Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“If You Find Me” by Emily Murdoch November 19, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:47 am
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If You Fine Me cover

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The Facts

256 pages; published March 2013

The Basics

Carey and Janessa are sisters living in the base circumstances – shivering, hungry, and abused in a broken-down trailer hidden deep in the woods by a neglectful, meth-addled mother. When they are found and taken back the world, the transition is harrowing, despite many good intentions, as the girls struggle to adjust to the unfamiliar and to clutch onto the most terrible secrets about their former life.

The Booktalk

Imagine being 14 and the most responsible person in your family. Carey’s mother is strung out on meth, willing to do anything (anything) for a fix. Carey’s sister is only six and doesn’t speak, hasn’t spoken since the worst night – the night of the white stars. Imagine being stolen by your own mother when you were just four years old and hidden in a trailer deep in the woods with no electricity, not enough food, not enough clothing, no bed, no toilet – nothing but fear and hiding – for 10 years. Imagine raising your own sister because your mother won’t.  Then imagine being found and taken to a house with a bed and a shower and toilet and plenty of warmth and clothes and food.  Wonderful, yes, but strange too. Then add school and other children and television and cell phones and all the things you don’t know anything about because you’ve been held captive in the woods. And then imagine that on top of it all, you have a terrible, terrible secret.

It’s all pressing down on Carey – her old bad fortune, her new good fortune – and the weight of all might be too much.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Fans of realistic fiction
  • Readers curious about psychology, PTSD, mental illness, and the impact of drug use
  • People with large boxes of tissues to wipe their tears

“All the Truth That’s In Me” by Julie Berry October 22, 2013

All the Truth That's in Me cover

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The Facts

274 pages; published September 2013

The Basics

A tiny town has been shattered by the murder of one of its girls and the kidnapping and mutilation of another. Judith is the one who returns, but finds no place in her family or the town horrified and confused by the discovery that her tongue has been cut out. Unable to speak the truth, she watches and contemplates.

The Booktalk

One small Puritan town. Two girls disappear in the same week. One is found floating, naked in the river. The other returns after two unsettling years. Her tongue is cut out. She is wrapped in silence and secrets.

Reviled by the community as “damaged,” now-mute Judith drifts ghostlike along the edges of her society, watching and listening. Most closely, she watched Lucas, a boy she has loved since childhood. He is the only source of kindness she still has.

When the tiny village comes under attack, but Lucas and Judith respond in the only ways they can think of – saving the village but shattering the uneasy balance of their lives. Loyalties shift.  Questions are asked. But no one is ready for what happens when Judith reveals All the Truth That’s In Me.

Random Thoughts

  • The dreamy style of this book is captivating. The story burbles out in small snippets, organized into chapterlets as small as a single line, and flows like water through a rocky creekbed until it trickles down to the riveting conclusion.
  • Although set in Puritan America, the book has some unmistakably contemporary sensibilities. Still, the setting somehow works in the end and the book becomes a memorable ride through the scandalous side of Puritanical life.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Readers asking for creepy mystery stories
  • Girls who like love stories
  • People interested in unique writing styles

“Stolen Into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup” by Judith and Dennis Fradin January 16, 2013

Filed under: History,Non-Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 4:00 pm
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Stolen into Slavery cover

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The Facts

120 pages; published January 2012

The Basics

Solomon Northup was born a free black in New York and lived as a free black man for 33 years. In 1841, he was drugged, kidnapped, and sold to a slave trader. He survived 12 years of slavery in Louisiana before finding a way back to his wife and 3 children in New York state.


Humans of capable of doing terrible, terrible things. Solomon Northup was a husband, a father, and a free black man. In 1841, he was looking for work and made a connection to two white men who said they wanted to hire him to play his violin – an instrument he played with great skill – for a circus down the road. They traveled with him, ate with him, and gained his trust. They even helped him obtain papers proving he was a free man before the trio crossed into slave territory – Washington D.C. But the two men were just scheming. When they arrived in the nation’s capital, they carried out their real plan. They drugged Solomon and sold him to a slave trader for $650.

Solomon was not alone. Thousands of free blacks were stolen and illegally sold as slaves in the years before the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. There were laws against this, but as Solomon found, once he was in the hands of the slavers, he had no rights and no way of accessing the legal system. Solomon’s story – unlike the stories of many of these stolen lives – is known because after 12 years of living in slavery, he found a way to make contact and return to his home. In 1853, he published a book about his ordeal. That book is the basis for this story, which lays in out a simple narrative how it happened, how he survived, and all that Solomon had to endure.

It is the story of one man’s experience that increases understanding about the depth of the legacy of shame left by our nation’s slave past.


“Girl, Stolen” by April Henry November 4, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:00 am
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Girl, Stolen cover

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The Facts

213 pages; published December 2010

The Basics

It’s a fast-paced thriller about a blind girl accidentally kidnapped when her step-mother’s car is stolen. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s just been diagnosed with pneumonia. There is a lot going on in this short, exciting tale as Cheyenne develops an interesting relationship with the trying-to-be-a-tough-guy boy who stole her away.

The Booktalk

It’s a cold night. Cheyenne – sick and feverish from pneumonia – begs her step-mother to leave the car on with the heat running. Her step-mother will only be away for a minute to get medicine inside the pharmacy. But it’s a terrible minute for Cheyenne when a man steals and drives away with her inside. He doesn’t even see her there until Cheyenne starts screaming. And she can’t see him because Cheyenne is blind.

As both become panicked and confused, the thief, Griffin, – a teen little older than Cheyenne – drives her to his remote home. When Griffin’s brutal father and his henchmen make a key discovery about Cheyenne, the situation goes from bad to worse forcing Griffin the kidnapper into the role of Cheyenne’s only hope for survival.


YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)

Fan Trailer – the end is awesome – wait for it!


“You Are My Only” by Beth Kephart February 10, 2012

You Are My Only cover

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The Facts:

Published October 2011; 240 pages.

The Basics: 

Sophie lives a lonely life with a mother who never allows her to leave, who controls all her choices, and moves them whenever she thinks the No Good might be close to finding them. Emmy was young and loved her Baby. She only left her for a moment to run inside for a blanket. Thirteen steps up. Thirteen steps down. Baby was gone. In alternating chapters, we watch as Sophie risks everything to reach out to the boy next door, and Emmy unravels in the desperate search for her beloved Baby.

Book Talk:

Sophie doesn’t know why. She doesn’t know why her mother has always kept her locked in the house. She doesn’t know why it’s so important that she create the perfect model of a icosahedron. She doesn’t know what exactly is the “No Good” her mother is always running from when the move and move and move again. What she does know about is that the curly haired boy next door with his noisy dog. She knows he is worth sneaking and lying – just a little – to spend time in his cozy home where they bake cookies every day and plan grand adventures.

Emmy doesn’t know what happened. She just went inside for a moment. And now her Baby is gone and she can’t go look for her because they’ve locked her in this place, this hospital and she has nothing to hold onto.

Darting between these two, the chapters tell a story about what happens when things unravel.