With books meant for younger readers, it can be far too easy to tell where a story is going. There are certain tropes that telegraph the ending, like evil being vanquished, the protagonist struggling with a quest and so on. One of the best things about Rebecca Hahn’s A Creature of Moonlight is that the story doesn’t go where you think it might, and yet it still flows naturally.
In 1951, adopted teenager Lily’s Chinese features attract the wrong kind of attention from classmates at her Kansas City high school. The United States is at war, defending South Korea from the invasion of Chinese Communists via North Korea. Propaganda designed to gain American support for the war features evil, slanted-eyed Commies eager to destroy any nation that blocks its path to supremacy, including the U.S. Lily wonders why her Chinese birth mother, whom she now thinks of as “Gone Mom,” could have abandoned her daughter to this fate of ethnic isolation.
Mermaid princess Serafina is nervous. Today’s the day she’ll prove herself a true descendant of her famous ancestor Merrow in the royal family’s traditional Dokimí ceremony. She’ll demonstrate her worthiness to rule through “songcasting” a complex musical spell, and the day will end with her formal betrothal to the handsome but rebellious crown prince Mahdi.
For Rose, summers at Awago Beach are a constant. She and her parents have been renting a cottage there for as long as she can remember, and none of the changes in her life can alter the yearly trip to the beach—not even her parents’ sudden surge of fights. She’s reunited with her best beach friend Windy, and at first everything falls into the usual rhythm. But her mother won’t join in the fun, no matter how hard Rose and her father try to pull her in, and the year-and-a-half age gap that separates Rose from Windy seems bigger than before.
BookPage Top Pick in Teen Books, May 2014
When 16-year-old Laureth receives an email stating that her writer father’s notebook (which he’s never without) has been found in New York, rather than in Switzerland or Austria (where she thought he was), she suspects that something very bad has happened to her dad.
Gretchen Müller is a Nazi darling. Ever since her father died protecting Adolf Hitler in 1923, Uncle “Dolf” and his National Socialist cronies look out for Gretchen and her family. It’s Uncle Dolf who gets Gretchen’s mother a job running a Munich boarding house and indoctrinates Gretchen’s brother into the Nazi party. And it’s Uncle Dolf whom Gretchen loves like a father.
Set on the beaches of a fictional island located off the coast of Connecticut, What I Thought Was True is the story of a young woman learning firsthand of the mystifying intricacies of love, lust, luxury and loyalty—and how each can change drastically for her friends, her family and herself.
Best friends Hannah and Zoe understand each other, “like we’re some kind of Siamese twins connected at the soul.” Zoe is there when Hannah’s abusive father sends her out in a bikini to sell hot dogs, ostensibly to raise money for college. Hannah is there when Zoe bounces between moods of elation and despair, and makes sure Zoe stays properly clothed and relatively safe.
BookPage Teen Top Pick, April 2014
When 16-year-old Travis Coates, dying from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, donated his head (the only part of his body not ravaged by cancer) to be cryogenically stored at the Saranson Center for Life Preservation, he imagined being reinstated in 100 years, alongside jet packs and other futuristic gadgets.
Near Albuquerque, New Mexico, a teenager struggles to define herself in the aftermath of her parents’ divorce, the harsh newness of high school life and the recent death of her sister.