This list was compiled mostly by me flipping through the last 10 years of reading lists and pulling random-ish titles I don't think I've used for TTT before, and not even letting myself use titles with "the" or "a(n)." My actual ratings for these books range from 3-5 stars, because I apparently temporarily forgot what the first T in TTT stands for, but all of them are interesting enough in some manner that I'd like to give them a shout-out. Most of them, I suspect, are not well known, and the few that might be have been out of the spotlight for a while.
Presented in no actual order:
1. Earthgirl - Jennifer Cowan (2009)
[click for summary]Written partly in blog format (complete with comments posted by the earthgirl’s followers and detractors), the story follows the eco-evolution of 16-year-old Sabine Solomon. When she’s blindsided by a driver whose thrown-out McDonald’s leftovers leave her covered in plum sauce, Sabine throws the garbage back, causing a clash that’s captured on her friends’ videophones. Quickly the footage is shown on YouTube, and Sabine finds herself at the center of a heated eco-debate.
Kicking things off with a strong 2.74-star Goodreads rating (not a typo), I may have only given it 3 stars myself but this was honestly the first book I thought of when I saw the prompt, and we'll just quote my 2010 review: "Hahaha! 3.5 and I'm tempted to give it 4 stars just for being the perfect representation of idealistic teenage eco-warrior nuttiness, complete with blog entries, condensed into a practically tangible bit of delicious hilarity. It takes talent plus a helping of magic to so completely capture the attitude in text like that."
2. Plague - Jean Ure (1991)
Three teenagers attempt to survive on their own when a devastating plague sweeps London.
One of the first books I ever read about a deadly pandemic/post-apocalyptic setting. It stuck with me. It feels timely at the moment.
3. Orleans - Sherri L. Smith (2013)
After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.
I will talk up this fantastic standalone post-apocalytpic world to anyone who will listen, and continually mourn that of ALL the trilogies in the world that would have worked better as standalones, this is not one of them.
P.S. I didn't like it as much as the above, but I'd also like to give a bonus shout-out to her excellent single-word-title WWII novel Flygirl, about a light-skinned black girl who wants to train as a pilot but has to present herself as white in order to do so.
4. Backwater - Joan Bauer (2005)
Expected to continue her family's long history of becoming prominent lawyers, Ivy Breedlove finds a small handful of Breedlove women who had the courage to break the mold, including her reclusive Aunt Josephine, about whom no one speaks.
All right, time to dial down the drama and escape to peaceful quiet of a mountain cabin, where one young girl with a passion for family history is about to take a midwinter hike up to find the aunt who lives there alone and happily so, with few to no modern conveniences and only nature and a pet wolf for company.
5. Hit - Lorie Ann Grover (2014)
High school senior Sarah takes a poetry class led by Mr. Haddings, a student teacher from the nearby University of Washington, and finds herself using her poetry journal to subtly declare her feelings for him, but everything changes when she is hit by a car.
No, no, that's too flip. The thing I love about this book is that while it's short, this summary still only describes, like, the first 20 pages. The vast majority of the book is up-to-the-minute detail about the particulars of rescuing a pedestrian struck down by a car, her immediate hospital care through the next few days, and some of the police/legal follow-up to boot. To quote the rest of my review: "It's everything that most TV shows skip over so they can have a plot or something, without getting bogged down in medical jargon the way Grey's Anatomy would," and very excellent for my hurt/comfort-oriented mind.
Also, Mr. Haddings is the one who hit her, so the chapters trade off between her care/recovery and his guilt-wracked worry, a pot sweetened by the fact that there was mutual if unacknowledged attraction between them, a.k.a. things that I love about the student/teacher trope without any of the garbage. I've read this one a couple of times and it always impresses me. Would be 5 stars if not for the fact that I hate basically all of Sarah's family members/friends except her dad.
6. Hooked - Catherine Greenman (2011)
[click for summary]Thea Galehouse has always known how to take care of herself. With a flighty club-owner mom and a standoffish, recovering-alcoholic dad, Thea has made her own way in her hometown of New York, attending the prestigious and competitive Stuyvesant High School. But one chat with Will, a handsome and witty senior, and she's a goner—completely hooked on him and unable to concentrate on anything else.
"Bad boy" is not a trope that has ever appealed to me, especially not when the guy fails to prove himself worth it. But as a plot device to create the story of a teenage pregnancy and a relationship that it seems at first will not only survive it but thrive, he works. I think my review says it best, but the tl;dr version is that the writing quality is exceptional even when the characters are The Worst, and this is an extremely realistic take on teenage hormones, young parenthood, and a post-secondary path that doesn't lead directly to college even when that was the original plan.
7. Whipporwhill - Joseph Monninger (2015)
[click for summary]Clair Taylor’s neighbors are what locals call whippoorwills, the kind of people who fill their yards with rusted car parts and old broken furniture. Clair tries to ignore the ugly junk, but when a black dog named Wally is chained up to a pole in the yard next door, Clair can’t look the other way. She takes it upon herself to save Wally, and the immediate connection she has with the lovable dog catches her off-guard. Even more surprising is her developing relationship with Danny Stewart, a boy trying to escape the violent storm cloud that hangs over his family.
Speaking of not liking bad boys...somehow I have another one. But the positive thing about this book is that it's not really about how Hot and Awesome the boy is so much as that he's a boy, and he's interested in her and she's never been in a relationship before, so she's willing to try it out (it's only a PG-rated romance). Ultimately, though, she's there for his dog. (Monninger is a dog guy and animals are always the strongest part of his books, which is nice since strong animal focus is something of a rarity in YA.)
8. Danza! - Lynn Hall (1981)
A love story between a Puerto Rican boy and his stallion raised from birth; or, a fictionalized account of the true story behind how the Paso Fino breed was introduced to the United States. I knew I could get a Lynn Hall book into this set!
9. Ivy - Julie Hearn (2006)
[click for summary]Ivy, the youngest in a family of thieves, scoundrels, and roustabouts, is declared useless by her father from the day she is born. But that's only if you look at her but don't see, for Ivy has a quality that makes people take notice. It's more than beauty -- and it draws people toward her. Which makes her the perfect subject for an aspiring painter named Oscar Aretino Frosdick, a member of the pre-Raphaelite school of artists. Thinking only of the money, Ivy's greedy cousins order her to sit for Oscar. But their "nice little earner" has sinister consequences...
My favorite Julie Hearn historical that I need to reread, because the plot details have slipped away. I just remember instantly falling head over heels for the title character and thinking her as enchanting, arresting, and iconic as any Dickens character.
10. Trafficked - Kim Purcell (2012)
An unusual premise for YA, and a serious one: the story of an Eastern European girl trapped under false pretenses into domestic servitude -- as a housekeeper/nanny, not sexual in nature per se, but very much resulting in her being a poorly treated, unpaid prisoner of the household, with no recourse against the unwanted attentions of the husband.
P.S. Special shout-out to actual favorite single-word title that I forgot about because it's not on a reading list, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's classic and my personal childhood favorite, Shiloh.
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