Absolutely True Diary

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

Arnold Spirit, a goofy-looking dork with a decent jumpshot, spends his time lamenting life on the “poor-ass” Spokane Indian reservation, drawing cartoons (which accompany, and often provide more insight than, the narrative), and, along with his aptly named pal Rowdy, laughing those laughs over anything and nothing that affix best friends so intricately together.
[spoiler title="Click for More"]When a teacher pleads with Arnold to want more, to escape the hopelessness of the rez, Arnold switches to a rich white school and immediately becomes as much an outcast in his own community as he is a curiosity in his new one. He weathers the typical teenage indignations and triumphs like a champ but soon faces far more trying ordeals as his home life begins to crumble and decay amidst the suffocating mire of alcoholism on the reservation. [/spoiler]

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600L Middle School 288 Autobiography 2009 0316013692

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Black Pearl

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The Black Pearl
by Scott O’Dell

Ramon wants to prove to his father, Blas Salazar, that he is just as good as Sevillano, Ramon’s worst enemy and Ramon’s father’s best pearl diver, at pearl diving. Manta Diablo, the monster of the deep, guards “The Pearl of the Heavens,” the ocean’s biggest pearl, that Ramon wants to dive for. Ramon got “The Pearl of the Heavens” and brought back home. When Ramon tells his father about the pearl, his father gives it to the church. Luzum, an old Indian tells Ramon that he should give it back to the Manta Diablo because the monster will come after him.

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980 Middle School 144 Drama 2010 0547334001

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London Calling

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London Calling
by Edward Bloor

John Martin Conway feels out of place at his exclusive prep school, where he is constantly reminded that he is a scholarship kid. After a confrontation with Hank Lowery, the great-grandson of the schools founder, he requests to work at home on an independent study project. The World War II-era radio that his grandmother left him brings him into contact with Jimmy, a boy who lived during the war and who needs his help. He takes Martin back to the time of the London Blitz. [spoiler title=”Click for More”]In his own time, he focuses his research on the things Jimmy shows him and the people he encounters. Along the way he uncovers some new information about his grandfathers and General Hank Lowerys dealings during the war and discovers how he can help put Jimmys soul to rest. He also comes to terms with his alcoholic father and with his own depression. [/spoiler]

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890 Middle School 304 Fantasy 2008 0375843639

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Last Exit to Normal

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Last Exit to Normal
by Michael Harmon

Life was going along just fine for Ben Campbell until he hit fourteen. That was the year his father announced that he was gay and his mother left. His dad’s boyfriend moved in, and Ben started counseling — and also misbehaving.

Now, after three years of run-ins with the law, Ben’s dad has decided the only way to save Ben is to leave Spokane. At age seventeen, city boy Ben finds himself living in Rough Butte, Montana. Edward, who Ben calls “Momdad”, has agreed to take them back to the hometown he left when he was Ben’s age. In Rough Butte, Ben is surrounded by homophobic cowboys, Edward’s acid-tongued mother, Miss Mae, and an abusive neighbor with a strange young son.
[spoiler title=”Click for More”]
Used to doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants, quickly ends for Ben as Miss Mae schools him in acceptable country behavior. She expects respect and hard work, and she doesn’t hesitate to use her wooden spoon as a weapon to encourage it. Ben reluctantly falls in line and even finds it rewarding at times. His father and Edward seem pleased for the most part, and his improved attitude and behavior are useful in his quest to attract the attention of the beautiful girl living just four doors down the street.

There are still frustrations for Ben. Completely forgiving his father for trashing his life back in Spokane is proving harder than he expected. Rough patches between father and son keep tensions high, and to complicate matters, Ben becomes convinced that the young neighbor boy is the victim of dangerous abuse. Ben’s efforts to seek justice for the boy create a whole new set of problems.[/spoiler]

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620L Middle School 288 Drama 2009 0440239949

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Homeboyz

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Homeboyz
by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

When Teddy Anderson’s little sister Tina is gunned down randomly in a drive-by shooting, the gangstas who rule the streets in the Anderson family’s rapidly deteriorating neighborhood dismiss the incident as just another case of RP, RT-wrong place, wrong time. According to gangsta logic, Tina doesn’t even count as a statistic.

Teddy’s family is devastated. Mrs. Anderson sinks into deep depression while Pops struggles to run both the household and his declining laundry business. The Andersons are shocked still further when Teddy is arrested and thrown in prison for attempted homicide after his elaborately laid plans for revenge against his sister’s killer are foiled by the cops.

[spoiler title=”Click for More”]Teddy soon finds himself out of prison on house arrest, and in the capable hands of Officer Mariana Diaz, the smart, tough probation officer assigned to oversee his endless hours of community service. As part of the innovative rehabilitation program Diaz runs, Teddy is assigned to tutor Micah, a twelve-year-old orphan and would-be ‘gangsta’.

As Teddy goes through the motions of complying with the terms of his probation, Diaz has no idea that he is using his genius-level computer hacker skills to plot his final vengeance and to defraud the state education system of hundreds of thousands of dollars. But even though Teddy thinks he knows it all, he fails to see how Micah’s desperate need for love and trust just might have the power not only to pierce all Teddy’s defenses, but to save his family. [/spoiler]

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710 High School 304 Thriller/Suspense 2008 1423100317

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Gym Candy

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Gym Candy
by Carl Deuker

Having grown up in the shadow of his father’s failed NFL career, high-school football player Mick Johnson is determined not to make the same mistakes. But when he’s tackled just short of the goal in a pivotal game, he decides that vitamin supplements aren’t enough and begins purchasing “gym candy,” or steroids, from the trainer at his local gym. His performance starts breaking records and his father couldn’t be more proud, but along with gains in muscle, he suffers “‘roid rage,” depression, and unsightly acne. When his secret finally comes out, he attempts suicide. Even after therapy, Mick is left wondering if he’ll continue to be tempted by steroids.

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710L High School 320 Thriller/Suspense 2008 0547076317

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A Long Way From Chicago

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A Long Way From Chicago
by Richard Peck

Joey and his younger sister, Mary Alice, live in the Windy city during the reign of Al Capone and Bugs Moran. Most of their adventures occur during their annual down-state visits with Grandma Dowdel, a woman as “old as the hills,” “tough as an old boot,” and larger than life. Grandma continually astounds her citified grandchildren by stretching the boundaries of truth. [spoiler title=”Click for More”]In eight episodes spanning the years 1929-1942, she plots outlandish schemes to even the score with various colorful members of her community, including a teenaged vandal, a drunken sheriff and a well-to-do banker. Grandma, Joey and Mary Alice’s adventures include such escapes as preparing an impressive funeral for Shotgun Cheatham, catching fish from a stolen boat and arranging the elopement of Vandalia Eubanks and Junior Stubbs. [/spoiler]

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750L High School 160 Adventure 2006 0142401102

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Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

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13 Little Blue Envelopes
by Maureen Johnson

Ginny, 17, reads a letter from her free-spirited, unpredictable Aunt Peg, who has recently passed away. She is given several destinations, four rules, and the instruction to open one envelope upon her arrival at each place. Thus begins a rapid tour of Europe as the teen struggles to accomplish the tasks established by her aunt. Ginny wants to understand the woman’s wanderlust and, possibly, she just wants a connection to her beloved relative. Throughout her adventures in Rome, Paris, Greece, England, and the Netherlands, the teen collects pieces of Peg’s past and learns more about her rapid departure. She also learns much about herself.

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770L High School 252 Adventure 2006 0060541431

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Runner

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Runner
by Carl Deuker

When his alcoholic Gulf War veteran father is fired from the first steady job he has held in years, Chance Taylor is understandably glum. He has no idea where they’ll get the money to pay the moorage fees for the run-down sailboat they call home. Since his parents’ divorce, Chance has tried to keep a low profile in school, and his only pleasure is running by himself along the Seattle waterfront. [spoiler title=”Click for More”] When a marina office employee offers to pay him $250 a week to pick up occasional packages at a tree along his running route, Chance is deeply suspicious of what they may contain but desperate enough to accept this opportunity to pay the bills. As this new job gradually becomes more dangerous and more clearly illegal, Chance’s father is able to rise above his personal problems to help extricate his son. In a gripping climax complete with SWAT teams swarming throughout the marina as Coast Guard patrol boats close in on terrorists, Chance is afforded a final glimpse of the heroic man his father once was. [/spoiler]

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770 High School 224 Thriller/Suspense 2007 0618735054

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Deep and Dark and Dangerous

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Deep dark and Dangerous
by Mary Downing Hahn

Just before summer begins, thirteen-year-old Ali finds an old photograph. She recognizes the two children. One’s her mother, the other her aunt Dulcie… but who is the third person, the one who’s been torn out of the picture? Ali will have all summer to figure it out, since she’s spending the summer with her aunt and her cousin in the same house her mom and aunt used to visit when they were kids.Then Ali meets Sissy. Sissy is mean, spiteful, and determined to ruin Ali’s summer. Sissy also has a secret. Could it have something to do with the old photo? Ali is dying to find out, and if she’s not careful, that’s exactly what might happen to her.

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650 Middle School 192 Drama 2008 0547076452

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