• By Jacquelyn White
  • Posted Thursday, September 17, 2020

"Read to Right Wrongs" a reading list for teens

Hello there and welcome back to another Book Talks with Teen Central, my name is Miss Jacci and I’m the Supervisor for Teen Services here at Forsyth County Public Library. I’m back with more reading recommendations for all you lovely teens.

This past August the library launched a new initiative called, “Read to Right Wrongs”. I’m really excited about this initiative, and I wanted to give you some book recommendations to explore this theme. There are so many great young adult books that give insight to issues that are happening right here in our own community.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

What it's about: You have twin brothers Tyler and Marvin, they're raised in the inner city. Their father is currently in jail and their mother works long hours to support the family. They are entering their senior year in high school and up until now, they’ve been really close. But they are starting to drift apart. Marvin is a high achieving A+ student and Tyler is starting to ignore school in favor of hanging out with his friends in the streets. Cut to after attending a party Tyler is unjustly killed by a police officer, and Marvin is overwhelmed by grief, his angry because now the police are saying his brother was a criminal when he wasn’t as if that justifies his murder, and he has to deal with the public's response to his personal loss.

Why you might like it: Similar to Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give or Nic Stone's Dear Martin , Tyler Johnson Was Here takes a knowing, heart-wrenching look at the effects of injustice, oppression, and violence in one black teen's life.

Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth

What it's about : So have you three native American teenagers in the 1980s, 17-year-old Carson, 15-year-old Magpi. Trying to figure out their lives living on and off a reservation. Carson wants to leave the reservation and tour the world with his band, but his family wants him to stay their and help them survive. Magpi’s family just moved back to the reservation, after living in the city for years. Magpi just wants to go back to the city and work on her art. After Carson’s brother is shot by a racist store owner, Carson, Magpi and their friend Lewis join forces to enter Battle of the Bands and protest a racist restaurant near their Reservation.

Why you might like it : Fans of Sherman Alexi’s The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-time Indian will find common themes between these two books. These books have characters that are culturally diverse and well-developed, and explore native American teenage identity.

As a bonus throughout the book the author shares a playlist and paintings.

The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves

What it's about : 17-year-old David Espinoza has been bullied for most of his life for being super skinny. Then on the last day of school David is sucker punched and laid out cold by the school’s bully in the locker room even worst it’s caught on camera and uploaded and it goes vial. In response David decides to join a gym and build enough muscle over the summer to put an end to the bullying. This leads to him discovering the world of steroids and addiction.

Why you might like it : This is one of the few books that I know of that talks about body dysmorphia in men. It’s a topic that’s widely talked about for women but not so much men. Fans of John’s Green’s Turtles All the Way down might enjoy this book, they have similar themes teens dealing with mental issues and bullying.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

What it's about : 17-year-old Layla Amin is taken from her home after she and her family are imprisoned for being Muslims. Layla becomes a leader for the resistance, by doing so she’s risking everything to take down the camp and break the silence that allows violent injustice to go unchecked.

Why you might like it : While some readers might find the premise too disturbing, this book is thought-provoking, has serious girl power/rage against the machine vibes, and the characters are so authentic and very much angsty. Fans of Handmaid's Tale or even Veronica Roth’s Divergent will enjoy this one.

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

What it's about : Eight grader Claudia's best friend Monday doesn't show up for the first day of school -- or any of the days that follow -- Claudia knows that something is seriously wrong. She knows that her best friend wouldn’t just leave her to deal with school alone without word. So she starts asking some hardcore questions: Why does Monday's family give conflicting reasons for her absence? And why does no one else care that a girl has disappeared?

Why you might like it : This book will keep you guessing and stay with you long after the final page. I recommend this to any fans of Jason Reynolds or Sharon Draper.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

What it's about : High school senior Emoni Santiago, who has "magic hands" in the kitchen, it’s like a super power the way her food just feels the people who eat with good vibes. She also happens to be a single teen mom. And while she wants nothing more to just devote her life to becoming a chef, head off to culinary school she’s worried that doing this won't help her build a future for herself and her two-year-old daughter.

Why you might like it : Because food. The way Acevedo writes about Emoni’s cooking... Also the characters so realistic, I was so here for Emoni the whole time and then I finished the book and I was like Ahh I miss her and little Emma. And then recommended it to at least five teens that same day and they all checked it out and loved it so bam.

I also recommend this one to reluctant reader’s it’s written in short precise prose that makes it easy and joy to read.

Part of this webstory HTML was inspired by April Mittelstaedt.

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