Please note that there has been absolutely no attempt to balance this list by age, gender or genre. These are just my “from-the-gut” favorites.
Braff, Joshua. The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green. (9-12th grade, adult)
13 year old Jacob Green tries to establish his identity within his seriously dysfunctional suburban Jewish family during the late 70’s/early 80’s.
Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts. (6-8th)
12 year old Moose Flanagan is first terrified and then intrigued when his dad accepts a prison guard position at the infamous Alcatraz Island in 1935.
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge. (8-12th)
15 year old Luther Farrell turns the tables on his scam artist mother in this engaging story of a young man determined not to follow in the footsteps of his morally bankrupt parent.
Marchetta, Melina. Saving Francesca. (8-12th)
High school junior Francesca Spinelli is reluctant to admit how much she loves and needs her vivacious mother Mia until Mia suffers a nervous breakdown and refuses to leave her bed.
Meyer, L.A. Curse of the Blue Tattoo: being an account of the misadventures of Jacky Faber, midshipman and fine lady. (6-12th) Having blown her “Grand Deception,” Jacky Faber, former ship’s “boy,” has been unceremoniously dropped off in Boston to learn the art of becoming a fine lady. Sequel to Bloody Jack.
Nelson, Blake. Rock Star, Superstar. (8-12th)
Pete learns what it takes to make it in a garage band, while stumbling through his first real romantic relationship with Margaret.
Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn. (5-10th)
Young Matt Cruse defends his beloved airship against sky pirates and wild flying cats, while falling for the lovely Kate.
Pratchett, Terry. A Hat Full of Sky. (5-10th)
Tiffany Aching battles the evil Hiver, with the help of other witches and her trusty hat. Sequel to The Wee Free Men.
Provoost, Anne. In the Shadow of the Ark. (8-12th)
Re Jana and her family have doubts that the mighty flood Noach is predicting will really come.
Shepard, Jim. Project X. (9-12th, adult)
8th graders Edwin and Flake concoct a fatal plan to finally end the bullying at their school.