness and fear. The album really leaves an imprint on you after you listen, through the use of metaphors in lyrics and sound effects. The songs have interesting combinations of Tyler Joseph’s vocals, ukulele, piano and Josh Dun’s drum playing that is finished off with interesting electronic sounds. Blurryface is classified as alternative or “schizo-pop”, which is an unofficial subgenre of pop.

Some of the most popular songs on the album are “Tear in My Heart” and “Stressed Out.” “Tear in My Heart” is the most upbeat song on the album and probably the only romantic song as well. It’s very joyful and has a memorable intro with piano chords and drums that lead into the first verse. “Stressed Out” is more thought provoking and is centered around growing up. I feel that many people like this song because people of all ages can relate to how stressful it is to grow up and have responsibility. Personally, my favorite song on the album is “Goner,” which is very slow and deep. It starts very simple with vocals and piano and slowly adds drums and more sounds effects. It’s very meaningful and my favorite part is when everything dies out until Tyler Joseph screams “don’t let me be gone.”

I would recommend Blurryface to teenagers who like some darker music and themes but enjoy different music and thoughtful lyrics. Overall, this album is definitely worth the 52 minutes and 23 seconds it takes to listen to it.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I’m Reading Now – Outrun the Moon

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check Out Outrun the Moon by Stacey LeeAs you may recall, last summer I was raving about Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, a book I adored when I read it and continue to talk about. So I was psyched to get Lee’s next book on audio, and am finding my car rides extra enjoyable while listening to it!

What I Just Read: Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

What’s It About (Jacket Description): San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

Do I Like It: As expected, I’m loving it!

Thoughts: Only two books in, and already I am learning to count on Stacey Lee for amazing historical fiction, strong and well-rounded young woman protagonists, and incredible depictions of friendships between girls. Those are all things that Outrun the Moon has in common with Under a Painted Sky, along with fascinating glimpses at Chinese beliefs and culture. But Outrun the Moon is its own distinct story as well, and Mercy is an amazing heroine.

One of my favorite things about Mercy is that she is compassionate, brave and caring, but these qualities exist right alongside her ambition and difficulties abiding by the rules. From the very first pages, we learn that Mercy is impetuous and headstrong (which leads to a very exciting trip in a hot air balloon) and not long after we discover that she is determined to become a successful businesswoman and lift her family out of poverty. While certainly Mercy’s ambition is understandable, particularly given how her family struggles with prejudice and being poor, it’s also lofty. She’s not just striving for better, she’s striving for the best. I love that this is part of her character, and that her ambition is part of what makes her strong and determined and supports her better self.

I’m also loving, as I expected, the friendships that Mercy is developing. While I felt her connection to her friend Tom and to her family right from the start, watching her slowly growing friendships with some of the girls at her school is delightful. Each one of Mercy’s friends clearly has her own life, hopes, dreams and wants, and all seem like real people. I’m closing in on the halfway point, and really looking forward to seeing how the relationships develop in the rest of the book.

On top of incredible character and a rapidly increasing plot pace, Outrun the Moon is a can’t-put-it-down read. Add in the incredible research and wealth of detail that makes 1906 San Francisco come alive, and I have a feeling this won’t be the only time I’m reading this book. Highly recommended for anyone who likes historical fiction, great characters and incredible relationships.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Summer Reads for Summer Reading

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

A Book Sitting Open, Spine Up, With An Ocean ViewLast week we talked about all the reasons our summer reading program is awesome. Now let’s talk about all the reasons reading in the summer is awesome! Summer in general, and on vacation in particular, is about my favorite time to read. There’s something about being able to sit outside in the sun, or in a cool library or coffee shop on a hot day, and immerse yourself in a book.

While anything is fair game in the summer, I always find myself gravitating towards books set in the summer, or in hot climates, during these months. Reading about a character taking on a summer job, eating ice cream, sunning on the beach or any number of other summery, warm weather activities just helps me really immerse myself in the season. And I find that somehow, reading about hot sticky weather, dirt and mosquitos outdoors, and even drama and heartbreak, make even those things seem more fun – or at least when it comes to mosquitos, more tolerable.

Whether you’re like me and want to read about the season all summer or you just want to sneak in just one or two summer and warm weather themed books, boy have we got the display for you. You can pick up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe to read a first chapter entitled “The Rules of Summer,” feel the southern California heat in Mexican White Boy, go surfing in Hawaii in Juniors, enjoy the glamor of Hollywood while finding love in Everything Leads to You, or sweat it out while running from demons on New York streets in Shadowshaper. Our “Summer Reads” display features books for everyone that will help you sink into summer and enjoy everything this hot, unique and wonderful season has to offer.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Summer Reading

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Dog Wearing Party Hat Surrounded by Balloons First things first, the school year is over, finals are over, and congratulations to you all!

And with the end of the school year comes the start of summer reading!

Yeah, I know.  Most of you are probably not nearly as excited about this as I am. But summer reading is different from reading for school, and while there is immense educational value in reading your assigned books, summer reading is more fun and, at least for me, more rewarding. So here’s four (and a half) reasons that summer reading is better than assigned reading:

A Young Boy Holding a Gift. Here's A Gift Card. Don't Spend It All In One Place... (ecards)1. You get prizes for reading. Sign up for summer reading, get a backpack. Read five books, get not only a $5 gift card to Amazon or Starbucks, but also an entry into a grand prize drawing for a $100 Ticketmaster gift card. And if you read more books than any other teens in this summer’s program, you’ll win the other grand prize, another $100 Ticketmaster gift card. I feel confident in saying that being given backpacks, Starbucks and concert tickets is not typically part of assigned reading.
1a. The exception to the above is, if you read assigned books during summer reading, you do get prizes! Just log your assigned books along with everything else you read over the summer, and it counts.
Check Out Nimona by Noelle Stevenson 2. You get to choose what you read! Seriously, read whatever you want. Graphic novel? Fine. That one romance you’ve re-read so many times the cover is falling out? It counts! All 10 books in an epic (and epically long) fantasy series? Great, that’s two gift cards! Audiobooks?  Still books, still count. I mean, okay, if we see you logging Elephant & Piggy books, we may want to talk to you about whether or not you’re really reading at your level. But if Elephant & Piggy books are at your reading level? Then those totally count. Plus, let’s be honest, they’re great books.
Uncle Sam I Want You To Help WIth Habitat For Humanity 3. You’ll be contributing to your community just by reading! This year’s theme is Read to Build, and we are partnering with Habitat for Humanity. If the Glen Ellyn community meets their summer reading goals, the Friends of the Library and the GEPL Foundation will donate enough for the new appliances that are the finishing touches on a house for a family in need.

Baby Making Face Playing with Nerf Guns; Didn't Get Shot In The Eye 4. There are fun programs all summer as part of summer reading! Let loose next Friday, June 10, with our After-Hours Nerf Wars. This year the theme is The Middle vs. The Teen Scene, so if you bring your middle school sibling, you’ll even have a chance to shoot at them with a Nerf gun (no aiming for the eyes allowed.)
In July, you can contribute to families in need another way by participating in our Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity – Teen Edition. Bonus, you get to see me trying to remember everything I learned about power tools during my Theater Tech class in college. And in August, if high schoolers meet their reading goals (regardless of how the rest of the library does) you get to see me and some familiar faces from school humiliating ourselves at the Carnival of Embarrassment. If you’re one of our top readers, you’ll even get a chance to dunk me in a dunk tank.
So there you go – four ways that summer reading is something to look forward to, even if you’re a little burnt out from your school year. Sign up here, and get started on a great summer!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

#WNDB Contemporary Realistic Edition

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

The last couple of weeks, we’ve been focusing on some exciting, adventurous, or straight-up fantastical books for #WeNeedDiverseBooks. But those aren’t the right reads for every person or every time – sometimes you just want to read about people like you, living in a world like yours. Contemporary realistic books can range from funny to heart-wrenching, from small issues to big, from friendships to family to romance. But they all reflect the world around us. If you’re looking for a good book featuring the real world and true-to-life people, try one of these contemporary realistic reads. Descriptions are from

Check Out The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live

Check Out All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan KielyRashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next — that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing — the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement.

So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.

Check Out Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzA lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. 

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common.

But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship — the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Check Out If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo – Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different — and a love story that everyone will root for.

Check Out The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork – Vicky Cruz shouldn’t be alive.

That’s what she thinks, anyway — and why she tried to kill herself. But then she arrives at Lakeview Hospital, where she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.

Yet Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up — sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide — Vicky must find her own courage and strength. She may not have any. She doesn’t know.

Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

Check Out Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz 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 Push Girl by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love Push Girl by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love – Kara is a high school junior who’s loving life. She’s popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she’s a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can’t stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can’t seem to leave her alone, Kara won’t let anything get in the way of her perfect year.

It’s Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she’s crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver’s side of Kara’s car.

When Kara wakes up, she has no memory of the night before. Where is she? Why are her parents crying? And, most importantly – why can’t she feel her legs? As Kara is forced to adjust to her new life, where her friends aren’t who they seemed to be and her once-adoring boyfriend is mysteriously absent, she starts to realize that what matters in life isn’t what happens to you – it’s the choices you make and the people you love.

Co-written by “Push Girls” star Chelsie Hill, whose real life closely mirrors Kara’s experience, this novel will open the eyes of readers everywhere who have never met someone who lives with paralysis.

Check Out To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved – five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School