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Books, Librarian's Choice, realistic fiction

Reality Bites

23.07.15 | Comment?

Here are some gritty reads. About REAL STUFF. I thought you might like them because you’re serious people. All the characters in these books are tackling difficult, real-life situations. Some of you guys have been asking about interesting books for your NCEA reading log as well so this could be a helpful list for that too. All of these are well-loved books from our collection:

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

This is also available as an e-book! “In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.” Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.”  (Goodreads)

First lines: The white people are waiting for us. Chuck sees them first. He’s gone out ahead of our group to peer around the corner of the hardware store. From there you can see all of Jefferson High … the only thing between us and the school is the parking lot. And the white people.

Last Night I sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“Zach is eighteen. He is bright and articulate. He’s also an alcoholic and in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. He’s not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive – well, what’s up with that?” (Goodreads)

First lines: Some people have dogs. Not me. I have a therapist. His name is Adam. I’d rather have a dog. After our first session, Adam asked me a lot of questions. I don’t think he liked my answers.

Bugs by Whiti Hereaka

“Meet Bugs:  smart, sarcastic, sixteen and stuck in a small town without a driver’s license. Bugs has been best mates with Jez forever, they’ve always been Jez and Bugs, Bugs and Jez. That is until Stone Cold, the new girl, arrives in town … Why would anyone want to be mates with her? But things are never as they seem on the surface – not the picture perfect postcard views of Taupo, not the drama queen antics of Stone Cold, not the quiet brooding of Jez. Not even Bugs. Now as the future closes in, each will struggle with expectation; either trying to live up to them, or trying to live them down.” (Huia Publishing)

First Lines: They call me Bugs. As in Bunny. Yeah, I know. When I started college I tried to change it to Rāpeti. Not because I’m a born again Māori or anything. Just that Rāpeti sounds hard. Harder than Bugs, anyway. But Bugs stuck.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens.” (Goodreads)

First Lines: … Where to sit? I’ve never been a backseat wastecase. If I sit in the middle, a stranger could sit next to me. If I sit at the front, it will make me look like a little kid, but I figure it’s the best chance I have to make eye contact with one of my friends, if any of them have decided to talk to me yet.”

Hate List by Jennifer Browne

“Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets … Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year.” (Goodreads)

First lines: FROM THE GARVIN COUNTY SUN TRIBUNE. The scene in Garvin High School cafeteria, known as the “Commons”, is being described as “grim” by investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shooting spree that erupted Friday morning.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Also available as an e-book! “Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India … but she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.” (Goodreads)

First lines: One more rainy season and our roof will be gone, says Ama. My mother is on the log ladder inspecting the thatch and I am on the ground, handing the laundry up to her so it can bake dry in the afternoon sun.


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