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June 11th, 2012

“I wasn’t crazy enough to jump into Matt Thornton’s wreck for an illegal six-hour trip with a girl who would apparently have fingernails in 10 different colors by then and whose main interest in life was hunting down the spirit of her late father,” 16-year-old Ryan insists in Jennifer Hubbard’s latest novel, “Try Not to Breathe.”

But before he knows it, Ryan is barreling down the highway with a 15-year-old girl he’s only just begun to get to know so he can see Val, the girl he met in a mental hospital months before. The girl who knows his darkest secrets; the girl he can’t forget.

For months, Ryan has tried to close himself off from the world around him. Everyone in his new hometown knows him as the “psycho kid” who tried to kill himself in his garage the winter before. What they don’t know is that for all his preparations that night, Ryan never turned the key in the ignition—so one “lame-ass night in the garage,” as he puts it, will haunt his reputation for the rest of high school.

But the reasons why he stepped into the garage that night are impossible to push away completely, no matter how many therapy sessions he endures. And it will take an unlikely friendship with Nicki—a girl who is so anxious to know why her father killed himself when she was little that she’ll pay psychics to connect her with his spirit—to pull Ryan out of his malaise and back into the world of the living.

Learn more about the novel:

Last week, Hubbard wrote a great post on writing realistic YA fiction, and why realistic stories call to her heart more than the fantasies that are so popular. But "to write realist fiction in today's YA world is to feel a bit second-best, a bit out of step," she says. Find out more in this post:

Over the weekend, I also put together a slideshow of 5 YA books not to miss this summer: What books would you add to this list?

Happy Monday!



jeni and kayley
Jeni Bell

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