Library Column: New titles to keep teens reading this summer

By Madeline Rudawski
Contributing Writer

June is here, which means one thing to librarians: Summer Reading! School’s out, but the library’s in session: we have patrons of all ages flocking to the library for a cool reprieve from hot weather, all in search of their next great read. Special programs, events, and activities are a draw as well; for more information about all the great summer programs and activities the library offers, check out the library’s website at www.anoka.lib.mn.us.

This summer, there are a plethora of great new titles for teens, no matter what their interests are or what kinds of stories they like to read about. Here are some great summer reads for teens looking to get a jump start:

“Rooting for Rafael Rosales” by Kurtis Scaletta – In the Dominican Republic, a teenage boy dreams of becoming a baseball player. He plays with a sock-wrapped stone for a ball and a stick for a bat in the streets of his neighborhood. Years later, that teenage boy (now a grown man) signs a baseball for a young girl Minnesotan girl named Maya. Maya is an aspiring environmentalist and finds a surprising connection to baseball. Scaletta’s smart writing weaves together these two unlikely characters in an emotionally rich and resonant story. (Albert Whitman, 2017).

“Always and Forever, Lara Jean” by Jenny Han – The third and final book in Han’s popular Lara Jean series finds its titular protagonist in her senior year of high school, juggling everything that comes along it, including having a steady boyfriend, applying to colleges, and getting ready for prom. Lara Jean and her boyfriend soon discover they have college plans taking them in different directions, and they have hard choices to make. Han is a gifted writer who is particularly adept at creating emotional moments for her characters, and that is on full display here. (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas – Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter navigates two different worlds: that of her predominantly white prep school and that of her own black neighborhood. When she witnesses her childhood best friend Khalil get shot and killed by a white police officer, her worlds collide. Khalil was unarmed, but the media and the police are spinning different versions of the story. Starr has to decide whether or not to speak up and risk everything, including her own safety, in order to bring justice for Khalil. Debut author Thomas manages to bring both humor and heartbreak to this important, timely story, and its fast-paced narrative will keep readers turning pages. (Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen, 2017).

“Scythe” by Neal Shusterman – It’s the future, and Earth is post-mortal, which means that people live long, long lives where they don’t worry about disease or aging. Scythes operate independently of the government and live by their own set of moral codes in order to keep the population under control. Sixteen-year-olds Rowan and Citra are new apprentices and must undergo extensive scythe training. Vivid writing and world-building on the part of Schusterman allows this violent tale to come to life on the page, the book’s dark humor is both memorable and compelling. (Simon & Schuster, 2016).

“The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon – Told over the course of 12 hours in New York City, Yoon’s book centers on Natasha, a scientifically-inclined girl about to get deported with her entire family back to Jamaica, and Daniel, a romantically-inclined aspiring poet whose Korean immigrant parents expect him to go to an Ivy League school. Through fate, the two meet and connect, and while Natasha attempts every last-ditch effort she can think of to prevent her family’s imminent deportation, Daniel attempts to get Natasha to fall in love with him (while using a scientific list, of course). Yoon’s first novel was recently turned into a movie, and this excellent follow-up, full of explorations about life and love, is sure to follow in its footsteps. (Delacorte, 2016).

Madeline Rudawski is a librarian at the Johnsville branch.