“Loud Awake and Lost” Adele Griffin

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. Alfred A. Knopf. 289 pp.

LoudAwakeandLostSeventeen-year-old Ember almost died the day her car went over the bridge. After 8 months of recovery and therapy from her operations, Ember is finally getting to return home. Her parents and best friend Rachel assure her she is back to normal, but Ember feels as if she’s missing something. A few months of her memory have been lost due to temporary amnesia and, when she finds out a passenger named Anthony had been killed in the accident, Ember is determined to try and regain her memories to find out more about why they’d been in the car together.

Little by little pieces of memory come floating up to the surface of her mind, bringing more questions than answers. Rachel, her parents, her friends and her ex boyfriend Holden want her to be the girl she was before the accident, but Ember is not comfortable dropping back into the mold they made for her life. Despite not being able to dance anymore, she wants her own identity and is sure her hidden memories hold the key to her past and her future. From the hints people have been dropping, she is sure Anthony was more than just a friend but can’t put together the missing pieces of their relationship.

While striving to remember Anthony she meets Kai, who shares her dreams of wanting to break out from the mold society has planned and envisions a whole new world for them. Together they begin the romance of their lives, effectively frustrating Rachel, her parents and Holden as Ember feels herself drawing away from them as she draws closer to Kai.

When Ember finally regains her memories, I was shocked at what Adele Griffin had planned out all along, as I had never seen it coming. “Loud Awake and Lost” leads readers on a roller coaster ride of Ember’s emotions as she seeks to find herself amidst the missing parts of her life, and will keep readers eagerly turning pages to discover more of Ember’s memories and insights.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

Listed on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Best Fiction for Young Adults list (compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).


“Far From You” Tess Sharpe

Rated 5 stars ***** 2014. Hyperion (Disney Book Group). 341 pp.

FarFromYouSophie was always in constant pain after a horrible car accident when she was just 14 years old. Oxy pills were her only relief as she learned to walk again, and even her best friend, neighbor and soul mate Mina couldn’t completely take away the pain. After spending the next 3 years addicted to Oxy, Mina intervenes and saves her from the death trap of drug addiction into which she was spiraling.

Now 17, Sophie is the prime suspect in a murder investigation because of a supposed drug deal gone badly. Mina is dead, but no one will believe that she has been clean for 6 months and didn’t have anything to do with buying drugs or killing her best friend. After being locked up in rehab for 3 months, Sophie has one thought in mind: revenge. She will find out who killed Mina and get justice. Unfortunately the murderer knows she’s looking, and will stop at nothing to remain hidden – even if it means murdering again.

This tension filled mystery, told through flashbacks, will keep readers eagerly turning pages to find out whodunit.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.


“Imperfect Spiral” Debbie Levy

ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). Published July 16, 2013. Walker Books (Bloomsbury). 339 pp. (Includes A Note from the Author).

ImperfectSpiralDanielle was supposed to be a camp counselor that summer, but something happened during her Bat Mitzvah – she froze during her special reading. Now terrified of being around large groups of people, she becomes a babysitter for 5 year old Humphrey, a very lovable child prodigy. Humphrey has an interesting way of looking at the world, and Danielle soon falls in love with him and his eagerness to learn how to throw a perfect spiral with her football. They spend hours together as she teaches him how to play football as they learn about looking at life in different ways from each other.

Alternating past memories of her time with Humphrey and the present, Danielle recounts the events that led up to Humphrey being killed in a car accident. Unable to face what happened that day, Danielle withdraws into herself even more until she meets Justin. She seems to feel Humphrey’s presence whenever she’s around Justin, which helps to calm her.

However, with the entire town shocked over Humphrey’s death, it doesn’t take long for their furor to fall upon the heads of the illegal immigrants who drove the car that hit Humphrey. The demand to drive all immigrants out of their county seems to resound extra loudly with Justin and, without meaning to, Danielle is soon caught up in the ensuing chaos. She wants to stay in her shell, but has to do what Humphrey would have wanted her to do.

“Imperfect Spiral” is touchingly written, and its emotional storyline will resound with readers aged 12-16. The battle over immigration is an important part of our society these days, and Levy does a good job of bring this heated issue to light.