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Rosie, the Canton Public Library's resident YA librarian, has thoughts about everything. Here are some of them. 

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Jun 26

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Posted on June 26, 2015 at 12:59 PM by Rosie Moore

Summer is definitely my favorite season. Even now that I'm a grown up and still have to go to work every day, knowing summer is just around the corner makes me super happy. The warm sunny weather, cute clothes, long hours of daylight, grilling and eating outside, going to the beach--there's just so much to love! But the most wonderful thing about summer, I think, is that feeling like it's a time for things to happen. Summers always have possibilities. I always tell myself, "I'm going to read 5 classic books I never read before," or "I'm finally going to learn to use a sewing machine/work on my novel/start working out," or "I'm going do something interesting every weekend." 

This is the truth: I almost never accomplish all I have planned for the summer (probably because I just spend so much time grilling and eating and reading outside and sitting around on the beach). But that hardly even matters. Planning and feeling like all these things are possible is almost as fun as doing them. 

Whatever you're planning for this summer, and whether you even actually get it all done of just think about it for 10 weeks, here are some books that might inspire you (or give you something to read while you're just sitting around). 

Beaches, All Day Every Day
This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki
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Many people love the beach because it's so relaxing. All you need is a blanket, a bathing suit, and a book to lay out on the soft sand and soak up the warm sun. Beaches are perfect places to hang out with friends, read books, and have fun. But they can also been seen as places of transition--the land turns into the sand, the sand turns into the sea, and the sea turns into the sky. 

This beautifully drawn graphic novel about a girl on the brink of one of the biggest transformations we go through--from child to teenager--completely captures the confusion and drama and joy of growing up. And it all happens at her family's beloved beach which, after years of being comfortingly familiar and predictable, is suddenly completely different. 

This isn't your typical sunny and warm beach romance. In real life, Coney Island Beach is great for beach goers who don't mind a real city atmosphere--crowds, noise, and the kind of people who are drawn to the culture that has developed out of a place once known for its Freak Shows. In this tense science fiction at the beach story, Coney Island is nothing short of a war zone. It's been a few years since a strange race of sea-dwelling humanoids came out of the ocean and set up camp on the beach, and in those three years they have not gotten along with the locals. Both sides are distrusting, uncommunicative, and violent towards the other, and when an attempt is made to integrate the Sea People into the community by sending a group of their teenagers to a local high school, things just get worse. Sure, it takes place at the beach, but this is the most violent, hate filled love story you'll read all summer.  Undertow, by Michael Buckley 
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Almost Anything by Sarah Dessen, by Sarah Dessen
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Sarah Dessen's books are almost perfect examples of what most people think of as "beach reads." They take place during the summer (at the beach, obviously), and girls deal with Issues while falling in love. But they aren't just frothy throw away romances--they actually have depth. The characters are real and interesting and complicated, and their responses to the situations they find themselves in are relatable. These are definitely great books to take to the beach (or read in the middle of a cold winter night to pretend it's a warm summer day), but they have the potential to stick with readers. 

Cooking or Eating

 Ava Lavender was born with wings, but she is only the youngest in a long line of unusual women. Her mother, her grandmother, and her grandmother's best friends all have their own mystical dealings and abilities, many of which are related to the bakery that Ava's grandmother owns. The bread she bakes and some of the events that happen at the bakery are integral to these women's stories and beautifully told. The lyrical descriptions of Ava's heartbroken mother baking her sadness into pastries at the bakery are some of the saddest and loveliest words one can read about food. 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton 
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Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal
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Far Far Away, like Ava Lavender, is less about food and more a book in which food makes things happen. Jeremy Johnson Johnson (that's his real name, not a typo) lives in a town with a bakery. People in the town love the sight of green smoke coming out of the bakery's chimney, because it means that Prince Cakes are available to buy. While most locals are excited by the opportunity just to eat Prince Cakes because they are delicious, some believe that they have strong magical abilities. Jeremy Johnson Johnson has more reason than anyone to believe in the power of the Prince Cakes, and his first bite leads to a  

Most people don't think about a series about an oppressive government forcing children to hunt and kill each other on live TV and making it required viewing by all citizens  in terms of food, but it actually plays a huge part in these books. First, many of Katniss's actions are affected by being hungry, and needing to feed her family. Winning the Hunger Games means receiving free food from the government for a year, which is a huge motivating factor for a lot of participants. One of the two main characters' most significant interactions is when one of them saves the other's life by throwing her a burned piece of bread so she doesn't starve to death. And besides all these important food related plot points, there are a bunch of descriptions of some really delicious sounding food being served in the rich and decadent capital. 

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
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Seeing the World 
She Is Not Invisible, by Marcus Sedgwick
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In this unique mystery, teenage Laureth and her younger brother travel from their home in London to New York in order to search for their father, who has gone missing. What makes Laureth's travels around the city and clue-solving adventure truly special is Laureth herself--she is blind. This is great opportunity for readers to dive into an interesting story from the perspective of someone who experiences the world in a different way. 

Lucy and Owen meet in a broken down elevator in the middle of a black out in New York City. They spend the rest of the night wandering around the dark city, but their relationship has little chance of developing past their quick connection. Just days later, Lucy moves to Europe with her family, and Owen starts heading west with his father. For a while they keep in touch through postcards and emails, but as Lucy moves from country to country and Owen keeps traveling further and further in the other direction, it becomes harder for them to keep hoping for a future together. 

Although it's tough on Lucy and Owen's developing relationship, the opposition of their paths is great for readers with wanderlust. Readers get to follow Lucy through Europe--Scotland, Paris, London--as well as experience the United States on Owen's month's long road trip that ends in the Pacific Northwest. 

The Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer E. Smith 
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Are We There Yet, by David Levithan
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During a trip to Italy with a brother he feels he has nothing in common with, Elijah considers the questions, "Do you ever wonder why we wonder?" and finds there is no simple answer. But while he's looking for it, readers get to see him and his brother Danny experience the art, history, architecture, food and culture of some of Venice, Florence, and Rome. The human desire to travel is further examined in the relationships the brothers form with other tourists visiting Italy from far away. 

Getting Ready to Go Back to School or Start College
Fangirl isn't a fantasy, but it is definitely a must-read for anyone who loved Harry Potter as a kid. Cath and her twin sister Wren always loved the boy-wizard literary sensation Simon Snow (obviously a thinly veiled version of Harry Potter), but now they're growing up. As they start their first year of college together, Cath expects to room with her sister, finish up her widely-loved Simon Snow fanfiction "Carry On, Simon," and study English while waiting for the last Simon Snow book to be released. But college isn't anything like what she thought it would be when Wren decides to room with someone else and her professors don't appreciate her obsession as much as the readers of her fanfiction do. This brilliant book is funny, smart, and perfectly captures how scary and exciting college can be, especially when it's the first time you're forced to figure things out on your own.  Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell 
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Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins
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 Sophie has known she's a witch for three years, but she's been able to hide it reasonably well--that is, until a prom night spell goes wrong. Her warlock father decides her best punishment is to send her to Hex Hall, which is kind of like a reform school for magical teenagers. 

Like Harry Potter, this series has all the drama and excitement of a magical universe set in the super relatable school environment. It's perfect for readers who like a little spell-work with their back-to-school mysteries, as well as fantasy lovers who don't mind the inclusion of real-life issues like bullies, crushes, fitting in, and homework. 

Elizabeth and Lauren are both about to start at UC Berkeley, and they're going to be roommates. After exchanging emails to start to coordinate who's bringing what and get to know each other, they soon discover that they are pretty much as different as it is possible for two people to be.

This summer-before-college situation is one that a lot of readers heading off to school for the first will be able to understand. It's an incredibly exciting time filled with hope and possibility, but also a huge transitional period that has the potential to be extremely stressful. Elizabeth and Lauren are unsure about each other and their future at college, as well as leaving their complicated home lives behind. 

Roomies, by Sara Zarr 
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Watching TV, Reading, and Listening to Music  

Something Real, by Heather Demetrios
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One of things I miss most about having summer off is lying on the couch in the middle of the day watching tons of bad TV. And of course, some of the worst but most entertaining shows out there are "reality" TV. 

In fact, if you're a huge fan of reality shows, you might actually want to steer clear of this book. It's easy to think of the people on them as ridiculous characters (and often they are playing a part, or get edited to seem more dramatic than they really are), but unlike scripted shows, they are real people. This book is about a teenage girl who grew up as one of 13 children featured on a hit reality show, and difficultly she's had just living a normal life. It's a great behind the scenes look at the consequences of living in a spotlight you didn't seek yourself, and reminder that we never know as much about other people's situations as we think we do. 

Afterworlds is a book about writing books. Instead of going to college, Darcy moves to New York City to write and publish a teen paranormal romance novel. It does have some moments that require some suspension of disbelief (Darcy writes her first book in one month and gets a huge deal to have it published with almost no trouble), but the fantasy that writing books can be so fun and easy is part of the appeal of this book. Many of its readers probably do have dreams about writing the types of books they find so much enjoyment in reading, and this is comfortable way to experience that success. 

The other interesting thing about this book is it's really two books. Of course we get Darcy's story about writing her book, and we also actually get her book! She's writing about a teen girl who can slip into a place between life and death, where there are plenty of terrifying mysteries to be solved. 

Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld 
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Kissing in America, by Margo Rabb
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Since her dad died two years ago, Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels, which her academic mother hates. She also finds relief from her grief when she meets and falls for Will, who seems to truly understand her. Unfortunately, almost as soon as they take the first step toward developing a real relationship, Will moves across the country to California. Eva, who wants nothing more than to see him again, comes up with a grand plan to get herself--along with her best friend, Annie--from New York to California. 

This book has it all--two smart, studious teenage girls trying out for a trivia television show looking for the smartest girl in America (the prize includes a full scholarship to college), poetry (by famous poets as well as original poems by the characters), characters who read nonfiction and essays and romance novels, even a mixed tape featuring real music about traveling on the road and thinking about someone you care about.