Teen E-Book Fiction

"Breath Like Water", by Anna Jarzab

When swimming is everything, what's left when your life doesn't go according to plan?

A world champion swimmer at 14, Susannah Ramos' changing body has betrayed her; she struggles to maintain her edge in the pool just two years later. Now, a manipulative coach and crippling self-doubt feel like insurmountable hurdles as Susannah fights to regain both her self-confidence and a spot in the upcoming Olympic Trials. A handsome newcomer to the team turns into more than just a friend, and Susannah must rethink her priorities as she works to regain her elite athlete status. Blossoming romance is soon challenged by pressures from the swim team and difficult secrets coming to light. Jarzab expertly captures the intense pressures of high-stakes athletic competition and the complicated reality of loving someone with mental health struggles. Susannah's family's Mexican American heritage is significant to the plot, and themes of identity and feeling like an outsider in a predominantly white sport are explored authentically. Susannah is third-generation Mexican American and growing up in suburban Illinois. Readers will root for Susannah in her journey to find her place, both in and out of the pool.

Racing action and tender romance shine in a story of hard love and harder competition. Ages 13-17

- Kirkus Reviews

"My Eyes Are Up Here," by Laura Zimmermann

Greer Walsh doesn't want to hide in her oversized gray hoodie all of the time. She wants to wear the same type of clothes that her classmates do, and the clothes that her mother (a very enthusiastic relocation specialist) wants her to. But no one wants to talk about what Greer is concealing, not even most of her friends. It takes Greer joining the JV volleyball team for her to finally confront the fact that her breasts, "larger than her head," are literally in her way. She is uncomfortable and unable to move how she wants, and obsesses over whether she needs breast reduction surgery; or maybe just different types of bras to help her feel like a so-called "normal" teen girl. Add in a potential romance with the son of one of her mother's clients, and Greer is finally ready to stop hiding. Deploying a wise and wry first-person narration, Zimmerman brings a very real teen issue to light, doing so in a choice-positive way; readers will commiserate with Greer and quite possibly conclude that with every kind of body difference comes very real stigma and pain. The mother-daughter relationship resonates, as does Greer's navigation of a relationship that she never thought she'd be lucky enough to have. Ages 12-17

- School Library Journal

"The Stepping Off Place," by Cameron Kelly Rosenblum

A rising high school senior copes with her best friend's unfathomable suicide.

For six years Reid, 17, has warded off anxiety, social awkwardness, and the loss of her mother's attention (her younger brother is autistic and her mother has thrown herself into fundraising for autism research) by hiding behind vibrant Hattie. But since Hattie summers on her affluent family's private island in Maine, with unreliable cell service and no Wi-Fi, Reid hadn't seen her in weeks when, days before the start of school, she learns that Hattie has drowned, and her death is likely a suicide. The storyline bounces back and forth between past and present to fill in details of Reid and Hattie's relationship, including all Hattie deliberately hid from Reid-and quite a lot that Reid hid from Hattie. Reid always understood that her role in Hattie's life involved not demanding answers or intimacy. At the same time, Hattie was central to Reid's life, and learning to navigate each day without her seems impossible. Reid and Hattie are white and straight; other important characters are Asian, Latino, and gay. The large cast of characters, particularly the high school students, are well and sensitively drawn. The novel doesn't glorify suicide or dwell on the details of Hattie's death. Instead it explores loss, futility, honesty, and love, with a richness of prose and excellence of characterization rare in a first-time author.

Despite the difficult topic, a story to savor. Ages 14-17

- Kirkus Reviews

"Gimme Everything You Got," by Iva-Marie Palmer

A crush leads to self-discovery when a teen girl joins the soccer team.

Seventeen-year-old Susan Klintock is starting junior year without a boyfriend or goals...until she sees Bobby McMann, a new, young faculty member who looks great in shorts. But Bobby wants to do more than teach algebra. It's 1979, and in the wake of Title IX, he's intent on starting the school's first all-girl soccer team. After most of the girls realize they'll have to do more than just ogle Bobby, only Susan, her best friend, and a handful of wannabe players are left to face copious challenges with no real games on the horizon. Soon, Susan strikes up a friendship with Joe, a punk rock-loving former goalie at nearby Catholic St. Mark's high school, who offers to help Susan become the player she didn't know she wanted to be. When Susan challenges the St. Mark's boys to a match, she finds herself reckoning with her own strength, her skills as a newly minted team captain, and her feelings for both Bobby and Joe. Susan is a flawed and sympathetic heroine, and her quest for fulfillment is packed with humor and heart. The fresh exploration of identity, first love, and the impact of Title IX make this novel broadly appealing. Susan and her family and friends are assumed white, but the author signals background diversity through the surnames of a few minor characters.

A sassy yet sweet girl-power tale that transcends time. Ages 14-17

- Kirkus Reviews