Barnholdt, Lauren. Two-Way Street. H In this teen novel, a girl and her ex boyfriend are forced
to endure each other during a two day trip to the university they will be attending. Their
hostility hides other agendas, which the reader finds out as the book goes on. There are
good elements to the book--the main issue of how kids deal with their parents' really bad
decisions and how those thoughtless, selfish decisions impact the kids, but unfortunately
the casual acceptance of premarital sex (semi explicit), the language, and some crudity
get in the way of the narrative. I have a hard time with the basic premise: no teen girl I
know would go on such a trip with a guy who had hurt her so badly. She'd die first.
Bauer, Joan. Thwonk. DRP 54. MJH A light, comic romance with a wise theme, if the girls
this novel will appeal to will take the time to think about theme. Allison, a senior with
talent in photography, but not in choosing guys, suddenly acquires the aid of a real, live
cupid, who offers her the fulfillment of her fondest dream--the adoration of Peter Teris,
popular hunk going with beautiful popular girl Julia. Moral of the story: be careful of
what you want. You might get it. Alternate moral: adoration from a popular hunk is not
all as it is imagined. Well told, light, and positive.
Brashares, Ann. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. DRP 52 H This should have been an
excellent book to recommend to girls. There’s a big HOWEVER. The book deals with
four fifteen-year-old girls who have been inseparable since infancy who send a “magical”
pair of jeans back and forth during a summer in which they are separated. During the
summer each girl learns and grows through conflicts that stem from her particular
character and circumstances. She immediately recognizes that she “wasn’t ready” for
what she did. The sex itself is offstage, after the rather explicit leadup, and immature
readers might not catch exactly what happened, but it’s fairly clear. There is not even a
hint of a moral issue, just a “readiness” issue with the incident. The book also includes
several relatively harmless references to female anatomy as the girls tease each other.
The book brings up typical teenage issues in a usually positive way, but should be
recommended only cautiously because of the sexual issue, itself a good way to emphasize
that it is not always the boy who is the aggressor and that girls need to take responsibility,
The Second Summer of the Traveling Pants. JH The second in this series
examines mother/daughter relationships in the group of four girls who trade the pants.
Sexual issues, with premarital sex accepted as the norm, still come into the story, with
one girl’s mother beginning a new relationship and another girl finding herself involved
in a romance, but the stories stress responsibility (without any regard for religious mores
or morality), and are handled well enough not to offend most readers, (but religious
readers do need to know that the stance of this author is not necessarily one they should
accept). The book is essentially positive, showing skillfully all the ambiguity and
love/hate of various kinds of relationships between mothers and daughters trying to grow
Brian, Kate. The Princess and the Pauper. MJH I’m not sure which came first, the novel or
the movie, but the novel is an obvious takeoff on Twain’s medieval version. This one,
set in modern teenagedom, provides an entertaining read for kids looking for a harmless,
rather sweet romance. If you’re a lover of Princess Diaries, you’ll enjoy this tale
centered around the adventures of an impoverished daughter of a single mom trying to
survive who changes places (for money, and only temporarily) with a real princess so the
princess can go to a rock concert while the pauper takes her place at a reception. Positive
Cabot, Meg. All American Girl. MJH Samantha Madison is dealing with enough problems
already when she accidentally saves the life of the President of the United States. This
action just causes more problems: she becomes an instant hero and celebrity—and she
KNOWS she’s just not that special. But wait, maybe there are compensations—the
president’s son is really nice. Positive. Light, but with a good theme.
Avalon High. JH What fun! If you have studied Arthurian legend or the poem, “The
Lady of Shallott,” you are ahead of the characters in this novel adventure romance.
Ellie’s parents are scholars studying Medieval history and literature, so she hates the
period. She hates it even more when her parents go on sabbatical and move her from
Minnesot to Avalon High outside Washington D.C. But there are compensations: her
own pool, where she veges all summer, and a winning young hero, who, unfortunately,
already has a girlfriend. But things are not as they seem! Coincidental names and
relationships seem to be paralleling—King Arthur’s Court. Positive and fun.
Carter, Ally. Heist Society. JH On the lines of her other series, this book is a light adventure
that takes off on lines reminiscent of an Audrey Hepburn movie of the 60's presupposing
an aristocratic extended family business: pulling off Mission Impossible heists of major
art and riches. Cute and light and clean, though with the assumption that all's fair in love
Cooney, Caroline B. Both Sides of Time. JH #1 of the Time Travelers Series. In the beginning
of this series, protagonist Annie Lockwood, a 15 year old romantic with a very
unromantic boyfriend accidentally slips through time to 1895, witnesses a murder there,
and falls in love. However, she is brought up short to realize she's disturbing the lives of
everyone she cares for "on both sides of time." This emphasis on what Annie learns keeps
the book from being totally superficial light reading.
Clark, Mary Higgins. Mount Vernon Love Story. JH A fictionalized account of the full life of
George and Martha Washington based on solid research, but embroidered with motives,
conversations and emotions, this account is a bit slow and hard to follow for lower
readers. It bounces back and forth because its narrative frame is Washington’s leaving
office after his second term as President. Most of the story is told in a series of
chronological flashbacks beginning with his life as a youth establishing his relationship
with his mother and brothers, his background as surveyor and soldier, his crush on his
good friend’s wife (all very proper) and his growing love for Martha “Patsy” Custis, then
the rest of their life together. It’s a good portrayal, but may be too slow for most
Davis, Stephie. Smart Boys & Fast Girls. JH Natalie Page is the fast girl: one of the varsity
cross country team’s brightest stars, and only a sophomore. However, she feels
unwanted, unnoticed and unappreciated by her team, hunky boys, and her three best
friends, all of whom ignore her for their boyfriends. Then because her failing geometry
grade endangers her athletic eligibility, she is forced to submit to tutoring by a real “math
geek,” an annoying “smart boy” who thinks she’s stupid. Predictable, but positive and
enjoyable “chick” novel.
Dessen, Sarah. Dreamland. DRP 54 H Caitlin’s idealized older sister, on whom her parents
have always doted, has run away from a promising life complete with Ivy League college
admission to work on an expose TV program and be with a questionable boyfriend.
Because Caitlin struggles with her parents’ withdrawal and her own feelings of guilt over
her sister, she is particularly vulnerable to new boyfriend Rogerson Biscoe. As he
becomes progressively more violent, she hangs on to the relationship because she seems
to have nothing else to hang onto. Ultimately positive, though she doesn’t break away.
The novel offers a good portrayal of such abusive dating relationships.
Just Listen. Sarah Dessen takes on typical teen issues and deals with them frankly and
maturely, with ultimately positive endings. These novels, as this one, ARE mature and
handle sexual issues and include language. This one tells the story of a girl deserted by
friends to become an social pariah who must learn from the experience, and with the hope
of a “bad” boy, move on. Positive.
This Lullaby. I really like reading Sarah Dessen, though I wish she'd clean up her
dialogue language. This one includes a bit of profanity along with the F word,
unfortunately. Her characterization, plots and positive themes make her writing worth
reading, despite the offensive language (which is only occasional). This novel concerns a
girl with a mother who drifts from husband to husband trying to find love, while the girl,
in reaction, shuts herself out of allowing herself to be vulnerable. She also goes from
relationship to relationship, even sexual, but only until she begins to get involved--then
SHE shuts the relationship off. Ultimately positive, the novel would be a good one for
mothers to read and discuss with daughters on the brink of dating and relationships and
the reality of love and sex.of a “bad” boy, move on. Positive.
The Truth about Forever. JH At last, a teen love story that deals with real issues, so it’s
not just froth, but isn’t dirty! Sarah Dessen proves her mettle as a writer when she deals
with the effects of grief on a family which has tragically lost its center, their
husband/father. The protagonist, 16 year old Macy, is dealing with her grief by trying to
be perfect for her mother, a rising real estate developer, and her boyfriend, who is already
perfect, especially in his own eyes. Then into her structured, “safe” world comes a
catering crew that teaches her that chaos, diversity, and challenge can stretch her and
assuage her grief with friendship, understanding, and a different kind of love.
Draper, Sharon M. Romiette and Julio. DRP 49. JH Montague moves from Texas, where his
hispanic background is well accepted, to Cincinnatti, where he feels alienated until he
meets Romiette Capelle, an Afro American girl with whom he feels an instant bond. The
friendship progresses well until the gang that rules their school tries to step in to break
them up. Tragedy almost results. Positive. References to Shakespeare abound. Could
be better written, but harmless.
Fantaskey, Beth. Jekel Loves Hyde. Jill Jekel is an outcast whose scientist father was brutally
murdered--after he had withdrawn from the family and taken Jill's college fund for a
mysterious project. Tristen Hyde is a good looking loner struggling with his family's
inherited traits, prone to blackouts and horribly bloody dreams. Inevitably the two are
drawn together to relive events that come right out of Stevenson's classic. I didn't like the
book because the characters are stereotyped, the plot depends on coincidence and is just
too corny, and the relationship between the two protagonists is too much like Meyer's
vampire and his moll, with almost explicit, almost sex that teases teen sensuality.
Godbersen, Anna. The Luxe. H This novel traces the decisions and drama of upperest class
society girls of Manhattan, 1899. Beautiful Elizabeth Holland, from one of the premier
old blood families of the city, is in love with—well, that would be telling, but someone
very unsuitable. Her mother is pressuring her to marry another old blood scion—who’s
been stringing along Elizabeth’s most bitter rival. This book is the first in a series, so the
ending is not overly satisfying. My other objection is the amount of sexual immorality.
It. may have been acceptable among society girls of the time, but I doubt it. The
assumption is the modern one that although it was scandalous if public, everyone was
routinely sleeping with everyone else, quite casually, and it was ok if they loved each
other. I suspect that attitude is anachronistic for this time period, but the upper classes
have so long been a law unto themselves, such immorality may well have been the rule,
as it is in this novel. The sex is not explicit, but omnipresent. Characters seem a bit
stereotyped. I wouldn’t recommend the novel, really, though it’s fairly innocuous.
Grant, Cynthia D. The Cannibals. JH What an awful book! Told by a head cheerleader who is
going out with the best looking guy in school, the story draws on the worst of stereotypes,
has no real plot that is not so predictable that it is sickening, and is just plain a cheap
excuse for trying to exploit the teen market. It’s supposed to be funny, but is merely
shallow. I wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone, no matter how desperate.
Hale, Shannon. Austinland. H This novel, unlike Hale’s fantasies, is aimed mainly at adult
women, but most teenage girls will like it. Jane, the protagonist, is near 40, very unlucky
in love, and (either as cause or effect) obsessed with Jane Austin, specifically Colin
Firth’s Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Her wise great aunt wills her three weeks at
Austinland, where Jane lives her fantasy, a time “playing” at being a Regency maiden
courted sedately by personifications of the typical Regency rakes and gentlemen.
Through her disconcerting attempts to put to rest her too-real fantasies, Jane comes to
know herself better, and even…fall in love. Positive and fun, but be warned—the
implied sexual morality is more mainstream than Nebo approved.
Head, Ann. Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones. DRP 50 H This book was written in the 60’s, but
retains its timeliness. Set in the 50’s, the book tells the story of teens (16 and 17 years
old) caught in the eternal trap--the girl is pregnant, and they “have to” get married. The
consequences of their actions reverberate through their families, which are totally
dissimilar, and totally change their lives and aspirations. Their very human reactions to
all of the problems involved make the novel very real for most readers. Positive. Well
worth reading for most girls and some guys.
Jones, Carrie. Need. JH Maybe because I had read two pretty lame ya books, this one, in
contrast, seemed REALLY fun to read. It's another Twilight wannabee, but succeeds
where Twilight fails. Well plotted, with a spunky heroine and a good looking were hero,
the novel creates an alternate reality complete with sinister pixies seeking a queen--with
Kantor, Melissa. If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? (2005) MJH Lucy
Norton really does have a wicked stepmother and two evil stepsisters, at least that’s how
she sees it when her father remarries after her mother’s death and moves her from their
San Francisco home to Long Island. Then she finds her high school’s modern Prince
Charming—or is he? Positive.
lockhart, e. the boy book. The boyfriend list. JH The strong voice and “realistic” teen dialogue
in this set of novels didn’t make them any more acceptable. I just don’t like them. They
seem to me to be the writing of someone out to sell to kids, and sell they do, assuming
casual attitudes toward teen sexuality that are too prevalent today, focusing on not-very-
admirable, self absorbed characters. The author stoops to recreating the crude dialogue
of some teens and what she thinks should be happening (again, crude) to these same kids
so that she can be considered “realistic” and edgy. Not recommended.
Fly on the wall. JH The premise of this novel is promising: what happens when a girl
(who happens to be studying “Metamorphosis”) becomes a housefly and flies into the
boys’ gym locker room? She learns that confident boys aren’t so confident, that boys
come in all varieties, that some are deeper, and some more shallow, than she ever
thought. The crudeness and stereotypical thinking of her other novels continue in this
lockhart creation. The overall theme, a girl growing less self absorbed, more accepting,
and more able to relate to guys, is a good one; however, the novel has too much that is
edgy and is just plain not very well written. Not recommended.
Marr, Melissa. Wicked Lovely. H This fantasy proves gripping and involving from the very
beginning, although many classify it as “dark” because the faerie in it has LOTS of
VERY BAD characters trying to destroy the good in both faerie and in the world of
reality. The story concerns Aislinn, who has always been able to see faeries who walk
and effect her world. Now she has a dilemma: will she admit she might have a powerful
and attractive role to play in their world? And will she give up her world, and her true
love, to play that role? Positive ethical choices from several protagonists facing fantasy
dilemmas that present real issues make the novel essentially positive. However, the
sexual tension in the novel makes it mature (though not offensive—no explicit sex,
though the novel implies an almost rape and the protagonist’s eventual monogamous
sex). One of the protagonist’s concerns is the when and if of her first sexual experience.
Ironically, espousing modern sexual attitudes, this novel really presents the old double
standard: the girl preserves her virginity for meaningful monogamous sex, while it’s ok
for the two male protagonists to have had multiple “one night stands.” I would
recommend this book for older teenage girls WITH THEIR MOTHERS for a natural way
to discuss adult sexual issues, as well as issues of power, violence, etc.
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen. H Mature. Superb sports romance novel —
HOWEVER….there’s that one objectionable part—the protagonist’s best friend turns out
to be in love with the protagonist (lesbian), which isn’t revealed until 2/3 through the
novel. The protagonist is horrified—because she is heterosexual. That said, the novel is
good because it’s well written and unique. DJ Schwenk has to give up her beloved
sports, basketball and track, to run the family dairy farm when her father’s health
threatens the family’s home and livelihood. Then a family friend, coach of a rival town’s
football team, sends his quarterback over to “help out” for a day, to teach the out of shape
rich kid—and DJ—a life changing lesson.
Noel, Alyson. Art geeks and prom queens. H Rio, named for her mom’s favorite Duran
Duran hit, has moved from New York to a fancy private school in Southern California.
Almost immediately she has to choose between the “jet set” popular kids and the “art
geeks” she meets in AP art class. Though the novel is positive, it includes short
references assuming casual acceptance of recreational marijuana use, drinking (with
negative consequences), and a relatively graphic near rape.
Patterson, James. Sundays at Tiffany’s. H Adult novel with R rated one chapter OK, normally I
don't read pure romances, but I picked this one up because it was cheap and the premise
sounded good. It's a sweet story of a girl who is lost in the morass of uncaring business
and family, who dreams of her childhood "imaginary friend," an interesting, devoted guy.
Then whom should she run into in her adult reality --but that very person. Skip chapter
66, unless you enjoy really explicit sex, and you have a really light, fun romance.
Plummer, Louise. The Romantic Obsessions and Humiliations of Annie Sehlmeier. DRP 48 H
Annie, an immigrant from the Netherlands, comes to Utah with her family and quickly
blends in to the high school scene. She really likes Jack, but she has a wild crush on
gorgeous Wooley, a secret obsession that leads to humiliation and rejection. The novel is
frank, bordering on explicit, in developing its theme concerning the difference between
fantasy and reality/wild obsessive passions and real love. Positive, but not for more
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman. DRP 52 JH Kate has a big time crush on her
long ago neighbor and brother’s best friend Richard. Unfortunately, her beautiful and
sophisticated best friend wants him as soon as she meets him when he comes to stay for
Christmas at Kate’s house--with his even more beautiful and sophisticated girlfriend.
The book is structured as Kate’s narrative love story, with suggested revisions along the
way. It’s fairly realistic, complete with fairly explicit kissing scenes and typical teenage
concerns bordering on vulgarity. It charmingly explores first romance, friends who “use”
others, insecurities, newlyweds and longlasting, successful loving couples. Positive and
Randle, Kristen. Breaking Rank. DRP 51 H This novel deals with tough choices: a boy
brought up by his older brother in a gang-like clan of young men who don’t “do” school
allows himself to be put in an AP track because of his high test scores. His tutor is a
“nice” girl who comes from an upper middle class home and conventional family. Little
by little she gets through his defenses. However, the “jocks” don’t allow him to enjoy
life, beating up on him and harassing him. The climax comes in a violent confrontation
between clan and jocks. Language and violence make this a mature novel. The issues
make it positive and appealing.
The local writer/Mormon concerns are there, but mostly subtle.
The Only Alien on the Planet. DRP 48 JH Ginny Christianson feels displaced. Her
close older brother has left for college and her parents have uprooted her to live in the
Intermountain West (Utah--local author). She immediately makes friends with Hally
(popular, positive and nice) and Caulder, a neighbor with whom she can talk about
anything. She is fascinated by Smitty Tibbs, a brilliant boy who does not talk or interact
with others for whom Caulder is protector and mentor. Ginny’s journey to free Smitty
from the trauma that imprisons him and her confrontation with her own fears makes this
an excellent, positive novel that deals with emotional, verbal, and physical abuse within
Slumming. JH, but mature. Alicia, Nikki and Sam, really good friends, decide on a
challenge--find someone at the edge of their Utah high school culture, make friends, and
inveigle them to take them (or go with them) to the Prom. Each story brings that teen in
contact with people he/she has prejudged. The novel deals with prejudice, cliques and
social groups in high school, and with dealing with evil. LDS, but subtly so. Caution:
Sam must deal with the sexual exploitation of the girl he has chosen by her stepfather,
handled very carefully and tastefully (in fact, you could be puzzled about what the girl
was suffering). Positive, with good plot and important themes.
Rose, Sherrie. A Girl, A Guy and a Ghost. This is the novel our sophomore girls would write if
they wrote novels. Traci falls for Brad, a gorgeous hunk of a quarterback. Brad likes
Traci, too. The problem? Traci’s ditzy mother runs in to Brad’s father. In addition,
Corky, Traci’s first boyfriend and long time best friend, tries to come between Brad and
Traci--and Corky has been dead for three years! The novel is mostly harmless (except
for the rather explicit description of Brad and Traci’s French kissing). It should be good,
but is mostly unbelievably sophomoric. Unsophisticated girls will like it.
Rushton, Rosie. The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love. H This novel, dubbed an “engaging
homage to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility on the cover, sets the story in modern
England, and updates the plot and characters accordingly. It would be fun to let students
read both and contrast them. The book is typically British young adult: it treats sexual
matters in a frank and direct manner that might be offensive to more conservative
readers, but the treatment is not explicit, is tasteful, and reflects positive values (though
premarital sex is taken for granted as being ok). One of the main characters refuses
advances from her “boyfriend” because she is not that committed to him and doesn’t love
him that much yet, and when he deserts her because she won’t comply, she decides to
give in (but doesn’t get that chance, thank goodness). The end is ultimately positive,
though what the “good guy” sees in her superficiality, I do not know. The novel follows
the Austen original in general terms, but changes particulars to fit the modern
Sones, Sonya. What My Mother Doesn’t Know. Told as a free verse journal of a 9th grader’s
crushes, conflicts with her mother, and complications of being Jewish, this novel would
be really good and high interest except that it includes references to menstruation, breasts
and understated sexual fantasies. Nothing more than kissing happens between the girl
and her boyfriends, but there are some fairly explicit references.
Van Draanen, Wendelin. Flipped. DRP 50 MJ, but well written enough for high school readers
to enjoy. This unique novel spans 2nd-8th grade in the life of two character/narrators,
a boy and girl, who see and tell the tale of their rocky relationship with two different
voices and two very different sets of values. Both change (and flip attitudes, hence the
title) and grow as characters the reader will enjoy. Conflicts of girl vs boy, who loves
whom and teens standing up to peers enliven this delightful novel. Girls will probably
appreciate the novel better than boys. Readers who appreciated Stargirl should like this
novel as well
Williams, Carol Lynch. My Angelica. MJ Two narrator: best friend 15 year old sophomores
really are romantically linked to each other, though they don’t admit it (and kiss) until the
end of the book. Problem: the girl thinks she can write torrid love stories like her
mother’s best sellers, when she really writes horrible melodrama. This novel is aimed at
high school readers, though it could be given to junior high kids. (However, no teenager I
know would act as these two.) Positive.