2016 Recommended Fiction and Nonfiction


** WORKMAN, PD. Tattooed Teardrops. – Top Fiction Award!
PD Workman. August 2014. 292p. PB $15.95.
ISBN 9780993768750.
Fresh out of juvie and anxious for a clean start in life, Tamara’s plans are to stay out of trouble and not break her probation. But her ex-cellmate, Glock is obsessed and won’t leave her alone. As Tamara’s life begins to slowly unravel she’s not sure if she can hold it together with the choices she faces.

BROWN, Kevin. Hard Knocks High: Project Windows.
Jank Publishing. September 2015. 240p. PB $9.95.
ISBN 780984557202.
Tafari King is a young man living in a rough neighborhood in the Bronx. He is raised by a single mother who works hard to keep him away from the troubles of the street. Tafari appreciates his overprotective mother but then again he understands that he has to toughen up if he is to survive all the daily dangers of living.

CRAIG, Kevin. Burn Baby Burn Baby.
Curiosity Quills Press. December 2014. 148 p. PB $12.99.
ISBN 9781620076514.
Francis Fripp endured years of abuse from his dad, culminating in a horrific burning incident when he was in elementary school. Now at 17, he continues to suffer from the tormenting and bullying of his peers because of his physical scars. Francis’ emotional scars and lack of self-esteem cause him even greater self-harm; he does not think he is worthy of romantic attention from the new girl in school, Rachel Higgins. He also believes that the long friendship and unconditional support of Trig are undeserved.

DESIR, C. Bleed Like Me. Simon Pulse.
October 2014. 288p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9781442498907.
This is the story of the heartbreaking romance between self-destructive and lonely Gannon and her controlling and damaged boyfriend, Brooks. As their relationship grows, so does their desperation. There is little to be won in such an obsessive partnership.

* FRANK, E.R. Dime. Simon Teen.
May 2015. 336p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9781481431606.
Thirteen year old Dime thought Daddy was different. She believes she has found the long sought-after love and support she needs. What she thinks she has, soon crumbles when she is told she now had to earn her stay and is sent to the streets to make her way. When she discovers a young 10 year old girl alone in a locked room with video equipment, she is finally shocked straight and can’t imagine what type of person could do something so heinous to a young child. Dime knows she has to get away, but does she have the strength to escape? Can she help the others?

FREEMAN, F. Rose: A Modernization.
Read Select. July 2015. 147p. PB $12.99.
ISBN 9781631600791.
Like Sleeping Beauty, Rose is bewitched–not by a prick of her finger, but by her intoxicating addiction to drugs. As she spins out of control, her father is faced with the fear that his daughter will succumb to the same fate he endured as a young man–a life of desperation and drug abuse.

HIGH, Linda Oatman. Teeny Little Grief Machines.
Saddleback. July 2014. 243p. PB $9.95.
ISBN 9781622508839.
Lexi’s father is in jail, her stepmother is mentally absent, her severely autistic brother is in his own world, and her infant sister is dead. Through her poetry, Lexi narrates her life, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

GEREAUX, Tara. Size of a Fist. 
Thistledown Press. October 2015. 62p. PB $12.95.
ISBN 9781771870597.
How do you make amends for a tragedy that you caused? After an evening of drinking, Addy, in a game of chicken, hits Jonas with a car. Feeling responsible, Addy begins to learn more about Jonas, who has been an outcast in their small town, but she also has to balance the outrage of her boyfriend, Craig.

JEAN, Emiko. We’ll Never Be Apart.
HMH Books for Young Readers. October 2015. 288p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9780544482005.
Lots of twists and turns with arson, revenge, sibling rivalry, and romance encapsulate this novel. Alice and Celia are identical twins–Alice is the good one and Celia the evil one. Growing up in a series of foster homes, the sisters meet Jason, a young man who Alice becomes increasingly close and dependent upon. But Celia is jealous and begins setting fires, which eventually leads to the killing of innocent victims–including Jason. Alice finds herself in a mental hospital, seeking revenge for the death of her lover.

* KERN, Peggy. Little Peach.
Balzer + Bray. March 2015. 208p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9780062266958.
When Chelle’s grandfather dies, she is faced with her mom’s drug addiction and the inappropriate sexual advances of her mother’s boyfriend. Would she be better off following her friend Erica to the place called the Pink Houses? She knows nothing about the city or the houses, she only knows she has a friend there. Hopefully she can find her.

* LABOUCANE-BENSON, Patti. The Outside Circle.
House of Anansi Press. June 2015. 264p. PB $19.95.
ISBN 9781770899377.
In this powerful graphic novel, two First Nations siblings are given a chance to change their destiny. Pete and his younger brother Joey were raised in a neighborhood of gang and drug violence. When Pete is arrested and sentenced for murder, he discovers that his gang associates are now seeking out his little brother as a replacement.

MYERS, Walter Dean. Monster: A Graphic Novel.
Armistad. October 2015. 160p. PB $9.99.
ISBN 9780062274991.
This graphic novel adaptation of the first Printz Award introduces the story of Steve Harmon’s arrest and trial for robbery and murder to a new generation of fans. Steve’s reluctant refusal to admit the full truth about what actually happened and the cloudiness of his guilt is a storyline that is still prevalent in headlines today.

PARSONS, Ash. Still Waters.
Philomel. April 2015. 320p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9780399168475.
How do you get yourself out of a dangerous and potentially deadly relationship and situation? Jason has grown up knowing that his fists are the one way to solve problems, but when he is approached by the most popular kid in school, who is willing to pay Jason for his “skills,” Jason is faced with increasingly difficult decisions. In desperation can Jason make any good choices?

QUNITERO, Isabel. Gabi, a Girl in Pieces.
Cinco Puntos. October 2014. 208p. HC $17.95 (PB) ISBN 9781935955948.
Gabi is often mistaken as white, but she’s Latina through and through. One of her best friends is gay, and the other is pregnant after being raped at a party. How can she help them while dealing with her father’s meth addiction and her mother’s own surprise pregnancy?

REYNOLDS, Jason, and Brendan Kiely. All American Boys.
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. September 2015. 320p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9781481463331.
Quinn and Rashad go to the same school but live in different worlds. When Quinn’s best friend’s brother, a cop, puts Rashad in the hospital, things change. The town, the school, the basketball team…everyone is choosing sides. Can anyone win?

RODMAN, Sean. Tap Out.
Orca Soundings. April 2015. 128p. PB $9.95.
ISBN 9781459808751.
Fight Club is an easy way for Dar to make money to help his mother pay the rent in their low-income apartment while his dad does time in jail–especially when his dad finds out and encourages him to man up and show the other kids he’s tough. Dar’s popularity rises as the money rolls in, but his dad went to prison for fighting, and Dar doesn’t want that life. Can he get out of Fight Club as easily as he got in?

SIMONE, Ni-Ni. Down By Law.
Dafina Pub. July 2015. 288p. PB $9.95.
ISBN 9780758287748.
Isis Carter developed street smarts at a young age. Now she is sixteen and hooking up with bad boy, Fresh. Will she follow his path or use her smarts to save herself?

SCHMIDT, Gary D. Orbiting Jupiter.
Clarion. October 2015. 192p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9780544462229.
Fourteen year old teen dad Joseph is placed in a foster home with Jack and his family. Joseph has the history of an abusive past and has run away from several group homes. Jack learns that Joseph is father to a baby and is his child’s only surviving parent. Joseph is desperate to find his daughter. When Joseph’s estranged father re-enters the picture there are shocking consequences that turn out to be irreversible.

SITOMER, Alan Lawrence. Noble Warrior.
Disney-Hyperion. July 2015. 400p. HC $17.99.
ISBN 9781484705285.
In this second installment of the Noble Warrior series, MD, a tough teenage MMA undercover military agent from Detroit, cannot seem to escape from the grip of his blood family and the gang that shaped his young life. He is planted into the state prison to access the gang leaders who are believed to be holding his girlfriend captive when he comes face-to face with his father. Complex, with realistic relationships and vivid prison scenes, this a fast and thought-provoking read.

THOMAS, Lex. Quarantine 3: The Burnouts.
Egmont. July 2014. 272p. HC $17.95
ISBN 978-1606843383.
In the third novel in this trilogy, David and Will may have escaped the physical imprisonment of the high school, but the outside world doesn’t prove any more welcome to carriers of the virus. Meanwhile, the violence and insanity continues inside the school.

VILLAREAL, Ray. On the Other Side of the Bridge.
Arte Público Press. October 2014. PB $11.95.
ISBN 9781558858022.
Thirteen year old Lon Rodriguez’s life goes from a bad situation to a nightmare in one night. His mother is killed in a random act of violence and then Lon is left to be cared for by his alcoholic father. His father’s inability to care for him leaves them homeless and living in a shelter. Can things get any worse?


** BUTLER, Tewhan. America’s Massacre: The Audacity of Despair and a Message of Hope. – Top Non-Fiction Award!
Raise UP Media. October 2014. PB $19.99.
ISBN 9780692281826
Without making excuses for his past, Tehwan Butler articulately describes the growth of gang lifestyle in inner cities. Butler’s gift at persuasive storytelling is what helped him fill the ranks of the first Bloods on the East Coast. Now he uses that same gift to persuade others not to follow the same path.

*** ROSS, Richard. Girls In Justice. – Advocacy/Social Justice Award!
The Image of Justice. 2015. 192p. HC $29.95.
ISBN 9780985510619.
Ross’s photo-journalistic documentation of girls in America’s detention facilities features full color pages of a stark living experience seldom seen by the public. Each shockingly hard-hitting segment includes national statistics about girls in custody and short biographical stories of the girls in their own words. Short 3-4 page essays by contributors such as Leslie Acosta, founder and executive director of Girl’s Health and Justice Institute and Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, round out the bleak picture.

BERRY, Amanda, and Gina DeJesus. Hope: a Memoir of Survival in Cleveland.
Viking. 2015. 316p. HC $28.95.
ISBN 9780525427650.
The horrors of being kidnapped and kept hostage and enslaved by Ariel Castro are recounted by Amanda and Gina. Through diaries and memoirs, along with FBI investigations and those of their families, this is a story of never giving up hope.

CANNON, Nick. Neon Aliens Ate My Homework: And Other Poems.
Scholastic. February 2015. 144p. HC $14.99.
ISBN 9780545722810.
Nick Cannon, rapper, actor and comedian, writes and draws hip-hop style poetry with a touch of Shel Silverstein. Lots of fun and will motivate young writers and artists.

* CARTER, Alton. The Boy Who Carried Bricks:A True Story of Survival.
Roadrunner Press. March 2014. 196p. HC $18.95.
ISBN 9781937054342.
Growing up in a violent, neglectful environment Alton Carter left his family and faced even more horrifying experiences in foster care. Motivated to be a good father, Carter successfully graduated from high school and college. Carter’s straightforward description will resound with many youth who have faced a troubled homelife.

CHARLEYBOY, Lisa. Urban Tribes: Native Americans in the City.
Annick Press. September 2015. 136p. PB $14.95.
ISBN 9781554517503. What is it really like for First Nations youth to live in the city? Aboriginal youth from around North America share their stories through a variety of ways. Colourful and moving, this book includes the many challenges that these young people face as well as the many success stories they share.

* DEUTCH, Kevin. The Triangle: A Year on the Ground with New York’s Bloods and Crips.
Lyons Press. December 2014. 214p. PB. $16.95.
ISBN 781493007608.
Deutsch traces the violence and futility of the war between the Bloods and the Crips in the New York neighborhood known as The Triangle. A once peaceful community locked its doors and minds to the gunfire and bloodshed of the gangbangers who terrorized them in the gangs’ quest to control the drug trade and fight for the “twisted” rewards of respect, honor, and revenge.

FRIEDMAN, Amy ed. Ghetto By the Sea.
Popstheclub.com. May 2015. 194p.
ISBN 9780692436660.
Young people share the ways they have been touched by prison. Told through memoirs, poetry, photography, and drawings, these pieces express the many ways incarceration impacts lives and families.

KING, Billie. Billie: A Memoir.
PRK Publishing. May 2015. 210p. PB$14.99.
ISBN 978-1530012435
How does someone survive the poverty, abuse and addictions facing her family? Billie boldly writes about her life with her drug and alcohol addicted mother, an abusive father whom she both idolizes and fears, and a sister who has dark secrets.

LAURA, Crystal T. Being Bad: My Baby Brother and the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
Teachers College Press. September 2014. 144p. PB $29.95.
ISBN 9780807755969.
Laura tells the all-too-common story of her brother, Chris, who was labelled a “bad boy” and “gangster” by society. Like many young black men, Chris faced many hurdles–a discouraging education system, economic inequality, and a world that glamorizes tough masculinity. Well-researched and extremely readable, this relatively short book clearly defines why so many of our young men end up incarcerated.

LEVOY, Jill. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.
Spiegel & Grau. January 2015. 384p. $16.00.
ISBN 9780385529990.
Leovy chronicles the investigation of a 2007 murder in South Los Angeles and, in the process, asks questions about the prevalence of murders with black victims and black perpetrators. Why do the majority of these crimes go unsolved and what does that say about our society?

* LEWIS, Tony Jr. Slugg: A Boy’s Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration.
Hanover Place Press. July 2015. PB $9.99.
ISBN 9780692431573.
When Tony Lewis Jr. was two years old, his father was a 19 year old drug kingpin, and a millionaire. They lived with all the trappings of wealth. But at age nine, Tony’s life descended into chaos when his father was arrested and sentenced to life. Lewis also survived the downward spiral after the arrest and the mental breakdown of his mother. In this book, Lewis includes page after page of insight and reflection about prison, choices, fatherhood, and connection.

ROBERTSON, David Alexander. Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story.
Highwater Press. April 2015. $16.00.
ISBN 9781553795445.
Helen Betty Osborne is one of 1200 missing or murdered aboriginal women in Canada. This graphic novel tells Betty’s story of how she moved to a small town where she dreamed of becoming a teacher, but her life was brutally cut short when she was murdered by four young men. This is also the story of so many other women who are marginalized by society.

ROSS, Rick. Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold Autobiography.
Freeway Studios. June 2014. PB $17.99.
ISBN 9781499651539.
Drug lord, millionaire, ex-con, and political scandal are all words that describe Freeway Rick Ross. From a life of poverty, Ross grew to be the cocaine kingpin in numerous major US cities. After serving many years in prison, Freeway Rick has written this book to speak out to others who may view this choice of lifestyle desirable.

SALABERRIOS, Dimas. Street God: The Explosive True Story of a Former Drug Boss on the Run from the Hood–and the Courageous Mission That Drove Him Back.
Tyndale Momentum. August 2015. 304p. PB $15.99.
ISBN 9781496402783.
Dimas Salaberrios started selling drugs in high school and quickly became a street god. After he starts using the drugs he is selling, though, Dimas starts losing control. How will he turn things around?

TOOTOO, Jordin. All the Way: My Life on Ice.
October 2014. 240p. HC $21.95.
ISBN 9780670067626.
Jordin, an NHL player from the very unlikely place of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, was the first Inuit professional hockey player. While Tootoo’s family suffered from alcoholism, abuse, and suicide, he and his brother persevered to become star players, with Tootoo eventually playing for the Nashville Predators. It was here that Tootoo found the luxuries he had never known. Partying and drugs took their toll, and when his brother committed suicide, Tootoo had to face similar demons. Sent to rehab and cut from the team, he is finally able to show his true character.

* VOLOJ, Julian. Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker.
Publishing. May 2015. 128p. PB $12.99
ISBN 9781561639489.
This graphically formatted biography depicts the life of Benji Melendez, who in 1971 brokered one of the most successful gang truces in the South Bronx and Harlem area. As president of the Ghetto Brothers, he brought a stop to the violence that was tearing his world apart. Instead of gangs meeting in weekly war councils, he promoted planning sessions for weekly rap concerts which fostered the emergence of ’80s hip hop and a new style of dance called break dancing.


2016 In the Margins Committee:

  • Sabrina Carnesi, School Librarian, Crittenden Middle School, VA
  • Amy Cheney, District Library Manager, Oakland Unified School District, CA
  • Dale Clark, Teacher-Librarian, Fraser Park Secondary, Burnaby Youth Custody Services, Burnaby, BC, Canada
  • Joe Coyle, Project Coordinator, Mix IT Up!, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
  • Marvin DeBose Sr., Library Supervisor, Free Library of Philadelphia, PA
  • Lisa Goldstein, Division Manager, Central Youth Wing, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
  • Sian Marshall, Head of Teen Services, Oxford Public Library, Oxford Michigan
  • Maggie Novario, Teen Librarian, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, WA
  • Kerry Sutherland, Youth Services Librarian, Akron-Summit County Public Library, OH