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Books for Teens

To Be a Slave
Julius Lester
326.0973 L 642 YA (also j and on audiocassette)
Much of this history of slavery in the United States is told in the words of former slaves themselves. They describe capture, the auction block, life on the plantation, resistance to slavery, and the years after emancipation.

Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories
364.106097 qV889 1996 YA
Teens from many different backgrounds tell frankly how they came to join gangs, what gang life was like, and how they took the difficult step of leaving that life. Their honest accounts are painful and sometimes shocking.

Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries
compiled by Laurel Holliday
940.5318 C536 1995 YA
Anne Frank wasn't the only young person who kept a diary of life during World War II and the Holocaust. Here, the stories of twenty-three people (Jews in hiding, partisan fighters, concentration camp prisoners) aged ten to eighteen, are told in their own words.

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution
Ji-Li Jiang
951.056 J61Zj 1997 YA (also on audiocassette)
China's Cultural Revolution of the 1960s turned life upside down for Ji-Li Jiang. Her comfortable, intellectual family became the target of denunciation in the class struggle to rid China of anti-socialist influences. Ji-Li was faced with the terrible decision of whether to denounce her own father or to betray her political ideals.

No More Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa
968.00496 qN739 1998 YA
Twelve South African teenagers, black and white, tell their stories of growing up under apartheid and of learning to overcome that heritage of prejudice and social injustice as their country began to change.

The Air Down Here: True Tales from a South Bronx Boyhood
Gil C. Alicea with Carmine DeSena
974.727504309 A398 1995 YA
Gil is a Puerto Rican-American growing up in the Hispanic community in the South Bronx housing projects. At fifteen, he has seen some hard times, especially the death of his mom. But his indomitable spirit shines through in this book based on his taped conversations and reflections.

Edward Bloor
YA Fiction
Paul is an unusual narrator. He's legally blind from staring at a solar eclipse, and he lives in the eclipsing shadow of his older brother, Erik, the football star. Yet Paul sees a lot. When he gets a chance to go to a new school, he begins to question his family's attitudes and to understand how dangerous his menacing older brother really is.

Split Just Right
Adele Griffin
YA Fiction
Danny appreciates her actress mother's dramatic streak, and has been known to indulge in a few flights of imagination herself. But the discovery that her mother has been lying to her about her job leads Danny to question the truth of other things her mother has told her, especially about her father.

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey
Margaret Peterson Haddix
YA Fiction
Tish Bonner has to keep a journal for sophomore English class. The teacher has promised not to read it without permission. Can Tish trust her? Tish finds that she has a lot to say, some of it quite personal. She is struggling to raise her brother since their father abandoned them, and her journal becomes an outlet for all kinds of thoughts and emotions.

A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl
Patricia C. McKissack
YA Fiction (also J Fiction)
This is part of the popular Dear America series of historical novels in the form of diaries. Clotee is a slave on a Virginia plantation, and she has learned to read while fanning her young master during his lessons. But this diary is not the only secret Clotee has - she finds herself caught up in the greatest secret of all, the Underground Railroad.

Stuck in Neutral
Terry Trueman
YA Fiction
Shawn McDaniel has cerebral palsy, a physical condition that leaves his active, imaginative mind trapped in an uncooperative body. Teens will be amazed at the depth of Shawn's apparently limited world - and swept away by his panic when he thinks his father may be planning to kill him.