My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
Tara Feinstein has a decision to make: should she have a bat mitzvah? While she enjoys Hebrew School, Tara doesn’t want to forsake her Indian heritage. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is Tara’s story struggling to find an even balance between the two cultures that is uniquely hers. While fighting with her two best friends and befriending her enemies, Tara is determined to prove — and be accepted for — her two birthrights. The perils and stresses of young teenagers are all set against a Jewish backdrop and this novel encourages and promotes knowing and accepting others of culturally diverse backgrounds. A fun story with a hint of romance, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah demonstrates how being true to yourself and setting things at your own pace can help overcome any problems.
Winter Sky by Patricia Reilly Giff
Siria is a fire-chaser, but with good reason! When her mom passed away, Siria promised she’d take care of her father, a firefighter. Dad is her only family so she doesn’t mind ensuring his safety by sneaking out of bed to chase the fire trucks late at night. While keeping an eye on her father, Siria notices some odd occurrences: a shed on fire, a familiar green jacket, a dog in an abandon movie theater. When she begins to suspect the fires around town are acts of arson, she’s determined to solve this mystery and confront the arsonist. In solving the arson mystery, Siria discovers the true meaning of family and what it means to protect and take care of a loved one.
Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Kiara wishes she could be a superhero with a superpower, like her hero, Rogue from the X-Men. She already feels she’s a lot like her hero: they are both misunderstood girls who only want to have friends and help others. Kiara, self-diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, has trouble making friends. When Chad Elliott and his family move into her neighborhood, she is determined to keep his friendship even though he is mean-spirited. Kiara tells him about a BMX trail in the next city and they ride to meet high schoolers also interested in BMX stunts and racing. Once Kiara begins recording their stunts, she’s wanted by everyone! Her happiness is short-lived, however, when Chad’s terrible family secret catches up to both of them.
How I Became A Ghost by Tim Tingle
Isaac, a young Choctaw, has a few secrets. The first secret is his visions: he’s witnessed the deaths of his friends and family before they happen! He also has the ability to talk to ghosts. But the secret he doesn’t want to tell anyone — especially his family — is that he knows he will become a ghost soon. How I Became A Ghost is not only Isaac’s story of his life, his death, and his afterlife but also of the many Choctaws who lived and died during the tragic Trail of Tears — the forced removal of Native American tribes in the Southern United States. When Isaac befriends young Nita and Joseph, the three of them form an unlikely bond to rescue Nita’s older sister from the soldiers forcing them to leave their homes. When Isaac unburdens his secrets to his family and friends, he’s able to accept who and what he truly is and help his family and friends. The first in a trilogy, How I Became A Ghost is one boy’s moving, emotional, and harsh journey to accepting his fate and, despite the odds, doing everything he can to save others.