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April 18, 2008 Edition

Prom Dates from Hell, by Rosemary Clement-Moore

If Nancy Drew developed biting sarcasm, started having prophetic dreams, and wanted more than anything to be a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist after high school, she might be Maggie Quinn. At first, Maggie thinks her all-too vivid dream about going to Hell is a metaphor for the senior prom, but when her school’s jocks and cheerleaders start having “accidents” (which definitely have a whiff of brimstone about them) she is assigned to the story for the school newspaper. All too soon she finds herself in over her head and in desperate need of a prom dress, a date, and a whole lot of demon-banishing salt.

Genesis Alpha, by Rune Michaels

When Josh was born, stem cells from his umbilical cord cured his brother’s cancer, and Max has never forgotten the debt he owes his little brother. Despite their age difference, the two are close, playing their favorite computer game, Genesis Alpha, together every weekend, Josh from home, Max from college. But it’s the game that seems to be the key to the horrible thing that happens: Max is arrested for the murder of a teenage girl. Josh thinks he knows his brother, but then he finds out the truth about himself and nasty thoughts start popping into his brain. Could his brother really be a murderer? If so, in saving his brother’s life, did Josh cause the girl’s death? And if Josh is Max’s clone, will he become a killer too? This thriller brings readers face to face with issues of good and evil, free will, and the implications of new technologies.

Hail Caesar, by Thu-Huong Ha

Whether you love him, hate him, or are him, everyone knows a Caesar: charming, talented, confident, and untouchable, he is the god of the school. This Caesar has floated along through school and on the basketball court, adored by most but not really caring for anyone – until Eva moves to town. Somehow, she isn’t impressed by his reputation and that spurs his interest. Soon he’s questioning the things he thought were worthwhile and coming up with some unexpected answers. The author is a teen herself and the story’s brisk language and gritty situations owe much to this.

The Actual Real Reality of Jennifer James, by Gillian Shields

Jennifer isn’t popular or pretty but she is smart and, therefore, shocked to be chosen as a participant in a reality TV show filmed at her school. The prize is a scholarship to go to the elite St. Willibald’s college that Jennifer would give her eyeteeth to attend. But first she has to survive weeks of competitions, viewer voting, and sabotage by fellow students. The Briticisms fly thick and fast in this brisk and funny dig at reality shows, school, and teen life.

Someone Like Summer, by M.E. Kerr

Like Romeo and Juliet, Esteban and Annabel are drawn to each other despite familial objections. Annabel’s father is a contractor who prefers to hire Latinos because they save him money. Esteban, who has moved to America from Colombia to forget his father’s assassination, has a sister who is suspicious of any “flour-face”. Set at the beginning of the Iraq war, this thought-provoking novel mixes illegal immigration, current politics, and racism into the romance between the teens, with moving results.

Baby Girl, by Lenora Adams

Sheree and her mother Stacy tell their stories in three long letters to each other and to Sheree’s newborn son. Sheree’s mom was just 15 when Sheree was born, and now Sheree is repeating the cycle. Brought up to be her mother’s friend, and completely out of her father’s life, when Sheree meets Damon, she thinks she’s in love. But when she becomes pregnant, neither of them wants to be a parent, and Damon drops out of Sheree’s life, leaving her to cope with her changing body and emotions on her own. With the help of friends, Sheree, her mother, and even her father, begin to understand each other better and are on their way to rebuilding their relationships by the time the baby is born.

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