Of the books I read this summer, here are my favorites:
I came across WILDTHORN by Jane Eagland as I prepared for a talk I'm giving in Hayward, WI this Friday about including Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender books for young adults in your public/school library. A 17-year-old girl in Victorian England dreams of someday becoming a doctor, but finds herself imprisoned in an asylum for the insane instead. Slowly she discovers why she was sent there, and desperately plans an escape. Both harrowing, and eventually hopeful.
Another outstanding historical fiction book for young adults was Katherine Sturtevant's THE BROTHERS STORY. Set during the Great Frost of 1683, 15-year-old Kit escapes to London to find a better life for himself, even though it means leaving behind his simple-minded twin brother. It isn't a book I would have picked up on my own (the cover doesn't do it justice) but thankfully I was given it as a gift, and the rich details of the time period kept me fascinated as Kit discovers what is most meaningful to him.
Finally THE POPULARITY PAPERS by Amy Ignatow is a hilarious book describing two fifth grade girls' attempt to become popular. I found it a kinder and funnier DIARY OF A WIMPY KID-type book. As a side note, one of the girls just happens to live with two dads, which is dealt with very matter-of-factly. If you know any middle grade girls (or even middle-aged men), they will eat this up.