The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1962, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (originally published 1961) is an amazing story about a boy in Galilee during the time of Jesus. Daniel bar Jamin is an angry teenager, looking for revenge on the Roman soldiers who occupy his land. As a politically charged novel, then, The Bronze Bow amazingly captures the difficulties that Jews in Galilee may have faced in the meridian of time. The book is also a Christian one, as Daniel learns from the mysterious Rabbi, Jesus, who preaches love, turning the other cheek, and forgiveness for all.Continue Reading

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (1998 Newbery Medal Winner) is a young adult novel in poetry about the difficulties of dust bowl living in the 1930s. A changing industry, magnified by severe drought and the Great Depression, meant that farming in rural Oklahoma was more difficult than ever. But Billie’s difficulties are compounded. It’s hard enough being on the brink of womanhood, but when tragedies strike, nothing will ever be the same again.
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The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene (Dutton Books, 2014) is both an existential novel about the meaningless of life as well as an sensitive exploration of the importance of friendship in the midst of the seemingly meaningless.

Hazel is a 16-year-old girl with cancer, miraculously kept alive by a “miracle” drug that could stop working at any time for her. Stuck at home for years, Hazel has learned to distance herself from many relationships and friends, all the while reading her favorite books, studying hard, and taking courses at the local college. She is content, but as she has pointed out, a side-affect of cancer is often depression, so she has her moments.Continue Reading

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Nest by Esther Ehrlich (Random House Children’s Books; published today!) is an emotionally charged novel about a young girl facing stark change after her mother develops a serious disease. Naomi, “Chirp” to her family and friends, is a bird-loving sixth grader on Cape Cod in the early 1970s. Her life is full of nature and her loving family. As her family struggles with her mother’s degenerative condition, she must grow up faster than she intended. Continue Reading