Tommy: The Gun that Changed America


Blumenthal, Karen.  Tommy: The Gun that Changed America.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2015. 978-1-62672-084-8. 232 p.  $19.99.  Gr. 7 and up.

During WWI, John Thompson began developing the Thompson submachine gun in order to assist American soldiers engaged in trench warfare.  Because the war ended before development was complete, however, Thompson and his associates had to find a new market for what became known as the Tommy gun.  They instead promoted the gun as a protective weapon for police, military men, bankers, and other big business owners.  Although sales flyers insisted that the Tommy gun was “on the side of law and order,” the fact that there was little regulation of gun sales meant that Tommy guns soon fell into the hands of gangsters and criminals.  Set during the turbulent 1920s and 1930s, this book is chock-full of photographs and exciting stories about several notorious historical figures, including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and J. Edgar Hoover.  An excellent addition to any social studies curriculum, the book includes a thorough bibliography of sources for further research and takes a careful look at the way the Tommy gun impacted society and triggered a debate about gun control that continues today.

600s; Firearms     Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

This book is very well-written and reads more like a thriller, especially during the chapters that focused on famous American gangsters, than nonfiction.  I could see the book appealing to boys looking for a “cops and robbers” story.  It will also appeal to history buffs and gun enthusiasts.  Written in easily accessible language and containing many primary source photographs, this book is well-suited for lower-level and reluctant readers as well.  It is definitely a must-have addition to U.S. history collections!

All the Bright Places


Niven, Jennifer. All The Bright Places. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 978-0-385-75589-4. $17.99. 388p. Gr. 9-12.
Finch is in search of the perfect day.  Precariously perched on the overhang at the top of the bell tower, pondering life, he meets Violet.  Popular and beautiful, Violet is simply going through the motions, counting down the days until high school is over.  The sudden death of her sister only months earlier has left her guilt-ridden and empty — until she meets Finch.  Fates intervenes once again, and the two young scholars begin working on a school project, investigating the natural phenomena of Indiana.  They begin the “wanderings” of their great home state at first by bicycle and eventually via Finch’s minivan as he helps Violet overcome her phobia of cars due to her sister’s crash.  In the midst of discovering hidden wonders and secret niches, they discover first love, friendship and honesty.  All too soon, the dark time implodes on Finch.  His sudden disappearance crushes Violet, and since his parents’ apathy won’t involve the authorities, she attempts to move on.  She’s fairly successful until an ominous phone call from his sister and a coded email from Finch impel Violet to become involved in his rescue.  Racking her brain to make sense of the message, she begins a frantic and earnest search for Finch.

Told in alternating voices, Finch and Violet are reminiscent of Eleanor and Park.  The honest portrayal of teenage angst and manic behavior will stay with the reader long after the final word has been read.  Look for the movie starring Elle Fanning.

Realistic Fiction      Christine Massey, JWP Middle School



Not often does a book come along that makes a reader feel as though the characters are people they have met. Violet Markey and Theodore Finch meet at the most unlikely place – at the top of the bell tower where they are both thinking about jumping.  Finch is credited with saving Violet and continues to enter her life in the most unexpected ways. After years of knowing Finch as the outcast because of his borderline behavior, Finch has a hard time socially.  In social studies class, he volunteers to be Violet’s partner in a project detailing the lost unique places of Indiana. Finch is not the only one who has dysfunction in the family.  Violet’s parents are loving and involved, but dealing with the sudden death of their other daughter, Eleanor, from a car accident. Through the project, Violet and Finch find each other and support one another until Violet begins to identify the demons Finch is battling and the help she needs to ultimately help him.

Get your tissues ready.  This novel encompasses the definition of mental illness and the people it affects. Niven creates characters who exemplify the suicide victims and survivors. An inside look at the effects absent and present parents can have on teens struggling with mental illness. An excellent resource list of places to seek out help as a teenager and a parent.  When finished, this book is one filled with raw emotion. Told from alternate points of view, you see how Finch and Violet could experience the same feelings while being totally different. Definitely one readers will read over and over.

Realistic Fiction, Romance            Brooke Gerlach, Manheim Central MS

New from Ally Carter – All Fall Down, Embassy Row Book 1


Carter, Ally. All Fall Down (Embassy Row Bk. 1). New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-65474-6. $17.99. 310p. Gr. 7 and up.

Grace Blakely is sure of three things: she’s not crazy; her mother was murdered, and one day she will find the killer and make him pay.  These are the only absolutes Grace has as her world changes once again three years after her mother’s death.  With her father deployed and her brother at West Point, Grace must live with her grandfather, the United States Ambassador to Adria.  Having spent summers in Adria for most of her life, Grace is familiar with Embassy Row and the rules of life in the embassy, but that has never before stopped Grace.  With her return to Adria, Grace is constantly reminded of her mother, who grew up in the embassy, and is haunted by memories of her mother, her murder, and the subsequent fire that Grace witnessed three years ago.  During a “mission” in the abandoned Iranian embassy, Grace overhears two people secretly meeting, one of which she recognizes as the “Scarred Man” who murdered her mother.  After multiple run-ins with “the Scarred Man”, one of which he refers to her by name, Grace’s determination to avenge her mother’s murder heightens, as do her memories of her mother, her death, and the fire.  When she tries to share this information with her grandfather and Ms. Chancellor, his assistant, they inform Grace that the man she has been running into is Dominic Novak, the Prime Minister’s Head of Security, a man who could never have murdered her mother because it was an accident, and this is not the first man Grace has accused of murdering her mother since the accident.  With new found friends, Noah and Rosie, and old friend Megan, Grace sets out to avenge her mother’s death.  As Grace is continually haunted by that night and told that she is only imagining a murder, she learns more about the secret lives led in Adria on and off of Embassy Row and learns the truth behind her mother’s death and life.  Ally Carter once again weaves mystery, thrills, reality, and fabulous characterization into the first book in a new series about life on Embassy Row and the realities behind the façade.

Mystery    Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City

I loved Ally Carter’s series Heist Society, so I was very excited to read All Fall Down, Book 1 of her new Embassy Row series.  Grace is a fabulous female protagonist who struggles with memories of the death of her mother after witnessing it and the fire that destroyed her only stability.  Upon her return to Adria, she is haunted by memories of her mother.  As Grace tries to cope with these memories and her need for vengeance, she is continually told by her grandfather, Ms. Chancellor, his assistant, and Alexi, his brother’s best friend who lives at the Russian Embassy, that her mother’s death was an accident, not murder.  Yet, Grace cannot accept this; she knows someone killed her mother, and she will stop at nothing to find him and make him pay.  Through Grace’s actions, reactions, and memories, the reader is often left questioning whether or not Grace truly witnessed anything or is she just trying to cope with her mother’s death by creating a story from her memories.  She does not appear to be a reliable narrator, but as the novel progresses the reader realizes that perhaps Grace has a point and is the reliable narrator.  Maybe it’s everyone else who is unreliable and hiding the truth from Grace?  The supporting characters are intriguing and established just enough for future storylines either about them or their embassy.

One final note – I wanted Grace to be more spiteful and fight more against her grandfather and Ms. Chancellor.  I felt that she gave in a bit too much, but after finishing the novel (which I did not want to end), Grace made perfect sense.

This Book is Gay…new LGBT nonfiction


Dawson, James.  This Book is Gay.  Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2015. 978-1-49261-782-2. 272 p.  $15.99.  Gr. 9 and up.

A solid addition to LGBT collections, this book answers all the questions people have about the LGBT experience.  Directed not only at gays and lesbians but also at straight readers, the book covers many topics that are often overlooked in school curricula.  For instance, the author discusses homosexuality as it relates to various religions, gives tips for coming out and dealing with homophobia and bullying, describes international laws pertaining to homosexuals, makes suggestions for using sex apps and online dating websites, explains the ins and outs of gay sex, and more.  Scattered throughout the book are humorous cartoons, helpful charts, and descriptive quotes by LGBT individuals.  A useful cheat sheet of terminology as well as contact information for support groups is included at the end of the book.  The author uses a light, humorous tone throughout the book and provides guidance and encouragement for teenagers struggling with their sexual identities.  The enthusiastic and straightforward way in which information is presented will appeal to all teens who are curious about LGBT issues.

300s; Homosexuality      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

The teenage years are difficult for everyone, but they can be especially hard for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals, all of whom society considers abnormal.  Furthermore, because these topics are considered taboo, LGBT teens do not have access to many nonfiction resources that address these topics.  Not only does this book help to fill that void, but it does so in an easily accessible, humorous way that teens will appreciate.  The book is a great addition to a sex ed curriculum and would also pair wonderfully in a display with David Levithan’s books – who, incidentally, wrote the introduction for this book.

New Realistic Fiction: 99 Days and My Heart and Other Black Holes


Cotugno, Katie.  99 Days.  New York: Balzer + Bray, 2015.  978-0-06-221638-0. 372 p.  $17.99.  Gr. 9 and up.

After her mother wrote a best-selling novel about her tragic love life, Molly Barlow ran off to boarding school in another state to avoid the backlash.  Now, however, she is back in her hometown for 99 days of summer before her freshman year of college.  Unfortunately, her year-long absence didn’t seem to help matters; she is still despised by everyone in town.  Julia Donnelly, the sister of the two boys whose hearts she broke, eggs Molly’s house and leaves her nasty letters.  She can’t talk to her mom, as she doesn’t want her pathetic life to end up being the subject of another novel.  Even her former best friend doesn’t seem to want anything to do with her.  The only person who seems happy to see her is Gabe, Julia’s oldest brother.  As she tries to mend broken relationships, Molly begins a tentative relationship with Gabe.  Things become complicated, however, when Patrick – Gabe’s brother and Molly’s first love – returns home.  Caught in a steamy love triangle, Molly finds herself right back where she started when she left town in the first place and looks forward to starting over again with a clean slate in college.

Realistic Fiction          Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

Despite her transgressions, Molly is a very likeable protagonist, and I found myself rooting for her throughout the course of the novel.  I was disappointed, though, that while she​ grew emotionally and became more thick-skinned as the novel progressed, she did not seem to learn from her mistakes.  There are definitely themes in the book that will resonate with young readers, including sibling rivalry, adolescent love, and unfair double sexual standards.  I would give this book to anyone looking for a dramatic summer romance.  Be forewarned, however: the book does contain off-page sex, swear words, and instances of underage drinking.


Warga, Jasmine. My Heart and Other Black Holes. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2015. 978-0-06-232467-2. 302 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 & up.

The only way Aysel can be sure she doesn’t end up like her mentally ill father is to kill herself — or so she thinks.  Ever since her dad murdered her town’s star athlete, she’s been ostracized and depressed.  She spends her days surfing a suicide website, looking for a partner to help her commit the act.  She finds one in Roman, who on the surface seems to have everything going for him — athleticism, friends, good looks — but carries an enormous amount of guilt from a heartbreaking loss.  As they plan their deaths, a slow shift in perspective causes Aysel to begin to waver on carrying out their pact.  Readers will hang onto Warga’s honest and graceful narrative to find out whether Roman can be saved, too.  Teens struggling with depression can relate to the “black slug” devouring Aysel, whose dark humor makes her an endearing narrator.  The list of resources in the back for depressed and suicidal teens is essential.  Suggest to teens who couldn’t put down Jay Asher’s immensely popular Thirteen Reasons Why.

Realistic Fiction     Kristen Rowe, Plum Senior High School

Realistic Fiction – Orbiting Jupiter; A 52-Hertz Whale, and This Raging Light


Schmidt, Gary D. Orbiting Jupiter. New York: Clarion, 2015. 978-0-544-46222-9. 192 p. $17.99. Gr. 7 and up.

Jack is a typical 6th grade boy. He lives on a farm in rural Maine, is responsible for daily chores, and is a good student at his school. One day his world changes when his parents tell him they are taking in a foster child. Jack meets his foster brother, Joseph, a dark, brooding, 8th grader who exhibits signs of abuse and neglect. As the two get to know each other, Joseph reveals a secret that he has been hiding. He has a daughter named Jupiter, and he will stop at nothing to find her in the foster system, even if it means risking his own life in the process.

The author shares a strong connection to the foster system and how family isn’t always made up of blood relatives. He presents a balanced view of the struggles facing social workers as they fight for the rights of the children and families they serve. The author also addresses difficult issues such as child abuse, bullying, and teenage pregnancy, in a way that is honest and fair.

This book is an excellent resource to share with students who may be struggling with some of the same things that Joseph is dealing with, particularly the death of a loved one, abuse, or bullying. It would be a great addition to a “survival” or “overcomer” unit.

Realistic Fiction    Corey Hall, Elizabethtown Area School District




Sommer, Bill., & Tilghman, Natalie. A 52-Hertz Whale. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Lab, 2015. 978-1-4677-7917-3. 200p. $18.99. Grades 8 to 12.

You never know where you will find a friend. James is a 14-year old who struggles with social skills and feels like his only friend is a humpback whale named Salt that he follows online. When Salt separates from his pod and is beached, James contacts a very unlikely ally. He emails Darren, a 20-something “wannabe” filmmaker who once volunteered as a tutor in James’s classroom. The two strike an unlikely friendship, and although Darren knows nothing about whales, he provides wacky advice on everything from girls to friends to jobs.

The story is told through a series of emails that pass between not only James and Darren, but also a host of supporting characters that connect and strengthen the story. This book is a unique look at friendship in the technology age, along with love, loss, and yeti suits (yes, yeti suits). Even though much of the interaction is silly and funny, there are some serious interactions that would be excellent for book group or small group discussion. Students who appreciate Eleanor & Park and Winger will enjoy the strange and eccentric world of A 52-Hertz Whale.

Realistic Fiction     Corey Hall, Elizabethtown Area MS/HS




Laure, Estelle. This Raging Light. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 978054453429-2. 288 p. $17.99. Gr 8 to 12.

Lucille is an ordinary 17-year old girl. She hangs out with her best friend Eden. She has a secret crush on Eden’s brother, Digby. Everything looks normal on the outside, but what Lucille is hiding is that her mother took off, and her father was committed to a psychiatric ward, so Lucille is raising her 10-year old sister, Wren. Alone, scared, and out of money, Lucille has to find a job and childcare in order to keep her little family together. In this sweet story, Lucille learns that she is not alone, that she has a community that surrounds her and watches out for her.

Highly recommended for late middle school or high school students. Themes of family, loss, friendship, and independence permeate the book. This is a great option for discussion starters or book club.

Realistic Fiction    Corey Hall, Elizabethtown Area MS/HS

New Mysteries – Where They Found Her and Descent


McCreight, Kimberly. Where They Found Her. New York: Harper, 2015. 978-0-06-222546-7. 326 p. $26.99. Gr. 10 and up.

When the body of a newborn is discovered in a shallow grave, residents of the posh college town of Ridgedale, New Jersey, quickly turn suspicious eyes on friends, neighbors, and newcomers alike. Reporter Molly Sanderson, who is still grieving the loss of her own stillborn child, tries to tease out facts without stepping on toes. Supermom Barbara, married to the chief of police, is sure it all circles back to one of her son’s classmates and his single-and-proud-of-it mother. And teenager Sandy, whose own mother has just gone missing, may hold at least one of the missing puzzle pieces. This is a fast-paced, juicy whodunit with lots of crossover appeal thanks to the character of Sandy. It’s a great choice for high school students who are ready to try an adult mystery, but may struggle to relate to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train.

Mystery            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

McCreight’s debut novel, Reconstructing Amelia (Harper, 2013), has been popular with students and teachers alike at my school. Her latest would be a great choice for a mother-daughter book club, an independent read for Journalism or Criminal Justice electives, or a fiction/nonfiction pair with Missoula by Jon Krakauer (Doubleday, 2015).



Johnston, Tim. Descent. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015. 978-1-61620-304-7. 384 p. $25.95. Gr. 10 and up.

The Courtland family is on vacation in the Rocky Mountains for some bonding time before daughter Caitlin heads off to college on a track scholarship. But when Caitlin and her younger brother Sean go out for a morning run in the mountains, only Sean comes back. How can the Courtlands return home to Wisconsin without their daughter? How can they stay in Colorado when Sean needs to go back to high school in a matter of weeks? And how can a vibrant young athlete just vanish into the thin air of the Rockies? This spellbinding mystery rotates between the perspectives of the four family members. Jumps in time (indicated by italics) occasionally get confusing, but as the narrative picks up steam the suspense is almost unbearable. Grant Courtland’s love for his lost daughter is exquisitely rendered: “In his dreams she was running – always running. Her heart strong and her feet sure, never stumbling, never tiring, mile upon mile, coming down like water.” This novel would be an excellent choice for fans of Michael Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead (Little, Brown, 2014). Some violent scenes, particularly a rape scene, make this adult mystery appropriate for mature teen readers. I’d recommend it to students in grades 11 and up.

Mystery           Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

The disappearance of Caitlin Courtland brings to mind a real-life mystery: Amy Wroe Bechtel, 24 at the time, vanished while jogging in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains in 1997. Though she has never been found, there are some recent developments in her case.

Red Queen


Aveyard, Victoria. Red Queen. New York: HarperTeen, 2015. 978-0-605-85200-6. $17.99. 383p. Gr. 9 and up.

Mare Barrow is a Red, the lowest class of citizen in Norta.  Silvers, who rule Norta, do not bleed red blood like the reds.  Instead, they bleed silver and have powers that allow them to control elements of nature, the mind, and others.  Living in the Stilts, Mare has learned to thieve her way through life to provide for her family.  As she nears her eighteenth birthday and conscription (a life in the army due to lack of skill), she has accepted her future until her best friend, Kilorn, loses his apprenticeship and must enter conscription, a fate that caused him to lose his father and family at a young age.  Mare has always felt the need to protect Kilorn, so she sets out to steal enough to buy their freedom.  An attack by the Scarlet Guard, a Red rebel group, ruins her plan to escape and her own family’s future, so Mare does the only thing she knows and runs.  As she pickpockets outside of a tavern, she’s caught, but instead of being punished her capture gives her a tetrarch, a silver coin worth much more than the pennies Mare has stolen.  Soon after this encounter with Cal, a royal servant arrives at the Barrow home for Mare.  Mare is taken to Summerton, the royal’s summer home, where she is to serve the royal family and high houses.  With conscription no longer looming over her, Mare accepts a life of servitude, but during Queenstrial, Mare falls from a balcony into an electrified dome and is not burned up.  Instead, lightning surges from Mare, and she almost kills Evangeline, the front-runner for future queen.  Mare shouldn’t have powers; she’s a Red, yet she just summoned lightning and electricity.  The royals must cover up Mare’s powers because Reds cannot be equal to Silvers, and they cannot kill her because too many questions would arise.  Queen Elara creates a ruse around Mare, which she must play along with to protect her family.  Within the day, she is betrothed to Prince Maven and learns that Cal, the man who caught her stealing outside of the tavern, is actually the king’s first son.  As Mare is schooled in all things Silver, she learns of the evil living in the royal family and high houses and their need to maintain power.  When approached by the Scarlet Guard to fight against the Silvers, she accepts and learns that her betrothed, Maven, is also a sympathizer and has joined the Scarlet Guard.  As they work together to learn more about the guard and help them rebel against the Silver ruling class, Mare learns that trust should not be given lightly and anyone can turn at any moment.

Fantasy           Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City SD

Red Queen (to me) is a mash-up of The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, and Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini. It’s fantastical due to the powers that Silvers possess but also very realistic.  Aveyard does a great job providing characters to love, hate, root for, and root against, while maintaining the reality of the world: a ruling class enslaving those “less than them”.  The need for rebellion is clear in the novel, but Aveyard does not shy away from the intensity needed for change to occur nor the pitfalls and defeats found in revolution.  The Scarlet Guard do not win; evil wins, which then leads the reader to consider our world today and how we govern ourselves, treat one another, and think about why people chose to commit evil acts against others.  Red Queen is an excellent debut novel.  Aveyard has set the bar high for her follow-up novels and the remaining pieces of this anticipated series.



Sullivan, Derek E. Biggie. Chicago: Albert Whitman, 2015. 978-0-8075-0727-8. 266p. $16.99. Gr. 7 and up.

“People call me Biggie. Not all people.  Mom and some teachers call me Henry, but for the most part, I’m Biggie.”  Biggie has tried as hard as he can to avoid sports and focus on getting straight As, but it’s not easy when the dad you’ve never met was the town baseball legend.  Of course, it takes a girl he likes, Annabelle, to get Biggie to try baseball and get in shape.  It turns out Biggie is a good pitcher, but will he be able to: make friends? get a date? impress his step father? make the team?

Realistic Fiction       Rachel Gutzler, Wilson High School

I found myself really liking and cheering for Biggie, even though he didn’t always make the best decisions.  His character was very believable as an underdog, bullied kid, and just as a high school boy.  I found myself cringing when Biggie admitted to hacking into Annabelle’s computer to read her emails, and I was so angry at him for quitting the baseball team because he wasn’t selected as a starting pitcher, but the story went in a great direction.  He had hard lessons to learn, and there isn’t always a perfect answer to problems like being abandoned by your birth father or being bullied throughout school.  This book would appeal to a variety of students, and I could see it especially appealing to some of our reluctant boy readers.



Sullivan, Derek. Biggie. Chicago: Albert Whitman & Co., 2015. 978-0807507278. 266p. $16.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Bullied by his peers and nicknamed “Biggie”, Henry is the 300 lb son of a baseball legend. A straight A student, he makes himself invisible at school but has a rich social life online where he chats with girls.  He has had a crush on Annabelle, the popular girl at school, for years. It is not until he is forced to attend the gym classes he’s been cleverly avoiding that he pitches a perfect whiffle ball game and sees he may have potential after all. He decides to lose weight and pursue Annabelle.  THOUGHTS: The characters are believable, realistic, edgy and sometimes unpleasant. They will stick with you even after you finish the book. This is recommended for high school students due to language.  

Realistic Fiction    Robin Bartley, William Tennent High School


When My Heart Was Wicked


Stirling, Tricia. When My Heart Was Wicked. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015. Print. 978-0545695732. 192 p. $17.99. Gr. 9+.

This debut novel packs a lot into a quick 173 pages, but Tricia Stirling succeeds in creating a darkly enchanting tale of one young girl’s quest to define herself. When we first meet Lacey, her beloved father has recently passed away and she is living with Anna, her stepmother. Suddenly, her mother, who had been missing for 3 years, returns and forces Lacey to move back to Sacramento with her. Though unwilling, Lacey complies. Her unwillingness stems from her feeling that she becomes a completely different person when she is in the shadow of her mother- dark, angry, and evil. With her father and Anna she is light, happy, and kind. She knows that this Lacey cannot be sustained when she is living with her unpredictable and dangerous mother. Her mother is some sort of witch (her powers are never clearly defined), and her ability to craft spells has been passed on to Lacey. These skills prove to be useful in her new school in which she is bullied by a group of girls. Lacey is also singled out by a boy with a sketchy reputation, and though warned by one of his prior victims, she falls prey to his advances and becomes the target of his vicious rumors when she refuses to have sex with him.  Lacey begins to perform small spells and have occasional outbursts that make her feel like she is once again turning into the evil daughter of her evil mother. The text occasionally falls into a stream of consciousness narrative, and the reader must keep up with Lacey throughout her rambling thoughts. She jumps back and forth between past events and the present, and the reader is left to pick up the pieces and figure out what it is that makes her both love and hate her mother. This ambiguity works well with the novel’s theme of the difficulties that lie in defining oneself outside of one’s family and friends. Lacey does make friends in her new school, and these relationships keep her grounded amid the fraying relationship with her unpredictable mother. The characters are interesting and realistic, though one wonders how Lacey’s mother can be considered a fit guardian for her daughter. This novel will engage readers who enjoy dark tales with a realistic edge to them.

Realistic (Supernatural) Fiction           Lindsey Myers, Peters Township High School


Similar to how the main character struggled to define herself, I struggled to define my feelings about this novel from beginning to end. It is captivating and Lacey has a unique voice, but the interspersing of witchcraft caught me off guard on occasion, possibly because the rest of the novel is typical young adult drama- dealing with a new school and friends, bullying, fighting with parents, etc. The witchcraft did lift it up out of the “general” realistic fiction into something supernatural and dark, which I believe will appeal to teens looking for something more than the standard fare. I am eager to see more from this author.