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“The Hired Girl” by Laura Amy Schlitz

In 1911, on a farm near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Joan Skragg’s father forbids his daughter from getting an education. He burns her books. He crushes her last hope when he shouts, Who’s going to marry her? Motherless Joan tells us her

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“These Shallow Graves” by Jennifer Donnelly

“These Shallow Graves” (Delacorte 2015) by Jennifer Donnelly set in New York City, 1890, is part Edith Wharton and part Charles Dickens and altogether young adult. Jo Montfort is the 17 year old daughter and only child of Charles, an

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“Don’t Fail Me Now” by Una LaMarche

“Don’t Fail Me Now” (Penguin 2015) by Una LaMarche is worth getting, for the photo on the cover alone. But there’s so much more. When her mother is imprisoned for heroin use, 17 year old Michelle takes charge of her

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“Under a Painted Sky” by Stacey Lee

  Missouri 1849. Samantha, a Chinese girl, watches her father’s grocery store go up in flames. Her father dies, trapped inside. Ty Yorkshire under the guise of helping Samantha, tries to rape her. She whacks him with a scrub brush

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“Last Leaves Falling” by Sarah Benwell

“Last Leaves Falling” (Simon & Schuster 2015) by Sarah Benwell is the story of Sora who has ALS, the neurodegenerative disease better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I have a friend who has ALS and another who died of it.

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“Audacity” by Melanie Crowder

Clara Lemlich works in the garment district of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, with other teenage girls from the old country—various “old” countries. Clara and her family came from a Russian shtetl—Jewish village—where girls were

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“The Boys Who Challenged Hitler” by Phillip Hoose

Thousands of paper flyers were dropped from German planes over Norway and Denmark in April 1940, announcing the Nazi arrival and offering wartime “protection.” Norway fought back against Germany and suffered massive losses. Denmark cooperated, such that Winston Churchill would

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“Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans” by Don Brown

“Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015), written and illustrated by Don Brown, is a powerful nonfiction graphic “novel”—that is, written as a comic. In early August 2005 an “unremarkable wind” from Africa crosses the Atlantic,

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“Bone Gap” by Laura Ruby

Finn O’Sullivan lives in Bone Gap, Illinois with his older brother Sean, at the edge of town among the cornstalks, in the young adult book “Bone Gap” (Balzer & Bray 2015) by Laura Ruby. Finn is called Moonface, Sidetrack, and

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“The Game of Love and Death” by Martha Brockenbrough

What is more important in life than love and death? In Martha Brockenbrough’s young adult novel, “The Game of Love and Death” (Arthur Levine 2015), Love is personified as a gentle man. And Death, a hard woman. The story begins

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Book Reviews