Junior Teens: (ages 11-14)
By Helen Frost
This is the story of two girls whose lives are interwoven in the most unexpected ways, starting the day that 8-year-old Darra’s father steals Wren’s mother’s car, with 8-year-old Wren still hidden in the back seat. Scared and alone, Wren has to face her fears and use her wits to survive the ensuing hours and days. Darra is fascinated with the news stories of the missing girl, and though she never sees Wren, she tries to help her, despite her father’s anger. As teens, the girls meet at a summer camp. Both their lives have changed significantly since their almost-not-quite encounter when they were eight years old. Getting to know each other, especially in the context of summer camp, is difficult, and the girls have to deal with past and present hurts and resentments, not to mention typical worries about family and love that teenagers experience. This is a beautiful and thought-provoking story written in easy-to-read-poetry. Darra and Wren do not have easy lives and go through some traumatic experiences, but the grace of the poetry and the well-constructed reconciliation make this a very worthwhile read.
Senior Teens: (ages 15-19)
By Jean Webster
First of all, this is not a book about insects, and especially not about arachnids. It is, instead, a story about a girl named Jerusha (known as Judy to her friends) Abbott: an orphan, an aspiring writer, and the owner of a keen sense of humour. She’s seventeen and too old for the orphanage that has been her home her entire life. But to her immense delight and surprise, a rich (and strictly anonymous) patron of the orphanage is willing to pay for her entire college education with one condition: that she write him letters about her time at school. Judy is thrilled to be going to college, and, with typical enthusiasm and humour, she throws herself into her studies, social life, and letter writing. Since her patron insists on staying unknown, she decides to call him “Daddy-Long-Legs” since his shadow, the only thing she ever saw of him, resembled one remarkably. Part romance, part historical fiction, part comedy, this is a truly delightful book full of the entertaining, heartbreaking, and wonderful daily life of a lively college girl in the early 1900s.