Friday, March 14, 2014

Teen Wolf Week: Top 5 Tough Guys with Problems for Derek

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We're devoting our week of book lists to MTV's Teen Wolf which you can catch up on with our help! 

Derek Hale is a born werewolf and a misunderstood brooder who is followed by bigger and badder problems everywhere he goes. If there has ever been a guy who could use the phrase, "misery loves company," it's Derek. To keep him company, Pat's put together 5 books about tough guys with issues. Since he's by far the oldest member of the pack, these five are for our older teens.
Reality Boy by A.S. King
Tough guy with a problem?  Or two?  Or three? Let me introduce you to Gerald.  As a 5-year-old, Gerald was saddled with unasked-for fame and the extremely unfortunate nickname of "Crapper" when his already dysfunctional family was part of a reality TV show with a fake TV nanny who was supposed to "fix" the family's problems.  How would you deal with forever being known as "Crapper?" Everyone assumes that Gerald is the fundamental problem that needs fixing and not his sister Tasha. Now 16, suffice to say that Gerald has some serious anger issues.  King is again masterful in taking you inside a complicated character's head and revealing the vulnerabilities and ultimately the growth that can lead to transformation. It's not an easy path, nor is it pretty, but the grittiness of Gerald's evolution ultimately inspires us.

Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan
You get  two tough guys with serious issues in this book.  Crash is Steven "Crash" Crashinsky, a mediocre student with a penchant for weed and sex and good times.  Burn is David Burnett, the brilliant,  tragedy-fueled, mentally imbalanced friend whom Crash stopped from taking the whole school--a thousand students-- hostage and blowing it up with assault rifles and explosives. That's not a spoiler--you find that out right at the beginning of the book.  Hassan  pulls no punches in describing the life of these older teenagers and I'd therefore recommend it for mature teen readers.  It's a powerful, provocative, harrowing story barrels that along to the final pages.  You won't soon forget about Crash and Burn.

Jasper Jones  by Craig Silvey
Jasper Jones, small town outcast and major "tough guy with a problem,"  knocks on Charlie Bucktin's window late one night seeking help to solve a vicious crime for which Jasper fears he will be accused. The bookish Charlie is an unlikely sidekick to Jasper yet he gets deeply involved in the mystery of Laura's death despite everything in his being telling him not to.  Though much of this book is dark and violent, it's the often hilarious interplay between the13-year-old Charlie and his best friend, Jeffrey, that remains with me. 

More Than This by Patrick Ness
In one of the more harrowing and intense first chapters I've ever read, 16-year-old Seth dies.  He walks into the bitingly cold Pacific ocean one day and he drowns.  It's what happens in the rest of this haunting, intense, mind-bender of a book that will grab you by the throat and shake you.  Instead of his Pacific Northwest home, Seth "wakes up" in his old neighborhood in England covered in wounds and bandages.  Thick dust covers everything and there is no one else around. And Seth begins to try to figure out where he is and what has happened to him. Is he still alive?  Is he dead?  In hell?  Talk about issues.  Where is everyone else?  What is the nature of reality?  What is the point of life?  Once you slip into this book, you'll be trapped til the end.

But don't take my word for it.  Here's what John Green had to say about More Than This and I would agree:
Books are often described as ‘mind-blowing,’ but this is one of the few books in which, while reading it, I have exclaimed aloud, ‘Oh. My. God.’ on multiple occasions. I won’t tell you anything else about it. Just read it.

 Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Yet another book about a troubled, angry, lonely boy who intends to take down the person who hurt him before he kills himself on his 18th birthday.  Leonard spends the day saying goodbye to the few people who mattered to him.  Sounds bleak, but listen to author Matthew Quick talk about his book and you will hear more about hope.  A powerful book by the author of The Silver Linings Playbook.

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