New Books Highlight: The Harder Side of Life

This week I found three books on the shelves that all take up subjects most of us just shy away from. Books are so great that way: visionary authors can make you love someone you wouldn’t look twice at in real life, can make you have empathy for situations you’d normally brush off as scary, or unreal, or too far away from you to care about. Get ready to care about these three stories, and expand your mind past your preconceptions

Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagdendear life

Cricket Cherpin – yep, that’s his name – lives as an orphan in a group home in nowheresville Maine, looking out for the younger boys, worrying his caretakers and worrying about what comes next. He’s read his file and he knows they think he’s a little dangerous, but he’s not sure if his future holds danger or if he can regain control. Or if he should just cut his losses and dive off a cliff. He’s on the verge of getting kicked out of the home, but he’s got eight more months there before he turns 18 and finds out if he’s got what it takes to make it. This is a hilariously dark story for all you fans of John Green and Sherman Alexie.

Sneak Peek! “The shrinkadinks think I have a screw loose. Ain’t playing with a full deck. Whacked-out wiring. Missing marbles.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Scott Blagden)

Crash & Burn by Michael Hassancrash and burn

This is the story of Stephen Crashinksy (“Crash”) who saved his high school from a massive assault planned by David Burnett (“Burn”). In one instant, a regular morning at high school results in ADHD-sufferer Crash becoming a hero, and schizophrenic Burn becoming an anti-hero notorious for his crazy and dangerous scheme. It’s really the story of Crash and Burn’s ten-years growing up together , not as friends, never knowing their fates would be tied in such a strange way. This story is obviously not for the faint of heart, because it looks deeply at several very serious subjects: mental illness and school violence among them. That said, it’s raw, rad, funny, and crazy.

Sneak Peek! (from the prologue) “I’m not gonna lie to you. I’m not exactly the hero that everyone says I am.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Michael Hassan)

When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudeswhen we wuz

Francisco has fought his whole life to be bigger than his Spanish Harlem upbringing might let him. He earns good grades, plays killer basketball, and gets a big-time scholarship to college. When he’s there, he’s pushed and pulled to be the kid from the ‘hood that his college peers want him to be. When he’s back at home, he struggles to be himself and not the kid who goes to a posh school, just the guy that his girlfriend, Reignbow, and friends have come to rely on. But between these struggles, Francisco must make choices about himself, and how powerless he may be to define that.

Sneak Peek! “Are you ready to hear it? Let’s begin by saying what this story is not. For starters, it’s not crap. That’s not to say this story is any good – it’s just not packed with lies.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Greg Takoudes)

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