Socio-Emotional Booklist – Grades 9-12

These novels range from topics of family, friendship, bullying, abuse, finding courage, and rising above circumstances. Some of these novels may have heavier topics –  we suggest that you pre-read or seek out reviews from a trusted source.

Available In physical format, L4U Catalogue:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  • Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan 
  • The Hunger Games (series)
  • The Maze Runner
  • Outside In by Sarah Ellis

Available in March 2017:

  • An abundance of Katherines
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • A thousand splendid suns
  • Me and earl and the dying girl a novel

Available in Overdrive:

All suggested grade levels and reviews below are from Overdrive.

Socio-emotional definition: Socio-emotional development is the development of a child’s experience, expression, management of emotions, and ability to create relationships. Reference

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (Grades 9-12)

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

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An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (Grades 9-12)

From the #1 bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars 

Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

Katherine V thought boys were gross

Katherine X just wanted to be friends

Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail

K-19 broke his heart

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun—but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

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The Beckoners by Carrie Mac (Grades 9-12)

When her mother suddenly moves them to a new town, Zoe is unhappy about leaving behind what passes for a normal life. And when the first person she meets turns out to be Beck, who rules her new school with a mixture of intimidation and outright violence, she is dismayed. But she has no idea how bad things will get. Unsure of herself and merely trying to fit in, Zoe is initiated, painfully, into the Beckoners, a twisted group of girls whose main purpose is to stay on top by whatever means necessary. Help comes from unlikely quarters as Zoe struggles to tear loose from the Beckoners without becoming a target herself, while also trying to save April — or Dog, as she is called — from further torment. A chilling portrait of the bullying and violence that is all too common in schools, The Beckoners illustrates the lure of becoming tormentor rather than victim, and the terrible price that can be exacted for standing up for what is right.

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Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer (Grades 6-12)

Life as a ship’s boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.

There’s only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life—if only she doesn’t get caught. . .

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Grade 9-12)

Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (Grades 9-12)

Berlin, 1942: When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

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Boy O’ Boy by Brian Doyle (Grades 9-12)

Martin O’Boy’s life is not easy. His beloved Granny has just died, his pregnant mother and father fight all the time and his twin, Phil, is completely incapacitated. Martin is the one his mother counts on. But life in Ottawa’s Lowertown is not all bad. He has his best friend, Billy Batson (a.k.a. Captain Marvel), the movies, his cat Cheap and there’s the glamorous Buz from next door, who is off at the war.As the war comes to an end with the bombing of Hiroshima — on Martin’s birthday — Ottawa is in a state of turmoil. Returning soldiers, parties, fights and drunks fill the streets. It would all be very exciting, except for one thing. In their endless pursuit of more funds, Martin and Billy have joined the church choir — as summer boys. And the organist, Mr. T.D.S. George, is awfully fond of Martin. But Martin, despite his hardships, has a pure soul and his Granny’s love, Billy’s friendship, Buz’s imminent return, and even his mother’s reliance on him, which help him to deliver a kind of justice to Mr. George and to heal himself and others.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Narrated by a fifteen-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions. Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. At fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbour’s dog Wellington impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing. Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer, and turns to his favourite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As Christopher tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, the narrative draws readers into the workings of Christopher’s mind. And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotions. The effect is dazzling, making for one of the freshest debut in years: a comedy, a tearjerker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.

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The Glory Wind by Valerie Sherrard (Grades 6-12)

A young boy must come to terms with the moral prejudices of his small town in rural 1950s Ontario when he befriends the daughter of a young widow who moves in next door. Gracie is unlike anyone Luke has ever met – fun, charming, imaginative and full of life. But when the townsfolk discover that her mother’s past is less than completely honourable, they set out to isolate both mother and daughter. This striking new novel from Valerie Sherrard explores themes of friendship, loyalty, hypocrisy, and forgiveness.

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Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan (Grade 9-12)

Gloria Whelan’s National Book Award–winning novel, chronicles the breathtaking story of a remarkable young woman who dares to defy fate.

Like many girls her age in India, thirteen–year–old Koly faces her arranged marriage with hope and courage. But Koly’s story takes a terrible turn when in the wake of the ceremony, she discovers she’s been horribly misled; her life has been sold for a dowry. In prose both graceful and unflinching, this powerful novel relays the story of a rare young woman, who even when cast out into a brutal current of time–worn tradition, sets out to forge her own remarkable future.

Inspired by a newspaper article about the real thirteen–year–old widows in India today, this universally acclaimed bestselling novel, characterized by spare, lyrical language and remarkable detail, transports listeners into the heart of a gripping tale of hope.

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How I live Now by Meg Rosoff (Grades 9-12)

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.

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The Hunger Games (series)  by Suzanne Collins (Grades 6-12)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

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If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Grades 9-12)

YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers,YALSA Best Books for Young Adults

“Just listen,” Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.

“Stay,” he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love–music–even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then, one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

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The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth Stewart (Grades 6-12)

Between 1882 and 1968 there were 4,742 lynchings in the United States. In Canada during the same period, there was one—the hanging of American Indian Louie Sam.

The year is 1884, and 15-year-old George Gillies lives in the Washington Territory, near the border with British Columbia. In this newly settled land, white immigrants have an uneasy relationship with the Native Indians. When George and his siblings discover the murdered body of a local white man, suspicion immediately falls on a young Indian named Louie Sam. George and his best friend, Pete, follow a lynch mob north into Canada, where the terrified boy is seized and hung.

But even before the deed is done, George begins to have doubts. Louie Sam was a boy, only 14—could he really be a vicious murderer? Were the mob leaders motivated by justice, or were they hiding their own guilt? As George uncovers the truth—implicating Pete’s father and other prominent locals—tensions in the town rise, and he must face his own part in the tragedy. But standing up for justice has devastating consequences for George and his family.

Inspired by the true story of the lynching, recently acknowledged as a historical injustice by Washington State, this powerful novel offers a stark depiction of historical racism and the harshness of settler life. The story will provoke readers to reflect on the dangers of mob mentality and the importance of speaking up for what’s right.

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The Maze Runner (and other books in the series) by James Dashner (Grades 9-12)

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround them is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (Grades 9-12)

The book that inspired the hit film!

Sundance U.S. Dramatic Audience Award

Sundance Grand Jury Prize

This is the funniest book you’ll ever read about death.

It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.

This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.

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Middle Row by Sylvia Olsen (Grades 9-12)

Things have changed since Raedawn and Vince started going out and the racial boundaries in town have slipped a bit. But when Dune, who never took sides, disappears, Raedawn is determined to find out where he has gone — or what happened to him. Fighting against ignorance and hate, they track Dune down and find he is in more trouble than they thought and that nothing is black and white.

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My Side by Norah McClintock (Grades 9-12)

When quiet, shy Addie is lured into the woods, she is convinced she is going to die. She quickly finds out that there are worse things than terror—things like betrayal at the hands of her best friend and public humiliation in front of the entire school. Neely, Addie’s ex-best friend, is tired of the same old life and the same old friends. She is ready to take some chances to re-invent herself. Is she also ready to win new friends at the expense of old ones? There are two sides to every story, and it’s impossible to know the truth until you’ve heard them both. But sometimes you don’t ever learn the other side of the story. What drives these two friends apart? Who is right and who is wrong? You’ll only know if you read both sides.

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One Second After by William R. Forstchen (Grade 9-12)

New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real…a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages…A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.

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Outside In by Sarah Ellis (Grades 9-12)

Lynn’s life is full — choir practice, school, shopping for the perfect jeans, and dealing with her free-spirited mother. Then one day her life is saved by a mysterious girl named Blossom, who introduces Lynn to her own world and family — both more bizarre, yet somehow more sane, than Lynn’s own.

Blossom’s family is a small band of outcasts and eccentrics who live secretly in an ingenious bunker beneath a city reservoir. The Underlanders forage and trade for the things they need (“Is it useful or lovely?”), living off the things “Citizens” throw away. Lynn is enchanted and amazed. But when she inadvertently reveals their secret, she is forced to take measure of her own motives and lifestyle, as she figures out what it really means to be a family, and a friend.

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Shadow in Hawthorn Bay by Janet Lunn (Grades 9-12)

Shadow in Hawthorn Bay introduces fifteen-year-old Mary Urquhart, a Scottish girl with a special gift – the gift of “second sight”. One morning, in the spring of 1815, Mary hears her beloved cousin Duncan calling desperately for her help. But Duncan is 3,000 miles away in Upper Canada, and to journey to him means leaving the safety and comfort of home for an unknown wilderness.

Answering the call, Mary finds herself battling dark forces in a foreign land. But as she struggles for her survival and independence, she unexpectedly finds friendship – with cheerful Yankee Patty, with Owena, the quiet Indian who recognizes the healing powers in her, and with Luke – so different from “Duncan the black.”

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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Grades 9-12)

From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she’s an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops — a major infraction in high-school society — so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know glare at her. She retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence, making her all the more mute. But it’s not so comfortable in her head, either — there’s something banging around in there that she doesn’t want to think about. Try as she might to avoid it, it won’t go away, until there is a painful confrontation. Once that happens, she can’t be silent — she must speak the truth.

In this powerful audiobook, an utterly believable, bitterly ironic heroine speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while learning that, although it’s hard to speak up for yourself, keeping your mouth shut is worse.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns (and The Kite Runner) by Khaled Hosseini (Grades 9-12)

After more than two years on the bestseller lists and over four million copies in print, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel of enormous contemporary relevance. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them. Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

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Throwaway Daughter by Ting-Xing Ye (Grades 9-12)

Throwaway Daughter tells the dramatic and moving story of Grace Dong-mei Parker, a typical Canadian teenager until the day she witnesses the Tiananmen massacre on television. Horrified, she sets out to explore her Chinese ancestry, only to discover that she was one of the thousands of infant girls abandoned in China since the introduction of the one-child policy, strictly enforced by the Communist government. But Grace was one of the lucky ones, adopted as a baby by a loving Canadian couple.

With the encouragement of her adoptive parents, she studies Chinese and travels back to China in search of her birth mother. She manages to locate the village where she was born, but at first no one is willing to help her. However, Grace never gives up and, finally, she is reunited with her birth mother, discovering through this emotional bond the truth of what happened to her almost twenty years before.

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