L.A. Youth’s summer reading list
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen is a hard-to-put-down novel about two inseparable friends, Halley and Scarlett, during one unforgettable summer. Scarlett’s always been the one to help Halley get through anything, but the roles are reversed when Scarlett discovers that her boyfriend has died and she is pregnant with his baby. This is an emotional, funny and sweet book about life, love and friendship. I loved this book because it’s very raw and true—it shows a powerful friendship, and it explains the sacrifices you must make to commit to a relationship. Definitely read this book. You won’t regret it!
Julia Waldow, 15, Beverly Hills HS
Stories of Ray Bradbury
With 100 of Ray Bradbury’s short stories and a little more than 900 pages long, Stories of Ray Bradbury is a pretty big book. But it’s also a great bedtime read. When I’m not cramming for summer school, I usually read a little bit of it before falling asleep. Bradbury has a unique writing style that takes you away from the world and pulls you into his science fiction dream world. One of my favorites is “The Lake,” about a little boy who loses a friend and returns later on to deal with the loss. The twist ending makes the story especially memorable. I wouldn’t recommend reading the whole book in one go, but go ahead pick a couple short stories and get lost in Ray’s world.
Brian Yu, 15, Walnut HS
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is the perfect beach read. It’s set at a beach house, where a girl named Isabella, called Belly, stays every summer with her mother, her mother’s friend Susanna, and Susanna’s two sons Connor and Jeremiah. Jeremiah is the nice one and Connor is the brooding one, so of course following the tradition of good girls falling for bad boys, Belly is fixated on Connor. Even though this is a typical set up, the characters are unique enough for it to feel fresh. You feel all the angst associated with teenage couples and the even bigger angst that teen couples with an age difference feel (Belly is 16, Connor is 18). Han is very good at describing each character’s feelings. This is one author who knows teens. This book is a great read, especially for summer.
YeJean Kim, 16, Arcadia HS
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
You’ve heard of Twilight, now it’s time to meet Twilight’s smart, sexy and sophisticated older cousin. I usually avoid vampire books, but Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice has substance in addition to its flashiness. The novel is about the narrator Louis’s physical and mental transformation into a vampire, and what it means to lose your humanity after killing people night after night. It explores what he thinks and feels about himself and other vampires after realizing the serious drawbacks to living forever, without becoming too depressing. Even though it was published in 1976, it’s intriguing to see vampires so carefully thought out, and it will change the way you look at the average vampire story.
Leslie Ho, 17, Walnut HS
Lovely Complex (Love★Com) By Aya Nakahara
In this 17-volumed manga called Lovely Complex, or Love★Com for short, love has its ups and downs, literally. We meet a girl named Risa Koizumi and a boy named Otani Atsushi. Judging by the title you’d think these two characters fall in love and have some type of happily ever after. But here’s the catch, Risa is about 5 feet 8 inches, which is much taller than the average Japanese girl, and Otani is about 5 feet 1 inch, which is much shorter than the average Japanese boy. After each has multiple dating fails because of their heights, they decide to choose dates for each other. At first this plan works, but soon Risa falls in love with Otani … and this is where the complexity comes in. I’d recommend this to those having some kind of issue or obstacle they need to overcome in their love life. I can relate to Risa and Otani’s situation because I’m 5-foot-10 and most the guys I have crushes on are shorter than me. See if this book doesn’t heighten (pun intended) your awareness of who you love, no matter the difference of background, size, and well … inches.
Destiny Jackson, 17, Mayfair HS
Stay by Allie Larkin
The novel Stay is a love story. Van, (short for Savannah), is a character you can’t help but fall in love with by the end of the first chapter because she’s down-to-earth and easy to relate to. She’s been in love with Peter for six years and the story begins with his wedding—to Savannah’s best friend, Janie. Heartbroken, Van does what any suffering maid of honor would do, she impulsively buys a German Shepherd, desperate to be loved by anyone or anything. I laughed, cried and fell head over heels for this book, and it felt like I was there with Van for every step of her journey. This is a tender, honest story about learning to believe in yourself and putting a broken heart back together.
Feather Flores, 15, Monrovia HS
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Answers to questions like “What makes a perfect parent?” and “How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents?” are what you’ll find in Freakonomics, a book that sets out to explore random, but interesting, questions about life. I had to read Freakonomics for my econ class and thought it would be boring, but I soon got into it because the writing style is accessible and many of the conclusions the authors come to are hilarious. At one point the authors compare teachers to sumo wrestlers and find that they have one thing in common: they both cheat to keep their jobs. Teachers by altering their students’ answers on standardized test score Scantrons and sumo wrestlers by throwing fights. The authors use economic principles to provide explanations that usually contradict what one would consider conventional wisdom—for the parenting question, they conclude that that reading to your child and taking them to museums has no impact on how well they do in school.
Lia Dun, 18, Marshall HS