This week we’re bringing you the gems that haven’t gone out in a while, part three! You can see the reasoning behind this collection and the previous instalments here and here.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Properties of Water, Hannah Roberts McKinnon

For thirteen-year-old Lace Martin it has always been the three of them: Lace, her older sister, Marni, and the lake. The sisters’ lives have always circled around the lake on which they’ve grown up. As Marni always said, the water was in their blood. Both competitive swimmers, the girls once shared everything. But living in her sister’s shadow was sometimes difficult for Lace; there was no escaping Marni’s beauty, wit, and athleticism. All that changed one tragic summer afternoon.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFigs and Fate: Stories About Growing Up in the Arab World Today, Elsa Marston

The five stories in this collection are told from the perspective of Arab teens living in Syria, Lebanon, a Palestinian refugee camp, Egypt, and Iraq. Each main character embarks on a mission to confront his or her social situation, whether regarding friends, family, teachers, or society at large. Marston beautifully details the rich Middle Eastern culture of these five individuals and their families, dispelling negative stereotypes associated with young adults living in these societies and providing for a better understanding of their culture. Their ideals, goals, and dreams are no different from those of teens living elsewhere in the world. By exploring the challenges they face, Figs and Fate will awaken you to the rhythms of young people’s lives in the Middle East – a beat that may sound surprisingly familiar to you.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe swallow and the Dark, Andrew Matthews

Sam is sixteen, and at war with his own body, fighting an incurable illness that gives him only months to live. Time has suddenly become very important to him as he now has so little left. Nearly a hundred years ago, another Sam — a lieutenant in the British Army — is off to fight a different kind of war, on the Western Front. He knows that he may well not survive. Linking the two is a girl named Marion. But is Marion just a figment of Sam’s imagination — a hallucination caused by his medication — or something far more extraordinary? Could she somehow be… a bridge across time?

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Year of the Shanghai Shark, Mo Zhi Hong

The North-Eastern Chinese city of Dalian is home to orphaned teenager Hai Long. In the year of the Sars epidemic, he and his friends live out their urban existence, going to school, navigating the malls, and watching American basketball and Michael Jordan. They are part of China’s new generation, severing ties with their cultural past, surrounded by a fascinating array of rich, colourful characters who frequent their inner-city apartment block – from Gambler Dang, a high stakes Ma Jiang player, to Fish, a peasant from the countryside and an unlikely friend, and finally Uncle, whose shadowy occupation exerts an irresistible pull on Hai Long’s life…

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Door of No Return, Sarah Mussi

“Until my son, the lost Prince – get it, that’s you – comes back through The Door of No Return, and claims his ransom, my soul will never rest in the land of my ancestors.” Those are Zac’s grandfather’s dying words. An old man’s wild fancy? Or real: diaries, lost maps, secrets buried 300 years ago somewhere in Africa? A motive for murder? Somewhere in the old slave forts of Ghana lies the answer, and Zac knows his only choice is to go there and find out.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCry of the Giraffe : based on a true story, Judie Oron

Labelled outcasts by their Ethiopian neighbors because of their Jewish faith, 13-year-old Wuditu and her family make the arduous trek on foot to Sudan in the hope of being transported to Yerusalem and its promise of a better life. Instead, they are herded into a squalid refugee camp until the day soldiers round up Wuditu and scores of others, forcing them back to the Ethiopian border. Throughout her harrowing trek across the scorching sand, and the humiliation, fear, and despair she later faces as a slave, Wuditu’s only hope is to be reunited with her family in Yerusalem. Based on real events, this is one girl’s courageous journey from exile and slavery to hope in a new land. It mirrors the experience of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who fled from hatred, persecution, and brutality to a new life in their spiritual homeland.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSo Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), Micol Ostow

Despite his dreams of hipster rock glory, Ari Abramson’s band, The Tribe is more white bread than indie-cred. Made up of four suburban teens from a wealthy Jewish school, their Motley Crue is about as hardcore as SAT prep and scripture studies. But after a one-song gig at a friend’s Bar Mitzvah – a ska cover of “Hava Nagilah” – the Tribe’s popularity erupts overnight. Now, Ari is forced to navigate a minefield of inflated egos, misplaced romance, and the shallowness of indie-rock elitism. It’s a hard lesson in the complex art of playing it cool.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecret Keeper, Mitali Perkins

When her father loses his job and leaves India to look for work in America, Asha, her older sister, Reet and their mother must wait with Baba’s brother and his family, as well as their grandmother, in Calcutta. Uncle is welcoming, but in a country steeped in tradition, the three women must abide by his decisions. Asha knows this is temporary – just until Baba sends for them. But with scant savings and with time passing, the tension builds. Ma finds it hard to submit to her mother- and sister-in-law; Reet’s beauty attracts unwanted marriage proposals; and Asha’s promise to take care of Ma and Reet leads to impulsive behaviour.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Middle of Everywhere, Monique Polak

Fifteen-year-old Noah Thorpe is spending the school term in George River, In Quebec’s Far North. The Inuit kids call Noah a Qallunaaq–the Inuktitut word for a non-Inuit person, someone ignorant of the customs of the North. Noah thinks the Inuit have a strange way of looking at the world, plus they eat raw meat and seal blubber. Most have never left George River–a town that doesn’t even have its own doctor, let alone a McDonald’s. But Noah’s views change when he realizes he will have to learn a few lessons from his Inuit buddies if he wants to survive in the North.

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMalka, Mirjam Pressler

Malka’s world is changing. Jews are no longer welcome in her home town and her family is threatened by Nazi round-ups. Nothing is safe any more. Now Malka’s mother knows she has no choice – she must take her daughters across the mountains to freedom. But escape proves harder than they could ever have imagined. Separated from her mother and alone in a terrifying new world, Malka struggles to survive starvation and brutality at the hands of the Nazis. But she is unaware that, miles away, a broken-hearted mother is searching for her lost little girl…

The Star Locket, Natalie Jane Prior

Identical in appearance, yet raised as strangers on opposite sides of the world, Estee Merton and Sally Taverner share a perilous inheritance: a broken half of a mysterious star-shaped locket, a magical talisman that could control the destiny of millions. Aided by a renegade secret society and a young man who loves one of them too much, Sally and Estee are drawn into a terrifying struggle on the murky streets of nineteenth-century Starberg. As torn loyalties threaten everyone’s safety, the star locket is fated to decide which twin will live and which will be lost. The problem is, there is no way of telling who is real and who is not.