Teen EBook Fiction

"Parachutes," by Kelly Yang

A wealthy Chinese teen is sent to America on her own to attend private school.

Claire is a rich 11th grader in Shanghai; Dani is a scholarship student at a private school in Southern California who helps her mother clean houses. When Claire is parachuted into America to finish high school and Dani's mother needs the income from a boarder, they become unlikely housemates. Told in alternating voices, Yang's YA debut tells two disparate narratives that overlap but, unfortunately, never truly connect. In one, Claire is swept off her feet by one of the cutest (and richest) boys in school - by his attention, his mansion, and his Lamborghini. Meanwhile, Dani, whose mother is Filipina and whose absent father's ethnicity is unspecified, believes that securing a spot at an upcoming debate tournament will be her ticket to Yale. Her debate coach singles her out for attention but crosses the line into predatory behavior; Claire's experiences are also traumatic. While these developments are heartbreaking, compelling, and ultimately empowering, they follow lengthy exposition and plotlines involving several secondary characters. Unfortunately, supporting characters are portrayed flatly, without true exploration, so each comes to represent a stereotype whose purpose seems to be teaching readers about a particular experience or point of view. Claire's and Dani's stories are much more nuanced, but the overall result is an uneven and lengthy read.

Important stories are overshadowed by too many subplots. Ages 14-17

- Kirkus Reviews

"Say Her Name," by Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Loveis Wise <https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Loveis%20Wise%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&amp;Ns=P_Sales_Rank&amp;Ntx=mode+matchall&gt;

Elliott describes herself as a writer of poetry, but not a poet. When she learned that some of her students were unfamiliar with the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, she introduced them to the poetry of black women. In her own life, Elliott has often responded to violence and pain through the act of writing. These poems represent her response to victims of violence and racial discrimination, among other atrocities that black Americans have suffered. It is also her way to give a voice to black people who have lived through these circumstances. Some poems include provocative language and situations that may be best read and discussed with adult guidance. For example, the poem "Mouse" describes a street smart girl who gets into a physical altercation and "took one look at the blood/drippin from her friends scalp/pulled out her knife and jabbed him/just like I taught her." Many of the poems echo writers like Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, and Nikki Giovanni; a few of the poets' writings are included in this collection. Titles such as "Black Girl Miracle," "Self-Care," and "Black Lives Matter" pay homage to the strength and power of black girls and women while offering empowerment. Elliott's poetry also encourages readers to act when confronted with injustice, whether through marching or campaigning or responding through writing. Ages 12-18

- School Library Journal

"The Paper Girl of Paris," by Jordyn Taylor

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable - until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe's 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn't Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn't Gram's family return there after the war? Alice's father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice's mother, who's still reeling from her mother's death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice's and Adalyn's voices, narrating Adalyn's experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice's attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls' stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice's engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn's immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds - providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. Ages 13-17

- Kirkus Reviews

"Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America," by Ibi Zoboi, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert

A compilation of short stories that offers unique perspectives on what it means to be young and black in America today. Each entry is deftly woven and full of such complex humanity that teens will identify with and see some of their own struggles in these characters. In Leah Henderson's "Warning: Color May Fade," a prep school girl examines the cost of being and remaining invisible in a world carefully crafted to exclude her. Two girls take the peer pressure of naked selfies and turn it on its head in "Girl, Stop Playing" by Liara Tamani. A group of young black boys dream up food creations heavily influenced by the flavors of other cultures in "The Ingredients" by Jason Reynolds. This collection presents the beauty of black humanity in all its many forms. The teens in these tales are dealing with mental health issues, complicated family dynamics, sexuality and gender constraints, and being part of a marginalized group. The entries offer a rich tableau of the black teen diaspora in an accessible way. Ages 13-17

- School Library Journal