New series for struggling readers: Urban Underground and Cutting Edge

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I’m looking forward to talking to our READ 180 classes this week about some of the series we’ve added for teens who are improving their skills. here are a few that I like, with a review of a book from each series.

Urban Underground Series

If You Really Loved Me by Anne Schraff

Destini Fletcher hates everything about school at Harriett Tubman High except the opportunity it offers for meeting guys. Destini, a junior, has never had a boyfriend. She thinks of herself as plain and of her clothes as boring. She worries about being too fat although she’s in the slim range (size 6).

Destini’s mom doesn’t want her thinking about boyfriends. She wants her to do well in school and become ready for college.

When Tyron notices her, Destini falls for him fast. Although her teachers have been telling her she’s smart and should apply herself in school, it is only after she finds some happiness in a new relationship that she does apply herself and study. She is more cheerful and starts to help around the house. At the same time, a girl from school, Alonee, gets Destini to go to an overnight camp out to help underprivileged kids. Destini enjoys being a ‘big sister’ to one of the girls.

But problems arise. Tyron thinks that helping the kids is stupid—that those kids are just juvenile delinquents. He also makes fun of some nice people at school and seems to follow all the directions of his friend Marco, who has money, but is a jerk.

So Destini is confused about who Tyron really is. But when Tyron starts showing signs of jealousy and rage, she has the more serious concern for her safety. Is Tyron an abuser of women like his father?

Cutting Edge Series

The Only Brother by Caias Ward

The last time Andrew saw William was at Andrew‘s birthday party where loudmouth William criticized him so much that Andrew left. But that was nothing new. William was always on Andrew‘s case. And now he was lying in the hospital, brain dead. Andrew is full of rage.

So why not lash out and hurt everyone else? Online, publically. Or by smashing a fist into the wall. Maybe dance on your brother’s grave? How about hitting the parents who have neglected you in order to care for your sick brother? Maybe even neglect all friendships and end up a loner?

Why didn’t Andrew’s parents value his artistic talents, when they managed to honor everything that William did? William suffered nerve damage at birth from a forceps delivery.  Were the obstacles he overcame so much more important than what Andrew is trying to do?

How would that make you feel if you were Andrew?

Andrew may have to accept that his artistic values clash with what his parents deem as success, which is much more traditional.

But the worst thing for Andrew is that there will never be an opportunity to repair the relationship with his brother or find closure.

Or will there? When you don‘t believe in ghosts, how can your brother speak to you from beyond the grave?


About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
This entry was posted in Hi-Low/Quick Read, Read 180, Uncategorized, Young Adult Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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