"The Isabel Factor" by Gayle Friesen YA FIC Fri
The sunny expectations of a counselor-in-training at her childhood camp on a Canadian island become overcast when teen Anna's best buddy, Zoe, can't make the trip. In years past, Anna had traveled the path of least resistance, the one right behind Zoe; but now her experiences give her new strength and insight. Venturing forth on her own, she meets Isabel, an enigma with rainbow-colored hair, whose blunt approach to life doesn't fit in with perfectionist Jennifer's ambitions for their cabin to be the best at all costs. She befriends Isabel, assists the cute but infuriating swim coach, and helps a struggling young camper. Then Zoe shows up, throwing Anna's world out of balance, as she faces a test of character, and friendship. Friesen sketches three-dimensional secondary characters with problems, flaws, and their own unique wisdom.
"Double Identity" by Margaret Peterson Haddix YA FIC Had
One October evening, Bethany's parents drive her to another state to stay with an aunt she never knew existed. Left confused and without a way to contact her parents, the 12-year-old tries to figure out the reason behind their strange behavior and learns some family secrets in the process. It turns out that she is the clone of her sister, who was killed years earlier in a tragic automobile accident, and she is being hunted by a man who wants to expose her secret existence for his own benefit. Although there is not much action, the twists and turns of the suspense-filled plot are more than enough to keep readers interested. When one question is answered, another one is raised. Readers will relate to Bethany's feelings of abandonment, as well as her struggle to set herself apart from the sister she never knew but with whom she shares so much.
"Small steps" Louis Sachar YA FIC Sac
This sequel to "Holes" (Farrar, 1998) focuses on Armpit, an African-American former resident of Tent D at Camp Green Lake. It's two years after his release, and the 16-year-old is still digging holes, although now getting paid for it, working for a landscaper in his hometown of Austin, TX. He's trying to turn his life around, knowing that everyone expects the worst of him and that he must take small steps to keep moving forward. When X-Ray, his friend and fellow former detainee at the juvenile detention center, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme involving scalping tickets to a concert by teenage pop star Kaira DeLeon, Armpit fronts X-Ray the money. He takes his best friend and neighbor, Ginny, a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy, to the concert and ends up meeting Kaira, getting romantically involved, and finally becoming a hero by saving her life when her stepfather tries to kill her and frame him.