Read Rebelliously with these recommendations from our staff!

Property of the Rebel Librarian

Property of the Rebel Librarian By Allison Varnes

Property of the Rebel Librarian celebrates the important of the job of a librarian, and approaches themes of censorship in a kid friendly way that inspires readers to take action and champion reading. – Emily DuVal, Library Marketing Manager

Odd One Out

Odd One Out By Nic Stone

This story about friendship, love, and figuring it out is an essential read for teens exploring who they are and feeling unsure of their identity. This empowering story acknowledges that there are no easy answers and allows readers to have the space they need to question and grow. – Shaughnessy Miller, Library Marketing Coordinator

Dear Martin

Dear Martin By Nic Stone

I love Dear Martin because of how raw and unfiltered it is. Author Nic Stone asks the reader to look at what is happening in Justyce’s life and how it is reflected in our society. It’s banned because it’s difficult, which is all the more reason to read it. – Kristin Schulz, Assistant Director, School Marketing

 

Being Jazz

Being Jazz By Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings’ inspiring story elevates the LGBTQ+AI community, and her powerful message of self-love and care should be shared and lauded. – Erica Stone, School Marketing Coordinator

The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War By Robert Cormier

Exemplary reading for students looking to make a difference, The Chocolate War asks, “How can we resist?” Disparaged by some for its critical eye towards conformity and the corruption of elite cultural institutions, The Chocolate War champions those brave enough to challenge the establishment. – Natalie Capogrossi, Assistant Manager, School Marketing

Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing By David Levithan

New York Times bestseller David Levithan comes full circle with the story of a momentous kiss.

     New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the stories of several boys: the two boys of the title, in a based-on-true-events story, 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record, Peter & Neil, Ryan & Avery, and Cooper, who is all alone. The story is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

Two Boys Kissing also serves as a perfect thematic bookend to David’s YA debut and breakout novel, Boy Meets Boy.

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy By David Levithan

Considered groundbreaking upon its publication in 2003, Boy Meets Boy was  David Levithan’s debut novel about two teenage boys finding love remains as heartwarming as ever. The world was different when Boy Meets Boy first appeared and attitudes have changed, but this novel is just as relevant and enjoyable as it was then. David is now considered one of the most important voices in YA literature, having since authored Every DayNick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist with Rachel Cohn, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, and fans of his more recent books will not be disappointed by his very first.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret By Judy Blume

The beloved coming-of-age novel from the author whose “name has long been synonymous with young adult fiction” (Los Angeles Times).

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and she’s anxious to fit in with her new friends. When she’s asked to join a secret club she jumps at the chance. But when the girls start talking about boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret starts to wonder if she’s normal. There are some things about growing up that are hard for her to talk about, even with her friends. Lucky for Margaret, she’s got someone else to confide in . . . someone who always listens.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman takes readers to a world where humans have animal familiars and where parallel universes are within reach. A masterwork of storytelling and suspense, Philip Pullman’s award-winning  His Dark Materials series, which continues with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Has been captivating readers for decads.

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (HBO Tie-In Edition)
His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife (Book 2)
His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass (Book 3)
Junie B. Jones #1: Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

Junie B. Jones #1: Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus By Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Brunkus

Remember when it was scary to go to school? With over 50 million books in print, Barbara Park’s New York Times bestselling chapter book series, Junie B. Jones, is a classroom favorite and has been keeping kids laughing—and reading—for over 20 years! In the 1st Junie B. Jones book, it’s Junie B.’s first day and she doesn’t know anything. She’s so scared of the school bus and the meanies on it that when it’s time to go home, she doesn’t. Perfect for new readers, Junie B. Jones is the perfect series to ignite a hunger for reading.

Kathleen Glasgow Author Essay

You'd Be Home Now

I’m no stranger to difficult things. I’ve written young adult novels about self-harm and depression (Girl in Pieces) and grief (How to Make Friends with the Dark). Bits of these books are drawn from my own life experiences; I give my characters some of my feelings, but their stories belong to them. I write for teens because when I was a young adult, struggling with mental health issues, reading novels with characters who were depressed or addicted or hurting made me feel less lonely. Books can show you how not alone you really are. They can be a safe haven in a world whose language and rules often seem beyond your grasp.

My new novel, You’d Be Home Now, is loosely inspired by Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town, long one of my favorite plays. One line in particular has stayed with me over the years. Emily Webb implores her mother, “Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me.” Isn’t that what teens want from the adults in their life? To be seen as they are, not as they are supposed to be. Adolescence is messy and complicated and quite often painful, with tinges of joy in between. I feel like we forget that when we become adults and parents and caregivers.

There was a lot to consider when reimagining Wilder’s play, which is set in the small town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. What would Grover’s Corners look like today? Who would a reimagined Emily Webb be? And what to do with the character of the Stage Manager, who speaks directly to the audience and seems to know everything about everything, including the futures of the characters?

Step one: The Stage Manager becomes a teen Instagram poet named Mis_Educated whose posts reveal the town of Mill Haven’s secrets and in whose comment section teens feel safe talking about the way they really feel about life and all its complications.

Step two: I feel certain that if Wilder wrote this play today, Grover’s Corners would be reeling from the opioid crisis. After all, Wilder didn’t shy away from discussing suicide and alcoholism in Our Town. He was no stranger to difficult things, either.

Step three: Emily becomes Emory Ward, facing the fallout from her brother Joey’s drug addiction and the connected death of a classmate.

Emmy is drowning under the weight of taking care of Joey after his return from rehab. She’s always been “the good one” in her family. Joey has always been “the bad one.” Those roles are destroying them. I’ll bet you know an Emmy: always taking care of everyone and putting their own emotional needs on the back burner. Maybe you were an Emmy in your family. Or maybe you were a Joey: always the disappointment, dragging down the family and sucking all the energy from the room. Maybe there’s a Joey in your family.

I’ve been Emmy and I’ve been Joey. They’re both sinking under the weight of adult expectations. No one really sees them for who they are. Emmy is expected to caretake Joey’s sobriety and get good grades. Joey returns home to a doorless room and an endless list of rules. If he can’t abide, he’ll have to leave the house. It’s an unmanageable situation for them both.

It was important for me to write about Emmy’s love for Joey as well as her frustration and guilt over his situation. I’ve been in recovery for years and I still vividly remember people begging me, “Why can’t you just stop already?” In writing Joey, I wanted readers to understand that it isn’t that simple. I wanted them to understand where’s he’s coming from, what he feels, why he does what he does and why he can’t stop. (Spoiler alert: shaming people does not eliminate addiction.)

Addiction directly affects the mental health of everyone in its orbit. Family member, friend, teacher, community. It is not a faceless disease, and yet we often treat it as such. “They did it to themselves.” “They could get better if they wanted to, but they don’t.” “Not my problem.”

But just like in Mill Haven (the reimagined Grover’s Corners), it is our problem. Those aren’t ghosts under Frost Bridge in You’d Be Home Now. They’re people, struggling to be seen and to survive. Addiction is a public health crisis. It’s in your house, your neighborhood, your community, your schools. And the collateral damage is kids like Emmy, whose mental health is fraying under the strain of trying to keep everything “normal.” There is no normal. There is only survival, and hoping the next day is better than this one. As Emmy notes in her school essay at the end of You’d Be Home Now, “Sometimes your life falls to ash and you sift through, waiting for the pain to pass, looking for the remnants in the debris, something to save, when really all you need is right there, inside you . . . love remains.”

I wrote You’d Be Home Now for the Emmys and the Joeys, kids faltering under the weight of so many heavy things. Because life is messy and complicated and painful, and books should show that. Like Emmy says, “We could all probably be a little more benevolent in life. We all live here, after all. We all share the same mighty good company of the stars at night, and everyone deserves kindness, and survival.”

Kathleen Glasgow

Kathleen Glasgow is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Girl in Pieces, as well as How to Make Friends with the Dark and You'd Be Home Now. She lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona. To learn more about Kathleen and her writing, visit her website, kathleenglasgowbooks.com, or follow @kathglasgow on Twitter and @misskathleenglasgow on Instagram.

Random House Teachers and Librarians