Title: If You Could Be Mine
Author: Sara Farizan. This is her first novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Readers: Stay-at-home moms Marina, Katie and Colleen B.; attorney Elizabeth H. and non-profit director Kimberly.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.
So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.
Our Take: This debut novel shows promise and takes a unique look at a teenage romance. Some of our readers found it rewarding but others thought it didn’t live up to its premise.
Title: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy
Author: Elizabeth Kiem. This is her first novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Readers: Professor JoLee, copyeditor Lori, lawyer Cait, day care teacher EMarie and retiree Sulyn.
Summary: Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union’s prima ballerina: an international star handpicked by the regime. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears.
Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn. Marina struggles to reestablish herself as a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Marina shares her mother’s “gift,” and has a vision of her father’s murder at the hands of the Russian crooks and con artists she thought they’d left behind.
Now Marina must navigate the web of intrigue surrounding her mother’s disappearance, her ability, and exactly whom she can—and can’t—trust.
Our Take: Definitely a YA with crossover appeal and a unique story to tell. A couple of our readers wanted more, but the overall verdict is it’s a tight and fun thriller.
Title: Dangerous Girls
Author: Abigail Haas. This is a pen name for Abby MacDonald, the author of several YA novels, including Getting Over Garrett Delaney.
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Readers: Teacher Ninian, prosecutor Rochelle, project manager Andrea, higher ed professional Renee and stay-at-home mom Colleen B.
Summary: It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.
But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
Our Take: A serious thrill ride of a book, a dark and fast read that will take you for a ride. Mature material may not make it ideal for younger teens. Great for grown-ups. Read if you liked Gone Girl, Pretty Little Liars and other stories about girls gone bad.
Title: The S-Word
Author: Chelsea Pitcher. This is her first novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Readers: Teachers Julie S. and Ninian, copy editor Lori, stay-at-home moms A Military Mommy and Shawna.
Summary: Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.
Title: Escape Theory
Author: Margaux Froley. This is her first novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Readers: Professor Michal, librarian Mary Liz, project manager Andrea, teacher Julie S. and daycare teacher EMarie.
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide.
Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her. As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn’t have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentiality—and tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch’s death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.