There is no way I can possibly keep up with all the great books out there. However, middle grade and YA books are just faster reads than some of the adult books that are stacking up all over my house. Here are three great choices if you are looking for a great story and have a few hours you can spend reading.
Lemons by Melissa Savage
Lemonade has been dealt some big lemons in life. Her mother has died and she is being taken to live with her grandfaher, a man she doesn't know. Although she is used to city living, she is quickly busy helping Tobin, an eleven year old neighbor boy with his Bigfoot Detective Agency. The two have many adventures together looking for Bigfoot, and the small town Lem thought would never feel like home, slowly does.
The book is set in 1975, which is important for two plot points: Tobin's father has not returned from the Vietnam War. Although he was missing in action, he was eventually found, but still has not returned home. Spotting Bigfoot was a craze at it's peak in the 1970s and Savage's characters reflect the obsession many people had with this legend
Savage's novel is sweet with a little heartbreak and hope thrown in. Tween readers will enjoy this novel and the adventures that Lem and Tobin have as they hunt Bigfoot and look for happiness.
The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh
A lot of tween readers will be able to identify with Bea. She is dealing with some friend issues as some close friends find other people to hang out with - a time when some girls are maturing more quickly than others. Instead of eating alone at school, she finds a room where another student, Will, spends his lunch hour. The two get to be friends, Bea accepting Will's peculiarities (never officially stated in the book, but perhaps on the autism spectrum or OCD) and the two try to find a way to experience a labyrinth in New York City that Will has a minor obsession with, but that is closed to the public.
Yeh tackles some subjects middle grade readers will easily identify with: shifting friendships, acceptance of others with differences, the addition of a baby to the family, and feelings of not fitting in. This is a fun novel and readers will love Bea and her honesty.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
I thought this was an adorably sweet romance featuring two Indian American teens that are trying to decide how much of their Indian culture will play a part in their American teen-age experience.
Dimple has no plans to date anyone soon - and she especially has not intentions of being a part of an arranged marriage. She is ecstatic when her parents agree to let her be a part of a six week coding camp and have a little freedom doing something she loves. When on the first day Rishi introduces himself to her by declaring her to be his future spouse, Dimple immediately realizes her parents agreed to the coding camp because the son of some Indian friends would also be attending - and this would be a way they could spend time together.
Dimple tries to get rid of Rishi at first, but soon his kindness becomes evident to her. Although some readers might consider this storyline predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked how gentlemanly Rishi was and appreciated his respect for his parents and his culture. I also liked Dimple's need to find her own way and appreciated her pushing back a little when it came to acting like a traditional Indian female. Menon has plenty of other action in this novel. There are subplots involving the coding competition at the camp, Dimple's roommate, and Rishi's brother.
While other reviewers (at this point, anyway), aren't giving it as much love as I am, I think this is a great novel for middle school and high school readers. Although I'm not even close to my teen years anymore, I appreciated this book for the fun romance it is and enjoyed Menon's deeper message (intentional or not) of pursuing one's passions, and getting to know someone before you judge them.