Social Justice Young Adult Literature -(Fall 2014)

Boy21 by Matthew Quick

Finley, an introverted teen, is the only Anglo player on his high school’s varsity basketball team. When former basketball phenomenon Russ moves into town after his parents’ murder, Finley is asked by his basketball coach to befriend him. Identity, injustice, and loss are explored through this unique friendship.

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman

Poetically depicts Matthew Shepherd’s horrific murder in 1998, this powerful work recounts the crime through several points of view, including the fence post where Matthew was tied, the deer that kept watch beside him, and even Matthew himself.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Both endure many hardships.

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Kek is from Africa where he lived with his mother, father, and brother. Sent to live with his aunt’s family in America, he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter—cold and unkind.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis

In 1961, Julian’s parents make the heartbreaking decision to send him and his two brothers away from Cuba to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation, the boys are thrust into a new world where bullies run rampant and it’s not always clear how best to protect themselves.

Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

Fadi is a sweet Afghan boy who adores photography and his family. Fleeing from the Taliban in Afghanistan with other escapees, his family loses his little sister Mariam. Settling in the United States in a post 9/11 atmosphere, Fadi rockily adjusts to life in California. Money is tight, classmates are bigots and, most importantly, he misses Mariam.

Paperboy by Victor Vawter

1959 Memphis, Victor takes over his friend's paper route for the summer. However, this paperboy has to struggle with something that others probably do not -- his stutter. So talking to the customers and asking for payment is a challenge. With a strained relationship with his own mother, fortunately Victor’s African-American care-taker loves and understands him, providing a moral compass through the trials and tribulations of his summer.

Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Katie's first word is "kira-kira," the Japanese word for "glittering," and she uses it to describe everything she likes. It was taught to her by her older sister, Lynn, whom Katie worships. Both girls have trouble adjusting when their parents move the family from Iowa to a small town in rural Georgia in 1950, where they are among only 31 Japanese-Americans. When Lynn becomes deathly ill, and Katie is often left to care for her, Katie searches for ways to live up to her sister’s legacy.

Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf

This powerful and gripping story, based on true stories of former child soldiers, describes the journey of a brother and sister, eight-year-old Lucky and ten-year- old Nopi, who are kidnapped from school and forced to become child soldiers in Liberia's fourteen-year- long civil war.

Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone (Non-Fiction)

World War II is raging, and thousands of American soldiers are fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, discrimination against African Americans plays out as much on Main Street as in the military. Tanya Lee Stone examines the little-known history of the Triple Nickles, America’s first black paratroopers, who fought in an attack on the American West by the Japanese.

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

In Chicago, 1968 13 year old Sam is the son of a well known civil rights activist. Can one effect change with or without violence? Sam is weary as he watches his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism. Sam is faced with difficult decisions.

Buried Onions by Gary Soto

Eddie's father, two uncles, and best friend are all dead, and it's a struggle for him not to end up the same way. Eddie struggles to remove himself from the violent gang environment of Fresno, California and into vocational school and eventually a job. His best efforts fail due to outside influences and he must make a decision which will chart the course for the rest of his life.

Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen* Contains graphic violence 

In her remote Guatemalan village, 14-year-old Gabriela is known as Tree Girl for her habit of fleeing to the forest and climbing high to escape the world. When guerrilla warfare comes to her area, her life is changed forever. Tree climbing saves Gabi from that massacre, and she is away from home when her village is destroyed and nearly all of her family members are murdered. In the course of her flight north to a Mexican refugee camp, she again hides in a tree while soldiers rape and murder the inhabitants of another village.

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos

What is it like to be an illegal alien in New York? Nadira, 14, relates how her family left Bangladesh, came to the U.S. on a tourist visa, and stayed long after the visa expired. Their illegal status is discovered, however, following 9/11, when immigration regulations are tightened. When the family hurriedly seeks asylum in Canada, they are turned back, and Nadira's father, Abba, is detained.

My Name is Not Easy by Debbie Dahl Edwardson

Luke knows his Iñupiaq name is full of sounds white people can't say. So he leaves it behind when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles away from their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School, students--Eskimo, Indian, White--line up on different sides of the cafeteria like there's some kind of war going on. Here, speaking Iñupiaq--or any native language--is forbidden. And Father Mullen, whose fury is like a force of nature, is ready to slap down those who disobey. Luke struggles to survive at Sacred Heart.

8th Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Reggie's been nicknamed "Pukey" McKnight at his Brooklyn school. He wants to turn his image around, but he has other things on his mind as well:  his father, who's out of a job; his best friends JC and Ruthie; his ex-best friend Donovan, who's a jerk; and of course, the beautiful Mialonie. The elections for school president are coming up, but with his notorious nickname and "nothing" social status, Reggie wouldn't stand a chance. Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter.