I used to call the teen non-fiction section “Sex, drugs & rock ‘n roll” because it consisted largely of books on puberty, the dangers of drug use, and boy bands. Happily, this collection has changed and broadened in scope over the last decade and there are some truly fascinating books that will appeal to teens (and some adults as well). Here are two new titles I enjoyed reading this month:
Sasha is taking a nap on the public bus on the way home from school. It’s an hour ride, so sleeping is a good way to pass the time. Part way into the journey, Richard and his buddies get on that bus. They’ve got a lot of energy and are fooling around when one of Richard’s friends hands him a cigarette lighter and dares him to set Sasha’s skirt on fire. When Richard bows to the pressure and flicks the lighter, everything changes. One bus, one lighter, two teens and a crime that will alter their lives forever. This compelling true story by Dashka Slater will make you think about crime, justice, gender and race in ways you may never have before.
Have you ever had a nightmare that stuck with you long after it was over? In Allison’s sophomore year of high school, she dreamed that she had brain cancer and was going to die young. When she woke up, she was convinced that her nightmare was a reality and she started doing everything in her power to counteract the cancer. It started out by not stepping on cracks, but then morphed into avoiding all sorts of things. Blue pens were not okay. The computer emitted cancer-causing rays. Using notebook paper? Nope. Food became an issue as did her clothing. In a few short months, her obsessive-compulsive disorder had turned her life completely upside down. I knew this girl was in trouble long before her pink sweater started throwing an attitude. The question for me was, why didn’t her parents? Obsessed by Allison Britz is a frightening memoir of one girl’s descent into mental illness and her fight to regain her life.
Here are ten books from the teen nonfiction collection that I’ve enjoyed over the last few years.