New at Peter White Public Library

Turn left as you walk into the library to find some of the most thought-provoking stories of the year. They feature moral dilemmas, the unfairness of life, and taking control of your own destiny. These Young Adult selections are page-turners and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

“THE SERPENT KING” by Jeff Zentner features Dill Early, descended from a long line of Pentecostal preachers who believe that their faith in the Lord will keep them safe from the poisonous serpents they handle during church services.  Dill’s not so sure. He tries his best to be a good son, but his fanatically religious parents expect him to take care of them without a thought to his own future. Luckily, Dill has two good friends in Travis and Lydia. Travis navigates the unpredictable actions of a drunkard father by retreating into the world of fantasy books. Lydia has great parents who are genuine role models for the group, allowing her to achieve more in the academic and extra-curricular realm than the boys.   The three friends reveal their last year of high school to readers through conversation and glimpses into their home lives.   Zentner’s first teen novel is a well-written study of life’s unfairness, the differences in the families we grow up in, and the hopefulness of youth; told by each of the friends in their own chapters.

“WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT” by April Genevieve Tucholke introduces Midnight, a loner living with his dad while trying to avoid the bullies at school, except for Poppy. Poppy is the most popular (and feared) girl in school who tries to manipulate the boys by seducing them and the girls by making fun of them. The only person she can’t control is Leif Bell because he sees right through her false charms. When family circumstances take Midnight and his dad to live on a farm across from the Bell home, he begins to spend more time with Wink, Leif’s red-haired, freckled, unconventional sister who believes in heroes, villains, and the power of a good story. Tucholke tells this story in three separate voices through the differing perspectives of Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. It’s difficult to tell who’s telling the truth and who’s telling their own twisted version of events with each retelling. The truth doesn’t come out until a heart-stopping incident that takes place in a haunted house.

“EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR” by E.K. Johnston takes place the summer before senior year. Hermoine is the captain of her cheerleading team, and this is her last summer at cheerleading camp. She wants it to be perfect, and it is … until the Friday night party when she’s drugged and raped. As her friends grapple with academics, college applications, relationships, and their own emerging sexuality, Hermoine has the additional responsibility of seeing a psychiatrist to try to remember the sexual attack. Her life is now full of decisions. What if she’s pregnant? What if she remembers? Should she prosecute the attacker and relive the whole incident? There’s a lot to think about for high school readers.

“LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA” by Katie Kennedy incorporates science fiction into teen adventure. Yuri Strelnikov, a doctor of physics at age 17, is flown to Los Angeles at a moment’s notice to work with American scientists scrambling to prevent a huge asteroid from reaching Earth. He’s on loan from Russia where his work on antimatter has put him in line for a Nobel Prize. In light of his own bright future, Yuri has good reason to save the world. However, in America, he finds himself under close supervision of U.S. government officials. There’s tension between Yuri and NASA’s Director of Near Earth Objects Program about the safest way to deflect the asteroid. Yuri is young, but he knows physics better than almost anyone and doesn’t like being marginalized because of his age. By chance, he meets Dovie, the janitor’s daughter, who helps him sneak away from his hotel and experience a bit of American life. She introduces Yuri to her brother, Lennon, who is wheelchair-bound and has an edgy sense of humor. The suspense continues on from one predicament to the next, until the story ends on the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit. The uncrushable attitudes of Yuri, Dovie, and Lennon leave readers with hope for the future and, perhaps, future stories about these characters.

“GIRL IN PIECES” by Kathleen Glasgow begins as 17-year-old Charlie wakes up in a treatment facility wrapped in bandages — so traumatized, she can’t speak to anyone. Readers soon find out that when she was young, Charlie’s father experienced depression and drowned himself; her mother beat her; her best friend overdosed and was moved to a recovery facility across the country; and she’s been living on the streets of Minneapolis with addicts and criminals. Unable to cope with emotions she doesn’t know how to express, Charlie cuts her arms, and legs. After a rocky start, Charlie follows a friend to Arizona, finds work at a cafe, and returns to her love of art, drawing portraits of people as she observes them. Just when her life is becoming stable, she falls in love with a junkie musician who inevitably drags her back down into emotional chaos. Charlie finally gets assistance from a co-worker recovering from drug addiction and from an artist who recognizes her talent. This story has several recovery stories going at the same time — drugs, alcohol, self-harm — whose victims take each day as it comes and count each one a victory.

— Lynette Suckow, Reference Department