How to Build a Heart / Maria Padian Fear isn't rational, at least most of the time. However, that doesn't stop many teens from letting it rule parts of their life. Izzy lost her bright-as-the-sun father, a marine, when his jeep ran over an IED in Iraq. That was six years ago and she, Mami and her younger brother, Jack have moved six times since he died, as her mother tries to find a job that pays enough for them to have a better life. They've landed in a mobile home park in Virginia and Mami promised Izzy no more moves until she graduates in two years. Her best friend Roz, lives across the street. Her living situation is precarious as her mom drinks excessively and has a very unstable and violent boyfriend. Roz is a risk taker, Izzy is not, but their friendship works. Roz is obsessed with the rich kids who live on the other side of town, particularly a star basketball player named Sam. When Sam notices Izzy at a convenience store after her little brother runs into him on the way to pay for snacks, he looks at her in a way nobody ever has. Too bad he has a rich and popular girlfriend. What follows begins when Sam's little sister Aubrey transfers to the private catholic school where Izzy goes and tries out for the a capella group Izzy's in. There are more sparks, more not sharing what's happening, reconnection with a family member, hope for a better place to live and heartache that all blends together as Izzy realizes that family and sense of place can be much more than she ever could have imagined. It's a great story and one that many teens will find a connection to. Definitely worth adding to a library. Three Things I Know Are True / Betty Culley It's very clear that Betty Culley has experienced some of the emotional landscape in this book, either personally or professionally. She also captures hardscrabble Maine, the part I'm very familiar with, as well as Gerry Boyle. Written in verse form, this takes readers through a bleak physical and emotional landscape, part of rural Maine where hope left when the local mill closed, sadly a reality in more and more towns. What transpires as you follow the events after Jonah accidentally shoots himself in the head, is first a fracturing between neighbors, so well described as Liv and Clay's mom meet on the yellow line dividing the dead end street where they live like it was a demilitarized zone. Then you follow Jonah's care, with the personalities of the nurses caring for him playing their own roles, Liv's feelings about her brother, as well as Clay, the boy who was her brother's best friend and who she cares deeply about, then the events leading up to the negligence trial, pitting Clay's family against Liv's. You get to see Liv's inner monologue as she tries to connect with her brother in his new, nearly unresponsive form, deal with how unimportant school becomes and go through the trial and its aftermath. One scene that really illustrates the plight of those struggling when wages and benefits are inadequate, or nonexistent, comes when Liv deals with her mom's tooth. Read the book to see what happened. This is an excellent look at struggle, grief, love and the real Maine.