One of the books I read for this section was really good: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. It's about a girl named Lia struggling with anorexia, cutting, depression, divorce...and then her ex-best friend dies due to battles with her own issues. She called Lia the night she died but Lia didn't answer. So, she has that guilt to deal with too.
I was absolutely entranced by this book. I have a slight obsession with books about eating disorders anyway, but this is one of the best YA ones I've read. It is incredibly realistic, making me feel both heartbreak and sympathy. I really could not put it down. The author uses text in unique ways to really underscore Lia's confusion, with words off-center or struck out to indicate her conflicting moods. When Lia hurts herself badly and passes out, the text stops in mid-sentence, followed by two blank, white pages. It's a staggeringly visual way to show Lia's emptiness and absence from her own story.
Next week we're doing a unit on YA fantasy and science fiction books. I like to read ahead and two of the books for that section also are awesome.
First, Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White. This isn't an Earth AU, but something that actually could happen in our future. Basically, the government was failing so they created a Department of Fun. The DoF coordinates education, among other things. Kids are required to watch so many hours of TV a day, with shows designed to both teach and entertain.
This book focuses on five kids who volunteer (each for a unique reason) to participate in a historical survivor show, basically like the TV show Survivor, but re-enacting some historical event like the Civil War, or the Alamo or whatever. It's educational for the viewers, see? The survivors get money and education, something they can achieve no other way. This season is Surviving Antarctica and it's a re-enactment of Scott's expedition to Antarctica.
The plot is super interesting (and full of history) but it's the little details about the future, like that all food is flavored chips -- like potato chips but broccoli-flavored or chicken-flavored or strawberry-flavored, etc., that really sells this. It's such a weird version of world-building, except in a world that already exists.
The other book I enjoyed is The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. It basically is a modern re-telling of the Greek myths and it's very well done. The main character is the son of Poseidon, and boy does he have adventures! Originally Riordan told his kid these stories at bedtime and they were so well received that he turned them into a book. I kinda love that!