Back to School

I hope Books in Bloom readers are settling into the new school year nicely.  Here in our office, the new school year means we are busy with collection development requests from schools across the country.  The teens in these books have their hands full as the school year brings issues they weren’t expecting.

Bessica is deemed a “bad influence” on her best friend just before they were set to start at the same middle school.  Now she’ll be starting middle school all alone while her former best friend attends a different school—all because of a bad haircut.  She doesn’t see the big deal.  Bessica endures typical middle school problems–like forgetting her locker combination and figuring out where to sit in the lunchroom when you don’t know anyone.  She makes mistakes and isn’t always likable, but somehow I still rooted for her.  I think middle school readers will appreciate Bessica’s authentic take on life as a preteen.

High school is a foreign world to Evie, who has been home-schooled all her life.  Now it’s her senior year, and she wants to see what high school is like, despite the objections from her new-agey, hippie mom who assures Evie that the conditions in public schools are unacceptable.  Evie has never been one to back down from a fight, and when she does see the injustices her mother warned her about, she takes action.  While some of the issues raised in the novel may seem a little over the top, J.J. Johnson manages to explore important issues with wit and nuance.

Aggie hates high school, and it’s made even worse by the fact that her mother is the principal.  Aggie and her best friend Sylvia are outsiders who keep to themselves and have a bad reputation.  Things start to change, though, when Sylvia finds herself pregnant and gets elected prom queen (or has she?).  Aggie has her suspicions about how Sylvia got elected, but everything spins out of control when Aggie’s mom is accused of burning the prom ballots to avoid having a pregnant prom queen and drops the bomb that she has cancer.  There is a lot going on in this novel, but the strong, complex characters will keep readers hooked to the end.

With any luck you will get through your new school year without a bad haircut, an anonymous blog chronicling social injustices, or a moral scandal regarding your prom queen, but you probably don’t want to get through your school year without reading one of these books.


The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin. August 2011.

The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter by Kristin Tracy. January 2011.

This Girl is Different by J.J. Johnson. April 2011.

Blogger: Mindy R.