Here Lies Daniel Tate

by Cristin Terrill

After spending time bouncing from facility to facility, a young runaway discovers a missing teen poster and realizes that the boy in the photo resembles him. Daniel Tate had disappeared six years earlier, and the boy sees an opportunity to end his difficult life on the streets. He will become Daniel Tate.

For Daniel’s family, it seems too good to be true when he shows up six long years later. In order to account for any details about Daniel’s life that the boy would not be privy to, he claims amnesia. In time, the family tells him, he’ll recover the memories he’s missing. All that matters is that they have him back.

Daniel has everything the boy from the streets has ever dreamed of—wealth, privilege, the chance to make a fresh start, and a family that loves him. Now that he’s finally found a place to belong, he doesn’t question his luck.

But the perfect facade starts to crack when he suspects that perhaps Daniel’s family knows that he is not their loved one. Panic sets in as he wonders why Daniel’s siblings are working so hard to protect him from outside individuals, mainly the FBI, who are closing in on the deception. He realizes that maybe Daniel isn’t missing at all and believes that someone knows what really happened to the boy he’s pretending to be. If he can’t uncover the truth—he could be next the next Daniel Tate to disappear.

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is one of the only black students in her all-white private school and struggles with her identity -- she doesn’t want to be “Big Mav’s daughter who work in the store,” but she also knows that she does not fit in with her privileged, suburban classmates. The divide becomes even deeper when Starr is witness to the brutal murder of her lifelong friend Khalil at the hands of police.

Khalil’s death makes headlines. People in Starr’s hometown are enraged and heartbroken that an unarmed teen’s life was taken. Others, mostly those from the wealthy community where Starr attends school, believe that Khalil was a thug and a drug dealer and got what was coming to him. Starr bravely faces her fears and agrees to testify in defensive of her fallen friend, risking her safety and unhinging a community already on edge.

The Hate U Give is an unwavering portrayal of the racial tensions happening across America, and Thomas’ voice is authentic. If you liked Jason Reynolds’ All American Boys, The Hate U Give will transform you.

Purple Heart

by Patricia McCormick

Private Matt Duffy is 18-years-old and serving in the U.S.Army. At the beginning of the novel, we learn that he has sustained a brain injury during combat and is slowly regaining consciousness in a military hospital in Iraq. He also finds that he has been awarded a Purple Heart. The story unravels as Private Duffy attempts to piece together the hazy details of what he has been through. Flashbacks of a young Iraqi boy being killed, stray dogs, and blowing trash are the few memories that he has of the lapsed time, and Matt can’t shake the terrible feeling that he may have had something to do with the boy’s death.

Eventually he is sent back into combat with his fellow soldiers but things are not the same. Still struggling with his fractured memories and having doubts about his ability to go on, it is clear that war has profoundly affected the young Private. Fast-paced, relevant, and suspenseful, Purple Heart is a great choice for reluctant readers. McCormick’s story is realistic without being violent or gratuitous and avoids being political, instead focusing on the physical and emotional effects of war.