Mrs. Lester’s Students Respond to YA Novels!

For the last two weeks, the Unquiet Library has been working with Mrs. Lester’s 10th grade English students to select young adult literature novels that relate to issues and challenges facing today’s teenagers.  In this post, you can read their feedback on the novels they selected and read…we have been thrilled to see many of these students visiting us to sneak in some extra reading time!

Take a look at what Mrs. Lester’s 10th graders have to say about their YA novels! 

Categories: Collaborative Lessons Conversations! | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Mrs. Lester’s Students Respond to YA Novels!

  1. Alexa L

    I have read a book called A Time for Dancing, by Davida Wills Hurwin. Julies and Samantha are the main characters in A Time for Dancing. They are best friends. The plot that they are facing is that Julies has been diagnosed with cancer and she has it on her hips, back, chest everywhere. They are trying to savor their last few months as high school seniors together before she dies.. So now Julies and Samantha are trying to spend as much time with each other as possible like doing their favorite thing ballet.
    Julies has a lot of choices that she faces in the story. One of which is when she gets cancer and she starts chemotherapy. She has been doing it for 6 months and she is tired of being weak, angry, and sad. So she tells her parents that she would like to get off of it. They don’t want her to because they think she is doing so well and she has too much of it to stop treatment right now. The effect of Julies decisions has on her is she is happier, not as tired and sleeping all the time. She also can go back to ballet, but without the chemo she is more weak than usual.
    Teenagers face these kinds of problems everyday. Some examples are your mom might be dealing with cancer and it is hard for you and everybody in your family or just like in the story you might have a friend who has cancer and they have it so bad they could die. People deal with cancer all the time; they go to Chemotherapy or any kind of therapy. It’s just sometimes the cancer is so bad the doctors can’t do anything to save them. Maybe some of my friends would make that decision, but I’m not sure it depends how bad the cancer was.

  2. Donna I

    I have read Stay with Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr. The main character is a girl named Leila and her problem is that her stepsister Rebecca, kills herself and Leila is very close to her. Her parents get a job offer to Poland and they take it mostly to get away from Rebecca’s death. That leaves Leila with no home so she lives with her other stepsister, Clare. Both dealing with Rebecca’s death, they become close and they meet people who come in their lives and change their prospective on life. Mostly girls will enjoy this book a lot because if you ever had something big happen in your life, you can’t just give up, you move on.

    Leila is faced with many choices. Leila has to choose between her ex-boyfriend Ben, who she still likes or this new guy named Eamon. She chooses stay with her stepsister while her parents are in Poland. She has to choose between her job at Acca or a job offer as an assistant for a lady who is in movie production. The effect of these decisions turned out for the better.

    Teenagers face these kinds of problems every day. Some examples are: parents getting job offers which cause them to move, dealing with a sibling who dies, and girls have been caught between two guys. My friends including myself would make the same decisions that Leila made.

  3. Hi Alexa!

    Thanks for your book recommendation! I lost my mother-in-law and grandmother to cancer, so I think this book would be therapeutic for me to read. You make a great point when you point out that we traditionally think of cancer as an “adult” disease, but in reality, we are seeing an increase in the number of teens and children diagnosted with cancer—this book might be a great way to help someone who is going through that experience.

    Please let me know if you think we should get some more books on this topic! Mrs. Hamilton

  4. Hannah

    My book was called The Beat Goes On. The author of the book is Adele Minchin. The main character was Emma, and she was battling with HIV. The other main character was Leyla and she was Emma’s cousin who also had to keep that she had HIV a secret, the only two people who knew were Aunty Jean (Emma’s Mom) and Leyla (Emma’s Cousin). Emma goes on a trip and to Wales and on that trip there was a dance at the end of the week for boys and girls. Emma and her camp buddy were very bored at this dance when two boys came to them and asked if they wanted to go outside for a drink. Emma and her friend went outside with the boys and drank a bottle of wine together. Emma ended up getting drunk and having unprotected sex in the woods near the dance building.
    In the next couple of months things were going fine except for the regret of having sex with someone she didn’t even know. One day Em and a friend from school were talking about getting tested for HIV. Emma had never thought of getting tested but because her friend wanted them to go together Emma went and got the test done. After about a month Emma started thinking about the test. She knew the results should be in but she didn’t even want to get the results, she was sure she didn’t have HIV. It started making her think that maybe she should go just so she really didn’t have to worry about it anymore. The next day she went back to the clinic for the results. That day Emma found that she was HIV positive. She didn’t understand how this could happen; she kept saying to herself “Why is this happening to me, I can’t believe this is really happening to me!” Of course she told her mom, but the counselor at the clinic thought it would be nice if she could talk to someone her own age about it. Over the next week or two she built up the courage to tell her cousin Leyla. Leyla was shocked. She didn’t know what to do or say. They cried together and talked with each other for days. Time went by and people started to wonder where Leyla always was. Then again, Leyla had to keep it a secret.
    I think that this is a very accurate account of the problems that teenagers face today. Because teenagers might try to be cool and not look scared to have sex, so they do it for show, when friends start doing it they feel like they will get kicked out of the “cool crowd.” There really is no solution to the problem of teens having unprotected sex and getting STDs. I think that one thing that could help is just keep spreading the word, there is nothing else you really can to. There are some teens I know that would have had unprotected sex or have sex with someone the barley even knew, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to follow what your friends do.

  5. Hi Donna!

    Thanks for your post! After reading your comments, I am adding this one to my “must read” list! I know that book has been quite popular this year at Creekview.

    Do you think we should get more books by this writer and/or on these topics? Let me know! 🙂 Mrs. Hamilton

  6. Justtin H.

    The book that I read is called The Gun. It was written by Paul Langan. The main character is Tyray Hobbs. He is a popular kid at school but feared by many. He would bully kids to get them to do what he wants them to do, even getting them to give him money. But one day, a kid named Darrell Mercer fights back and embarrasses Tyray by breaking his wrist in front of the whole school. To get back his respect, he will have to take extreme measures.

    Tyray is faced with a lot of decisions to make. His greatest decision is how he is going to get revenge on Darrell and regain his respect. His only solution is to get a gun. He thinks that a gun would fix everything. It would make things like they used to be. But he soon finds out that a gun is not the way to solve things. Tray and Darrell are not friends, but they are no longer enemies.

    Today, you hear about school violence all over the U.S. Usually it’s about a kid that was being made fun of and they decide to get revenge. You never know what somebody might do. This book resembles what many teens face today in high school what a day is like at school, at home, and in your neighborhood. Getting a gun to solve your problems is not the way to go. I highly recommend this book because it can relate to many teens today.

  7. BIG E

    The book that I read is called “Durango Street”. It is written by Frank Bonham. The main character in the book is Rufus Henry. He is a young teen who has just been released from a detention camp for grand theft auto. Rufus must now try to make things work this time around. His mother is living in a rough part of town, and he knows he most likely will have to join a gang for some sort of protection. Doing this will violate his parole, but when a gang harms his sister, he gets fed up with things and joins a fighting gang- the “Moors”.

    Rufus is faced with many big decisions in this book. The biggest decision he faces is probably whether or not to join the gang. Another big decision was beating Bantu out of the gang. Another decision is whether or not to go along with the social worker Alex Robbins.

    Young people join gangs because they feel safe and protected. Some join gangs to get attention because they do not get it at home. I think this is a good book, and I recommend it because it relates to modern teen life.

  8. Donna I

    yes because people want books that they can relate to and in this book i did.

  9. Hi Hannah!

    Wow—your book has a powerful message! I agree that people, especially teens, think that AIDS/HIV is something that could happen to them, and as a result, they may make misinformed or poor decisions that have devastating consequences. Perhaps a book like this might cause everyone, especially young adults, to think twice and not be a victim to peer pressure. I agree that young people should not let other people pressure them into doing something they know is wrong or not right for them—I hope that this book will help other teens make thoughtful choices that will keep them safe and healthy. Thank you for sharing your ideas! Mrs. Hamilton

  10. Jessica

    The book that I read this year is called Find a stranger, Say goodbye. the book is about Natalie Armstrong who is a 17-year-old girl from Simmons Mills. Her mom had her when she was 16 years old. So she had to give Natalie up to a family that could take care of her. When she turned 17 years old, Natalie had finally asked the question to her step- parents, “Where is my real mother?” Afterwards she looks for her real mom at Simmons Mills where her mom grew up. I think you will enjoy this book because it is a good mystery, if you like those types of books. It also teaches life-long lessons about who your real parents are.

    The main choices that Natalie Armstrong has are whether to find out who her real parents are or her real mom is. When she makes this choice, she ends up meeting her parents and finds out all about her real mom and a little about her dad. Natalie Armstrong is just like her mom, especially in her looks, but their attitudes are not very similar. When she makes this decision about looking for her long lost mother, she finds out about her life and why she had to be given up. She meets all of these terrific people that her mom grew up with when she was little.

    If young teens today were faced with Natalie’s decision, I think maybe they would do the same things as she did. Most teens would make the same decision to find out who their real parents were, to find out who gave birth to them 17 years ago, to see what their mom and dad were like, and to see who friends were during school or their doctors were. I think most teenagers would make the same decisions throughout their lives to find out who they were and what they were like.

  11. Jessica

    Dear Donna,
    Sounds like a interesting book to me. A girl dealing with the kind of problems that happen today in life. I am going to have to check this out sometime this year and read it cause it sounds so good to read. Thank you for posting your book or else I wouldn’t haven’t heard about this book.

  12. Hi Jessica!

    I remember reading this book nearly 15 years ago like it was yesterday! I loved this book and thought it was quite powerful.

    I think this book appealed to me because like Natalie, I am adopted. While I personally have never had the desire to meet my birth parents, I DO understand Natalie’s need to know more about how she came into this world. To give up a child for adoption is probably one of the bravest and most selfless acts of love a person could commit.

    The late great poet Stanley Kunitz once said, “To find the essential grain of oneself—everything else is incidental to that quest.” Do you think Natalie would relate to that statement?

    Would you like to see more mystery books in our library?

    Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful post! 🙂 Mrs. Hamilton

  13. Tanya W.

    The name of the book I read was called Mahalia by Joanne Horniman. The main characters were Mahalia and her father Matt. When Mahalia was five months old, her mother Emmy left her with her father for him to take care of her. Mahalia’s father was only 17 years old taking care of a five- month-old child on his own. After seven months, Emmy decided to come back and wants to take Mahalia with her. I think readers will enjoy this book because it wasn’t something you would expect.
    Matt decides to bring up the baby because he loves her very much. He believes that love will be the only thing she needs. In return, she grows up to be a healthy baby.
    This book can be related to a teen’s life today because of teen pregnancy. Many believe they are old enough or they think they are in love and make the wrong decisions. Many fathers would leave the female with the baby, but in other cases it could be the mother who leaves the father with the baby. I think that teens would make the same decisions as the characters in the book.

  14. Joe R

    My book is called The Darkest Secret written by Anne Schraff. The main character is a teenager named Brian Lewis. He lives in a little town outside of the city. He lives with his mom, dad and his little brother Kyle. Brian finds this diary in a hole that his dad asked him to dig for a tree. This is a really good book to read.
    At first he had no problem asking his dad about the diary until he saw his dad’s face. His dad got very upset and told him to throw it away. After that he asked his grandparents, and they both were very upset when Brian asked them what the diary was all about. They told him a little bit about it but not enough to figure why everyone was so upset. A week later, both his dad and his mom told him what it was all about. It was his dad’s old diary when he was a kid. He wrote in it when he was a little boy.
    This book shows what happens when your parents don’t let something go that happened in the past, and the kids find out about it. They keep on bringing it up to figure it out. Most of the teenagers I know would have done the same thing that Brian Lewis did.

  15. jessica hill

    The book I was reading is called Battle Dress by Amy Efaw. Andrea Davis is 18 and when she tells her parents she wants to go to West Point. However, they do not want her to go. She is determined to go to West Point one way another. Once she gets to West Point she realizes this isn’t going to be as easy as she thought. Even though it is hard, she is determined to show her parents she could do it. Through every PT test, march, and grueling schedule, she is not going to quit. I think readers will enjoy this book because it talks about struggles of a normal teenager, even if the reader doesn’t like the military.
    Andi must choose whether to become a leader or a failure in the eyes of her family and her squad. She chooses to become a leader. She makes the right decision, and in the end it pays off, and she makes everybody proud.
    This explains the problems teenagers face today because choosing a college that both you and your parents like is difficult. This book shows a realistic solution to this problem because she proves her parents wrong by sticking with her decision and not quitting. Teens I know would have made this decision because they stick with a decision that they believe is right.

  16. keyla L.

    Keyla L.
    I read a book named Please Don’t ask Me to Love You by Anne Schraff. This book is so interesting. At first I thought this book would be easy because it is so short. Now I know what most people say about books, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The character faces a situation that some teens face today. Tina Hayes, the main character, runs away from home. She decides to run away from home because her mother’s boyfriend hit her. Her mother is usually drunk with her boyfriend. Tina’s mom does not care about Tina at all, she decides to travel to Los Angeles where she meets a nice guy named Piney; he gave her a ride almost to Los Angeles where she works as a maid in the Lovell family home. She takes care of a sick girl that finally dies. Then this family adopts Tina as their daughter. She goes back to school and volunteers at the children’s center. She finds Piney and he asks her to go out. She says yes because she is in love with him.
    Tina decides to run away from home. She tries to find her way to Los Angeles. She finds people to help her, but others were bad people. The effect of her decision is that she just tries to do what she wants not thinking about the consequences. She finds bad people on her way. She just thinks that running away from home might make her life more secure; she makes a big mistake because she finds bad people on her way.
    There are many teens that might think about running away from home. Some of those teens drop out of school. There is a solution to this. You should find help at your school. There are special people waiting for you that can help you with your problems. They listen to you and help you to find a good way to make things better. I know some teens that have made the same decision as the protagonist of my book. I know others that might be thinking about it. Teens need attention from people around them. I hope you like the book as much I do. Remember “Don’t judge a book for its cover”.

  17. Dear Big E:

    Thank you for your book review! I definitely want to now read Durango Street!

    Do you think that gangs or young people wanting to be part of a gang is a problem in our community? Why or why not?

    Mrs. Hamilton 🙂

  18. Jessica

    Yes I would like to see more books written by this author, I have never liked to read before until I saw this book and read it. I knew it was going to be a good book by the title.

  19. justin D-A

    By: ER.Frank

    Lost, it’s the word America uses to describe himself. He was “lost in the system,” as he likes to say, for 15 years, abandoned by his mother and abused by a foster uncle. He drifts from foster care to a park bench to a juvenile detention facility, eventually landing in a mental hospital where he begins therapy with the calm Dr. B. A series of flashbacks takes the reader from America’s childhood abuse and abandonment to the present, where Dr. B. sets out to make America see that a person is not necessarily bad at heart just because they have done bad things in the past.

    The plot of AMERICA is sadly present in our society. A single, crack-addicted mother abandons her kids. The children are separated in the social services system. America, the protagonist, is eventually placed with a loving foster mother and her boyfriend. The boyfriend dies and Mrs. Harper, the kindly foster mother, becomes more physically fragile though still protective of America. Browning, Mrs. Foster’s brother, becomes caregiver and head of household. Browning introduces America to alcohol and pornography. Browning also sexually molests America. When America’s teacher reports that he is acting out at school and his grades are dropping, Browning threatens physical harm to him and Mrs. Harper. America sets fire to Browning’s bed while he is asleep and escapes. Browning dies. America lives in malls at first and later with a drug pusher. Overwhelmed with guilt and confusion, America tries to commit suicide. The suicide attempt lands America in a hospital, a Detox unit and then a rehabilitation center where he receives therapy.

    The main character(s) are:
    America- who is a fifteen-year old son of a crack addict.
    Dr. B- who is a Doctor, who believed in America and kept America striving for success.

    Unlike so many other books where the main character seems too wise beyond his years, America’s voice is true to the thoughts of a teenager. He never loses the foul-mouthed edge on his personality, but at the same time the reader sees his good heart. America is a jagged, beautiful story of triumph, love, and understanding in the face of neglect and depression. This book I would recommend for those teens who have a hard time dealing with life because of their experiences with it, the sad thing is, is that this book is not to off from the truth of all societies of people, and that’s what makes this book good for teens because teens that go through the stages of hurt and abandonment need something to relate to just like I did from this book.

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