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They finally purchased a ball peen hammer that Christensen carried with him while Westberg carried the revolver. The boys arrived in Watertown, SD on Wednesday night. At the hotel, they gave the names of N. According to the night clerk on duty, the boys had looked well dressed and older than their real ages.

During their stay in the Watertown hotel, the youth further detailed their plan for holding up a lone traveler. They agreed upon a signal which Westberg was to give his colleague, who would be seated in the rear, by folding down his second and third fingers while keeping the first and fourth fingers extended.

They were set to put their plan into motion on Thursday morning when they hailed a ride from an elderly man driving a Ford sedan. However, as Christensen was climbing in the backseat of the car, the handle of the hammer protruded from inside his shirt where the potential weapon was concealed.

The man became suspicious and watched them closely, so no hand signal was given and the man dropped the boys off at Redfield at about noon. They caught another ride in a truck driven by a wool buyer to Gettysburg. The boys later explained that they did not move on this driver because they did not want a truck for their travels. On Friday morning, after having stayed in Gettysburg, they decided again to try an altered plan; if possible, they would select a woman victim.

They caught a lift on a truck from Gettysburg out to the intersection of highways and 83, about five miles west of Gettysburg. Highway 83 was then on the east side of Onida. This was around in the morning. When Miss Carey pulled over, Christensen climbed in the back seat, as pre-arranged, and Westberg climbed in the front. After traveling for 15 or 20 minutes, Westberg gave the signal and checked that his partner was aware.

Suddenly, Westberg reached down and pulled the keys from the ignition, while pulling the gun out of his pocket at the same time. At the same time, Christensen leaned forward from the back seat and hit the girl over the head with the hammer which he had concealed within his shirt. Miss Carey then reached for the door handle and attempted to escape the car, but Westberg shot again, hitting her in the back, below the right shoulder.

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By this time, the car had turned into the ditch, and Miss Carey fell from the vehicle. The boys picked her up and loaded her into the back of the car, although she pleaded with them to be left where she was. The placed her on the floor in the rear of the car and covered her with their own luggage. Westberg got behind the wheel to drive while Christensen sat beside him in the front seat. As they were driving, Miss Carey partly rose off the floor, and Christensen hit her over the head with the hammer once more. Getting out and going again, the boys then noticed another automobile following them and became nervous.

At this point, Westberg again lost control of the car and it entered the ditch again and the car flipped over on its top. Hiatt stopped at the crash site and found Miss Carey there, who told him she had been shot. Not wanting to move the girl, Hiatt went to a nearby farm and retrieved a farm wife to stay with the girl while he traveled on to Onida for help.

Ryan took a statement from Miss Carey at the hospital, which included a description of the boys. Meanwhile, a posse was organized to search for the youths who had shot Miss Carey. The youths were found hiding in a patch of Russian thistle a few miles north of Onida about three hours later. The two boys jumped up and began running. Christiansen stopped upon the order of the men, but Westberg continued running until a couple of shots were fired over his head. The boys were brought before Miss Carey just prior to her death, and she was able to identify them.

At that time, South Dakota did not have a capital punishment, although a life sentence was mandatory for murder. Paula Barber had made the connection to the crime committed north of Onida and the Eastern Star. I just found your blog and am SO glad I did. I read Batavias Graveyard when it first came out and loved every page of it. We seem to have the same kind of fascination with history and how mankind was able to endure and experience things that today we can only imagine.

I have a fascination with geography, exploration etc. The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes is still one of my favorites. He met John Dillinger there. William Heirens, who spent a little over 65 years in prison, having died this year, , was second. Richard Honeck should be considered the 3rd longest serving inmate, having served 64 years.

He recently passed away at age 88 in the New Jersey state mental hospital. Honeck was 20, he was born on January 5 and was arrested in September One question, was he tried by the state of Missouri or Illinois? Because it says his hometown was in Missouri but he was in an Illinois prison. Unlike today where life in Illinois is without parole, until life in Illinois meant parole after 11 years. One was a 21 year old named Johnson Van Dyke Grigsby who after a poker bar fight, went to a pawnshop and bought a knife and got into another fight with the same person resulting in the other being stabbed to death.

He did this in and was convicted of 2nd degree murder in and sentenced to life in prison and sent to the Indiana state penitentiary where he stayed until being paroled in at the age of 89 and spent the rest of his life in a nursing home, dying in at age It is remarkable how a few people managed to spend 60 years or more in prison when comparing that an average life sentence for a capital offence at the time was 7 years and as far as I am aware none of the ones I mentioned were convicted of capital murder. Today Louisiana is the harshest jurisdiction on average with the sole possibility of the Federal government.

Before however life in Louisiana meant much less than natural life. However unlike in most states of today, most offenders could receive parole in their sentence. In Louisiana parole came after one third of their sentence was completed. This means a prisoner sentenced to 15 years could still be released within 5 years on good behaviour.

In Louisiana abolished parole for lifers however life was never mandatory at the time. However unlike the modern lifers who tend to only get out under mitigating factors or terminal illness, and usually after decades in prison, the lifer in Louisiana in those days was paroled after serving an average of 10 years and 6 months by the governor, and most lifers in Louisiana at this time were in for capital murder, some even being taken off death row prior to getting life.

Then in the laws changed almost overnight. Suddenly a mandatory life without parole sentence was imposed on all convicted of 1st degree murder after introduction of this sentence, and then ordered all 2nd degree murderers serve a minimum 20 years of a life sentence, then in the law said 2nd degree murderers must now serve 40 years and on July 14 the state of Louisiana said all life sentences from now on would be without parole. This means the only parole eligible lifers in Louisiana now are a handful of 2nd degree murderers who committed their crimes between and , the only time since where life sentences came with the possibility of parole.

Another state that is notorious for their harsh penalties when it comes to murder is Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania life imprisonment without parole is mandatory both for 1st and 2nd degree murder just as Louisiana a third state mandating life without parole for both degrees is South Dakota however at this moment I am not certain when they enacted these laws. Pennsylvania had abolished parole for life sentences in however it did not remain a mandatory sentence.

The handful given life did not serve a real life sentences in the vast majority of cases. Though the Federal Government has always had Life Without Parole as a sentencing option, in reality it was rarely imposed, then in they said all life sentences now came with parole after 15 years, the only exceptions would be if a person on death row had his sentence commuted to life and a judge refused to give parole.

Until the Federal Law Books dictated that life officially meant 15 years, then it was increased to 25 years and then to natural life on December 1 It is also much harder to get a pardon out of prison than it was in the old days. Meaning they could go to work outside of prison or go to school, some even owned their own cars which they could use to drive from and back to prison. In most states until recent decades parole for a life sentence came after 7 years. The statistics of say a life sentence had by this time increased to a national average of 21 years and risen to 29 by However unlike the days before the lock em up policies, there were much fewer lifers, most being in for murder or other serious offences of that nature.

Now over a third of lifers are in for non-violent offences such as burglary, drug offences, shop lifting, drug trafficking etc. For example in Louisiana in only prisoners were serving life sentences, and at the time a lifer could usually expect an eventual pardon from the governor. In the Louisiana State Penitentiary from what I last heard of 5, prisoners in the prison, 2, were serving sentences other than life such as 90, or years.

Few can complete their sentence in their lifetime, many will not make it to the parole board hearing, and most that do will never get paroled. The state of Florida abolished parole for 2nd degree murderers in and mandated they serve all 20 years or a minimum of years for any crime resulting in the discharge of firearms.

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That same year they mandated all lifers for 1st degree murder would now have to serve a minimum 25 years before becoming parole eligible. In the state of Florida abolished parole completely for those sentenced on 1st degree murder charges after the date of the new laws. In the state of Arizona the average life sentence use to mean about 13 years, then in the law was changed to say lifers sentenced for 1st degree murder must now serve a minimum 25 years.

The average life sentence was the same in Wisconsin where parole came after roughly 11 years in most cases, however there were cases of some getting out after the mandatory minimum of 5 years. Of all the lifers in Wisconsin sentenced after , only 2 females have been paroled. The reason for longer sentences had little to do with crime rates. In the state of Michigan most lifers got pardoned by the governor. Then in they officially declared in Michigan that a lifer become parole eligible after 10 years. It was not until that Michigan changed the laws. In Michigan allowed parole for those convicted of the grams law however of the hundreds sentenced under this law, only six have been released at the time of writing.

Other states like North Carolina abolished parole in In only 16 states had Life Without Parole in its law books, by all but Alaska had it however it should be clarified that Alaska does impose sentences of 99 years , the latest three states to introduce it were Texas, Kansas and New Mexico respectively. Texas introduced the sentence in , however on September 14 Life Without Parole became mandatory in this state for capital offences, before this law, the maximum penalty in Texas other than the death penalty was 40 years to life, same as Kansas which had it for murder with aggravating circumstances, other lifers convicted of murder in Kansas received sentences of 15 years to life before introducing the sentence in however just like a handful of other states like North Dakota, New Mexico and New York rarely impose the sentence.

New Mexico introduced the sentence on August 1 Those given life without parole are the ones who would have received a possible death sentence prior. New Mexico like Connecticut did not abolish the sentence retroactively, therefore those on death row or who committed their crimes before August 1 can still receive death, however at the time if given life a lifer in New Mexico became parole eligible after 30 years, now they must serve a mandatory Life Without Parole for the same crime.

The amount of people serving virtual life sentences is also much higher than what it used to be. Others like Jeffery Kolli and Russell Brandt are serving 7 life sentences plus years for robbing seven houses and restaurants. Until January 1 all life sentences in Georgia came with Parole after 7 years.


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By with more states introducing longer life sentences, the lifer population rose to 50, with 10, serving life without parole. By it had risen to over , with nearly 40, Now the lifer population stands at nearly , with approximately 50, serving life without parole sentences. It is interesting to note that as the lifer population increased, so did the percentage of those serving life without parole. Though the average time of a released lifer is after 30 years, it should be noted most lifers today do not get paroled, in fact in 6 states, Louisiana, Maine, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Illinois as well as the Federal Government all life sentences are without parole.

In 22 states an average of 10 lifers out of thousands of applicants get released from each state every year, most for non-violent crimes after serving decades in prison. In the state of California out of 5, lifers who applied for parole in , the parole board only accepted 48 however the Governor revoked all but 1 approval. As noted the lifer population has gone up. In 26 states Life Without Parole is mandatory for 1st degree murder and mandatory for 2nd degree murder in South Dakota, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. The interesting thing to note is on average states with a death penalty have a lower mandatory minimum sentence than states without.

South Dakota and Pennsylvania have only executed people voluntarily yet have the most strict 2nd degree murder laws other than Louisiana, while states like Texas, notorious for their executions usually allow murderers to become parole eligible after 20 years. In the state of Virginia which holds the 2nd highest execution rate at , most convicted of 1st degree murder in this state are eligible for parole after 15 years.

I could go on further but I think I made my point that life sentences are significantly longer than they were decades earlier and is much harder to be pardoned when out of prison, and unlike most states which force prisoners to have careers making license plates or pick garbage on a desserted highway where a car goes by once a week, in the old days prisoners could have normal professional jobs, sometimes working outside prison as lawyers, engineers, chefs, a few even became doctors while in prison.

How many years did he serve, and did he get released and does anyone know what happened to him? Thank you for that remarkably comprehensive comment — probably the longest on the site. You certainly deserve an answer to your questions. Herman Hundhausen successfully convinced the jury that Honeck had wielded the knife that killed Walter Koeller and that he was merely an accomplice.

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He was sentenced to 20 years , to be served in the same prison, Joliet, that Honeck was originally incarcerated in. I came across an interesting article for you and anyone interested in the Johnson Van Dyke Grigsby case. The article is short but tells the story of how he went to prison and though he was technically paroled in , after 17 months in a nursing home he went back to jail on his own because he said there were no jobs for him.

This means he spent about 11 more years in jail to his already 67 years in prison 66 of which were in the Indiana State Penitentiary giving him a total of about 78 years and some months. Had he never been paroled he would have served over 80 years in prison all together. Can you imagine going to prison and getting out in ? Thank you, Rich. I really like looking through a post that will make men and women think.

Also, thank you for allowing me to comment! Pingback: Top 10 world records no one would really like to achieve - Listmellow. Great blog, btw …. I want to congratulate you on the time and effort that you must have spent on compiling this list. I have been doing some historical research on a topic for 15 years, and a couple of those years were 1 day a fortnight going down to the State Library of NSW in Sydney, Australia and scrolling through the microfilm copies of old newspapers for relevant press reports, so I can understand what you have done.

Would you be able to guess how many hours you spent looking at old press clippings for this blog post? Thank you, Graham. Like you, I found my jaw dropping at the arsenal Honeck and Hundhausen assembled. This scares the shit out of me. How could you possibly comprehend the changes going in to jail in s and coming out in the 70s or 80s? For Sweden the record is assumed to be 67 years, a woman named Anna Lindersson was locked up in an assylum starting up to her death in , she never had a single visitor in those years.

For accumulated time the record is probably held by pedophile Sten Erik Eriksson who has spent close to 70 years locked up in total, first locked up in for sexual relations with boys aged 14, then released in aged Then he was again locked up in for sexual relations with boys, then released in after being sterilized, then he was again sentenced in for sexual relations with boys, released in Less than half a year later he commit a rap-murder on a 8 year old boy and is sentenced in april to psychiatric treatments where he still remain as of february He is 85 years old and still considerer too dangerous to be released.

I think she does deserve to be remembered, though, so, for English-speaking readers, here is a short summary of her case:. Anna Lovisa Lindersson was born in Stockholm on 10 October She remained in the asylum until her death on 16 April Thus far, none of the writers who have discussed her case have established exactly why she was sent to the hospital or why she was considered incurable.

Do you know, which of the dates is more uncertain? Please keep up all the good work, cheers. Thank you for the update, I appreciate it. May this long continue. Had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Grigsby as I worked at the nursing home is was staying. I remember him giving me a nickel for a loaf of bread and not having the heart to tell him the actual price I just made up the difference.

My great uncle is Albert Paul. The last of his siblings just passed away last winter. My father had a ship enclosed in a glass case that the inmates had made. Albert had given it to my grandfather his brother and my grandfather passed it onto my dad who in turn passed it on to my brother.

It only holds sentimental value because my grandfather passed it on. Such disdain in this family for that man. His mother passed just after he was born …out of 11 or 13 children. Not sure the count right now without digging back thru the ancestry stuff. He was shuffled off to live with other relatives, his father was going back and forth between Canada and USA. I believe all the brothers and sisters were grown and on their own except one who was young and went to live with an aunt.

Interesting read tho. I am struck that almost every one of these lengthy sentences occurred in the United States, which also has the greatest number of incarcerated people in the world. Since the latest update, the Moors murderer, Ian Brady, has passed away. A tough book to put down.

By Suzanne Collins. I'm honestly not sure this is a book for boys. They're going to have to get past the first pages of explication, history and "girl-narrative. An absolutely haunting book, exceedingly well written. This is one that will make most readers uncomfortable, and keep them thinking about the book throughout the day.

The Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer

What if one of your peripheral friends, a girl you went out with once, committed suicide? What if she left a series of tapes behind to explain who was partly responsible, and why? What if you were one of the people to receive those partially secret tapes, shared only with those she chose because of their role in her life, and death? The story of a tragedy is told in poignant style by Asher, who also reveals how important the simplest acts of meanness and kindness can affect a life.

By Susan Vaught. A challenging YA book for certain. Del is a seventeen-year-old who was convicted of something really, really bad. Something so awful that it has branded him for life, made him ineligible to attend college, have friends or date. Or at least that's what the law says, and the district attorney who made an example out of him for the rest of the world to see. But what did Del really do that was so awful?

Vaught handles the always-difficult subject matter sex with a deft hand, revealing a human touch that is often forgotten when the subjects of teens and sex mix. She knows what it feels like to have a first crush, to feel attracted to someone for the first time, to fall in love with music for the first time, and to fall in love the first time. Del is eye-openingly real, and though boys don't often reveal themselves as eloquently as Del does, they would if they had someone like Vaught to translate their conflicting thoughts. An alternatingly wonderful and disturbing book, often both at the same time.

Susan Vaught repeatedly creates realistic worlds and spot-on characterization of kids few writers would be able to portray with such insight and compassion. She has tackled boys who have attempted suicide, been convicted of sex crimes, and now, her most difficult task of all, three absolutely compelling characters who will quickly become your favorite people in the world.

First there's Jason, a. Freak, whose voice the novel is filtered through. Or I should say, voices, because Jason is a schizophrenic who, despite his medication, still hears many of them quite well. When Sunshine disappears after school one Monday, the mystery begins, and Jason can't even be sure he's not responsible, because his voices insist he is. You won't believe you can identify with these characters at the outset, but before long, due to Vaught's deft writing, you understand them intimately.

Freak and Drip race against the clock with an unlikely FBI agent to discover clues to Sunshine's whereabouts, if she is alive at all. I'd like to say it's a heart-thumping mystery, which it is, but it's also an amazing story of kids like you've never seen before, and a story of friendship and love and redemption. Like everything Vaught has written before, this is an important book that will make you a better person for having read it.

Be ready to be amazed. By Michael Grant. Clearly not for younger kids, it's a great pair to Lord of the Flies. Kids suddenly find that everyone over 15 in their small town has suddenly disappeared! How do the kids vie for power? How do they protect the littlest ones? What happens when the food runs out. THEN they discover that as each of them turns 15, they too will "disappear. The Chocolate War. By Robert Cormier. A provocative, sometimes dark, thriller. By Orson Scott Card. An imaginative sci-fi stunner! Earth has barely survived two alien invasions.

The military command is preparing to invade the alien world in space before they can attack Earth again. But he first has to survive intense mental and physical battle exercises, attacks by jealous rivals, and psychological attacks by the military command. By Walter Dean Myers.

A compelling story, masterfully written, grippingly told. One of the few books you can call a masterpiece. If you don't know about John Green yet, you're in for a treat. If you do, you don't need me to tell you anything. By Benjamin Alire Saenz. Here's one that breaks just about all the Boy Book rules. It's quiet, very quiet. Character-driven rather than plot-driven. It takes place in a forgotten era of the early 's. And its characters don't speak like any other boys you know. But it is beautifully written and poetic, a story about self-discovery that transcends the primary lessons.

It's intensely personal and internal, and poignant from word one. And if the characters talk too perfectly, that is intentional. And as such, the language and ideas ring spot-on true. This is a book for everyone who thinks they're different from the rest of the world, which means most teenage boys. But they have to be willing to confront those differences, because Dante and Aristotle have to make tough decisions in accepting who they are.

Mesmerizing writing about friendship, self-discovery, and addiction.

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Hard to pick up, but harder to put down. In it, Salvatore, adopted son of Vincente, deals with similar qualms that Aristotle did There are traumas small and large throughout the novel, but not one conflict around which the narrative revolves. Instead, the book explores the various kinds of love that heal us when trauma strikes. Sam's mother, for example, is an addict, but that fact is merely part of her existence.

When her mother dies, however, guilt streams in. It's one thing to wish she were dead, but when it happens There, however, is her surrogate father Vincente and ipso facto brother Sal, however, to take her in and make her part of the family. Healing, we learn, can only happen in an environment of caring, as inexplicable as love can be, because, after all, none of these characters is enduring a perfect life.

They are each healing themselves as they heal each other. Sal, for example, has just discovered that his long-missing biological father had written him a letter, but does Sal have room for a new person in his life? He is consumed with anger lately and relies on his fists to deal with his emotions.

When he starts to address the root of his angst, he finds himself asking questions about his past. He knows his present is rich with strong relationships, but there is another father out there waiting for him. Does he even need another father? He's worried enough about the only father he has known, Vincente.

Growing to adulthood, Sal is just starting to realize the sacrifices the man has made for him. He loves Vincente all the more for his devotion and selflessness, but there is that guilt popping up again. And when Vincente's former boyfriend suddenly returns to their lives, Sal has a new source of anger and mistrust. Does he have to defend his father, too?

And what about Fito? The more Sal learns about his troubled friend, the more he admires Fito's own attempts to make something of his life. Thrown out of his house when his family discovers he is gay, he, too, becomes a member of Vincente's extended family, adding his pain and his love to the mix. Finally, and the backdrop for all this drama, is Mima, Sal's dying grandmother. The most loving woman he knows, Sal realizes Mima has much left to share, but Sal fears there will never be enough time left to learn it all. As is true in life, the troubles to float in and out of these characters' lives in Saenz' rich prose.

The book is staunchly realistic even as the prose itself is beautifully romantic. Those looking for a pat novel about a teenager obsessed with overcoming a single conflict in pages need not look here. Instead, what Saenz has created is a book, perhaps, for someone who has endured enough troubles, thank you, and needs to be reassured, reminded that there is beauty to be found in every life. We can find hat beauty, Saenz reminds us, in our relationships.

I can think of few books that can do this as well as Saenz does here. This is his love letter to the world, and to himself. Just read the book! King It's not a secret that I love A. King's novels. They reward thinkers--people who don't simply skate through life accepting society's rules and regulations, and people who understand suffering and try their best to come to grips with it. This one goes into her back catalogue, and boy is the journey worth it. One of the few King books with a male protagonist, this is also one of her most easily accessible.

It's easy to fall in love with Lucky Linderman. Bullied ruthlessly at the town pool, learning to deal with new feelings for some of the girls in his life, feeling so utterly alone, Lucky is enduring what every boy has experienced at one point or another. Only he's experiencing it all at once. King brings her brand of magic realism to this party, too: in Lucky's dreams he visits his grandfather, long missing in Vietnam, and brings items back with him when he awakes. He's trying to save his grandfather, and in doing so also attempts to save his own powerless father, and finally himself.

When his mother brings him across the country to her brother's family, Lucky learns the valuable lesson that he's not the only one who's screwed up, and that's the most important lesson of all. I have always said that A. King's characters are, like real girls, deeper, more complex, more thoughtful and more complicated than most writers limn them as being.

But that's only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. She meets versions of herself on the bus at various moments in her life, and has the chance to communicate with each of them, to ask questions, find answers. Like her protagonist Sarah, A. King tells the truth carafully. Sarah repeats in some form, "I am a human being. I am sixteen years old. That should be enough. But for her and so many other teenagers, it isn't. Secrets of older brothers who go away and do not return.

Secrets of parents who despise each other. Secrets of classmates who steal what's most precious to her. Secrets of teachers who Sarah spies kissing one of her teenage friends. The most I can tell you about this book is: this is nothing like the world you know, and everything like the world you know. Their school is immersed in relentless standardized multiple-choice testing; bomb- and shooting-threats take place regularly, and may be the work of any or all of the above; and a mysterious man in the bushes sells letters and lemonade to teenagers for a fee with and without drugs.

For those who want something less powerful, less literary or less intimate, it is not. It is, however, another game-changer from King on the YA scene. That's why I contend King's girls are more real than most characters in contemporary YA--or at least should be. There's such substance to them; it's hard to come to grips when you're done reading King's work that Vera Dietz isn't actually out there in Pennsylvania still delivering pizzas. She is, isn't she?

In this case, Vera's crisis is due in large part to her best friend's betrayal of her no spoiler alert here. Vera has been falling in love with Charlie through the years. But Charlie Kahn has had more than his share of issues growing up. Still, he has always had Vera to rely on as best friend and soulmate. Until high school, that is. Like so many teens, Charlie's homelife catches up to him and leads him to doubting everything about himself—including Vera.

Why should someone as wonderful as her care about someone as damaged as he is? So, what is a boy to do, if not self-destruct and push Vera away… so far and so completely that she has no choice but to abandon him? Yes, it's easy to use the word heartbreaking in book reviews, but heartbreaking is when characters don't simply suffer from a stroke of luck or a single bad occurrence. Heartbreaking is a fully fleshed out set of lives that intersect, weave together, and touch each other but not enough to save each other.

Heartbreaking is when one of those characters is left alone to pick up the pieces and reconstruct her life anew. King's characters don't avoid loss at the last minute… as in life, they suffer loss and must learn to go on, forever damaged but forever strengthened. Rats and Pigman! A fast-moving narrative about—well, rats. Not the nice ones, either. The ones that eat everything, including humans. Throughout the gore, Michael and his sister Sarah struggle to barely escape being dinner.

Highly illogical Behavior a Boy Book of the Month award-winner. That plan involves finding Solomon Reed, the boy who went crazy one day several years ago, took his clothes off and jumped into the school fountain. Once she finds him, Lisa's going to "fix" him and write an essay about her genius methodology. That should easily earn her collegiate placement. If she sounds like the kind of girl most boys can't stand because of her hubris, self-assuredness and manipulative nature, she is.

And most boys will immediate dislike Lisa. But that's alright, because Solomon is half of this narrative, as well. Sensitive, thoughtful, kind and damaged, he's someone everyone likes to root for. On the one hand, the reader knows exactly where this is going: Solomon will be as much the teacher as the student, and Lisa will be forced to confront her own highly illogical behavior. The dilemma the reader faces, however, is how to root for Solomon to overcome his fears while hoping at the same time that Lisa gets her comeuppance.

When she brings her boyfriend into the mix and inadvertently causes a love triangle, that conflict is heightened. What do we want to happen, after all? And in doing so, are we not as guilty as Lisa for wanting to manipulate her world at the cost of people's lives? What John Corey Whaley does so well, however, is navigate the unlikelinesses in his fiction and make them flow like reality.

After all, this is a man who wrote a magnificent novel about a boy who has a head transplant and none of it was ironic, cheeky or funny. Whaley's writing is so smooth, so compelling, so easy that the reader willingly accepts every unique situation Whaley presents.

Simply put, what he understands as well as any YA writer alive, is the psyche of the 21st century teenage boy. As such, his books have an uncanny ability to stay with you long after you've read them. Thanks for the Trouble a Boy Book of the Month award-winner. Successful writers of young adult books are usually successful for one reason above all others: voice.

With Thanks for the Trouble, his publishers have recognized a chance for readers to find communion and have released a box set perfectly titled Less Alone in the World. Wallach is a Romantic in the literary sense: someone who understands the loneliness of the human condition. Even as his characters find communion with each other, such unity is temporary.

They have insightful conversations at almost every turn and find something in common with most of their peers at one point or another. Yes, he lost his father in a car accident five years ago, a motif readers are tiring of. He lets him be flawed and multi-faceted, someone we sometimes root for and sometimes not. In this way, Wallach approaches the master of such characterization, Andrew Smith. Parker is a decent guy, but not a nice guy, or vice-versa. One day while scoping out victims in a San Francisco hotel, he meets a girl with silver hair who, he subsequently learns, claims to be his age and goes by the name Zelda.

She is planning, meanwhile, to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge to end her year life. As a spoiler alert: someone looking for an ending that satisfies completely will be disappointed. The goal of fiction is to tell stories, celebrate stories and reveal the power of stories. Wallach succeeds on all three counts here.

His parents instead send him to the private school. His life is transformed. He becomes a superstar, friendships are going well, and does great in school, until…. The Battle of Jericho. By Sharon Draper. The Warriors of Distinction club at Douglass HS enables boys to date the best girls, go to the best parties, and even have an easier time with grades. When year-old Jericho is selected as a pledge, he is suddenly respected. But becoming a Warrior involves making risky choices.

Heart of a Champion. An intense baseball book that addresses themes of alcohol, loss, competition, friendships and family. Not a simple read, or for everyone, but for a kid who knows about the intensity of competition in high school, an important book. Music of the Swamp.

Delightful writing overflowing with imagery and similes. Great Falls a Boy Book of the Month award-winner. Jeremy spends much of his freetime drunk and angry, while Shane spends most of his time substituting for Jeremy as husband and father. Whether they are moving toward something or away, all Shane knows is that the longer the trek continues, the less likely there will be a way out.

It also makes it that much more heartbreaking. I'm a sucker for teenage angst stories and Shaun David Hutchinson's opening chapter alone has it in spades. Yeah, he's right, to a degree: what's the purpose in making up our faces, plucking hairs, purchasing products to make us look pretty, especially when there are deeper issues confronting us. Take Henry, for example. His mom copes with her own existential crisis of keeping her family from splintering by chain smoking.

This realistic set of issues is juxtaposed with a fantastic background: aliens abduct him regularly since he was 13, and have made it clear that the world is going to end and have given him the opportunity to change that fate. He has days to decide, and all he has to do is press a big red button. But is Earth worth saving? We all have our big red button, and need to learn how to like ourselves enough to press it. It only makes sense that the best middle grade writers are becoming the best young adult authors.

Keeping with his practice of providing responsible ecology as a thematic backdrop, Hiaasen introduces fourteen year old Richard as a protagonist whose trouble-finding cousin Malley disappears with a mysterious man she met on the internet. Did she run off with him, or was she kidnapped? Her few phone calls home are the only clues Richard has, but there's something in her voice, something in her word choices that make him believe she is no longer with the mysterious man by choice.

Richard decides that if anyone can find her, it will be him. Though it sounds intense and at times is , the book is more engaging adventure than it is cautionary tale, and that is because of the delightful senior citizen called Skink readers of Hiaasen's adult novels will recognize him from many previous novels. The homeless but resourceful former Governor of Florida Skink aids Richard in his quest to find his cousin, and he does so with fearless flair. Yes, there are a lot of unrealistic events here that require a readerly suspension of disbelief, but I say this as a compliment: only a writer like Hiaasen could pull it off.

The unlikely occurrences are not only acceptable, they're enchanting: Skink burying himself in sand and breathing through a straw to catch a turtle egg poacher; Skink wrestling alligators and winning; Skink surviving gun battles armed with only his hands. In case you haven't guessed, it is Skink aka Clinton Tyree who steals the show here. Perhaps we are we going to see fewer YA novels where teens mysteriously live lives devoid of human contact and solve everything that comes their way by banding together in a utopian realm of sub-adults.

Great writers like Lubar, Bacigalupi, Spinelli and Hiaasen don't need to absent adults from teenagers' lives to write their stories, and as a result, books like theirs bring much more satisfaction. In most cases, young adults don't live on islands, and adults often cause and help alleviate many of the troubles in their lives.

I, for one, am hoping to see Skink encounter many more young adults in future novels and those who have followed my reviews know that I'm not generally a fan of series. David Lubar is America's finest short story writer for middle schoolers. Darned if it doesn't show yet another side to his talent! Self-proclaimed as "too dark, too heartless" for younger readers, the collection seems to get better and better with each subsequent story. And these, Lubar claims, are stories he just had lying around the house.

Though the opening story of teenage girls getting revenge on their gym teacher is standard fare please, keep reading if you don't love it , everything else in the book is superb. Lubar's stories here read less like contemporary fiction and more like classic Harlan Ellison, Rod Serling or Ray Bradbury—just enough mystery, just enough suspense, just enough horror, just enough sci-fi.

Character, Driven a Boy Book of the Month award-winner. In fact, saying much at all about it risks altering the reader's intended voyage. Suffice it to say that amid Lubar's long career, his latest novel is his finest foray into the Young Adult genre. In it, seventeen-year-old Cliff provides the perfect unreliable narrator.

Cliff begins with a riveting first-person tale and keeps the throttle going throughout. Cliff is, like many Lubar protagonists, all personality, the kind of kid most readers love because he is, like them, struggling to make his life what he desperately wishes it were. Within a few days of meeting him, we experience Cliff falling in love with Jillian, the new girl in school. Despite his contention that all he wants to do his senior year of high school is lose his virginity, he's a much richer, deeper character than he paints himself out to be.

As such, we're often frustrated by him, because we want to know him deeper, yet he continually keeps us at arm's length, using humor as his shield. We laugh at him, sometimes with him, but we want the relationship to be stronger, and that makes us want to read deeper Genius writing, Lubar, just genius! Like most of his novels, Lubar populates this one with a supporting cast that is as wonderful and engaging as his main characters. There is Mr. Piccaro, an English teacher who slips novels wrapped in brown paper to Cliff at opportune moments.

And even more perfect is Ms. If I haven't satisfied your appetite for information about the novel, well, go back to my opening statement. It also has the most realistic, graphic, yet tasteful sex scene I've read in YA to date. Make no mistake about it: Lubar gives us a unique novel here, one that defies description.

And like that book, this one will not please everyone, but it will change many people's lives. That is the best kind of novel. Chris Crutcher has done it again. His work has never been for the faint hearted, but always honest and insightful. As such, sometimes his work can be too provocative for some readers at some times. Notice the use of "some! He gives them what they need to hear.

This is no cute miracle story, though. Instead, it's about doing what you can with what little time you have left. Only for Ben, there is no way out. As real life is likely to have, Crutcher's novel faces sex, romance, sports, religion, incest, racism head-on with intelligent respect. I'd like to say this is a life-changing book for the right reader, but then again, all Crutcher's books can be. Do yourself a favor and check out the Crutcher section at your independent bookseller.

Odds are, it's in the shelves with the words "highly recommended" written by the people who work there. They're not afraid of superb books that don't conform to easy trends. Shy works aboard a cruise ship when he discovers the girl of his dreams… and like the girl of his dreams, she isn't one of the kids that he's used to spending his time with—you know, working-class kids who know the value of a hard-earned dollar. Then the earthquake hits, and tsunamis toss their boat. The various battles have just begun.


  • An abandoned lifeboat at world’s end.
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  • The longest prison sentences ever served!
  • Gritty urban stories that explore real life, blending street life, sports and the search for self-identity. By Yvonne Ventresca. More proof that a book can be written by a woman, with a female protagonist, and still have great appeal for both genders! Lily hides a secret from most of the world that involves a teacher who everyone else loves but she knows better.

    But she's got more pressing problems: a new, deadly flu epidemic has struck Washington, DC, and is spreading quickly. Within days, it hits New Jersey and claims her closest friend, the only one who believes her story. With her parents quarantined away from home, Lily is more alone than ever, and after months of insulating herself from the pain of her devastating experience with her teacher, she's going to have to go into a world that is deadlier than ever, to reclaim her life.

    Ventresca writes with an intelligence that respects her readers. Instead, the brilliance of this book lies in its simplicity, its crispness, its economy of detail, its characterization, and especially in its mastery of psychological horror. This book scares so well because it lets your brain wander, like Lily's does, to places that it doesn't want to go. By Laurie Halse Anderson. What I said about women writing books with girls as protagonists that boys can love? Well, double it here. Of course, it's Laurie Halse Anderson, who writes like most people breathe: she makes it seem so damn easy.

    The minute you step into her world, you realize you're reading a master, and that's enough to recommend any of her books. But if you need more convincing, just look at the superlatives listed on the back cover, for heaven's sake. A story about both adults and teens that recognizes their worlds are not always so separate as YA novels portray them, it also adds a romantic twist with a boy named Finn who has his own secrets, something Hayley has grown too used to.

    Pick it up and read a page. I doubt you'll want to put it back down. Snow Bound. Stubborn year-old Tony Laporte has a fight with his parents, and drives off in one of his their cars. He picks up a hitchhiker named Cindy, in comes a blinding snowstorm, Tony wrecks the car, and they have to battle the blizzard, injuries and wild dog attacks.

    A classic story of learning interdependence for survival sake. The Last Mission. When his plane is shot down, he and his crewmates are taken prisoner, where the book becomes ultra-disturbing, yet ultra-thoughtful. Jim Piersall was an up-and-coming minor league ballplayer in the 50's. From an early age, his father trained him to be just that, the best all-around outfielder the Major Leagues would ever see. After two agonizing years in the minors Dad would not accept Jimmy's floundering down there when he was "the best. Instead, it only brought more stress.

    Piersall's early career with the Red Sox was marred by antics both humorous and frightening: arguments with teammates and umpires, behavior that got him suspended by his own team. Fans tended to love the antics, but underneath, Piersall was raging. Then one day, Piersall snapped, and it landed him in a psychiatric institution. Through the help of a considerate doctor whose attempts to cure also included the popular-at-the-time electro-shock therapy and a patient, loving wife, Piersall made the gradual trip toward self-awareness and understanding.

    This book was written at a time when sports autobiographies were not a popular genre, and neither was the confessional genre, so the frankness and honesty that Piersall shares is truly eye-opening. For those who have seen the decent film with Anthony Perkins and Karl Malden, this is far superior, but in any case, it will be eye-opening for sports fans, and kids whose parents try to live vicariously through their sporting successes. By Jennifer A. On the night of August 13, , the East German government blockaded the Western half of Berlin from the territory controlled by the Soviet Union.

    It began as a neutral zone with barricades and chain-link barbed-wire fencing before eventually becoming the brick-and-mortar wall of infamy. Eight-year-old Gerta remembers it as the day she, her mother and older brother Fritz were separated from her father and oldest brother Dominic. The latter pair was in West Berlin when the barrier went up. There would be no crossing from either side. The Grenzers—East German border police—would threaten with weapons and public abductions of suspected Western sympathizers.

    Four years later, walking to school, Greta sees Dominic signaling across the border to her. The next day, her father appears, pantomiming a digging motion from a childhood song. Then a note arrives with a picture of a building. Greta is sure she understands: her father wants her to dig a passageway under the building to escape with her mother and Fritz into West German territory.

    In crisp, intelligent prose, Nielsen tells of an extraordinary—occasionally too extraordinary—twelve-year-old Gerta, who masterminds and, with brother Fritz, undertakes the daring escape. Obstacles repeatedly fall in her path, but Gerta is determined to reunite her family. History buffs will drool over the magnificently told tale, but even reluctant readers will become immersed in the tension-filled exploits. In the frantic concluding chapters, just when freedom seems in their grasp, one complication after another arises, but Nielsen deftly makes the incredible story seem believable.

    Snow Treasure. By Marie McSwigan. Twelve year old Peter Lundstrom enjoys sledding down the mountains of Norway with his friends in They devise a plan to smuggle the gold out of Norway, but Peter and his friends must do it. By John Corey Whaley. If I were to tell you there was this book about a boy whose head is transplanted onto someone else's body after being cryogenically frozen for five years, you'd probably anticipate a horror novel of sorts, or perhaps an ultra-quirky comedy.

    But in the hands of wildly rule-breaking Whaley, the novel moves into the territory of realism. Indeed, what would happen if you fell asleep for five years and tried to rekindle your friendships, your romance, your family life? On the surface, it might seem easy, but when all the significant people in your life have lived through five years of change and you've just awakened from a nap, picking up where you left off isn't as simple as it seems.

    By Jason Reynolds. Two things:. On the inside back cover of the dust jacket, there are big words, "Jason Reynolds is crazy about stories. Whew: really good stories make you write really long sentences to describe them! This entire book exudes a love of storytelling, and as a result, every page exhibits a narrator absolutely engaged in the moment.

    Ali is unafraid to shine the light of his imagination upon his whole world, and as a result, he realizes that everything he knows about his mother, his father, his friends, his neighborhood and the people he idolizes has been built on faulty foundations. As a result, this novel shows how subtle and profound moments of epiphany are in a teenager's life. Ultimately, Reynolds reaffirms the value of family, in whatever form it takes.

    In fact, you could argue that every main character here is part of one big family, and everyone is at least a little better off by the novel's end. It conveys a sense of violence that, while present, is not the focus of the book. Furthermore, while crocheting does figure largely in the novel, guns do not; parents, teachers and librarians who might automatically resist the book because it screams gun violence would be missing a story about family dynamics: a love for and by mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. While the book opens, thoughtful and humorous narrator Ali thinks he knows everything about his world in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.

    He lives in a modest apartment with his mother, little sister Jazz and friends Noodles and Needles next door. While his mother holds down two jobs, she does her best to be a concerned, loving parent, and her children respect her for that. As a result, they act as parental figures to each other and the essentially abandoned Noodles and Needles. This was the first of many operations; each time they would amputate more and more of her leg. Alia said now that she has had an artificial limb fitted she can play like all other children her age, and children who have lost limbs should not be looked at as if they are 'missing something'.

    She said: 'I sat in the driver's seat. He sat behind me as did his friend. I sat in the front. My cousin asked me to switch on the engine. I did, and the car exploded. I want to become a computer engineer or an architect when I grow up. You will then have the determination and you get better. I said to myself: if I remain sad, it will not do me any good.

    I did not lose hope, and thanks to God, I had an artificial limb fitted. Now I go to school and we take exams and I am so much better. No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. Share this article Share. Share or comment on this article: British doctors launch world's first handbook for child blast injuries e-mail. Comments 0 Share what you think. More top stories. Bing Site Web Enter search term: Search. Makeup artist shares snaps of a trip to London, days after royal christening Wimbledon Twiggy dazzles in a hot pink trouser suit as she joins fellow golden oldies Shirley Bassey, Elaine Paige and Michael Parkinson on day nine of tournament The royals happy to be snapped at Wimbledon: Zara, Camilla and Sophie show Meghan how it's done as they smile for the crowds on Centre Court Advertisement.

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