Reading Lists

Life Experiences (RD 80 and 90)

Almost perfect

Katcher, Brian

Delacorte Press 2010

With his mother working long hours and in pain from a romantic break-up, eighteen-year-old Logan feels alone and unloved until a zany new student arrives at his small-town Missouri high school, keeping a big secret.

Bless me, Ultima

Anaya, Rudolfo A

Warner Books 1999

Six-year-old Antonio embarks upon a spiritual journey under the watchful guidance of Ultima, a healing woman, that leads him to question his faith and beliefs in family, religion, and other aspects of his Chicano culture.

Blue like jazz : nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality

Miller, Donald

T. Nelson 2003

Presents a collection of essays that explore the author's experiences and opinions on Christian spirituality.

By the time you read this, I'll be dead

Peters, Julie Anne

Hyperion/DBG 2010

High school student Daelyn Rice, who's been bullied throughout her school career and has more than once attempted suicide, again makes plans to kill herself, in spite of the persistent attempts of an unusual boy to draw her out.

Children of the river

Crew, Linda

Dell Pub. 1991

Having fled Cambodia four years earlier to escape the Khmer Rouge army, seventeen-year-old Sundara is torn between remaining faithful to her own people and enjoying life in her Oregon high school as a "regular" American.


Hopkins, Ellen

Simon Pulse 2004

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter, gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina. Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul - her life.

Crazy enough : a memoir

Large, Storm

Free Press 2012

The popular indie rock performer describes her battle against the hereditary mental illness that decimated her mother's health and prompted the author to engage in a self-destructive downward spiral before discovering her musical talent.

The difference between you and me

George, Madeleine

Viking 2012

School outsider Jesse, a lesbian, is having secret trysts with Emily, the popular student council vice president, but when they find themselves on opposite sides of a major issue and Jesse becomes more involved with a student activist, they are forced to make a difficult decision.

A dog's purpose

Cameron, W. Bruce

Forge 2010

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog's search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here? Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey's search for his new life's meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey's journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose? Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

The dreamer

Ryan, Pam Munoz, Sis, Peter

Scholastic Press 2010

A fictionalized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who grew up a painfully shy child, ridiculed by his overbearing father, but who became one of the most widely-read poets in the world. Includes author's note about the poet.

Eleven minutes

Coelho, Paulo, Costa, Margaret Jull

Perennial 2005

Embittered by her first experiences of love, a young Brazilian girl travels to Geneva in search of fame and fortune and finds her beliefs about sex and romance challenged by her relationship with a young painter.

The fault in our stars

Green, John

Dutton Books 2012

Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.

Green angel

Hoffman, Alice

Scholastic 2010

Fifteen-year-old Green, who is haunted by grief and by her past after losing her family in a fire, retreats into her ruined garden as she struggles to survive emotionally and physically on her own.

Hate list

Brown, Jennifer

Little, Brown and Co. 2010

Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

Home to Harmony

Gulley, Philip

HarperSanFrancisco 2004

The new pastor in a small Indiana town experiences one humorous adventure after another as he acclimates to his new congregation and lifestyle.

If I stay

Forman, Gayle

Speak 2010

While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weighs whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.

Imani all mine

Porter, Connie Rose

Houghton Mifflin 2000

Tasha, a fifteen-year-old mother, is proud of her baby girl and is determined to be a good parent to her child, but she must draw upon her newfound faith to go on when tragedy strikes.

The interruption of everything

McMillan, Terry

Signet 2006

The perfect wife and mother of three grown children, Marilyn Grimes copes with the problems of midlife as she struggles to recall postponed dreams, and reinvents her marriage, friendships, family, and self.

Look me in the eye : my life with Asperger's

Robison, John Elder

Three Rivers Press 2008

Memoir of John Robison whose odd behavior was explained when he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger's syndrome when he was forty and the change that made in his life.

Milkweed : a novel

Spinelli, Jerry

Alfred A. Knopf 2010

Set in Nazi-occupied Poland just before the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Spinelli's first historical novel tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival though the eyes of a young orphan.

The miseducation of Cameron Post

Danforth, Emily M

Balzer + Bray 2012

In the early 1990s, when gay teenager Cameron Post rebels against her conservative Montana ranch town and her family decides she needs to change her ways, she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center.

My abandonment

Rock, Peter

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2009

In the tradition of Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild," Rock's "My Abandonment," inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of his young protagonist, offers a riveting and unsettling account of a girl and her father who live off the grid.

The outsiders

Hinton, S. E, Picoult, Jodi

Penguin Books 2006

The struggle of three brothers to stay together after their parent's death and their quest for identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society.

Room : a novel

Donoghue, Emma

Little, Brown and Co. 2010

Narrator Jack and his mother, who was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student, celebrate his fifth birthday. They live in a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper's yard. The sociopath, whom Jack has dubbed Old Nick, visits at night, grudgingly doling out food and supplies. But Ma, as Jack calls her, proves to be resilient and resourceful--and attempts a nail-biting escape.

Saints of Augustine

Ryan, Patrick

HarperTeen 2007

In St. Augustine, Florida, former best friends Charlie Perrin and Sam Findley, now both sixteen, come to realize that their friendship is the only thing that will keep them afloat when each of their worlds is turned upside down through death, divorce, and the seemingly out-of-control direction of their lives.

Salem Falls

Picoult, Jodi

Washington Square Press 2001

Robbed of his teaching career and reputation by a student's false accusations, Jack St. Bride is struggling to rebuild his life in the wake of an eight-month jail sentence by taking a job washing dishes at Addie Peabody's diner, but fresh accusations of rape by teenage girls from his former school threaten to destroy him once again. Reader's Guide available.

The secret life of bees

Kidd, Sue Monk

Penguin Books 2008

Fourteen-year-old Lily and her companion, Rosaleen, an African-American woman who has cared for Lily since her mother's death ten years earlier, flee their home after Rosaleen is victimized by racist police officers, and find a safe haven in Tiburon, South Carolina at the home of three beekeeping sisters, May, June, and August.


Hornby, Nick

Riverhead Books 2009

At the age of fifteen, Sam Jones's girlfriend gets pregnant and Sam's life of skateboarding and daydreaming about Tony Hawk changes drastically.


Spinelli, Jerry

Laurel-Leaf Books 2004

In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.

Suicide notes : a novel

Ford, Michael Thomas

HarperTeen 2010

Brimming with sarcasm, fifteen-year-old Jeff describes his stay in a psychiatric ward after attempting to commit suicide.

Th1rteen r3asons why : a novel

Asher, Jay Razorbill

Razorbill 2007

When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

To kill a mockingbird

Lee, Harper

Warner Books 1982

The explosion of racial hate in an Alabama town is viewed by a little girl whose father defends a black man accused of rape.

Water for elephants : a novel

Gruen, Sara

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2006

A novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932. When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

Where the heart is

Letts, Billie

Grand Central Pub. 2008

A pregnant girl abandoned by her boyfriend hides in a Wal-Mart store, gives birth and becomes a celebrity as the mother of the Wal-Mart Baby. Help flows from everywhere as people jump on the publicity bandwagon, then the baby is kidnapped.

Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Strayed, Cheryl

Alfred A. Knopf 2012

A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.


Hoban, Julia

Speak 2010

Sixteen-year-old Willow, who was driving the car that killed both of her parents, copes with the pain and guilt by cutting herself, until she meets a smart and sensitive boy who is determined to help her stop.


Anderson, Laurie Halse, Viking

Viking 2009

Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.

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