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In the Stacks: new young adult books

Posted: January 31, 2013 - 12:04am

In addition to the new young adult books listed below, look for “A Plague Year,” by Edward Bloor, “Kissing Shakespeare,” by Pamela Mingle, and “Scored,” by Lauren McLaughlin.

“Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator,” by Josh Berk. There’s no way around it: Guy is almost never serious, and since his father’s death the spring before, he’s been getting worse. He’d rather be cracking jokes and making bad puns than worrying about getting into college (he’s the one who can always be relied on to derail a class with a well-placed [filtered word] joke). Now, thanks to his best friend Anoop and the lovely, yet unattainable Raquel Flores, Guy’s now cracking up the Forensics Club. But when Guy uses his newfound knowledge to fingerprint a photograph which his mother swears she’s never seen before and he discovers she’s lied, he finds that behind all the jokes, he’s really upset. With his mother’s help, Guy begins to uncover a part of his father’s life he’d never known existed.

“Never Fall Down,” by Patricia McCormick and Arn Chorn-Pond. Written in Arn’s own voice, this brutal and yet ultimately hopeful book is the story of a childhood being a farmer, musician, and a soldier under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. From his earliest years, Arn is a survivor, a gambler, and a salesman, earning money to help support his family. Then when Arn is 11, the soldiers in green are displaced by the insurgents in black and the whole village is evacuated. After the long march out to the countryside, where everyone quickly learns to avoid drawing attention to themselves, he and his family begin to numb to the people disappearing out of the camp and the smelly pile of dirt in the woods growing into a mountain. Everyone in the camp is very is afraid. But Arn remains a survivor and despite his fear, when the Khmer Rouge come looking for boys to train as musicians, he gambles on his life that a skill might keep him alive longer. Today he is a representative for Amnesty International and lives in Cambodia, where he is working to revitalize native arts.

“Dust Girl,” by Sarah Zettel. There’s hardships galore in this story set in the 1930s Dustbowl, where Calliope LeRoux lives with her half-crazy mother in the grand hotel her grandparents built years before. She can barely remember when the hotel was filled with guests and the fields were full of wheat, or when she could breathe easily. The day the doctor and his family leave town, her mother sits Callie at the hotel’s piano and tells her to “play her father back,” and unexpectedly, fierce and angry music pours out of her fingers and into the world. She can feel it calling to something … and the worst dust storm she’s ever seen responds, bringing an odd man into the yard, even odder guests to the hotel, and taking her mother away. And here is where history meets fairy tales and Callie’s world will never be the same.

“Flyaway,” by Helen Landalf. Stevie Calhoun hasn’t heard from her mom for two days but she’s trying to tell herself that nothing’s wrong. After she goes to stay with her Aunt Mindy for a few days and still doesn’t hear from her, it becomes a little easier to believe what her aunt is trying to tell her: her mom’s creepy new boyfriend has gotten her hooked on crystal meth. Faced with living with her too-perfect aunt or getting involved with CPS, Stevie decides to stay with Mindy. But Aunt Mindy’s got conditions: Stevie has to see a tutor over the summer so she’s ready for her sophomore year, do chores around the house, and tell Mindy where she is all the time. But when she sees for herself what her mom’s addiction is turning her into, Stevie knows she doesn’t want to ever be like that. With the help of her aunt and an informal job at a wild bird rehab center, Stevie begins to see how she can be both her mother’s daughter and herself. Fans of Ellen Hopkins’ grittily realistic novels will find this a worthy companion.

•••

The Global Lens series is at the halfway mark: this week the downtown library will host a showing of the Argentinian film, “The Finger,” which pits the pickled digit of a dead leader against a scheming rat of a man in a village that has just become an official town and thus, in need of a mayor. The movie begins Sunday at 3 p.m.

For more information, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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