Young Adult Book Reviews


Atchison, Kansas — November 1916. Iris, age 6, is under her mother’s coffin, surrounded by the drapes that hang down the side. She is glad that her Mom is no longer coughing so hard it hurt her. Iris’ Dad yells for her, and when she comes out, he pulls her up and tells her to be polite to the visitors. That’s his only communication with her. Fast-forward ten years, and Iris’ Dad has arranged for her to go work at another home, taking care of a country doctor’s elderly mother. He is going to set up another shoe store in Kansas City with his newest girlfriend, and there’s no room for Iris in the city. The rest of the story lets us know how new people, nurturing people, can have a profound impact on us, can inspire us to help others who may be in a worse situation, and help us realize our own value. The author, Barbara Stuber, is a finalist in the William C. Morris Debut Award of the American Library Association. She spoke about her book recently to Kansas Librarians, and though it is classified as “young adult” novel, grown people in their 80’s were relating to the tale. I highly recommend this book for a joint read by parents and youth, with a good discussion to follow. Recommended by Julie.
Crossing the Tracks Cover Image
ISBN: 9781416997047
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - May 24th, 2011

At fifteen, Iris is a hobo of sorts--no home, no family, no plan. Her mother died when she was six, and her father focuses on his new girlfriend and his shoe business and has no time for his daughter. Without consulting her, he hires Iris out as a companion to a country doctor's elderly mother.


Beginning with ANGUS, THONGS, AND FULL FRONTAL SNOGGING, all of the books in Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, are simply hilarious. As a teenager, my friends and I couldn’t stop reading the escapades of Georgia and her vivacious gang. Definitely girly, but also infinitely funny, they are a British pop song turned teenage girl novel. Get ready for british slang, a frisky little sister, insane cats, annoying parents, disco dances, and sexgods. I can say without hesitation, these books are quite fabbity-fab. Recommended by Caitlin.
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780064472272
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Published: HarperTeen - April 11th, 2006

My mixed-breed cat, half domestic tabby, half Scottish wildcat. The size of a small Labrador, only mad.

Stupid underwear. What's the point of them, anyway? They just go up your bum, as far as I can tell.

Full-Frontal Snogging:
Kissing with all the trimmings, lip to lip, open mouth, tongues ... everything.


LOOKING FOR ALASKA, by John Green, is still one of my favorite books. Green created something incrediblly compelling and also just incredibly cool in his characters. A stunning look at friendship, love, and life, this story has some dark moments but is ultimately beautiful. This book will resonate with both boys and girls, something that is hard for a young adult book to accomplish. If you like Alaska, also try Green’s other titles: AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINE’S, PAPER TOWNS, and his newest, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Recommended by Caitlin.
Looking for Alaska Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525475064
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - March 3rd, 2005

The award-winning, genre-defining debut from John Green, the #1 international bestselling author of Turtles All the Way Down and The Fault in Our Stars

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
New York Times bestseller

PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie

Experiencing the timeless characters of PETER PAN in their original format brings the fantasy of Neverland to life not only for children, but for anyone who loves adventures. Giving the reader so much more than the Disney version, J.M. Barrie created an epic narrative that continuously brings the fairies, pirates, and thimbles of our dreams to life. Recommended by Caitlin.
Classic Starts(r) Peter Pan Cover Image
By James Matthew Barrie, Tania Zamorsky (Abridged by), Dan Andreasen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781402754210
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sterling - March 1st, 2009

"All children grow up. All except one." That special child is Peter Pan, and since making his debut on the stage in 1904, this eternal youth has carried boys and girls off to magical, marvelous Neverland. It's a trip that all kids want to make, and with this easy-to-read version of the classic, everyone can fly "second to the right, and straight on till morning" with Peter.

FEVER CRUMB by Philip Reeve

Fever Crumb is a great character in a tough spot. In the London of the future, she’s one of the last remaining members of a sub-species of people the rest of the population had hoped they’d exterminated. An orphan with a mysterious scar on the back of her head, Fever has been raised in secret among the member of the Order of Engineers.
Fever Crumb Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545222150
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Published: Scholastic Press - March 1st, 2011

A stunning, new novel by master storyteller Philip Reeve.

WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead

Winner of the 2010 Newbery Award. The first and most important thing for me to tell you about this book is that you MUST read it.  Do not miss this book, especially if you are 9-14 years old.  It is spellbinding. It’s kind of a mystery, and it’s kind of a time travel book.
When You Reach Me (Yearling Newbery) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375850868
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Published: Yearling Books - December 28th, 2010

"Like A Wrinkle in Time (Miranda's favorite book), When You Reach Me far surpasses the usual whodunit or sci-fi adventure to become an incandescent exploration of 'life, death, and the beauty of it all.'" --The Washington Post


Local author John C. Ralston (and employee at The Raven) is celebrating the release of his young adult novel, THE SECRET OF INVISIBILITY.  Published by the Kansas City Star, the story takes place in Lawrence and includes illustrations.  You can pick up your copy at The Raven ($9.95). John will be signing copies this Sunday, December 20, from 2-4PM.  Stop in and pick up a personalized copy of this book -- it’s the perfect time to get a great gift for the holiday season! THE SECRET OF INVISIBILITY:

General Teen Recommends

CHASING VERMEER by Blue Balliet. $7.99.  This is the first of three in a series.  The book mixes mystery, puzzles, possibilities, and art as outsiders Petra and Calder become friends while trying to find a missing Vermeer painting.  Lots of excitement and challenge -- really entices the reader to think about the Big Questions.  Ages 9 - 14.  Female and male protagonists.  Heidi recommends.    
Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic Gold) Cover Image
By Brett Helquist (Illustrator), Blue Balliett
ISBN: 9780439372978
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - May 1st, 2005

Chasing Vermeer joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content

Teen Boys Recommends

THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM by Nancy Farmer. $6.99. This Newberry Honor Book is set in Zimbabwe in the year 2194. The military ruler’s 13-year-old son and his younger brother and sister leave their technologically over-controlled home and find themselves on a series of perilous adventures.                                                                                                                                                                           
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545356619
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - January 1st, 2012

This Newbery Honor book by award-winning, bestselling author Nancy Farmer is being reissued in paperback

Teen Girls Recommends

WHERE THE LILIES BLOOM by Vera and Bill Cleaver. $5.99 Strong and wise beyond her years, fourteen-year-old Mary Call Luther must prevent her recently fatherless family from being shipped off to the country orphanage, all while going to school and keeping the family’s wild crafting operation afloat.
Where the Lilies Bloom Cover Image
ISBN: 9780064470056
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - September 18th, 2001

Mary Call has promised her dying father to keep her brother and sisters together forever on the mountain, and never to take any help from strangers. She is determined to keep her word. No matter what. At first she is sure she can manage. Romey, Ima Dean, and Devola help gather herbs to sell in town; the riches of the mountains will surely keep the family clothed and fed.