November 15, 2015 Booklist 51 www.booklistonline.com
(2011), Elwood’s solid debut ably presents a
complex society in shambles due to political
corruption, environmental destruction, and
widespread poverty. — Teri Lesesne
The Killing Jar.
By Jennifer Bosworth.
Jan. 2016. 352p. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374341374).
Kenna is a talented musician who lives
an isolated life with her beloved and frail
twin sister and emotionally distant mother.
Kenna is also a murderer: at 10, she took
revenge on a neighbor boy who tormented
her sister, killing him with her touch. Under
strict orders from her mother to hide that
death and her powers, Kenna withdrew from
friends, finding solace in her guitar. Now 17,
she has found friendship (and maybe more)
with neighbor Blake and recognition of her
musical gift at a local folk festival. Returning home from a triumphant performance,
she finds her mother and sister bleeding with
their attacker still in the house, and she is
forced to use her powers to save her family.
Frightened by Kenna’s actions, her mother
takes her to a commune of similarly gifted
people, the Kalyptra, where she uncovers
many dark family secrets, forcing her to
choose how best to navigate through a moral
thicket. Some readers may be put off by the
strong anti-drug message, but almost all will
find themselves pulled into this swiftly paced
page-turner. —Debbie Carton
The Lies about Truth.
By Courtney C. Stevens.
Nov. 2015. 336p. Harper Teen, $17.99 (9780062245410).
All it takes is one moment to change life
forever. Five friends become four when a car
accident claims the life of Trent and almost
kills narrator Sadie. A year later, Gina, Gray,
and Max have moved on emotionally, but
Sadie still struggles with scars both visible
and hidden. As Sadie grows close to Max, it
just might be time for her to trust him and
start accomplishing some milestones—kissing
without flinching, driving again, returning to
school, wearing a tank top. But will she be
strong enough to weather the hard truths
surrounding the accident? This lyrical novel
explores loss and survivor’s guilt, friendship
and trust, and grieving and moving forward
through the heart of a young woman who has
lost much and yet feels paralyzed to reclaim
her life. Journeys both big and small and e-mails and notes during the past year provide a
unique framework for exploring the accident
and its ramifications. Sadie’s struggles are serious without feeling overwhelming—instead,
hope is interwoven and small steps are celebrated. —Melissa Moore
Other Broken Things.
By C. Desir.
Jan. 2016. 256p. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $17.99
(9781481437394). Gr. 10–12.
In Desir’s latest, Natalie’s a fresh-out-of-
rehab high-school senior beginning the
12-step program. Brash, unrepentant, and far
from kind to herself, Nat strikes up an un-
likely friendship—and possibly something
more—with 38-year-old Joe, from her lo-
cal AA group. Her journey toward recovery
brims with bumps and potholes: old friends
who haven’t dropped their drinking habits,
parents who fail to offer the support system
she needs, and the truth about what hap-
pened that fateful night that she doesn’t want
to face. Though Nat’s relationship with her fa-
ther could have used a bit more development,
there is much to recommend here. The frank,
sometimes profanity-laced prose suits the sub-
ject matter and will engage reluctant readers.
Nat’s penchant for self-destructive behaviors,
including her pursuit of Joe, only augments a
reader’s sympathy and curiosity for what mo-
tivates her. In Nat—a female counterpart to
Sutter Keeley of Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular
Now (2008)—Desir crafts a portrait of a teen-
age alcoholic that is honest and unsparing.
The Possibility of Now.
By Kim Culbertson.
Jan. 2016. 304p. Scholastic/Point, $17.99
(9780545731461). Gr. 7–10.
Junior year is intense enough without having your meltdown in calculus class caught
on video and shared thousands of times online. That’s one reason why superachiever
Mara has decided to leave her hypercompet-itive prep school in San Diego and hunker
down in Tahoe for the rest of the school
year. Getting to know her estranged dad is
another. And so is learning to ski, upping
her self-care, and kissing a cute snowboard-er, all items on Mara’s evolving “Now List.”
Using her list as a springboard into new
experiences that steadfast Mara might otherwise avoid, she dabbles in a life she’s wholly
unfamiliar with—but that unsurprisingly
proves to be exactly what she needs. Culbertson (Catch a Falling Star, 2014) has once
again crafted a cast of relatable teen characters and experiences and constructed a
story reinforcing the idea that perfect isn’t
all it’s cracked up to be. Both a cautionary
tale against convention as well as an invitation to take uncharacteristic strides forward,
this will hit close to home for many teens.
—Lexi Walters Wright
Some of the Parts.
By Hannah Barnaby.
Feb. 2016. 304p. Knopf, $17.99 (9780553539639); lib.
ed., $20.99 (9780553539646); e-book (9780553539653).
One of the few things Tallie McGovern has
to remember her brother, Nate, is his MP3
player—a musical time capsule from before
his death. It was her fault he died, and the
tragedy surrounds her like a fog. When a
thank-you note arrives with a letter from an
organ transplant organization, Life Choice,
Tallie is gripped by the need to make contact
with the recipients of Nate’s organs, growing
increasingly desperate to keep her brother
alive. Morris Award finalist Barnaby’s sopho-
more effort treads more serious ground than
Wonder Show (2012). Tallie’s struggle with
her grief and role in her brother’s death is
gently explored and comes to a head in a
dramatic (though not wholly convincing)
way. Music courses through the story, as
song titles head each chapter, and playlists
become a sort of therapy for Tallie, while
new friendships help keep her afloat. Teens
who like realistic fiction with an internal
focus won’t be disappointed in this incisive
and staid novel about coping with death.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Barnaby
landed a spot as a Morris Award finalist with
her debut, Wonder Show. Expect plenty of
interest as she turns her talents toward YA.
By Chandler Baker.
Jan. 2016. 336p. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99
(9781250058744). Gr. 10–12.
Tor Frankenstein wants a Nobel Prize.
Sure, even Marie Curie didn’t have one at
17, but that’s all the more reason why Tor
wants one, and she knows she has what it
takes. And, true to her name, she wants to
win it by reanimating the dead—rats and
lizards for now. But when she accidentally
hits and kills a teenage boy with her car, her
first instinct is to continue her experiments
on him. When he revives, she does what any
mad-scientist wannabe would do: names
him Adam and takes him to school with her.
Murder comes into play, too, elevating this
from simple science fiction to full-on horror.
Tor’s story is interspersed with her lab notes,
first about reanimated rats, then Adam, giving this a creepy, methodical feel. First in
the proposed High School Horror trilogy,
this offers some scares as well as a strangely
compelling protagonist. Recommend to fans
of Shelley’s original and teens ready for more
intrigue than R. L. Stine’s Fear Street series
has to offer. —Stacey Comfort
By Susan Dennard.
Jan. 2016. 416p. Tor Teen, $18.99 (9780765379283);
e-book (9781466867321). Gr. 7–10.
Nineteen years into a twenty-year truce,
trouble is brewing between the three empires that make up the Witchlands, where
threadsisters (best friends) Safi and Iseult
are on the run from Safi’s duties as a domna
(princess) and her value as a truthwitch—an
individual who is able to see truth and lies in
human speech. Pursued by many, for a variety of purposes, the two girls try to keep
each other safe. Dennard’s wide-ranging
novel is the first in a new fantasy series, The
Witchlands, and she skillfully creates the
world, characters, and central conflicts that
will power books to follow. There is a sureness to her writing, a seamless understanding
of what makes a solid fantasy, and two feisty
heroines who are able and willing to save