4 YA Novels
Frannie in Pieces by Delia Ephron
(Related to Nora Ephron?) Frannie's life is shattered when her father dies. She begins to pull herself back together when she finds a box with her name on it filled with a handmade puzzle that her father created, apparently as her birthday gift before he died. Since he was never on time with gifts, and he died a week before her birthday, this makes her suspicious but not suspicious enough to unravel the mystery of the puzzle's origin, not until the end of the book. In the middle, Frannie's mom sends her off to be a counselor at summer camp. She's put in charge of arts and crafts, and has the kids make an enormous mural of all the household items that, in small print, say they can kill you. The head counselor puts as stop to this... Frannie is whiny and difficult, regressing from her 15 years to more like 7 at times, but the story is well written and well worth reading.
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Dashti is a mucker; she knows songs of simple healing. But she has no way to make a living, and so becomes the maid for Lady Saren of the gentry. Unfortunately, both are locked away in a tower for 7 years to rot. Fortunately, they get out in fewer than 7 years, but not before Hale details the aching isolation of the prison tower. All ends well, especially for Dashti. If you're a fantasy fan and haven't read Hale, run don't walk to pick up The Princess Academy. Then, if you're up for more, this would be a nice second course.
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty
Who is the audience for this book? The publisher says 14 and up, but one of the characters is in 2nd grade (many others are adults). The spell book belongs to Listen, who is related to the Zing Family, holders of the Zing Family Secret, by her father's girlfriend, Marbie Zing. The book is a series of mysteries to be unraveled, and I hate to give too much away. This Australian import makes up in meticulousness what it lacks in compelling plot, although there is sufficient suspense to keep the reader going. If you're a Westing Game fan, this is worth a try, and frankly there's little else out there with which it can be productively compared.
Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
As if high school weren't hard enough, Phoebe's mother has to go and fall in love with a Greek, as in a man who lives in Greece, and has the nerve to insist that they move to his Greek island in one month. Move away from southern California and all Phoebe's friends, away from the memories of her father who died six years before. And that's not all... once she gets there, Phoebe is told that she's going to an exclusive school with (did you see this coming?) the offspring of the Greek gods. There's a lot of this Greek-god-offspring business going around, what with the successful series beginning with Lightning Thief by Riordan. Needless to say, Phoebe quickly meets a young male god who catches her eye... predictability aside, this one is worth it; it's a great light beach read pitched just right for YA romance fans.