The Key to the Golden Firebird: A Novel (age 12+)
by Maureen Johnson
realistic ... humor ... growing up ... family ... illness/loss
Publisher comments: The funny thing about stop signs is that they're also start signs. Mayzie is the brainy middle sister, Brooks is the beautiful but conflicted oldest, and Palmer's the quirky baby of the family. In spite of their differences, the Gold sisters have always been close. When their father dies, everything begins to fall apart. Level–headed May is left to fend for herself (and somehow learn to drive), while her two sisters struggle with their own demons. But the girls learn that while there are a lot of rules for the road, there are no rules when it comes to the heart. Together, they discover the key to moving on, and it's the key to their father's Pontiac Firebird. This critically acclaimed, totally compelling book is perfect for readers looking for both a fun ride and a life–changing journey from one of today's best new YA writers. And it fits perfectly in the glove compartment.
Perfect (age 12+)
by Natasha Friend
friendship ... family ... illness/loss
Publisher comments: Thirteen-year-old Isabelle Lee struggles with an eating disorder while dealing with a turbulent home life and social pressures at school. The author brings a depth of characterization, humor, and a real adolescent's voice to this multileveled story about the desire to be perfect in an imperfect world.
The Year of My Indian Prince (age 12+)
by Ella Thorp Ellis
realistic ... illness/loss ... historical
Publisher comments: It's the summer of 1945, and April is delighted that the war is finally over and her beloved father is home again. But she has a nagging cough and a fever, and she just can't seem to get better. When she's diagnosed with tuberculosis she's in shock; all she knows about TB is that characters in novels die of it. Soon her world has changed from school and swim meets to long days of complete bed rest in a TB hospital. There she meets her roommate, the beautiful and desperately ill Nancie. There she also meets Ravi, the handsome Indian prince who begins courting her under the guise of a "literary friendship." They share some wonderful times, but April is slowly getting sicker. There is one way out, but it is radical surgery that will leave her scarred, if she lives through it. What should she do?
The Truth About Forever (age 12+)
by Sarah Dessen
realistic ... growing up ... illness/loss
Publisher comments: Marcy is looking forward to a boring summer: She has a dull job at the library, will log many hours studying for the SATs, and will grieve silently over her father's death. Everything changes when she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew and starts really living life.
Green Angel (age 12+)
by Alice Hoffman
survival ... illness/loss
Publisher comments: Left on her own when her family dies in a terrible disaster, fifteen-year-old Green is haunted by loss and by the past. Struggling to survive physically and emotionally in a place where nothing seems to grow and ashes are everywhere, Green retreats into the ruined realm of her garden. But in destroying her feelings, she also begins to destroy herself, erasing the girl she'd once been as she inks darkness into her skin. It is only through a series of mysterious encounters that Green can relearn the lessons of love and begin to heal enough to tell her story.
The Moves Make the Man: A Novel (age 12+)
by Bruce Brooks
illness/loss ... friendship
Catalog: A black boy and an emotionally troubled white boy in North Carolina form a precarious friendship.
Black Box: A Novel (age 12+)
by Julie Schumacher
realistic ... illness/loss ... family
Publisher comments: When Dora, Elena’s older sister, is diagnosed with depression and has to be admitted to the hospital, Elena can’t seem to make sense of their lives anymore. At school, the only people who acknowledge Elena are Dora’s friends and Jimmy Zenk, who failed at least one grade and wears black every day of the week. And at home, Elena’s parents keep arguing with each other. Elena will do anything to help her sister get better and get their lives back to normal, even when the responsibility becomes too much to bear.
Trouble (age 12+)
by Gary Schmidt
bigotry ... growing up ... family ... illness/loss
Publisher comments: Henry Smith's father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you. But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henry's older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklin's preparatory school, and the accident sparks racial tensions in the school, and in the well-established town where Henry's family has lived for generations. Caught between anger and grief, Henry sets out to do the only thing he can think of: climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, which he and Franklin were going to climb together. Along with Black Dog, whom Henry has rescued from drowning, and a friend, Henry leaves without his parents' knowledge. The journey, both exhilarating and dangerous, turns into an odyssey of discovery about himself, his older sister, Louisa, his ancestry, and why one can never escape from Trouble.
The Postcard (age 12+)
by Tony Abbott
mystery ... illness/loss ... family
Publisher comments: She died today. One phone call changes Jason's summer vacation-and life!-forever. When Jason's grandmother dies, he's sent down to her home in Florida to help his father clean out her things. At first he gripes about spending his summer miles away from his best friend, doing chores, and sweating in the Florida heat, but he soon discovers a mystery surrounding his grandmother's murky past. An old, yellowed postcard...a creepy phone call with a raspy voice at the other end asking, "So how smart are you?..".an entourage of freakish funeral goers....a bizarre magazine story. All contain clues that will send him on a thrilling journey to uncover family secrets.
Do Not Pass Go (age 12+)
by Kirkpatrick Hill
realistic ... illness/loss ... family
Deet's world turns upside down when his father is arrested for drug use. It doesn't seem possible that kind, caring Dad could be a criminal! After all, he only took the pills to stay awake so he could work two jobs. Now what will happen? How will Deet be able to face his classmates? Where will they get money? And most importantly, will Dad be okay in prison? Hurt, angry, and ashamed, Deet doesn't want to visit his father in jail. But when Mom goes back to work, Deet starts visiting Dad after school. It's frightening at first, but as he adjusts to the routine, Deet begins to see the prisoners as people with stories of their own, just like his dad. Deet soon realizes that prison isn't the terrifying place of movies and nightmares. In fact, Dad's imprisonment leads Deet to make a few surprising discoveries: about his father, his friends, and himself.
Where the Lilies Bloom (age 12+)
by Vera Cleaver
historical ... family ... illness/loss
Publisher comments: Mary Call has promised her dying father to keep her brother and sisters together forever on the mountain, and never to take any help from strangers. She is determined to keep her word No matter what. At first she is sure she can manage. Romey, Ima Dean, and Devola help gather herbs to sell in town; the riches of the mountains will surely keep the family clothed and fed. But then winter comes, fast and furious, and Mary Call has to learn that the land where the lilies bloom is also a cruel and unforgiving place, and it may take more than a promise to keep her family together.
Figgs and Phantoms (age 12+)
by Ellen Raskin
illness/loss ... family
Chronicles the adventures of the unusual Figg family after they left show business and settled in the town of Pineapple. Mona must adjust to being part of an unusual family in ordinary surroundings, but also must deal with the potential loss of her favorite uncle.
To Spoil the Sun (age 12+)
by Joyce Rockwood
historical ... illness/loss
Smallpox - to the people of the Seven Clans it is a mysterious plague that spreads like an invisible fire and threatens to destroy everything. It is the sixteenth century and Rain Dove, a young Cherokee girl, lives in Mulberry Town. She looks forward to choosing a husband and raising a family. But after strangers arrive on the shore and the deadly illness takes hold, life for the people of the Seven Clans will never be the same.

Sat Aug 25 11:55:25 2012
Other themes and genres