Tag Archives: jason reynolds

Understanding Grief with YA Verse Fiction

29 Apr

Grief from loss is a common occurrence among those that know someone that has passed away during this chaotic time. Mourning the passing of someone comes in different ways. Grief can be expressed through anger, sadness, and even an extreme action. For poetry month, these two fiction young adult books will show the reader different ways characters grieved in a time of instability.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Long Way Down
Will’s brother got gunned down on his way to the neighborhood bodega. He and his grief-stricken mother try to process Shawn’s death. Will retreats to “the rules” in his grieving for his brother. There are three rules which are not to cry, not to snitch (tell who did it), and get revenge. These three rules create a toxic cycle of gun violence in his neighborhood. Will learns this in his grief when he steals his brother’s gun and descends the elevator to find and kill the person that killed his brother. The majority of the story takes place in the elevator that goes down seven floors. On each level, a person from Will’s life connected to gun violence boards the elevator. Each person like his father, classmate, confides in him how “the rules” played a part in their murders. The reader takes in the heart-wrenching drama through a variety of verses that would leave the reader questioning if Will is open enough to take in the message that he is receiving from beyond the grave.  It is available from elibraryNJ and eBCCLS as ebooks and digital audiobooks.

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Out of the Dust
In this historical verse fiction, readers get to learn about a very different America in the early 1930s. The Great Depression was very hard on the average American but especially hard for Americans that lived in Oklahoma like Billie Jo. She is a 15-year-old girl that tries to survive during the Great Dust Bowl. Oklahoma’s countryside was overtaken by dry land due to over-farming and drought. The book begins with Billie Jo’s seemingly happy. When a horrible tragedy affects her and her mother, things fall apart! Hesse does a beautiful job telling the story of grief, family, and adversity through the spirit of a spunky teenage girl.  It is available from eBCCLS as an ebook and eLibraryNJ as an ebook and digital audiobook.

Written by:
Elbie Love
YA Library Associate

Six YA Picks from HPL’s YA Librarian

31 Aug

It’s been about a year since I started my job as the Young Adult Librarian. In that year I’ve read many YA books, some good and some not so good. Here are a few that I highly recommend.


All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely


The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Before I started choosing Young Adult books for the library I hadn’t heard of Jason Reynolds. I’m really glad that that’s changed. Reynolds’ characters are real people. They talk like modern teenagers talk and you can hear their voices in your head when you read the dialog. Reynolds writes about tough, timely topics. Police brutality, death, first love, substance abuse, family dynamics; it’s all included in these two outstanding books.


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

I was skeptical about this one. A book told through “found” electronic messages, memos and lab reports? How exciting could it be? I was wrong. When Kady and Ezra’s planet is invaded they, and the rest of the population, are forced to escape on spaceships, but that’s just the beginning. We follow along as the two teens race against time to figure out why their ships are being targeted and what kind of fatal disease is quickly spreading among their fellow passengers. This is the start of a new series.


Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane has always been one of my favorite characters. Here, she’s reimagined as a teenage journalist-in-training. She and her colleagues at the student-run “Daily Scoop” news website, and an online friend she knows only as “Smallville Guy,” investigate a gang of high school bullies. Part Nancy Drew, part science fiction, this is a fun read for anyone who’s a fan of Lois Lane or light mysteries.


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

How can you go wrong with Italy and ice cream? Although it starts with a tragedy, the book is mostly an entertaining, light romance/mystery set against the backdrop of beautiful Tuscany. If you’re looking for a quick read with sympathetic and likable characters give this one a try.


Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin

The Vietnam War. Watergate. Although these events were covered in school, the topics are so complicated there is always more to learn. This book, about Daniel Ellsberg and why he decided to steal and reveal the secret Pentagon Papers, provides a lot of insight into this era of American history. Although very well researched and detailed, this exciting account reads more like a spy-thriller than a history book.

-Written by Kim Iacucci, Young Adult Librarian

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