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STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

SCARS book cover

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself--before it's too late.

Awards: #1 in the Top 10 ALA Quick Picks, ALA's Rainbow List, a Governor General Literary Award Finalist, Staff Pick for Teaching Tolerance.

Yes, it's my own arm on the cover of SCARS.

HUNTED book cover

Caitlyn, a telepath in a world where having any paranormal power at all can kill her, must decide between saving herself or saving the world.

Awards: A finalist for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award.


Kate sees visions of the future--but only when she has an asthma attack. When she "sees" her sister being beaten, and a schoolmate killing herself, Kate must trigger more attacks--but that could kill her.

Awards: 2013 Gold Winner, Wise Bear Digital Awards, YA Paranormal category.

STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

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Teen Books That Have Something to Say

M or F?


M or F?
by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts
Razorbill/Penguin,(October 2005)
ISBN-10: 1595140344

My rating:

Frannie shook her head. "There's nothing to know."
"That's so not true," I said. This was about the hundreth deep dark secret Frannie had ever told me, but as far as I knew, it was the first one she had ever held back before telling. That meant something. I tried wearing her down with a heavy stare for a few seconds but then realized something else.
"Wait a minute. This isn't just an eye candy thing. You're big smitten, aren't you?" That's why she wasn't talking. If silence speaks louder than words, right then Frannie's silence was saying crush, crush, crush, which is different than hot for, hot for, hot for. Hot was all she'd even been for anyone until now.
I walked my fingers across the table and up her arm. "So what are we going to do about this?" When I reached her ear, she squirmed off to the side.
"We," she told me, "are not going to do anything." "Yeah," I said. "That's exactly the kind of line people give right before they do the thing they just said they aren't going to do."
"This is real life, sweetie," she said. "Not a movie. Remember?"
"It's the same thing," I argued.
--M or F?, Lisa Papademetriou, Chris Tebbetts, p. 4-5

Best friends Marcus and Frannie are "brain twins"--they think alike, can complete each others' sentences. They are both looking for love--and both looking for a boy. But when Frannie gets a crush on a cute guy, Jeffrey, she feels too insecure to make a move. Marcus encourages and pushes her, and finally helps her to talk to Jeffrey through the school chat board. But when Jeffrey continues those conversations, pretending to be Frannie without her knowledge, and finds himself falling in love with Jeffrey, things start getting complicated.

This is a funny, enjoyable book that moves quickly. The dialogue and thinking are refreshing, alive, and vibrant--and often have that gay twist that makes it seem that much more fresh. The dialogue also sounds current ("Um...ew?" p. 9).

The observations of the school and teen life feel real. Marcus being gay is slipped into the story naturally, as a regular aspect to his character, something that is just accepted. It is refreshing to read a book where the problem is not the character being gay.

The chapters move nicely between Marcus and Frannie, often picking up where the action or thought left off with the previous character. Marcus, especially, is so well drawn and unique that we know immediately when it is him talking, what he thinks, and what his problems are. He seems like the hero of the story. He also has depth and complexity. It's nice, too, how the reader can see that Marcus is lying to himself before he does.

However, Frannie does not feel like as full or real a character as Marcus does, or even as interesting. At times, she feels almost like a puppet for the authors, putting words into her mouth and using her to further the plot and contrast Marcus. This is most glaring when she discovers Marcus' betrayal of her trust; her responses don't ring true, and feel like an over-the-top support of the gay character and his situation without real balance. Jeffrey, too, feels flat, even more than Frannie does. It was hard to see what Frannie saw in Jeffrey, beyond his looks, especially based on his interactions with her. Still, the rest of the book is so enjoyable and fresh that the overall enjoyment is not lost.

It is easy to have sympathy and empathy for Marcus; the book is slanted towards him, and we are in his head and awareness a lot. What helps reader sympathy even more is how the authors cleverly showed us in many ways that Frannie and Jeffrey were NOT connecting, even though they wanted to think they were. It is also clear that Frannie and Marcus have a strong friendship, and truly care about each other.

There are also a few plot events that feel slightly forced or unbelievable, but nothing that completely stops the forward motion of the story.

There are some nice showing-not-telling moments, especially when a character says and thinks one thing, but acts and feels another. There are also some hints laid out throughout the story that are fun to pick up on, and that help a reader figure out some secrets or guess what might happen next.

Marcus' actions and reactions, including his denial, feel very real. It is nice, too, that Marcus' being gay is not the issue of this book; his gayness is just an accepted part of him.

There is some good tension in this book, as well as intrigue and fun, and a nice movement toward the climax. And there are some great plot twists that add to the pleasure and satisfaction of the story.

Papademetriou and Tebbetts have done a great job at producing an enjoyable, fun story with some depth. This is a book that should appeal to both gay/lesbian and straight readers; it is a fun, romantic mix-up.

-Added June 2006

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Go back to Out and Proud: Great Lesbian & Gay Fiction to find great Teen Books That Have Something to Say.

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