One Book New Jersey

Young Adult selection


A sampling of the many books that could be read alongside The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Many annotations courtesy of WorldCat.

Basketball Diaries

Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper
Rob was the basketball star and Andy was his best friend until a fateful night when Andy drives drunk and Rob is killed. Full of guilt and without his best friend, Andy slowly unravels.

One on One by Tabitha King
Two misfits are drawn together by their love of basketball in this compelling story by the wife of horror author Steven King.

Hoops by Walter Dean Meyers
Lonnie really has a chance to go pro and with the support of his coach Cal, he just might make it. That is, until Cal's old demons come back to haunt him.

Slam! by Walter Dean Meyers
"Slam" Harris knows his basketball skills will get him out of the inner city and help him succeed, but his coach disagrees. Slam needs to learn to be a team player, not just the star.

Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Pena
Basketball is Sticky's life, but poor choices threaten his dream of becoming a professional player.

Shrink to Fit by Dona Sarkar
Leah is a tall muscular basketball player and her best friend is an itty-bitty cheerleader. If she could just lose weight Leah thinks her jump shot will improve, she'll have a better shot with her crush, and she could please her almost-supermodel mother.

Players by Joyce Sweeny
Corey has always dreamed of winning the basketball championship but when a new teammate reveals his evil side, Corey's dream is in jeopardy.

Black and White by Paul Volponi
Marcus, black, and Eddie, white, are both star basketball players. But when they both commit the same crime, the justice system treats them differently.

Playing without the Ball by Rich Wallace
Feeling abandoned by his parents, Jay finds solace and hope in a community basketball league.

Learning the Game by Kevin Waltman
Nate is on the high school basketball team and joins his teammates in stealing from a local frat house. Wracked with guilt and wanting to clear his brother, who is under suspicion, Nate talks to his teammates about confessing, but they talk him out of it. Will he ultimately do the right thing and lose the friendships he's worked so hard to gain or will he sacrifice his relationship with his troubled brother?


Stories of Native American Life

Slash by Jeannette Armstrong
This story illustrates the life of Slash - as he grows from an unsettled young man to an adult - and his struggles as an Indian in North America.

Lies to Live by by Lois Beardslee
With a focus on the Ojibwa Indians, the publisher describes the book as a "series of interdependent tales, reflect[ing] the storyteller's role in interpreting traditional stories for contemporary audiences, while preserving traditions based not in mysticism but in pragmatism."

Code Talkers by Joseph Bruchac
During World War II the marines recruited Navajos to encrypt messages in their Native tongue. This is the story of Ned, a recruit who has spent the previous decade being "educated" in an Anglo boarding school that forbade speaking in his native tongue.

The Way by Joseph Bruchac
Cody LeBeau, who is fatherless and an Abenaki Indian, is the new kid at school and the new target for the bullies, but things begin to change when his uncle comes to town for a martial arts competition and he and Cody begin training together.

Moccasin Thunder : American Indian Stories for Today edited by Lori Marie Carlson
Presents ten short stories about contemporary Native American teens by members of tribes of the United States and Canada, including Louise Erdrich and Joseph Bruchac.

Solar Storms by Linda Hogan
An Indian girl returns home to find her identity. She is Angela Jensen, 17, whose stay in an Indian village in northern Minnesota turns into a depressing lesson in the lot of her people, but also brings self-discovery and love.

Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe
This novel presents a mystery centered around two murders: that of Choctaw Chief Redford McAlester and the assassination of Red Shoes, an 18th Century Choctaw warrior.

Touching Spirit Bear by Mikaelsen
After committing an act of violence, Cole is sent to Alaska in accordance with Native American Circle Justice. Here he undergoes a transformation that helps him deal with his anger and rage.

Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Tired of staying in seclusion since the death of her best friend, a fourteen-year-old Native American girl takes on a photographic assignment with her local newspaper to cover events at the Native American summer youth camp.

In addition to these titles, there are extended lists of recommended reading on Debbie Reese's blog "American Indians in Children's Literature".


Not Fitting In

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
A freshman in high school, Miranda is in a self-imposed exile due to her unwillingness to speak. At the heart of her silence is a secret she must come to deal with if she is ever to be part of the world around her again.

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos
Who is more of an outcast than an illegal immigrant family? A family of Muslim immigrants in New York City in the time immediately following 9/11.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cromier
Jerry goes to an all-boys' private school and finds the requirement to sell chocolate objectionable. When he acts on his beliefs and refuses to participate, his whole world is turned upside down and he is caught in the middle of a power struggle.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
The end-of-the-year-party was terrible and Annabel doesn't know how to talk to her friends about it. They choose to believe lies and rather than confront them, Annabel takes solace in her music. When she meets Owen, who is just as passionate about music, she begins to come out of isolation and rejoin the world.

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos
In the 1960s, Rico Fuentes, a pale-skinned Cuban American teenager, abandons drug-infested New York City for the picket fence and apple pie world of Wisconsin, only to discover that he still feels like an outsider and that violent and judgmental people can be found even in the wholesome Midwest.

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
Charlotte has spent the whole summer planning how to be popular instead of invisible. But during her first day of school she chokes on a gummi bear and dies. Then she really is invisible and must face the fact that she no longer belongs among the living.

Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher
Leon wants to date the pretty girl, but he is resigned to existing on the fringes of high school society. The only person less popular than Leon is Melody, whose face is severely scarred from burns. One day, Leon finds Melody genuinely laughing at one of his bad jokes he begins to see beyond her scars. But when the pretty girl finally looks his way, Leon finds he's been playing with fire.

Undercover by Beth Kephardt
Like Cyrano, Elisa is used to going unnoticed except for when she writes love notes for her classmates. But when Elisa finds herself falling for one of the boys she writes notes for, she must decide whether she wants to stay on the outside, or take a risk and join in.

Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge
Ben is known as Spaz because of his cerebral palsy and Colleen is known as "stoner" because of her drug abuse. The two strike up an unlikely friendship but Colleen can't kick her drug habit, so Ben must decide whether it's better to stay with Colleen or to do things on his own.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
There are two reasons why Frankie doesn't fit in with her boyfriend's circle of friends: she's smarter than them and she's a girl. In this book, being on the outside is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is what drives Frankie to develop a disreputable history.

Angel by Cliff McNish
Stephanie is an outcast obsessed with angels. Freya is popular but her visions of angels send her to a mental institution. These two fourteen-year-old girls become unlikely friends in this disturbing yet moving novel.

King Dork by Frank Portman
Tom is a high school loser. But when he finds his father's copy of Catcher in the Rye, he believes the book may be the key to changing everything.

Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini
In an attempt to escape his status as a nerd, Jeremy swallows a pill-sized super computer to help him get what he wants. But we all know, life is never that easy.

Defect by Will Weaver
Born with a bizarre physical abnormality, David has always had to hide out. However, when he is given the opportunity to be "normal" he's not sure he will be able to give up what makes him unique.

American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
This graphic novels weaves together three stories about young Chinese Americans who are just trying to fit in.



Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
After finally getting noticed by someone other than school bullies and his ever-angry father, seventeen-year-old Tyler enjoys his tough new reputation and the attentions of a popular girl, but when life starts to go bad again, he must choose between transforming himself or giving in to his destructive thoughts.

Burger Wuss by M. T. Anderson
Hoping to lose his loser image, Anthony plans revenge on a bully, resulting in a war between two competing fast food restaurants, Burger Queen and O'Dermott's.

Kissing the Rain by Kevin Brooks
Fifteen-year-old Moo Nelson, shy, overweight, and bullied by his classmates, finds his life spinning out of control after he witnesses a car chase and a fight that results in a murder.

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
TJ has always shunned the athletics establishment at his school. But when he sees the star athlete bullying a mentally challenged classmate for wearing his deceased brother's letter jacket, he asks the boy to help him form a swim team and recruits all of the least popular students.

Buddha Boy by Kathy Koje
Jinsen is teased mercilessly by his classmates because he's different. Although Justin was content to go through high school unnoticed, he can not stand by as Jinsen is picked on. How hard is it to do the right thing?

Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss
In a government class three popular girls undergo a mock trial for their ruthless bullying of a classmate.

Beckoners by Carrie Mac
When Zoe moves to a new town, she finds the line between victim and tormentor is easily crossed.

Burn by Suzanne Phillips
Bullied constantly during his freshman year in high school, Cameron's anger and isolation grows, leading to deadly consequences.

Bullyville by Francine Prose
After the death of his estranged father in the World Trade Center on 9/11, thirteen-year-old Bart, still struggling with his feelings of guilt, sorrow and loss, wins a scholarship to the local preparatory school and there encounters a vicious bully whose cruelty compounds the aftermath of the tragedy.

Freak Show by James St. James
Billy Bloom is a seventeen-year-old drag queen and he has faced every type of torment imaginable. Rather than accepting his peers' abuse, Billy decides to stand up to their prejudices by running for Homecoming Queen.


Other Diaries and Journals

Cringe by Sarah Brown
A compilation of real-life excerpts from diaries, letters, and notes written by teenagers.

Pieces of Georgia by Jennifer Byrant
In journal entries to her mother, a gifted artist who died suddenly, thirteen-year-old Georgia McCoy reveals how her life changes after she receives an anonymous gift membership to a nearby art museum.

Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody Carlson
With a slightly Christian slant, Carlson writes a series of novels exploring the turbulence teens face in their daily lives.

Midnight Diary of Zoya Blume by Laura Cunningham
While her adoptive American mother is away, twelve-year-old Zoya confides in her diary her revived fears about the Buka, an old woman who waits in the shadows to snatch children, and confronts some truths about her early childhood in her native Russia.

Alice, I Think by Susan Juby
Fifteen-year-old Alice keeps a diary as she struggles to cope with the embarrassments and trials of family, dating, school, work, small town life, and a serious case of "outcastitis."

Dream Journal by Karen Halvorsen Schreck
Sixteen-year-old Olivia, facing the impending death of her mother from cancer, records her thoughts in a journal as she grapples with the changing behavior of her best friend and her own desire to run away from all of her problems.

Treacherous Love : The Diary of an Anonymous Teenager by Beatrice Sparks
As everything is falling apart around her, fourteen-year-old Jennie's diary becomes her only friend and possibly her only hope of escaping an unhealthy relationship with her math teacher.

IraqiGirl : Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq edited by Elizabeth Wrigley-Field
This biography consists of blog entries from a fifteen-year-old girl living in Iraq during 2004-2005. It focuses on the daily life that is left out of most of the news reports and is fairly balanced in perspective.

Plus, find books written in diary format from the list of read-alikes for Life as We Knew It in the OBNJ archives.



Coach Carter [PG-13]
Coach Carter makes the controversial decision to bench his entire team after they fail to live up to their academic contract.

Hoop Dreams [PG-13]
A documentary of two talented young basketball players and their quest to reach the NBA.

Hoosiers [PG]
A classic David vs. Goliath basketball story.

Love & Basketball [PG-13]
Quincy and Monica meet each other at the age of 11 and both have the dream to be NBA players. Their love/hate relationship lasts into college, where they ultimately split apart. When they meet again, their careers face a crossroads and they showdown against each other on the court.

Smoke Signals [PG-13]
Based on Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven, this is another view at life on a Spokane reservation.

One Book NJ is presented by the New Jersey Library Association in collaboration with and funded by the New Jersey State Library which is responsible for the coordination, promotion and funding of the New Jersey Library Network. Site by Swirling