Shadow Girl

This novel for ages nine and up is the story of a resilient young girl who struggles as the daughter of an alcoholic father and an absentee mother. Left alone to fend for herself for days at a time, she is observed by a kind and compassionate saleswoman at the mall she retreats to every day after school to avoid going “home.” The saleswoman gains her trust and takes action into her own hands by reporting the girl’s situation to social services. She is placed in foster care, where she dreams of being reunited with her dad, despite the deprivations in her life with him. The relationship between the girl and her foster mother is painful, and the girl’s spirit disintegrates. Eventually, the saleswoman “adopts” the girl into her caring family, whose love and support enable her, finally, to believe in herself.

Moon Pie

Someone has to keep their head, as Mum used to say, and 11-year-old Martha is used to being that someone in her family. Her little brother, Tug, is too small. Her dad has been acting too strange. And Mum’s not here anymore. So when Dad falls off the roof, it’s Martha who ices his knee and takes him to the doctor. And when Dad doesn’t come home, it’s Martha who cooks Tug’s favorite pie and reads him his bedtime story. And when Dad passes out, it’s Martha who cleans him up and keeps his secret. But eventually Dad’s problems become too big for even Martha to solve, and she realizes it’s not all up to her—there are people and places she can turn to.

Long Story Short

From Ireland’s first laureate for children’s literature comes a story of abuse and neglect told with sincerity, heart, and a healthy dose of humor.  Jono has always been able to cope with his mother’s drinking, but when she hits his little sister Julie, he decides it’s time for them to run away. Told in Jono’s funny, self-conscious voice, the layers of his past and the events of his escape are gradually revealed.

The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy

An alcoholic mother, a distracted father, a best friend who spends all his time with his new “girlfriend,” and three relentless schoolyard bullies: Prinny Murphy’s past, present, and future certainly are “tense.” Adding to her misery, she still can’t read well enough to escape from remedial lessons with the dour Mrs. Dooks. But when a kindly substitute teacher introduces her to LaVaughn’s inner-city world in the free verse novel, Make Lemonade, Prinny discovers that life can be full of possibilities – and poetry.  

Tyrone’s Betrayal (Roosevelt High School)

Drinking and fighting are nothing new in Tyrone’s house, but this time, his dad leaves and doesn’t come back. Tyrone’s anger at his father’s desertion finds an outlet through violent eruptions at school. Life at home is no better as his mother begins working a night job to pay the bills and expects him to take care of his siblings. Instead, he starts partying with older kids, skipping school, and sneaking home in the early morning hours. But when his younger brother is caught stealing candy, Tyrone realizes that he will have to take on the responsibility whether he wants to or not. Settling in to his new role, Tyrone is furious when he learns that his father wants to come home. He just doesn’t understand how his mother can forgive his father so easily. With the help of his friends and counselor, Tyrone begins to deal with his feelings of anger and betrayal as the son of an alcoholic, absentee father. This book is the seventh novel in Gloria Velasquez’s popular Roosevelt High School series, which features a multiracial group of teenaged students who must individually confront social and cultural issues (such as violence, sexuality, and prejudice) that young adults face today.

The Almost Murder and Other Stories

“Pops stormed his way down the hall in a pissed-off march–trouble on the move. A quick glance at his florid, contorted face told me he was smashed. I looked down at meat, spoon, dough–anything to avoid his bleary red eyes. The stench of booze sickened me. So did my father.” In the title story of this gritty collection for teens, a young girl remembers the night her father almost killed her mother. The peace that comes when her father is put in jail is short lived though, because in order to keep him behind bars she will have to testify against him in court. Can she be strong enough to overcome her fear? What if he leaps out of his chair and attacks her too? Can she do what needs to be done in order to keep her mother and grandmother safe? In Theresa Saldana’s first collection of stories for young adults, her characters confront issues relevant to all teens, from friendship to dreams for the future. Many, though, must overcome suffering–whether physical or emotional–that impacts their sense of security and well being. A teenager survives an auto accident that has left her with multiple disfiguring scars. Will she ever be able to really live again? A young high school student prepares to leave the safety of her neighborhood where her friends have accepted her the way she is–overweight. Will her new classmates at Hunter College be able to see who she really is inside her big body? Sure to intrigue young adult readers who will identify with numerous contemporary cultural references–from reality TV shows to computers and the Internet–the engrossing stories in this collection give voice to young Latinas who, like their counterparts everywhere, yearn to be “normal.”

Martyn Pig

Meet Martyn Pig, a boy with a terrible name, trapped in a terrible life. His mother has left him. His father is a belligerent, abusive alcoholic. It seems like his life can’t get any worse. And then it does.Faced with the sudden, accidental death of his father, Martyn realizes that for the first time ever, he has a choice. He can tell the police what happened — or he can get rid of the body and go on with the rest of his life. Deciding on the latter, Martyn and his pretty new neighbor come up with a seemingly foolproof plan. Then, just as Martyn begins to think his life is finally under control, a twisted turn of events leaves him stunned beyond belief.