The Misfits

by James Howe

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Funny and touching, The Misfits follows “The Gang of Five,” four oddballs who decide to stand up for themselves during student council election season. The story is told by Bobby who lost his mom in elementary school and grew up being called “Fluff” and “fatso;” he’s content being mostly invisible and working as a tie salesman until his friend Addie decides to become political.

This book was wonderful for a lot of reasons, but I think my favorite thing was the honesty used to talk about bullying and being a misfit without ever delving into melodrama. These kids recognize the system for what it is, but they also know themselves and have a support network in each other which gives them the power to make change.

On top of that, the book is funny and often written as notes from their weekly meetings in a sticky corner booth (including lots of “Will the food ever get here?”) and the kids are all struggling with who they like right before the school dance. There are anonymous locker notes and surprising confessions, and the relationships that form aren’t those of undying love (which would be strange and unnatural here) but more of the true awkwardness of telling someone you like them when you can barely speak to them at all.

 

 

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

by Julie Halpern

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I’m finally on spring break and read this book all in one sitting. Jessie is starting her sophomore year in high school and her two best friends are suddenly boy-obsessed punk-rock wannabes, leaving her wondering where exactly she fits into the world. She loves math and sewing (she wears a different skirt everyday, made from the craziest fabric she can find) and sometimes substitutes as a drummer in her brother’s punk band, and with all that, still feels invisible.

Obviously she gravitates toward the nerd world (and I mean, who wouldn’t?) and, while initially resistant, starts to realize that coolness is overrated.

While this is the typical, predictable, coming-of-age tale, Jessie as a narrator was pretty awesome. But the thing that made this book epic to me was her relationship with her older brother. Very few books give us normal-looking positive sibling relationships; they either hate each other or go more towards hero worship. Jessie and Barrett are funny and supportive and real, and I loved that.

This was a perfect spring break read- light and entertaining and funny without the cheese. You encounter everything from Dungeons and Dragons to holding hands with a cute boy to the complete betrayal of a best friend. Check it out!

Drama

by Raina Telgemier

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This is the first graphic novel that I legitimately enjoyed. I’ve thought others were okay, or I could tell that they were good quality, but I just didn’t love them. This one I couldn’t put down!

Callie is in charge of set design for her middle school’s musical production of Moon Over Mississippi. In addition to all the drama involved in making the perfect sets and a working cannon, there’s also  lots of boy drama and friendship drama. It’s practically like a soap opera. So so so fun and enjoyable.

Purity

by Jackson Pearce

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Shelby promises three things to her dying mother: that she will listen to her father, love as much as possible, and live without restraint. When she is asked by her father to go to a Princess Ball to pledge a pure life, Shelby thinks she must create a loophole and lose her virginity first.

As crazy as this plot sounds, the narrative was handled with grace. Shelby struggles with a lot of questions; questions about sex, God, death, friendship, and love. She makes mistakes and decisions and starts to come to terms with who she is.

My favorite parts of the book were the moments when Shelby and her father start to shakily rebuild their relationship. A lot of Shelby’s romantic exploits were fairly predictable, but the genuine moments with her dad were full of truth and joy. Look for the greatest cake tasting of all time.

Beswitched

by Kate Saunders

 

This book is for slightly younger readers, but I enjoyed it a great deal.

Flora Fox finds herself switching bodies and traveling through time to 1935. She has to learn to deal with a new time and make friends while figuring out how to get back to her current day life.

While the book is a little bit silly and predictable, I found myself laughing out loud. Flora is sassy and has a serious mind of her own. She is willing to admit fault in herself and grow as a character while dealing with issues most junior high students deal with as well.

And I just have to say, I would totally hang out with Flora and her friends from the 30’s. That made the book so readable and fun.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney

by Abby McDonald

 

Honestly? I wasn’t expecting much from this book. I was looking for a light read that I could take on a road trip and read at night in hotel rooms.

Instead, I found myself really liking it. Sadie is in love with her best friend of two years and when he is accepted to a summer writing camp and she is left stranded at home looking for a job to take up her time.

I liked that Sadie knew that obsessing over a boy was becoming a problem in her life. She starts to make some friends and they sit down to make a plan to get over the boy.

As a girl, I know too many times where girls lose themselves to try and catch a boy’s attention. What I liked about this book was that it was very girl power. Sadie needs to learn to find herself and to find her own friends. She finds her way here, and is a nicer and more interesting person for it.

Although it was quick and not too intense, the book touches on themes of self-acceptance and friendship that endure through your whole life. So many people are not comfortable with their weirdness and Sadie finally starts to be.

Freak Show

Freak Show by James St. James

Freak Show by James St. James is an amazing novel  and one of my favorite reads. This book follows Billy Bloom, a teenage boy with killer style who’s just moved from Connecticut to Florida.

How do I even begin to describe Freak Show, without giving away how amazing it is? Go out purchase this book immediately and lock yourself away ‘till it’s read cover to cover multiple times! Imagine, if you will, being pulled into a comic like Archie, or Betty and Veronica and throw in a dash of Mean Girls fabulousness.

Billy Bloom, the main character, is seventeen, and as a young drag queen, challenges the WASP nest that is Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy and its denizens. The cheerleaders, the football players, and the “Aberzombies” welcome Billy with less than open arms. Billy’s attempts to shine and be accepted are met with spit ball after spit ball, igniting in Billy a fire to stand up for himself and other kids at school, who had been cast aside.

James St. James, writing style, brings the character of Billy Bloom to life. As if he’s talking to you and only you, giving you, the reader, his undivided attention.

It’s harsh, over-the-top, and all too real play-by-play of the horrors some of us might have actually witnessed in high school; either first hand, or as quiet church mice on the sidelines struggling to speak up against high school atrocities.

I knew a kid like Billy in high school, who was out and proud and stood up for himself against the relentless name calling and snickering. A strong individual, who turned hate into strength.

James St. James’s Freak Show, is a piece of literature, so touching and funny, it will make you laugh and cry. This book will give you something to think about while remaining as every bit entertaining, glamourous and fabulous from beginning to end.