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MassBook Awards Must-Read Middle Reader/Young Adult Literature for 2015

book jacketsTeens read! Just as picture books have been highlighted for young readers this year, 2015 marks the first time the Massachusetts Center for the Book has published a list of must-read "middle reader/young adult" books that were either written by a Massachusetts author or that had subject matter related to this great state. Here is the list with links so you can reserve your next favorite right now!

Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti

Papina is a young female rhesus monkey living peacefully with her family in an old cemetary in Kolkata (India) when a band of langur monkeys savagely attack. Mico is a young, priveledged male langur when his clan kicks out the rhesus, and he witnesses attrocities that give him good reason to question the authority of his clan's leaders. Full of intrigue, some light romance, betrayals, and family loyalty, this is a captivating fable.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Massachusetts’ own bestselling fantasy writer has brought another captivating story to life. I will not be surprised if this is made into a movie someday soon. Deep fantasy and an unconvential love trianble are the cornerstone of this tale. Hazel is the lead character, and she is a girl character who rocks! Growing up she always played the knight and I can not imagine her as a damsel in distress. Her brother Ben is blessed with a musical talent that, like all blessings, brings nearly as many problems as it solves.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

It’s the end of the world on Earth, and humans toil to terraform Mars and make it their new home planet. That is, humans that are of the Red class. Life on Mars isn’t the same for everyone, and people are divided into socio-economic classes that include the ruling Gold, powerful Obsidians,  and the mining Red. Part Hunger Games and part Game of Thrones, Red Rising focuses on a young man named Darrow, a Red who strives for something more than the mining life of his people.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This debut novel covers a host of serious topics that teens face every day in and out of school, with friends as well as bullies. The story begins with Clay Jensen returning home to find a box of 13 cassette tapes from Hannah Baker, his high school crush who had committed suicide just 2 week earlier. Clay learns that each tape is for someone who Hannah believes has played a part in her decision to commit suicide. Clay is told to listen to each tape to find out what his role was before passing them along onto the next person.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Good books are about everything, abbreviated. Austin (but his best friend calls him Porcupine) is in love with Shann. Robbie came out of the closet in seventh grade. Austin and Robbie have been friends forever, and Austin is realizing that he also has sexual feelings for Robbie - complicated! Wait, did I mention that this is a story about the end of the world, brought by unstoppable soldiers that are over six feet tall and look a lot like praying mantises? All the soldiers want to do is kill and have sex. Lots of sex.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

In this creative follow-up to the beloved classic The Wizard of Oz, readers are introduced to a drastically different Oz. Dorothy has returned, but instead of the sweet girl who just wanted to go home to Auntie Em, she has become a ruthless dictator, set on stealing up all of Oz’s power for herself and Glinda, the not so good “Good Witch”. In comes Amy Gumm, whose life outside of Oz is very different than Dorothy’s life in Kansas when she is sucked up by her own tornado and dropped into the new Oz.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Sent to the therapeutic Wooden Barn school to deal with her depression, Jam Gallahue is chosen for the Selected Topics in English class. Only a select few get chosen and Jam is left wondering why she is there. All she wants is to be back home with her British boyfriend Reeve, watching old comedy sketches. However all of that changes when her teacher gives the class their own journals and with each entry Jam is transported to the Belzhar. Jam, and each of her classmates revisit the time and place they were before their tragedy struck.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

After having embarrassed a prominent member of her small hometown, Evie O’Neill is sent off to New York City to live with her eccentric uncle Will, who is the head curator at a Museum for the Supernatural. With the background set in the vibrant times of the 1920’s, we learn that Evie has the ability to “see” the last thing that happened to any item she touches. When her uncle is called to a murder scene to investigate a cryptic symbol, Evie is suddenly thrown into a mysterious supernatural murder.

100 sideways miles by Andrew Smith

Do not judge this book by its cover. Recommended by our new teen/young adult specialist, this was a fully engaging read with minimal horse action. Finn is a young man who starts the book towards of the end of his junior year in high school. He's not very sexually experienced but his best friend has a special arrangement with a German exchange student that involves money and out-of-the way places. Finn's father wrote a science fiction book that has attracted a fairly large cult following, and the protagonist of that book is also named Finn.

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