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Updated by Jen Blair on May 07, 2020
Headline for Book Pen Pals - High School - Spring 2020
Jen Blair Jen Blair
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Book Pen Pals - High School - Spring 2020

I love books that are written in different formats: letters (epistolary), diaries, emails, text messages, scrapbooks. Multiple perspectives, fewer words on the page - these are just the ticket for reading distraction right now.

All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

All of This Is True - Lygia Day Penaflor

This was an edge-of-your-seat thriller to read. Who do you trust? What if your heroes don't live up to your dreams?

From the publisher:
When Long Island teens Miri, Soleil, Penny, and Jonah befriend a bestselling YA novelist, they find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next novel, with devastating consequences. Told from different perspectives as interviews, journal entries, and book excerpts.

Because You'll Never Meet Me (Because You'll Never Meet Me, #1)

Because You’ll Never Meet Me - Leah Thomas

From the publisher:
Ollie, who has seizures when near electricity, lives in a backwoods cabin with his mother and rarely sees other people, and Moritz, born with no eyes and a heart defect that requires a pacemaker, is bullied at his high school, but when a physician who knows both suggests they begin corresponding, they form a strong bond that may get them through dark times.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

This is one of my most sacred and beloved books. I don't have words for how amazing this story is. GOAT

From the publisher:
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine - Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

From the publisher:
When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime.

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Dear Martin (Dear Martin, #1) by Nic Stone

Dear Martin - Nic Stone

An exploration of race relations in this country. What does it mean to be judged just by the color of your skin? How do we overcome the damage of that? A sequel coming this fall! (Dear Justyce)

From the publisher:
Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

From Twinkle, with Love - Sandhya Menon

From the publisher:
Told through letters, aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra learns a lesson about love while directing a movie for the Midsummer Night arts festival, in which her longtime crush and his twin brother are also participating.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces - Isabel Quintero

From the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy's pregnancy, her friend Sebastian's coming out, her father's meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand

The How & the Why - Cynthia Hand

This is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read about choices, friendship, and parenting. So, so good.

From the publisher:
Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for; they've given Cass a life she wouldn't trade for the world. She has everything she needs, but she has questions, too. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can't answer, no matter how much they love her. But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

I Hate Everyone But You (I Hate Everyone But You, #1)

I Hate Everyone But You - Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

From the publisher:
Told through a series of texts and emails, ... two best friends ... head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship survive the distance?

Nowhere Near You (Because You'll Never Meet Me, #2)

Nowhere Near You - Leah Thomas

Sequel to Because You'll Never Meet Me

From the publisher:
Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods--no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity--and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone. Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible.

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

Stolen - Lucy Christopher

From the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Gemma, a British city-dweller, is abducted while on vacation with her parents and taken to the Australian outback, where she soon realizes that escape attempts are futile, and in time she learns that her captor is not as despicable as she first believed.

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

Technically, You Started It - Lana Wood Johnson

From the publisher:
In Haley's high school there are two boys named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II (cousins), and one of them has started a text conversation with her, which becomes an all-consuming exchange between two people who see themselves as outsiders, but the only trouble is that Haley really does not know which Martin she is talking to, and actually meeting face-to-face may lead to an epic meltdown.

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

The Truth Commission - Susan Juby

From the publisher:
This was going to be the year Normandy Pale came into her own. The year she emerged from her older sister’s shadow—and Kiera, who became a best-selling graphic novelist before she even graduated from high school, casts a long one. But it hasn’t worked out that way, not quite. So Normandy turns to her art and writing, and the “truth commission” she and her friends have started to find out the secrets at their school. It’s a great idea, as far as it goes—until it leads straight back to Kiera, who has been hiding some pretty serious truths of her own.

We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra

We Contain Multitudes - Sarah Henstra

From the publisher:
Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship...and each other.

Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

Words on Bathroom Walls - Julia Walton

From the publisher:
When you can't trust your mind, trust your heart.

Adam is a recently diagnosed schizophrenic and journals to his therapist about family, friends, and first loves as he undergoes a new drug trial for the mental illness that allows him to keep his secret for only so long.