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Courier Article by Erika Qualls
Sunday, May 2, 2010

Great books to read over summer vacation

The beginning of May is upon us and that means summer vacation is almost here!

School will be out in just a few weeks, so now is the time to start looking for great books to read over your summer vacation. The following are some new young adult titles out to keep you entertained this summer.

Scarlet spends all of her time worrying about other people in Deb Caletti's "Six Rules of Maybe." Now that her older, beautiful sister, Juliet, has returned home with a husband and is pregnant, Scarlet finds more than one thing to worry about. Maybe she can get her sister to see what a devoted husband she has instead of chasing after her loser ex-boyfriend. Maybe Scarlet can convince her mother not to marry a man who spends most of his time criticizing her. All of her worrying about other people, however, means Scarlet pushes her own needs to the side. Scarlet has to learn when to be persistent and when to let go, but she also has to learn how to hope.

Unlike Scarlet who pushes her own needs to the side, Samantha Kingston in Lauren Oliver's "Before I Fall" always puts her needs first. She has the perfect life: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three popular best friends and her pick of anything in her high school. Everything is perfect for Samantha until Feb. 12, her last day on Earth. Now Samantha has seven chances to relive the last day of her life. During this time, she has to solve the mystery surrounding her death, and Samantha also has to right her wrongs and try to save her life. The only way to do that is to discover the true value of everything she might lose.

Jeffrey Alper knows what it means to have his life saved in the sequel to Jordan Sonnenblick's "Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie." While Sonnenblick's first novel spoke of Jeff's older brother, Steven's, experience with his younger brother's cancer, "After Ever After" allows Jeff to tell his own story. When we last saw Jeff, he was a five-year-old overcoming cancer, but now Jeff is in eighth grade dealing with the effects of chemotherapy and radiation and being a teenager. Told with humor and heartbreak, Sonnenblick tells a stand-alone story of heavy issues and typical teenager angst.

In 1962, Samantha Thomas must move to Jackson, Miss., and handle her own heavy issues in Margaret McMullan's "Sources of Light." Sam handles them through the lens of her camera as she captures the resentment of her and her mother's liberal ideas in her new town. Since her father's death in Vietnam the year before, Sam and her mother had no other choice but to move to Jackson where racial injustices happen every day. While behind her camera, Sam manages to find the light and goodness in the world of hatred around her.

Check out these great reads this summer and look for more wonderful young adult novels at your local library. Also, be sure to look at the great programs going on for teens this summer, including the Teen Summer Reading Program beginning on May 23.