Tag Archives: High school

Trudy Krisher. Fallout. New York: Holiday House, 2006.

FalloutStarting high school can be an unnerving yet exciting experience, full of change. For Genevieve Hardcastle, a teen in the 1950s, starting high school is beyond intimidating. That feeling is made all the scarier by the fact that her only friend, Sally Redmond, has moved far away, up to New Jersey. Genevieve likes being a wallflower. Genevieve doesn’t want to be embarrassed, and attention is the surest route to embarrassment. Last year, Genevieve had a taste of gossip and backbiting when she helped Sally in her campaign for class secretary. After witnessing Janice’s smear tactics, the already shy and awkward Genevieve has become even more cautious. She aims not to stand out, lest Janice Neddeger or one of her sidekicks catch her in the crosshairs and single her out in front of everyone.

Her mother, Martha, wishes Genevieve was more of a “go-getter” kind of girl. Martha (a homemaker and president of the town of Easton’s Welcome Wagon) encourages Genevieve to make friends, but to no avail. Even if Genevieve wasn’t quiet, she blames her parents for making developing friendships a little difficult. Between the plastic-covered furniture, her mother’s over-eager, hyper-positive attitude, and her father’s suspicious lurking around the house, Genevieve observes that her family and its dysfunctions aren’t as wholesome as Ozzie and Harriet. Genevieve’s father, George, is a solemn actuary, obsessed with disaster and disaster preparations. He also hangs on Senator McCarthy’s every word.

The coastal town of Easton is used to its familiar, traditional ways. The locals, Genevieve included, know when to sense an impending hurricane and how to prepare, for instance. They’re pro-American and pro-atom, and anti-Red. But all that changes when a new family moves to town. The Wompers — Harry, Patricia, and Brenda — are from California, although from the way Easton folk receive them, it seems they might as well come from outer space. The townspeople of Easton are taken aback by the Wompers’ strange ideas and expressions – their belief in raw food, their decision to eliminate sugar from the drug store they purchased, their atheism, and, most of all, their challenge of the Civil Defense curriculum with claims that the atomic energy is dangerous.

The Wompers don’t fit the standard mold. Mrs. Womper is a physicist who gives little regard to dressing in the style of all the other housewives; she favors sandals over heels. Before they moved, Mr. Womper worked in Hollywood, in the film industry. Brenda is outspoken and brave. She isn’t afraid to question her fellow students, or even her teachers. The Wompers’ open-minded skepticism and differences are frowned upon by Easton, and by Genevieve’s parents. But the girls bond after Genevieve’s algebra teacher assigns Brenda as Genevieve’s tutor.  They’re a pair of opposites. Genevieve is mesmerized by Brenda’s straightforward bravery; she describes herself as a hermit crab, self-protective and scuttling out-of-sight. Brenda lives by a set of “Rules for Thinking,” to question any belief, whether seemingly true or false, with detachment. Her dogma prompts sensitive Genevieve to eventually challenge Brenda’s scientific view of the world.

Fallout is set against the political atmosphere of the Cold War and the constant threat of an atomic bomb scare, and the literal atmosphere of a coastal North Carolina town during the thick of hurricane season. Trudy Krisher wisely plays the political and meteorological atmospheres against the distress and distrust of new people and new ideas in a traditional small town. The novel develops Genevieve’s character believably. At the beginning of the novel she’s a shrinking violet. By the end she isn’t fearless, but she’s less afraid, and her awareness of the world and powers of introspection have been honed. While the book cover indicates that Fallout is marketed for young adults, Trudy Krisher’s novel is a thought-provoking read, perfect for the upcoming summer.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, Krisher, Trudy, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Diana L. Sharples. Running Lean. Grand Rapids, MI: Blink, 2013.

Running LeanCrazy Stacey bubble butt.
Never keeps her big mouth shut.
Chubbikins, Chubbikins.
How much does she weigh?

Voices from Stacey Varnell’s childhood still haunt her, even into high school. Stacey struggles to see herself as she is now, a pretty, talented teen. As a child, Stacey’s overprotective parents focused an unrelenting eye on her due to her health problems and a series of heart surgeries. Stacey’s mother forbade her to exert herself physically and she kept Stacey indoors, fearful of her health and fragility. Classmates taunted Stacey about her weight. Their teasing sparked Stacey’s obsession with dieting and calories. No matter how much weight Stacey drops though, she sees a chubby version of herself staring back in the mirror. Surprisingly, Stacey’s helicopter parents don’t seem to notice her compulsive habits (she’s a master at shuffling food around her plate), and her friend Zoe reinforces Stacey’s dangerous behavior.

The only person who seems to notice is Stacey’s boyfriend, Calvin Greenlee. Eight months ago, he and Stacey became smitten with each other; she was the new city girl who had just relocated with her family to the country. Over the course of several months, their courtship developed slowly – first a youth event at Calvin’s church, then Homecoming. When Calvin’s brother Michael died in Afghanistan, Stacey supported Calvin through his pain. He felt as if Stacey understood his grief naturally, unlike any of his other friends. In spite of Stacey’s artistic temperament, she’s consistent. She is always there for Calvin. Lately, however, her behavior has started to alarm Calvin. Stacey complains of dizziness and she looks sickly. He doesn’t like or trust her friend Zoe, and the feeling is mutual. Zoe badmouths Calvin to Stacey, calling him a “farm boy” and other insults. Stacey and Calvin’s relationship grows tenser as Stacey’s mental and physical health deteriorates.

Calvin’s other main devotion is his vintage Yamaha Enduro motorcycle that has seen better days. He loves his bike. His friends, the ugly duckling turned swan, Tyler, and the tomboyish Flannery enjoy motorcycles and outdoor activities. Stacey’s insecurities cause her to suspect that Flannery dislikes her. She fears that Flannery and Calvin’s friendship will develop into a more serious relationship. Stacey sees flirtations where Calvin insists there are none. Ironically, as much Stacey feels left out, Calvin feels equally shut out when he tries to express his concern about her health. Stacey isn’t sure how to communicate her problems to Calvin.

After Stacey becomes more erratic, Calvin seeks his friends’ advice. Observing Stacey closely and piecing together all the evidence, Calvin stumbles upon the truth. He feels daunted by Stacey’s eating disorder, a disorder that she won’t even admit to. Some web research shows Calvin that they aren’t the only couple out there battling this problem, but it doesn’t give him any clear answers or the promise for a cure. Calvin tries to encourage Stacey to eat better and reassure her flagging sense of self-worth. He tells her that she’s smart and beautiful, and the single object of his affections.

Despite Calvin’s well-meaning attempts, Stacey can’t shut out her obsessive thoughts about her appearance or stop her harmful actions. Her past has fueled her poor self-esteem and distorted self-image. All she wants is to hang on to Calvin, but Stacey’s fixation on thinness, perfection, and control threaten their relationship, and even worse, her life. Will Calvin be able to rescue Stacey from her internal torment, or will he lose her just like his brother?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Children & Young Adults, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Sharples, Diana L.

Ernest Beasley. Cape Fear Murders. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011.

capefearThe body count gets high in this novel of adultery, revenge, and abuse of power set in Lee County, North Carolina.  First one high school girl is raped and murdered, then another, and another, and another. When the father of the fourth victim becomes impatient with the pace of the investigation, he contacts retired United States Marshall, Kenneth Sadler.  Sadler, a widower, is happy for the work and grateful for an excuse to temporarily relocate away from the many widows in nearby Moore County who view him as a desirable catch.

Sadler does not get off on the right foot with Lee County Sheriff Joe Dorman.  While it’s natural that the local authorities do not welcome a private investigator from the outside, Sadler learns that Sheriff Dorman may have particular reasons for trying to keep a tight rein on this case.  Other discoveries raise questions about the behaviors and intentions of both high school students and the adults in their lives.  Whose behavior is more foolish? More dangerous?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Beasley, Ernest, Coastal Plain, Lee, Moore, Mystery, New Hanover

Jennifer Estep. Midnight Frost. New York: Kensington Publishing, 2013.

Midnight FrostGwen Frost can’t stop having nightmares. They’re eerily realistic and they all end the same way, with dreamy Logan Quinn, Gwen’s (almost) boyfriend, stabbing her in the chest. Since Jennifer Estep’s last Mythos Academy installment, Logan and Gwen’s developing relationship has been brought to a screeching halt following Gwen’s arrest and trial for the crime of releasing Loki from his imprisonment. Now Gwen has no idea about Logan’s whereabouts. And his absence is weighing heavily on her, along with the increased attention from the rest of the student body. Students don’t just point and stare – they’ve created a phone app to track Gwen’s every move.

She might be Nike’s Champion, selected by the Goddess herself, yet Gwen has her doubts. She isn’t strong or fast like the other students of Mythos Academy who have warrior lineages. Students descend from Vikings or Amazons, or even Spartans. Gwen  is just a Gypsy, albeit a Gypsy with the mysterious skill of psychometry, a magical trait that allows her to learn about people or objects simply through touching them.

And the Reapers want her dead.

During a botched attempt to poison Gwen in the Library of Antiquities, librarian Nickamedes is poisoned instead. Professor Metis works what magic she can to keep Nickamedes alive, but it’s up to Gwen and her friends to seek the antidote to the deadly Serket sap. Their trek leads them to the Denver branch of the Mythos Academy. A rare flower, Chloris ambrosia, grows in the Eir Ruins near the school and contains the antidote to cure Nickamedes’ poisoning. Despite an early threat en route to Denver, the journey feels easy, a little too easy. Sure the Reapers want to kill Gwen. But why are they luring her all the way to Denver?

Midnight Frost is the fifth book in novelist Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series. In this volume, readers will discover a few more details about Gwen’s father, Tyr Forseti, plus some unsavory information about her paternal relatives. There is a map of the school’s Library of Antiquities in the front of the book and a few brief indices at the back of the book on the Warriors and the Magic, the Mythos Academy, the Students, the Adults, and the Gods and the Monsters to get readers entrenched in Gwen’s world. Estep keeps her characters relatable. She merges the supernatural with the everyday; characters possess extraordinary powers yet exhibit normal teenaged impulses too. Estep also blends many strands of mythology. What other book could readers pick up that combines elements of Norse, Egyptian and Greek mythology, and feature a cheeky talking sword?

Young adult readers ages 13 and up will enjoy this mythological urban fantasy series.

If you’re new to this series, start by reading our first entry on Estep’s Mythos Academy. Or, check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Estep, Jennifer, Mountains, Novels in Series, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Emma Carlson Berne. Under Pressure. Minneapolis: Darby Creek, 2013.

under pressureThe title, Under Pressure, nicely sums up Elise Heisel’s life–or maybe just how she sees it. Elise comes from a family of UNC Tar Heels. Four generations of her family have gone to UNC and made good.  Her dad was president of the student body in his senior year, and her mother was a star player on the women’s rugby team.

Elise dreams of going to UNC and playing for the university’s women’s soccer team.  She is an excellent ball handler on the soccer field, but when Elise compares herself to her teammates, she thinks that she lacks stamina and power.  When her high school coach announces that a UNC scout is coming in two weeks to check out the team, Elise goes into a panic.  What can she do to make herself stand out? Elise succumbs to the lure of performance enhancing drugs. When they seem to loose their edge, she decides that it must be because she is carrying too much weight.  In just two weeks, Elise jeopardizes her health, her friendships, and her dream of playing for Carolina.

Under Pressure is a realistic portrayal of how quickly a teen can get in trouble, and the ways family and friends–consciously and unconsciously–affirm or denigrate a girl’s sense of self-worth.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Berne, Emma Carlson, Children & Young Adults

Jen Calonita. The Grass is Always Greener. New York: Poppy, 2013.

thegrassisalwaysgreenerThe conclusion to Jen Calonita’s Belles series finds half-sisters Mirabelle and Isabelle Monroe each facing her own crossroads. The Monroe family is used to an easy life, but that changed when Isabelle “Izzie” Scott (in reality Monroe) arrived. Hailing from the nearby struggling community of Harborside, the daughter State Senator and family patriarch Bill Monroe never knew existed has certainly made life interesting in the affluent town of Emerald Cove. No one has felt the changes more than Izzie’s half-sister Mirabelle.

Originally a quiet conformist, Mirabelle has started to march to the beat of her own drum. She’s pursuing her own interests in painting, as well as a quirky, artistic boy named Kellen. Izzie has changed her life,  but nothing is perfect. Kellen is moving away, and Mirabelle’s novice artwork faces harsh criticism from a teacher. Will she stay true to her newfound path?

Although used to blazing her own trail, Izzie has trials to face as well. Shortly following the death of her beloved grandmother, an aunt Izzie never knew about arrives in town. Zoe Scott had a terrible falling out with her sister, Izzie’s mom, before Izzie was ever born. Now Zoe wants to make amends and take her niece away to live in California. Izzie isn’t sure if she wants her aunt in her life, much less if she wants to leave the Old North State. Additionally, Savannah Ingram, the alpha girl of Emerald Preparatory, looks ready to make Izzie pay for disrupting the status quo. Forced to work with the snobby queen bee on a project, Izzie is sure she’ll be miserable. But is Savannah really as bad as she thought? Torn between the lessons of her meager upbringing and the challenges of her new, shinier life, Izzie must decide what her future will hold.

Both girls are about to turn sweet sixteen, and at this rite of passage they must decide who they will be. But since Isabelle and Mirabelle Monroe first accepted one another as sisters, one thing is certain– whatever they face, they’ll face it together.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Calonita, Jen, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Corrine Jackson. If I Lie. New York: Simon Pulse, 2012.

lieWhen you’re in high school, things can seem very black-or-white. Girl cheats on her boyfriend who is a Marine on duty in Afghanistan, she’s trash. When that boyfriend is MIA after a firefight, the whole town shuns her and calls her ugly names.  Since this girl is the child of a woman who ran off with another man, even her own father treats her with a cold disdain. Like mother, like daughter.

This is Sophie Topper Quinn’s life. Quinn–the name her father insists on–has learned to accept her father’s cold manner. In the years since her mother left, Quinn has wondered what role she might have played in her mother’s departure. She can’t say that her father’s behavior is unreasonable, but she is shocked to find herself so on her own after a photo surfaces on Facebook that shows her kissing someone other than Carey Breen. No one knows that Quinn turned to someone else after Carey told her her that he was gay and asked her help in covering that for him in their small military town.

To keep Quinn out of trouble, her dad arranges for her to volunteer at the Veterans Administration Hospital in nearby Fayetteville.  There she becomes friends with George Wilkins, a retired military photographer.  George recognizes Quinn’s talent and enlists her to work with him on the Veterans History Project. Quinn’s edgy defensiveness does not put off George and as their friendship grows, he helps her navigate additional curve balls–like her mother’s return–that come her way.

Although If I Lie focuses on how Quinn responds the turmoil in her life, readers also get a look into the lives of other characters, particularly George, Quinn’s mother, and Carey’s best friend, Blake.  All have behaved in ways that they regret, without mercy or grace to themselves or those closest to them. By placing this coming-of-age novel in a military town in the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell Era, Corrine Jackson has produced a book that will engage both young adult and mature readers.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Jackson, Corrine, Onslow

Travis Thrasher. Hurt. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013.

hurtIn this fourth and final installment in the Solitary Tales, author Travis Thrasher takes us back once more to the fictional town of Solitary, North Carolina.

Chris Buckley has tried everything when it comes to the evil in Solitary. He’s mocked it, pretended it doesn’t exist, given in for a time, even run away. Nothing has stopped his demon-possessed great-grandfather, Walter Kinner, from giving up his satanic control on the town. Worst of all, Chris is somehow the centerpiece of his upcoming final showdown with the powers of good. Tired, terrified, but most of all determined never to give in to the Devil, Chris takes the only course of action left– fighting back. It’s hard enough being a teenaged boy without having to fight the powers of darkness, but with his belief in the powers of God growing stronger every day, Chris has hope where before he had none.

Unfortunately, his very real demons know exactly how to keep him on their side– by threatening the ones he loves. His mother has been missing for some time, held by Walter’s henchmen. They’re also threatening his latest girlfriend, the sweet and guileless Kelsey. Since his other two girlfriends, Jocelyn and Lily, have both ended up as bloody sacrifices, Chris was reluctant to start dating again. But there’s just something about Kelsey that makes him think everything will be okay. But there is a long fight ahead, and no telling who will emerge triumphant. Will faith, hope, and love keep back the darkness?

Check out this final chapter in the Solitary Tales in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Thrasher, Travis

Lisa Williams Kline. Winter’s Tide. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2013.

winterstideStepsisters Stephanie and Diana have come to an uneasy truce over the last few years, but it’s still hard to get along. In Winter’s Tide, the fourth installment in the Sisters in All Seasons series, the girls face challenges within their two intertwined families and with each other.

When a popular girl walks by Diana in the hall at school and whispers that hateful nickname all the kids call her, “annnnnn-i-mal,” under her breath, Diana finally snaps. Both girls are suspended for fighting just before Christmas, and Diana’s mom and dad couldn’t be more disappointed. Stephanie feels terribly guilty, since it’s her fault that Diana gets called “annnnn-i-mal,” but she’s worried that if she reveals her secret, Diana won’t understand that it wasn’t intentional. Both girls are distracted, however, when tragedy strikes Stephanie’s side of the family.

First, Stephanie’s stepbrother from her mom’s re-marriage is driving drunk and gets into a car accident on Christmas Eve. Matt has always been mean to Stephanie, so she refused to say a prayer for him in church that night. Now this car accident feels like her fault, too. Next, Grammy Verra, Stephanie’s favorite grandparent, falls ill. Since it’s winter break, Stephanie, Stephanie’s dad, Diana, and Diana’s mom all drive down to Emerald Isle, North Carolina to stay near her. Diana is immediately entranced by the nearby animal life, including whales, horses, and even Grammy Verra’s dog, Jelly. When the girls meet a local boy, Jeremy, trouble begins: he takes them out on a secret trip on his dad’s boat to see the horses on Shackleford Banks, and everything goes wrong. Stephanie’s secret comes out, and the boat starts to float out to sea, potentially leaving them stranded. Will the sisters be able to reconcile, and will they find a way to get out of danger? If so, will Grammy Verra and Matt be OK? And will Diana finally be able to move past her bullies?

Check out this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Carteret, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Kline, Lisa Williams, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Wake

Jennifer Estep. Crimson Frost. New York: Kensington Publishing, 2013.

With the Norse chaos god Loki freed from his prison, Gwen Frost should be extra careful. Besides an evil god, she also has to look out for his Champion, a murderous girl called Vivian, and her army of Reapers. Life at the Mythos Academy, high in the supposedly peaceful mountains just outside of Asheville, has never been more dangerous. And yet, Gwen has never been so happy. Logan Quinn, the boy she’s had a crush on forever, has finally asked her out. He’s even given her a winter present– a beautiful snowflake necklace. They’re sitting together in a local coffee shop when Gwen’s reality finally comes crashing down around her. She’s arrested by the Protectorate, her world’s governing body, for the crime of…freeing Loki from imprisonment.

It all seems like some ridiculous joke. Gwen almost died in the attempt to keep Loki from being unleashed on the world, and now she’s being accused of helping him to escape? The Protectorate is very serious, however, in its accusation. Soon the entirety of Mythos Academy knows that Gwen is an evil Reaper, and they all want revenge. This would be uncomfortable in a normal high school, but at Mythos Academy, a training school for the descendants of ancient warriors, it’s definitely deadly. Will Gwen be able to survive not only Loki and his Champion, but the anger of her fellow students? Will she ever clear her name? And will Logan stand by her during her trial, even when his father is the head of the Protectorate?

Young adult readers ages 13 and up will enjoy the continuing adventures of Gwen and her friends in this fourth installment in the Mythos Academy Novels.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Estep, Jennifer, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Science Fiction/Fantasy