Punpun’s grade-school sweetheart just left school, but he falls in love with the new student, Aiko Tanaka, at first sight. He hopes Aiko will like him because of his dream: to study space and help mankind migrate there. (She sends him mixed signals.) Meanwhile, Punpun's mom is in the hospital. His dad said she was attacked by a burglar, but then dad disappeared. Punpun doesn’t really want her to come home: he likes being taken care of by his Uncle Yuichi, who taught him how to talk to God. After school Punpun and his friends hunt for pornography, which may lead them to the scene of a horrible murder.
It’s worth noting that Punpun and his family members are drawn in a cartoony style as birds, in a world that is otherwise very recognizable and realistic. Punpun is quiet and hardly ever talks, but no one seems to notice this or his strange appearance. And when he talks to God, God appears as a silly, radiantly smiling Japanese man with an afro. It’s all a bit strange. And deadpan.
Publisher’s Rating: M+ for Mature. Contains violence and sexual situations.
Why I finished it: I was reading it in Seattle’s Seatac airport when I went to pick up my friend Richard a few nights ago. A shy, young baggage handler for Alaska Airlines went out of his way to strike up a conversation with me about it. He went on and on about how much he loved the whole series, and especially how dark it gets in later volumes as Punpun grows up. We ended up having a great conversation about manga and bonded over our love of One-Punch Man. I read this to see why he loved it so much, and I’m going to keep reading it to see how much darker and weirder it can get.
Readalikes: My favorite teen-relationship manga of all time is Minoru Toyoda’s five volume Love Roma, about the socially awkward Hoshino and his relationship with the girl he loves, Negishi. Hoshino’s lack of embarrassment is both charming and cringeworthy, and my favorite awkward moment takes place after someone gives Hoshino a condom. The occasional awkwardness of their relationship reminded me a bit of Punpun and Aiko.
Is there a difference between first love and true love? Judy Blume’s groundbreaking novel about teen sexuality has a fresh new look.
The bed is brass, covered with a patchwork quilt, and “nice and firm,” Michael says, “in case you’re interested.”
Katherine is interested.
Katherine and Michael are in love, and Katherine knows it’s forever—especially after she loses her virginity to him. But when they’re separated for the summer, she begins to have feelings for another boy. What does this say about her love for Michael? And what does “forever” mean, anyway? Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?
Henry's life is all messed up. His dad took off and didn’t leave any contact information. Henry's mom is miserable, working crappy shifts as a waitress. His boyfriend killed himself. Aliens keep abducting him. He is secretly messing around with a boy who bullies him. And now he's going to be an uncle because his idiot brother was careless with birth control. Henry can't understand how anyone could even consider bringing a baby into such a messed up world.
Why I picked it up: One of my library system’s teen vloggers raved about this book and convinced me to read it.
Why I finished it: Though they can't speak English, the aliens convey something important to Henry -- he will decide the fate of the Earth. It is due to be destroyed in 144 days. To save it, all he has to do is push a button. But for the life of him, Henry can't think of a good enough reason to do it.
Readalikes: In one of Henry's disaster scenarios, he talks about a Dr. Andrew Smith creating a species of super-bug cockroaches that take over the world. This is a reference to Grasshopper Jungle, an apocalyptic YA science fiction masterpiece in which sixteen-year-old Austin struggles with complicated feelings for his best friend, out of control hormones, and giant insects ripping the heads off everyone they meet. It is both a gruesome horror story and one of the most revealing insights into a teenage guy’s mind ever written.
Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared.
In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness?
Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.
Catherine “Kate” Middleton was born in January, 1982, to hardworking parents. She has always been athletic and competitive as well as beautiful. People could have dismissed her as just another pretty face except she captured the eye of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. Yes, THAT Prince William -- the good-looking older son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The two of them met at St. Andrews Academy and dated for nearly a decade before William decided to ask her to be his bride and the future Queen of England. This is a beautiful story of how a former field-hockey player now turns heads as a gracious, poised princess. Giving Queen Elizabeth her first great-grandchildren, George and Charlotte, Kate has captured her favor as well as hearts in the UK and across the world.
Why I picked it up: I have always enjoyed reading and watching news about the British royal family. I cried when Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, and cried even harder when she died in 1997. I wanted to know who Kate was and why she was being compared to her late, great mother-in-law.
Why I finished it: Prince William and Princess Kate seem like a normal young couple raising two adorable kids. Obviously they have a ton of responsibilities as members of the monarchy, and Prince William had the added duty of being an officer in the Royal Navy, but the two seem most content when they are together. It’s apparent they are smitten with one another and totally in love with their children.
Queen Elizabeth didn’t exactly embrace Lady Diana as her successor, but she seems to have her grandsons’ best interests at heart. She has taken Kate under her royal wing, and is molding her into a future queen. In fact, it’s rumored that Queen Elizabeth gained respect for Kate when she broke up with William after he partied too much and didn’t seem vested in their relationship. She realized Kate was not going to be pushed around, and knew that Kate had the resilience and backbone to be Queen.
Readalikes: Kate: The Making of a Princess by Claudia Joseph is the tale of commoner Kate Middleton catching the attention of Prince William. It is not a fairy tale because the couple had the ups and downs like any other, but it seems they will have a "happily ever after." Diana: Story of a Princess by Tim Clayton and Phil Craig is the true account of how the awkward, shy nursery school teacher was courted by Prince Charles, and how she became the "People's Princess.” It’s no wonder Prince William found a strong, nurturing woman to marry.
Read the cult-favorite coming of age story that takes a sometimes heartbreaking, often hysterical, and always honest look at high school in all its glory. Now a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a funny, touching, and haunting modern classic.
The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
A #1 New York Times best seller for more than a year, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults (2000) and Best Book for Reluctant Readers (2000), and with millions of copies in print, this novel for teen readers (or “wallflowers” of more-advanced age) will make you laugh, cry, and perhaps feel nostalgic for those moments when you, too, tiptoed onto the dance floor of life.
Issa Ibrahim had an unusual family. His father was a nightclub musician and womanizer while his bohemian mother threw parties and smoked marijuana at their house. He and his brothers and sisters all got caught up in drug use to some degree, which didn’t help Issa’s mental state. He began to imagine that God was speaking to him and that he was Jesus Christ. After finding occult books in his mother's bedroom, he became convinced he had to exorcise the demon that was in her. In the course of attempting this, he broke her ribs and choked her to death. He successfully pled insanity, and ended up spending twenty years in a state mental hospital. This is his account of his fragile state of mind leading up to the crime, the trial, and his time at the hospital.
Why I picked it up: I remember when John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan, and then spent time in a mental hospital after a successful insanity plea. I was just old enough to understand the concept that someone could be mentally ill and not able to differentiate right from wrong. I wanted this book to help me understand an insanity plea from the point of view of the mentally ill person.
Why I finished it: This book was entertaining because of its look at how mental hospitals function (and dysfunction). At times Issa is a braggart, talking about the two staff women that he had sexual relationships with. Other times he is as down as can be, talking about how his family is still angry at him for what he did. He has had to live with the consequences of his actions, especially after his mental illness and depression were treated. He rails against the policies and politics at the hospital which kept him there for two decades when he could have been out earlier. And on top of all of this Issa is an artist -- his work has been featured at many galleries and even in a documentary about talented people behind bars.
It’s perfect for: My friend Jens, who is a bit of a black and white thinker, to see if it would change his view of the insanity plea. Presented with details of the crime, he would believe that Issa should have been sent to jail, but I think seeing the world through Issa’s eyes, and learning about his experiences in the hospital, will convince him that Issa (and perhaps others) aren’t merely criminals who are faking it.
And Tango Makes Three is the bestselling, heartwarming true story of two penguins who create a nontraditional family.
At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo get the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.
Selected as an ALA Notable Children’s Book Nominee and a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, “this joyful story about the meaning of family is a must for any library” (School Library Journal, starred review).
Hundreds of years after the robots have conquered earth and wiped out all life in the galaxy, “life” is dull for the robot victors. D4VE is bored with his office job. His boss, FR4NK, is about to fire him. His wife 54LLY is leaving him. She's going to let him take care of their son -- newly arrived from the factory -- but the video-game-playing, defiant teenage robot has no respect for this dad even though he’s a robot war hero. And then the K'laar arrive. Their queen needs all the earth's core energy in order to breed. D4VE is the only one who can save the planet.
Publisher's rating: Suggested for Mature Readers.
Why I picked it up: Gene knows my taste for cleanly drawn, silly science fiction graphic novels. This was perfect.
Why I finished it: The story is total Hollywood: war hero bottoms out, finds new purpose, and saves the day. But it was the amusing details that kept me going, like how robots will swear using the names Jobs or Gates, and the fact that robots wear clothes (rumpled suit and tie for D4VE, skimpy lingerie for buxom robot strippers) and get stuck in traffic in their flying cars.
It’s perfect for: Brian, who has a juvenile sense of humor, and would, like me, laugh the frequent bathroom humor, like when D4VE calls the oddly shaped aliens "butthorns," or the fact that his son watches robot porn.