Newly Added Books, Ages 12-18

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Books are arranged by age appropriateness.

The Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis, 2000 (Ages 12-14)

This is book 1 of a 4-book series that has become a classic with middle school and younger high school students. At the start of the series, Parvana is an 11year-old Afghani girl who, after the Taliban arrests her father, becomes the breadwinner for her family by passing herself off as a boy so she can work. In each book in the series, Parvana is a year older and rises to face new challenges based on historical events of that period. Proceeds from this series go to a Canadian non-profit that supports Afghani women and children.

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are used in War, by Michael Chikwarine and Jessica Dee Humphreys, 2020 (12-14)

Michel Chikwanine was five years old when he was abducted from his school-yard soccer game in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier for a brutal rebel militia. Against the odds, Michel managed to escape and find his way back to his family, but he was never the same again. Told in the first person and presented in a graphic novel format, the gripping story of Michel’s experience is moving and unsettling. But the humanity he exhibits in the telling, along with Claudia Dávila’s illustrations which evoke rather than depict the violent elements of the story, makes the book accessible for this age group and, ultimately, reassuring and hopeful. (Part of the CitizenKid series)

Free Lunch, by Rex Ogle, 2019 (Ages 12-14)

It’s not easy being one of the few students who get free lunch in a well-to-do school district. “Outstanding, gracious writing and a clear eye for the penetrating truth. A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism.” ― Kirkus, starred review

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir, by Robin Ha, 2020 (Ages 12-15)

A powerful and moving memoir in graphic novel format about coming to America– “Touching and subtly humorous, this emotive memoir is as much about the steadfast bond between a mother and daughter as it is about the challenges of being an immigrant in America.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

 This Is My America, by Kim Johnson, 2020 (Ages 13-15)

Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates. The mystery unfolds in this engaging tale of racism in Texas, both past and present. This page turner covers some of the same topics as the adult nonfiction book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, 2015 (ages 13-15)

In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension. “This hard-edged, ripped-from-the-headlines book is more than a problem novel; it’s a carefully plotted, psychologically acute, character-driven work of fiction that dramatizes an all-too-frequent occurrence. Police brutality and race relations in America are issues that demand debate and discussion, which his superb book powerfully enables.”-Booklist, starred review

Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi, 2020 (Ages 13-18)

Dr. Ibram Kendi, award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning, invited renowned children’s author Jason Reynolds to re-imagine his authoritative book on race and racism for teenagers. The result is this easily accessible and wonderfully empowering book for middle and high school students.

This Time Will Be Different, by Misa Sugiura, 2020 (Ages 15-18)

Seventeen-year-old CJ never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition; she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt at their family’s flower shop. Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and community. For the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for. Named as a best book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). “Sugiura tackles an abundance of topics with finesse, including social and economic injustice, allyship, and feminism, simultaneously breaking down the Asian-American immigration narrative and the myth of the model minority. Essential.” —Kirkus, starred review

The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, by Reyna Grande, 2013 (Ages 15-18 and beyond)

In this inspirational and unflinchingly honest memoir, acclaimed author Reyna Grande describes her childhood torn between the United States and Mexico, and shines a light on the experiences, fears, and hopes of those who choose to make the harrowing journey across the border. “I’ve been waiting for this book for decades. The American story of the new millennium is the story of the Latino immigrant, yet how often has the story been told by the immigrant herself? What makes Grande’s beautiful memoir all the more extraordinary is that, through this hero’s journey, she speaks for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard.” — Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street