Shy, awkward and crippled by anxiety, Evan Hansen writes daily affirmation letters to himself. When his classmate Connor Murphy commits suicide and one of the letters is found on Connor’s body, his devastated family assumes that the two boys were secretly best friends. Grief-stricken, they embrace Evan as family, hoping to gain insight into their reclusive son’s life and death. The story of Connor’s suicide and his “friendship” with Evan go viral, and Evan is suddenly popular, happy and is growing to love his new extended family. Inevitably the lies begin to unravel, and Evan must deal with the consequences of his deception, however well-intentioned it may have been. Readers also gain insight into Connor’s life through passages narrated by his ghost.
In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, shy Cath Avery’s world is turned upside-down when her identical twin sister Wren delivers the devastating news that she doesn’t want to be Cath’s roommate. Until now, the girls had been virtually inseparable, bound by their love of the Harry Potter-esque Simon Snow series, about which Cath writes fanfiction. Instead of the idyllic and safe freshman year Cath has imagined, she finds herself with a surly roommate Reagan, whose ever-present charming (maybe-ex?) boyfriend may or may not be flirting with her. All this, paired with her growing concern about her father’s bipolar behavior, her changing relationship with her sister and a writing teacher who detests fanfiction, is almost more than Cath can bear. Will it be too much for her? If you love Cath, be sure to read Rowell’s follow-up novel, Carry On, set in the world of Simon Snow.
If you like books that leave you thinking “I didn’t see THAT coming," We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is for you. Seventeen-year-old Cady Sinclair Eastman comes from old money. We’re talking Kennedy-esque, summering on your family’s private island off the coast of Cape Cod kind of money. She and her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and their friend Gat (they call themselves “The Liars”) have blissfully spent every summer together since birth. But this year is different. Cady is recovering from a mysterious accident that occurred during her 15th summer, and she is left with debilitating headaches and amnesia. Through Cady’s narration, the story of the Sinclairs unfolds, and we find that some members of Cady’s family aren’t quite as perfect as they pretend to be. Teen and adult fans of John Green will LOVE this book.
Social media is a huge part of teen life, but what happens when it gets out of control? This is exactly what happens in Joelle Charbonneau's Need. Sixteen-year-old Kaylee joins NEED, a new network that promises to fill any need of its members—for a price, that is. Other students at Nottawa High School ask for things like new phones, computers or sports equipment, but Kaylee wishes for something more important—a kidney for her dying little brother DJ. At first, the tasks the students are asked to complete seem harmless, but then a student turns up dead, and Kaylee knows in her heart that NEED is behind it. The story is told by Kaylee as well as a handful of other teens trapped in NEED’s web, and their stories weave together to lead to a thrilling climax.
If you liked 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, you should give Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye a try. After her younger brother Ty commits suicide, Lex’s formerly perfect life falls apart. Her grades slip, she pushes her loving boyfriend away, her relationships with her parents suffer and if one more of her friends gives her a pitying look, she just might lose her mind. Through her narration and journal entries, the reader learns what really happened the night of Ty’s death, and why Lex won’t let anyone help her with her grief. Adults and teens alike will be enthralled with this book.