Title: Sarah’s Key
Author: Tatiana De Rosnay
Summary: Sarah’s Key fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself.
Why I liked it: This is a moving, sad, suspenseful story. I liked the way the author intertwined Sarah’s story from 1942 with the modern day story of Julia. This was one of those books that is so haunting that you can’t put it down and even when you’ve finished the book, you can’t stop thinking about it! High school students who like historical fiction will love this book!
Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Summary: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family has to move from their home to a new house somewhere in Poland. Bruno's biggest issue is that there are no other little boys to play with and nothing to do at all at this new place. A tall fence running alongside the house and garden stretches as far as the eye can see. This fence keeps Bruno from the strange people in their striped pajamas, living on the other side. But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets Shmuel, a boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own. Their meeting results in a friendship that has unexpected and devastating consequences.
Why I liked it: While reading this book, I got to use my imagination to construct the places where Bruno and Shmuel interacted and lived. Reading about the Holocaust through the eyes of a child brought a whole new dimension to this horrible period of time. I read this book in one sitting. I could not put it down because I had to find out what was going to happen next! This is a good book for readers of any age.
Title: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Summary: The people of Sterling, New Hampshire, are forever changed after a shooting at the high school leaves ten people dead, and the judge presiding over the trial tries to remain unbiased, even though her daughter witnessed the events and was friends with the assailant.
Why I liked it: Jodi Picoult is a masterful writer. She is able weave a tale with such intricacy that you rarely are able to predict the outcome. The story is told from several different perspectives
Title: The Hunger Games Trilogy
Author: Suzanne Collins
Summary: The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as "Panem." Panem used to consist of a rich Capitol, located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and thirteen surrounding, poorer districts which cater to the Capitol's needs. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol wherein the thirteenth district was supposedly destroyed, every year one boy and one girl from each of the remaining twelve districts, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are selected by lottery and forced to participate in the "Hunger Games." The Games are a televised event where the participants, called "tributes," must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains. The winning tribute and his/her corresponding district is then rewarded handsomely. It is required viewing for everyone in the districts.
Why I liked it: The story line is captivating. The plot has so many twists and turns that you never know what is going to happen next! These are stories of love of family, loyalty to friends and the fight to survive. Once you start reading you won't be able to stop!
Title: Left Behind (book and series)
Author: Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
Summary: Airline captain Rayford Steele, stunned when over one hundred passengers vanish from his plane in the blink of an eye, quickly realizes the Rapture his wife had been telling him about--an event in which Jesus would return to take his followers to Heaven before they die--has happened and he has been left behind.
Why I liked it: This is a fictionalized version of what the book of Revelation tells us will happen in the end times. It challenged me to read my Bible and learn more about the end times events. High school and advanced middle school readers will enjoy this book. Warning-you’ll want to read the whole series!
Title: The Harry Potter series
Author: J.K. Rowling
Summary: Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry's quandary involving the evil wizard Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents in his quest to conquer the wizarding world and subjugate non-magical people (Muggles).
Why I liked it: These books are fun and exciting. I like the battle of good versus evil and find myself cheering for Harry and his friends. Readers of all ages will enjoy these books!