Nothing But the Truth: Suggested Summer Reads for Teens

Here are books about nothing but the truth – truthful fiction and nonfiction about the truth. Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book.

Bock, Caroline. LIE. 2011. 11th Grade
Told in several voices, a group of Long Island high school seniors conspire to protect eighteen-year-old Jimmy after he brutally assaults two Salvadoran immigrants, until they begin to see the moral implications of Jimmy’s actions and the consequences of being loyal to a violent bully.
Ties in with: 11th Grade English, Social Studies, Sociology

Bortz, Alfred B. Meltdown!: the nuclear disaster in Japan and our energy future. 2012. 8th Grade
Recounts the Tohoku earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Ties in with: 8th Grade Science, Earth Science

Deem, James M. Faces from the past: forgotten people of North America. 2012. 9th Grade
Combining sensitivity and solid scientific style, Deem reveals the history of the science of facial reconstruction, as well as the forgotten lives and the faces of the dead, to contemporary generations so that at last their stories can be told.
Ties in with: 9th Grade Social Studies, Science, Forensic Science

Eilperin, Juliet. Demon fish: travels through the hidden world of sharks. 2011. 11th Grade
A global investigation into the surprising ways in which people and cultures relate to and engage with sharks includes coverage of Papua New Guinea’s creation myths, the finning practices of mainland China and the counsel of a Miami shark-fishing guide to his celebrity clients.
Ties in with: Marine Biology

Gann, Marjorie. Five Thousand Years of Slavery. 2011. 8th Grade
Traces the practice of slavery throughout the millennia, drawing on historical narratives, personal accounts, and visual sources to cover such examples as the ancient Sumerian practice of selling impoverished children into bondage and the oppression of ninth-century Zanj salt marsh workers.
Ties in with: 8th Grade Social Studies, Global History

Gantos, Jack. Hole in my life. 2002. 10th Grade
In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer desperate for adventure, college cash, and way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents finally caught up to them in a bust at the Chelsea Hotel. What led Jack to this, and what happened to him during and after prison? This thrilling autobiography will grab you and not let go.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Social Studies, Science

Janeczko, Paul B. The Dark Game: true spy stories. 2010. 7th Grade.
A collection of true spy stories from throughout the history of the United States, discussing personalities, missions, traitors, technological advances, and more.
Ties in with: 7th Grade Social Studies
2011 Finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
Great for: anyone who loves spy movies and spy stories

Keat, Nawuth. Alive in the killing fields: surviving the Khmer Rouge genocide. 2009. 9th Grade.
Alive in the Killing Fields is the real-life memoir of Nawuth Keat, a man who survived the horrors of war-torn Cambodia. He has now broken a longtime silence in the hope that telling the truth about what happened to his people and his country will spare future generations from similar tragedy. In this captivating memoir, a young Nawuth defies the odds and survives the invasion of his homeland by the Khmer Rouge. Under the brutal reign of the dictator Pol Pot, he loses his parents, young sister, and other members of his family. After his hometown of Salatrave was overrun, Nawuth and his remaining relatives are eventually captured and enslaved by Khmer Rouge fighters. They endure physical abuse, hunger, and inhumane living conditions. But through it all, their sense of family holds them together, giving them the strength to persevere through a time when any assertion of identity is punishable by death.
Ties in with: 9th Grade World History, English.

Mitchell, Jeff. Real justice: young, innocent and in prison: the story of Robert Baltovich. 2012. 9th Grade.
At twenty-five, Rob Baltovich lost the love of his life, Elizabeth Bain. That was bad enough. Then he was arrested, jailed, sent to trial for murder, convicted and sent to prison – for life. Throughout his years in prison, Rob maintained that he was innocent, refusing to admit to a crime he didn’t commit. The result was he was never granted parole. Finally, his luck began to turn when he hired new lawyers who believed in him. Not only did they get Rob acquitted, they also made a strong case that the real murderer was the infamous serial killer Paul Bernardo. Mitchell tells much of the story in Baltovich’s own words. In this book, readers will discover how this tragic miscarriage of justice happened – and how the legal system can right its own wrongs when lawyers and judges are willing to re-examine a case with fresh eyes.
Ties in with: 9th Grade Social Studies, Criminal Justice.