*Disclaimer: This was originally posted on my former blog.
I love to read books. When I was in elementary, I would skip recess and hang out in the library instead. Because of my love for the library, I came across a lot of books that I have loved, and many I have decided to reread over the years.
This list covers books I read a lot in middle school and high school, when I had the time to read.
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Summary: Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.
This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.
Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
Why I reread it?: I love music. So, when I first came across this in high school, I quickly fell in love with the story. It wasn’t just the connection to the music; it was the balance between the main character’s romantic life and her family drama. While the location and characters are similar to many of Dessen’s other books, this one is easier going and enjoyable.
Would I read it again?: Yes, I would definitely reread this. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors, and she writes enjoyable YA. This is one of my favorites from her. Hopefully, I can also do a book trailer of this as well.
Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope by Jenna Bush
Summary: Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope is a work of narrative nonfiction based on Jenna Bush’s experiences while interning for UNICEF and documenting lives of children and teens she encountered through her work. The book focuses on Ana, a teenage single mother who is bravely living with, rather than dying from, HIV. Ana’s determination has allowed her to overcome abuse and abandonment and fight for an education and a better future for her child. Inspired by the framework of one girl’s life, it is also the story of many children around the world who are marginalized and excluded from basic care, support, and education. Jenna Bush sends a message of hope, inclusion and survival, and calls for youth involvement in helping other young people triumph over adversity.
Why I reread it?: I loved reading about this person who was my age and everything she had to go through early in life. While I always knew that there were people who had it worse than me, it wasn’t until I read this story that I realized exactly what other people my age were going through.
Would I read it again?: Yes, I would read it one more time just to see how my perspective on Ana’s life has changed. I read this when I was in middle school, and I didn’t really understand much about HIV and how other countries operated.
*Update: I read this book again in 2020, and it worked for when I was in middle school. The writing is kind of simplistic, which is fine, but it didn’t engage me at my current age.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Summary: Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.
That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?
Why I reread it?: I was drawn in by the usage of playing cards and the messages that accompanied them. Other than that initial draw, the fact that I could read and see the story from different angles each time I read it with the new information I gained made it so much more enjoyable.
Would I read it again?: Yes, I would. I really enjoyed this story and the mystery it weaves.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Summary: Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
Why I reread it?: The characters and the plot were well-written and extremely interesting. Picoult does an amazing job in balancing the drama that is found in her stories with the character’s emotional development.
Would I read it again?: Yes. The movie did not do it justice, and I really want to read the story again.
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Summary: Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice. Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?
Why I reread it?: I’m always interested in reading about the different ideas related to what happens after we die. This story paints an interesting picture of life after death. Not only that, but the story addresses the thoughts of a person who died young, and the lengths they will go to in order to get those lost moments.
Would I read it again?: Yes! This is an amazing story, and I love reading it over and over. It never gets old, and I love the plot and characters.
*Update: I tried listening to the story on audiobook, but the narrator had a slightly annoying voice, so I will try to read this again at a later point in time.