Out of the Easy – Ruta Sepetys

Out of the easySet against the vivid background of 1950s New Orleans, this is the riveting story of seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine. The daughter of a prostitute, Josie is determined to escape the life she was born into. Working in a local bookstore in exchange for a safe place to sleep and cleaning the brothel to earn money, Josie dreams of attending an elite college far away from the clutches of her scheming mother. But then a mysterious death in the city threatens Josie’s plans and the murky underworld lures her in deeper as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn. Feisty, intelligent and street smart, Josie is surrounded by a cast of colourful characters; some who will do anything to protect her, some who are determined to do her harm.

Love, mystery, murder, blackmail and friendship combine in this rich historical novel of secrets and intrigue.

Out of the easy website

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story – Linda Sue Park

7981456A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Linda Sue Park’s website.

Linda Sue Park discusses A Long Walk to Water:

Words in the dust – Trent Reedy

words in the dustA portrait of Afghanistan through the eyes of one brave girl, Zulaikha.  She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her difficult stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft palate fixed. In the meantime, with the support of her father and sister, Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her — “Inshallah,” God willing.  Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her Afghan poetry, and the Americans come to their village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha.

Inspired by a girl whom the author met in Afghanistan, this is not only a fascinating portrait of life in a country we hear about, yet rarely see from inside.

Fluttering butterflies

Red scarf girl : a memoir of the Cultural Revolution – Ji-li Jiang

The story opens with twelve-year old Jiang and her optimism for the future, with her absolute belief in Chairman Mao and her country, China. Soon, though, her family becomes ostracised by the regime as her grandfather used to be a landlord. Initially questioning her parents’ behaviour, Jiang even goes to the extent of trying to disassociate herself from them but she soon comes to wonder about the brutality and atrocities commited by the regime – including public beatings, bullying and murders – and ultimately questions government’s abuse of power.


A little piece of ground – Elizabeth Laird

Life under Israeli occupation isn’t easy for twelve-year-old Palestinian Karim and his friends. They need a place of escape, so they transform a little piece of ground in Ramallah into a soccer field where they can get away from family problems and the trials of occupation. However, the escape doesn’t last long with the town put under yet another Israeli curfew, and Karim – who only dreams of a little freedom – becomes a victim of the brutality of the occupying force who poses a constant danger, even to schoolboys.


Refugee boy – Benjamin Zephaniah

Based on the bitter conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, this story revolves around fourteen-year-old Alem who is taken to England on a ‘holiday’ by his father for protection. Left there alone, as his Ethiopian father goes back to look for his Eritrean mother, Alem is forced through the courts and the foster system with the hope of gaining political asylum. The difficulties he faces underscore the tragic circumstances which often frequent the lives of asylum seekers, and demonstrate the courage and humanity of individuals like Alem.

My school bookclub

Lionheart – Jesse Martin

Courageous and determined, Jesse Martin set off to sail around the world when he was aged just 18 – aiming to be the youngest person to ever sail solo non-stop around the globe. In a thirty-four foot yacht named Lionheart, he had no visitors, used no fossil fuels, received no supplies and did not step off the boat during this ten month journey. The overall message that even ordinary, young kids can follow their dreams and passions, is inspiring – even if the prose doesn’t always convey the excitment of the journey.