A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review A List of Cages by Robin Roe! Julian doesn’t feel as though he belongs anywhere, at school or at home where he lives with his uncle. He likes to hide in a small secret room behind the school stage where he can be alone and no one knows where he is. I immediately felt protective of Julian and hated how people assumed that he was stupid and treated him horribly. He’s had a tragic past and he’s presently living in an unhappy world. Adam knows Julian because his family fostered him for a while after the death of his parents until Julian’s Uncle Russell stepped into their lives and took Julian away. Uncle Russell is a force to be reckoned with and has more issues than anyone realizes. This tragic and touching realistic fiction story earns 5 stars!

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

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The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight is an intense mystery that doesn’t completely unravel. Wylie has lost her mother in an accident and she can’t seem to overcome her loss. On top of this stress, her best friend Cassie is missing. Cassie’s boyfriend, Jasper, comes to Wylie’s house and shows her the texts he’s received from Cassie begging him to help her. Wylie and Jasper go on a treasure hunt of sorts looking for Cassie as they receive small clues a little at a time. They finally reach Cassie and the three of them find themselves in a situation comparable to a horror movie setting. Every time I thought I had the mystery figured out, something would change proving me wrong. The suspense and underlying mystery kept me reading to the end where, once again everything changed. I’m anxious to read the sequel, The Scattering. I give The Outliers 4 stars for a story that dropped the floor out from under me!

Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews. Echo wakes up in a strange place and she’s having a difficult time getting her bearings. It’s too dark to make out much and as she’s feeling around she touches something stringy like hair. She realizes she’s not in her bedroom or even her home. She hears creepy laughing and screaming and what she thinks might be a cutting tool. She’s spooked and terrified and she’s told by a scary nurse/nun that she’s now in Middle House. The other residents are young people also and Echo assumes that Middle House is an orphanage but the truth freaks her out even more. She learns to accept being a Middle House resident and gains friendship and help from the others as she discovers why and how she was brought to Middle House. The beginning of the book led my mind one direction and the continuation led it to a completely different direction. I don’t want to give the mystery away because it’s the reason I kept reading. Reminiscent of Everlost by Neal Shusterman, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and a tiny bit of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Bad Girl Gone is a supernatural romance surrounded in mystery, 4 stars.

Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and review Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi! Kai and her parents are consumed with grief over the suicide of her sister Jen. I like how the story covers their grief and how each of them handles everything differently from finding Jen, her letters to each family member, the funeral preparations, their relationships with others and work and school when they try to get back to “normal”. All of this is covered in the first half of the book then Kai hits rock bottom and her friends and family don’t know how to help her, so she’s sent to a grief camp. This turns out to be the best possible choice. Small group discussions and activities help the teenagers learn how to move forward without forgetting the loved ones they have lost. Helping others seems to be the best way to overcome sadness because of thinking about someone else instead of just yourself heals broken hearts. I’m impressed with this book, the realistic feel of it, and I fell in love with the characters and wanted them to heal. The background of the story is interesting also and I appreciate the author being willing to share her personal experiences along with her pain. The resources included at the end will help many readers know where to find the help they need; 5 stars for a beautiful story of experiencing loss and the hope that brings light back into our lives.