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New Young Adult books for April 2017

Written by · Published Mar 29, 2017

Stargazing for Beginners, Letters to the Lost, Goodbye Days

The Liar’s Handbook, by Keren David

“River’s life is blown apart when his mum invites her new boyfriend into their home and their lives. River is instantly suspicious of Jason - he seems fake, too good to be true. At school, River’s routine fibs are escalating into something more serious, and his teacher gives him a notebook in the hope he can channel his fantasies into creative writing instead.

“And so, River begins ‘The Liar’s Handbook’, and an investigation into Jason. But what he uncovers is a terrible deception involving his biological father, the police force and his mum’s environmental campaign group - but will anyone take his findings seriously?”

The Pavee and the Buffer Girl, by Siobhan Dowd & Emma Shoard

“Jim and his family have halted by Dundray and the education people have been round mouthing the law. In school the Traveller kids suffer at the hands of teachers and other pupils alike, called ‘tinker-stinkers’, ‘dirty gyps’ and worse. Then the punches start. The only friendly face is Kit, a settle girl who takes Jim under her wing and teaches him to read in the great cathedral chamber in the cave below the town.”

This moving short story by the still-lamented Siobhan Dowd tells of a traveller boy who meets both bullying and friendship at a new school. Emma Shoard’s illustrations are a powerful accompaniment.

The Ravenmaster’s Boy, by Mary Hoffman

“Young Kit finds himself on a plague cart wedged between the bodies of his mother and father. But he is alive and is rescued and taken into the home of the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. He soon finds he can speak the language of the big black birds, a skill which proves useful when he finds himself caught up in a story of queens and treason, princesses and executioners.”

Set in 1536, Hilary Mantel describes The Ravenmaster’s Boy as “a dark but charming Tudor tale - a history with a twist.”

The State of Grace, by Rachael Lucas

“Fifteen-year-old Grace is funny and plain-spoken. Just because she has Asperger’s doesn’t mean she’s great at maths (she’s not) or can draw the Eiffel Tower from memory (she can’t). Like any teenager, Grace just wants to fit in, so when it turns out that the cutest boy in school likes her, she finds herself falling in with the cool crowd.

“But with her dad away and her mum distracted there’s no one at home to see Grace’s younger sister spiralling out of control, and suddenly everything threatens to fall apart - unless Grace can fix things on her own.”

Stargazing for Beginners, by Jenny McLachlan

“Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her. And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions.”

Written by the queen of the popular Flirty Dancing series, Stargazing should do very well.

Island, by Nicky Singer & Chris Riddell

“Urban teenager Cameron arrives in an uninhabited Arctic island. He’s prepared for ice and storms and, stripped of his smart technology, possibly boredom. But he’s not prepared for 24-hour daylight and erupting graves! At first Cameron believes the explanations of his scientist mother. But, as the island reveals itself to him, he begins to see, and hear, things that push him right to the edge of the possible. One of them is an Inuit girl. The other is a large white bear.”

Illustrator Chris Riddell has pledged any of his royalties from Island to Greenpeace, and this book was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

The Challenge, by Tom Hoyle

“The Challenge is a web-based 48-hour challenge competition which has become a cult hit among teens in the local area. But the tasks they are are being set are becoming wilder and more dangerous, and the whole challenge looks to be getting dangerously out of control. But it’s not something you can do by half measures - you’re either in or you’re out - and once you’re involved, it’s very hard to get out.”

Letters to the Lost, by Brigid Kemmerer

“Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

“Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you mess with. But in the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s also running from the demons of his past. When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.”

Perhaps inspired by Romeo and Juliet, love and grief go hand-in-hand in this new title. If you love John Green, you’ll probably love this too.

Into the No-Zone, by Eugene Lambert

“Hiding out in a Gemini stronghold, Kyle is finding out that being a hero is a bit of a let-down. The rebels may have struck a blow against the Slayer army, but victory is far from won and Wrath is as hostile as ever. Kyle finds himself caught between his ident brother Colm, who he saved from certain death, and his friend Sky, who is desperate to follow up a trail that may or may not lead to her lost sister.”

An action-packed sci-fi title and “blood-curdling sequel to epic [The Sign of One](https://suffolk.spydus.co.uk/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/ENQ/OPAC/BIBENQ?BRN=1939746)”. The first book in the series didn’t issue very well in Suffolk, but it got race reviews, so I hope this new book fares better.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

The story of Starr, a high school student who witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend by a police officer, this book is inspirational. Angie Thomas says it was inspired by the death of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was shot by police in California in 2011.

Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner

“Can a text message destroy your life? Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

“Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?”

Nicola Yoon has described Goodbye Days as “gorgeous, heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming.” It sounds powerful stuff, so I can’t wait for our copies to arrive.

Jo Dixon

I work for Suffolk Libraries Stock Team.