What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen by Kate Fagan
This is one of those books that I want to shove a copy into everyone's hands that I know...parents, students, athletes, anyone who works with teens, anyone who watches sports, anyone and everyone, period. Yes, it is that powerful, that life-changing, that important. Kate Fagan, journalist and ESPN contributor as well as former college athlete, has given us the most meaningful 'sports' story, that is not just about sports, for this generation of young athletes. Fagan investigates the suicide, and the life that led to it, of Madison Holleran who was bright, beautiful, and a super-stud athlete attending an Ivy League college. She had it all, right? The question remains then, why? As Fagan explores the impact of social media on today's permanently-connected youth, she also looks at the expectations and pressures placed on student athletes, the support or lack thereof at college for issues of mental illness, and the hidden lives of so many young people who feel like their only exit off the road they are on is suicide. This is a gripping, heart-wrenching story that I constantly wanted not to be true, to have a different ending. Yes, you will cry; yes, you will be frustrated, and yes, you will wish you could reach inside Maddy and convince her that the next day will be better. But you will also be glad that you read this book as it will force you to stop and question the messages our society sends kids of today, to spend just one more minute checking in with people you love and even those you don't, and to support programs that will help young people battle their demons in a healthy way.
Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
This book should be required reading for every citizen...seriously. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for people under the age of fifty, it has ravaged many small cities, towns, and rural areas, and has stymied economic recovery and destroyed millions of families. In other words, we've got a problem, America. This book does an outstanding job of investigating the beginnings of the epidemic, moving seamlessly between the area in Mexico where the black tar networks grew into thriving business here in the states, and the prescription drugs that aided the heroin addiction. Sam Quinones is a brilliant investigative reporter who keeps an objective voice throughout the book, while also showing his readers the devastation of these drugs. Few people in America today do not know of someone who has been touched by this epidemic; this is a powerful read that will give you much needed information because without knowledge, we cannot stop millions more from dying. Trust me, read this book.
Wonder Woman War Bringer by Leigh Bardugo
Do NOT turn up your nose at the title, and think "Really...Wonder Woman?!" I am betting many of you religiously watched Lynda Carter as the title character back in the 70's, admiring that special plane and magic lasso! And quite honestly, if you like fantasy/mythology, and you are as big a fan of Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, Shadow and Bone, etc.) as I am, hold on to your seat because this is another raucous ride. The story begins on the island of the Amazons (of course), with teenaged Diana trying to prove herself to her mother, Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons and star of her own Greek myth. Enter Alia, a girl from the real world who has some seriously bad blood...as in the blood of Helen of Troy, the war bringer. Anyone who inherits this blood line brings bickering, fights, chaos, and war to the world around them. As we watch Diana and Alia try to get to the springs in Greece that will wash away this doomed inheritance, the bad guys constantly surprise them with plot to murder Alia. I loved the bad-ass-ery of these women, the mental and physical toughness that bests the 'heroic' men of the day, the humor that Bardugo always is able to bring to her exciting tales, and the feeling of being on that roller coaster that you never want to end. And if your teenager enjoyed the latest Wonder Woman movie, this is a great way to get a book under their nose:)
Reviews reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.