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Illuminae

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Kaufman, A. & Kristoff, J. (2015) Illuminae. New York, NY: Random House Children's Books. 
After a recent breakup, Kady and Ezra find themselves in the midst of a battle between defending Kerenza and surviving what could be the final assault of the evil mining corporation called BeiTech. BeiTech is bent on destroying any spaceship that comes against it, so it has destroyed all the escape wormholes and trapped all the escape ships. Kady loses her mom aboard the Copernicus, whose members are victims to a viral outbreak.  In the midst of reviving their romance, Ezra's whereabouts become a mystery and Kady begins to have somewhat of a romantic interlude with AIDEN, an artificial intelligence entity.  Kady continues to search for answers and to expose the horrors that BeiTech, which happens to be run by Ezra's lunatic mother, has done
This is begins a series surrounding BeiTech's attacks and those who rise against it.  Themes of loss, trust, and survival are present, al…

The Other Side Of The Wall

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Schwartz, S. (2015). The other side of the wall. Minneapolis, MN: Graphic Universe
The Schwartzes live in East Berlin. They whole life is there: their childhood, their parents, their collegiate experience, and even their son Simon was born there.  However, they begin to realize that living in East Berlin is not the best thing for them or their son.  This graphic novel is told in Simon's perspective.  He retells how his parents grew up, met each other in college, fell in love, and then decided to leave after Simon was born.  The government didn't allow them to leave for three years.  In that time, they forbade his father to work, his parents were forced to sell almost everything they had, and they were ostracized for their choice to leave.  Finally, tired and broke, they were granted permission to leave to West Berlin - and this is the first real memory Simon has a child.

Simon Schwartz's retelling of his family's struggle to be free of the ideals of East Berlin is simi…

Everthing Everything

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Alloy Entertainment & Yoon, N. (2015). Everything, everything. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
Madeline Whittier suffers from SCID, which means she doesn't have an immune system and is susceptible to any illness.  As a result, her mother, who's a doctor, has kept her indoors and in a sterilized life.  Maddy has a nurse who cares for her during the day.  When Olly and his family move next door, he ends up communicating with Maddy.  She initially doesn't want to talk to him, but he gets her to communicate through emails and chat. Olly and Maddie form a friendship and ultimately see each other despite keeping their friendship from her mother. Maddie's nurse, Carla, gives Maddie permission to see Olly as well.  When Olly's father is violent with him and his mother in their front yard, Maddie rushes out to intervene - and her mother sees her. Maddie's mom forbids her to see and communicate with Olly, but Maddie decides that she wants to live despite her disease. …

Speak

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Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. Harrisonburg, VA: RR Donnelley & Sons Company
Miranda Sordino is an incoming freshman at Merryweather High School, but she's having a bad start.  She's the subject of bullying, is called a "squealer," an outcast, and a social pariah.  She'd love to talk to her friend Rachel about it, but she's disowned her too.  Her first day of class, she loses her way and gets in trouble, she doesn't think much of her teachers or classes, except for art, and she eats lunch alone in the cafeteria. Also on the first day, she get food thrown at her and she runs away.  When she's asked why she's leaving the cafeteria, she doesn't say a word, so she gets in trouble.  Miranda finds herself in these conditions because she was raped at the end-of-the-summer eighth grade party and called the police.  Nobody likes her much because of that.  Dealing with feelings of guilt, blame, and isolation, Miranda retreats into a closed at school.…

Lily & Dunkin

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Gephart, D. (2016). Lily and Dunkin. New York, NY: Delacorte Press
Donna Gephart unfolds the stories of Timothy McGrother, who is a transgender girl who'd prefer to be called Lily, and Norbert Dorfman, a boy who's recently moved from New Jersey to Florida.  When Tim wears his mother's beautiful red dress and Norbert, who Tim later called Dunkin because he's carrying a beautiful Dunkin Donuts bag, see her, a connection is made.  Tim's mother and sister support him in his search to become comfortable with his identity as Lily, but Mr. McGrother doesn't follow suit until he meets with a doctor who tells him that Lily's life is fragile. And that he should choose between having a dead son and a daughter who's alive. Things start to slowly turn around for Lily at home, but Tim still suffers from bullying at school.  Dunkin, who doesn't know about Lily until the second half of the book, has started to hang out with the bullies, who are also his basketball …

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

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Kind, A. S. (2010). Please ignore Vera Dietz. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
Vera Dietz is a girl who'd rather be under the radar... but the death of her best friend Charlie, who she also loved (and hated) has put her under a limelight she'd rather do without.  Charlie and Vera were neighbors and best friends.  As they grew up in their dysfunctional families (Charlie with an abusive father and when Vera was twelve, her mother left her and her dad), they struggled with feelings of love, self-esteem, sexuality, domestic violence, friendship, and abandonment.  Then, Charlie dies of mysterious causes on the same day the pet store is burned.  The whole town thinks it was Charlie who did it, except for Vera. Vera struggles with the idea to clear Charlie's name because she loved him even though their relationship was virtually nonexistent about five months before he died. In the midst of feeling hatred toward Charlie after death and missing him terribly, Vera does the right thi…

The Fault In Our Stars

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Green, J. (2012). The fault in our stars. New York, NY: Penguin Group
Hazel's parents mean well by trying to protect her because her cancer's made her fragile; however, Hazel wants to be her own person and have a little more control of her life. During a support group meeting, Hazel meets Gus, another cancer patient. Hazel is reluctant to become friends at first, but afterward, Gus shows her that one can still live in the midst of pain, chemotherapies, and the looming thought that cancer will end it all.  Gus and Hazel share some very meaningful moments; Gus takes her abroad to meet the author of her favorite book.  Ultimately, Gus succumbs to cancer and Hazel must see beyond her sadness to remember her meaningful times with Gus and the beauty of life in a the bleakness of illness. Hazel's mom begins preparations to be a counselor herself and this brings Hazel comfort - to know that her mom will have a life after Hazel is gone. 
Being terminally ill and facing the possibil…