young adult books


cover image of Hurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal

Hurricane Kiss

by Deborah Blumenthal

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For sixteen-year-old Jillian McKay, the threat of Hurricane Danielle means a long car ride with her neighbors--including River Daughtry, the former star quarterback of Harrison High. The guy who was headed to glory until suddenly he disappeared to a West Texas juvenile detention center. Once cocky and flirtatious, he's now silent and angry. When their evacuation route is gridlocked, River is the first to recognize the danger they're in. Together he and Jillian set out to seek shelter in their abandoned high school. As they wait out the storm, they confront the past and realize survival is about more than just staying alive--it's about fighting for yourself.

"Hurricane Kiss" is a beautifully woven story of love, secrets, and survival. I was captivated by Jillian's and River's stories and the way Blumenthal artfully unfolds their past secrets alongside the present danger of a category 5 hurricane. Fast-paced and emotional--I couldn't put it down."
-Jillian Cantor, author of "Margot" and "The Hours Count"

Kirkus Review

Two teens find themselves alone as a Category 5 hurricane threatens Houston. Jillian lives next door to River, her school's former football star gone bad. The two white teens flee the hurricane with River's father, but they're quickly stuck in gridlock, with all the other evacuees. With the storm looming, River and Jillian feel they are sitting ducks, so they leave his stubborn dad with the car and run back to Houston to shelter in their empty, sturdy high school. Once they break in, the two flash back on incidents that reveal their back stories. As the book alternates between the viewpoints of Jillian and River, readers slowly learn why River was sent to juvenile detention and how his authoritarian and abusive football coach inflicted such damage. However, he saves Jillian's life during the storm and finally tells her his story. Blumenthal uses the chaos and violence of the storm as an effective backdrop for River's story, and the aftermath of the storm, with its massive cleanup, reflects the beginnings of his recovery. Readers expecting a romance between Jillian and River will finally be satisfied, but the focus remains on the character development of the two teens. Exciting descriptions of the savage storm sustain the suspense nicely. A neatly wrought, effective survival tale. (Fiction. 12-18)


School Library Journal, March 1, 2016
"A touching story mixed with breathtaking survival, the work was inspired by the author's real-life encounter with a terrifying story."


Booklist, March 15, 2016
"Readers won't be able to put this fast-paced novel down."



cover image of A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal

A Different Me

by Deborah Blumenthal

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Allie Johnston's secret wish since the day she was twelve is to have her nose done. But she hasn't told anyone--not her parents, or even her best friend, Jen. But when she starts visiting a plastic surgery discussion board on the Web, she finds people who get her, for the first time in her life. Her new friends, including two girls her age with vastly different backgrounds who share her obsession with changing their faces--but for very different reasons. A sharply written, insightful book about learning to be happy with who we are.


"Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan

Allie Johnston is obsessed with the bump on her nose, which makes her feel ugly and hence unlovable. She is smart and has some friends in school, but envies Amber, the prettiest girl in the school, who seems to have the perfect life. Allie sneers at camera-freak David Craig, who wears heavy eyeliner to school and she laughs about nerdy Florence. She meets two girls on a plastic surgery website. They live close to Manhattan and begin to spend time together, acting as a support group for planning their nose jobs. Allie is required to mentor students in her English class and discovers that perfect Amber's mother is suicidal and her father stays on the road for business because he cannot deal with his wife's problems-so much for having the perfect life. Allie and Amber become friends, but then Amber goes to stay with her older sister when her mother is hospitalized, so Allie mentors David. He, of course, has a very poignant reason for his eyeliner and paparazzi-like intrusions into other people's lives. Allie learns more and more about other people, discovering along the way that people admire her for the things she does and are not as bothered by the bump on her nose as she is. She spends less and less time with her close friend, Jen, and in the end rather rudely tells her off. This is a good read with quite a powerful message about believing in oneself. There are lots of points in this book for classroom discussion.

Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan; Ages 13 up.


School Library Journal 08/01/2014 Gr 7 Up - Allie wants plastic surgery to make her nose more appealing. She has kept this secret for years from her parents and her best friend, Jen. When she turns 15 she decides to be proactive. With encouragement from two new friends she's made in an online chat room for girls with similar desires, Allie finally tells Jen and her parents that she wants the plastic surgery. As Allie plans the most important decision of her life, she's tasked with mentoring the most popular girl in school, and a mysterious boy who likes capturing people at their most unattractive times with his camera begins to target Allie. She begins to realizes that no one is perfect. Whether it is a nose job, a troubled mother, or a sick brother, everyone has problems. After that realization, Allie has second thoughts about the surgery, wondering if a new nose will actually make her happy. Blumenthal takes the time to develop the protagonist. Allie struggles with her parents, her friends, and her self-esteem, and she becomes a stronger person for it The secondary characters, however, are more predictable. The language is authentically teen, but the narrative's pacing is choppy and plot jumps sometimes disrupt the flow of the story. However, despite the labored writing style, teens will identify with Allie's struggles.

-Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX


cover image of Mafia Girl by Deborah Blumenthal


Mafia Girl

by Deborah Blumenthal

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"What's in a name? Everything...if you have my name." At her exclusive Manhattan high school, seventeen-year-old Gia is the most hated/loved girl in school. Why? Her father doesn't have a boss. He is the boss--the capo di tutti cappi, boss of all bosses. Not that Gia cares. But life gets complicated when she meets a cop she calls "Officer Hottie" and feels a surprising chemistry. Then Vogue magazine wants to feature Gia in a fashion spread about real-life bad girls. On top of that, she's running for class president. Can Gia step out from under her dad's shadow and show everyone there's more to her than "Mafia Girl"?

"Deborah Blumenthal's account of a don's daughter is at once hysterically funny and surprisingly moving, and will have readers saying, 'Leave the gun - take the cannoli.' Wildly entertaining."

-Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of Little Women and Me


From Youth Advocates Reviews

VOYA Reviews 2014 April

Out for a joyride in a "borrowed" Porsche 911 with her "separated-at-birth best friend" Ro (short for Rosemarie), Gia is not the least bit worried when they get pulled over for speeding, despite the fact that Ro only has a learner's permit and they have an open six-pack of beer. Why should she worry when she knows her father's lawyer will take of things? After all, Gia's father is the capo di tutti cappi, boss of all bosses, in New York City. What she does not anticipate, however, is how hard she will fall for arresting "Officer Hottie," aka Michael Cross. Despite being asked to model for Vogue in an upcoming "Under Age and Over the Top" feature, Gia cannot get Michael out of her mind. Between running for class president at her elite private school, preparing for her Vogue debut, and watching her older brother get ready to follow in her father's footsteps even as her father faces life imprisonment, Gia continues to find ways to get Michael's attention, on her own terms Gia's rough language and devil-may-care attitude hide a surprisingly naïve young woman verging on adulthood. Likewise, below Mafia Girl's sensational plot elements lies a more substantive coming-of-age story, avoiding neither realities nor consequences, even though it does avoid being didactic. While there are certainly reasons to weigh this purchase, Mafia Girl epitomizes the exhortation "Don't judge a book by its cover" and may well entice older, reluctant readers.

-Kim Carter

This book has a lot of dramatic action, which makes it interesting. It will catch readers' interest right away, with Gia getting arrested and calling the cop "hottie." They will want to find out what happens next. Girls who like to read books that seem realistic will enjoy this book. 5Q, 4P.

-Lexis Colon, Teen Reviewer 4Q 4P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.


From RT Book Reviews

The twinkling backdrop of Manhattan and the budding romance between two opposites will make YA fans adore this novel. The characters are well thought out, adding to the allure of Blumenthal's uncommon storyline. Just one rule: Don't rat on your friends if they try to steal this book from you. Seventeen-year-old Gia has to deal with the typical high school problems of running for class president and falling in love, but one thing is holding her back from really enjoying life: her father. He's a mob boss, and her and her family's names are splattered all over the tabloids. When she gets pulled over, meeting the hottest policeman ever, things get a little complicated. Will she ever make a name for herself besides "Mafia Girl"? (ALBERT WHITMAN, Mar., 256 pp., $16.99, ISBN: 9780807549117, HC, 14 & Up)

-Jaime A. Geraldi


From PW Reviews 2013 December

Gia may be a smart, pretty, and hardworking 17-year-old, but she's also the daughter of the "capo di tutti capi," the boss of bosses. The rumors that her father will have teachers "whacked" if she doesn't do well aren't true, but she is driven to her Manhattan private school by an armed bodyguard. Blumenthal (The Lifeguard) tells a good story-there's Gia's friendship with rich but lonely Clive, her uphill fight for the school presidency, her instant chemistry with the cop she calls "Officer Hottie," and her father's declining fortunes-but the book suffers from a kind of moral blindness. Readers will root for Gia to live her own life, loathe the snobs who look down on her, and feel bad when Gia's family loses everything, but there's still the never-specified human cost of what her father does. There are consequences to his actions, yes, but the novel wants readers to both sympathize with Gia and be impressed by her lifestyle in a way that requires some selective vision. Ages 13-up. Agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Mar.)


cover image of The Lifeguard by Deborah BlumenthalThe Lifeguard

by Deborah Blumenthal

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Read an excerpt of The Lifeguard.


It's a turbulent summer for Sirena Shane. Back in Texas, her family is splitting apart, but at her aunt's strange beach cottage in Rhode Island, everything is different. Especially with him around.


He's the lifeguard with extraordinary looks and mystical powers, who's unlike any boy she's ever known. He's the one who both saves her and makes her feel lost at sea. So she begins an unforgettable summer of obession and discover.

"A gorgeously written, richly atmospheric novel about a sixteen-year-old girl's life-changing summer on the beach, where lonely ghosts, an unexpected job, and a mysterious lifeguard challenge everything she knows-in the best of ways."

- Melissa Senate, author of The Mosts

From Voya
In the summer of her sixteenth year, Sirena's parents announce that they are getting divorced and send her to Rhode Island to stay with her aunt. She leaves with a message from her friend, "arrive the same, leave different." Here Sirena spends time with an aunt that lets her truly be herself; Antonio, an artist who inspires art in Sirena; and a young boy named Cody who lies in the hospital struggling to survive. Sirena also falls in love with a mysterious lifeguard named Pilot who seems to have magical powers to heal, which she will soon find herself needing. Sirena is a fiery, headstrong young lady who grows leaps and bounds into her skin over the course of the summer, and young teen readers will enjoy reading her story. At times the prose is filled with sage wisdom and gorgeous atmosphere, but other times Sirena comes across as a petulant twelve-year-old in whom someone like Pilot could never be interested. Sirena's voice seems inconsistent, although those ups and downs in maturity are typical for a teen. The writing style is reminiscent of Sarah Dessen, and the magical summer concept brings to mind The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares. At the end of the day, this is a touching love story with just a hint of magic and mysticism to please teen romance readers.
-Karen Jensen

From Kirkus Reviews
A girl spends the summer at her aunt's beach house and falls for a fascinating, handsome lifeguard with supernatural healing powers.

From Booklist
With her parents divorcing, 16-year-old Sirena travels from Texas to Rhode Island to spend the summer with her Aunt Ellie at her seaside home. Though she misses her friend Marissa, she is soon distracted, and later obsessed, by gorgeous, enigmatic lifeguard Pilot, and puzzled by his inexplicable gifts: he resuscitates a seemingly drowned man and weirdly appears whenever he is needed. There are other mysteries, too, like Sirena's vivid, disturbing dreams and her seemingly haunted bedroom. While at the beach, Sirena meets elderly artist Antonio, who provides friendship and inspiration. But the ocean holds secrets and unforeseen dangers, including an incident that jeopardizes Sirena's life. Ultimately, her summer experience proves transformative in diverse, sometimes mystical ways. Incorporating suspense, fantasy, and romance, this entertaining read interweaves issues of self-esteem with family issues and coping with change. Though events can be confusing chronologically, and occasionally elements are predictable, the descriptive prose and some well-drawn supporting characters, especially nature-lover Ellie and Antonio, make for an escape that paranormal romance fans will especially enjoy.
-Shelle Rosenfeld

cover image of Fat Camp by Deborah BlumenthalFat Camp

by Deborah Blumenthal

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Camp! Freedom, first kisses, summer fun...but not at Camp Calliope, a prison camp for the overweight. That's where Cam Phillips' parents have shipped her off to eat controlled portions, endure rigorous exercise, and sleep in a bunk full of girls who'd rather exchange recipes than ghost stories and gossip. Except for one cool girl from Texas, Faith Masters-who's normal enough to help her stay sane and temporarily replace her best friend, Evie. And then there's Jesse-the only thing close enough to drool-worthy on the camp's menu. Cam can totally relate to him, since his basketball-coach Dad sounds a lot like her perfectly thin, successful Mom. It looks like for the next eight weeks, only the issues (and not the food) on Cam's plate will be supersized.

From Entertainment
By her own definition, Cam Phillips is ''pudgy.'' ''And don't ask me what I weigh, I'm not telling,'' she informs the reader testily. She becomes even testier when her image-conscious parents — thin, the pair of them — pack her off to a weight-loss camp. What happens that summer to Cam, and to the friends she makes at camp (and the friend she leaves back at home), might be the stuff of melodrama, but it's the stuff teenagers will relate to, no matter what they weigh.

Recommended ages: 13 and up

From ellegirl books
Teen girls sharing a cabin and late-night chats: Not too unusual, right? Except that they are all overweight-one is bulimic, one is depressed and one's a drama queen. Welcome to Fat Camp, where everyone exercises a zillion hours a day and eats like birds. Main character Cam Phillip is lovably chunky and honest, and the book, surprisingly, isn't an annoyingly virtuous diatribe about weight loss.

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