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Coming of Age

The Magician’s Elephant

By Kate DiCamillo

Recommended for: Both boys and girls, ages 10 and up for discussion of death and a rather gloomy atmosphere.

One word summary: Somber.

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The Obsidian Blade
By Pete Hautman

Recommended for: Both boys and girls, ages 13 and Up for some moderate violence and general complexity of plot. Teen boys are a natural fit for this story with its male protagonist and action-driven narrative, but the story is so well executed that there is no reason why girls shouldn’t connect with it as well. 

One Word Summary: Mind-Bending.

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The Decoding of Lana Morris

By Laura & Tom McNeal

Recommended for: Ages 16 and up for frank sexual discussion and general maturity level of themes and tone. The story features a female protagonist and romantic elements, but the overall strength of writing and complexity of the characters should make this book appealing to boys as well as girls.

One Word Summary: Esoteric.

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Dark Water

By Laura McNeal

Recommended for: Ages 15 and Up for mild teen sexuality. The female main character and romantic plot line will likely make this work best suited to young women.

One Word Summary: Ferocious.

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Okay For Now

By Gary D. Schmidt

Recommended for: Grades 7-11 (particularly boys)

One Word Summary: Earnest.

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Don’t Stop Now

By Julie Halpern

Recommended for: Mainly girls, aged 16 and Up for tastefully handled teen sexuality and frank sexual discussions. The story is narrated by a girl and contains a love story, but she leans towards tomboyishness and the romance is neither gushy nor sentimental, so male readers shouldn’t be excluded from this one.

One Word Summary: Naturalistic.

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The Rusty Key

The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green

Recommended for: Boys and girls, ages 13 and up.

One Word Summary: Luminous.

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© Jordan B. Nielsen, 2012

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The Apothecary

By Maile Meloy

Recommended for: Fantasy and adventure fans of all ages and genders, colors and creeds (so long as they be over the age of 10). This one is an across the board crowd-pleaser.

One Word Summary: Intoxicating.

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Every Day

By David Levithan

Recommended for: Boys and girls, ages 12 and up

One Word Summary: Compelling.

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By R.J. Palacio

Recommended for: Ages 9 and Up for emotionally mature subject matter. A broad range of characters and general relatability should make this book appealing to both boys and girls.

One Word Summary: Flawless.

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