Disaster and Resilience - A Teen Book List

Submitted by rabbott on November 1, 2017 - 10:12pm

Do you ever wonder what this world is coming to?  

One peek at the news or your Instagram feed, and it can feel like you just woke up to the apocalypse.  We've seen natural disasters reaching far around the globe and right here in our own backyards.  There's violence, terror, and... the list goes on.  During these times, when it seems like our reality can't possibly get any worse... it can be incredibly helpful to reach for examples of resilience, survival, strength, and courage.  Scroll down for a list of books (fiction and non-fiction) where young adults have been put to the test--mostly by natural disasters--and not only survive... they also thrive in the face of hardship and devastation.

Cover image for In darkness

In Darkness Lake, by Nick Lake, Fiction (Library Call Number: Y LAKE) "Shorty" is a Haitian boy trapped in the ruins of a hospital when the earth explodes around him. Surrounded by lifeless bodies and growing desperately weak from lack of food and water, death seems imminent. Yet as Shorty waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, he becomes aware of another presence, one reaching out to him across two hundred years of history.

Cover image for Dark water

Dark Water, by Laura McNeal, Fiction (Library Call Number: Y MCNEAL) Living in a cottage on her uncle's southern California avocado ranch since her parent's messy divorce, fifteen-year-old Pearl Dewitt meets and falls in love with an illegal migrant worker, and is trapped with him when wildfires approach his makeshift forest home.

Cover image for All we have left

All We Have Left, by Wendy Mills, Fiction (Library Call Number: Y MILLS) In interweaving stories of sixteen-year-olds, modern-day Jesse tries to cope with the ramifications of her brother's death on 9/11, while in 2001, Alia, a Muslim, gets trapped in one of the Twin Towers and meets a boy who changes everything for her as flames rage around them.

Cover image for The memory of things

The Memory of Things, by Gae Polisner, Fiction (Library Call Number: Y POLISNER) On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down, then while fleeing home to safety, he finds a girl covered in ash who has no memory.

Cover image for Hurricane song

Hurricane Song, by Paul Volponi, Fiction (Library Call Number: Y VOLPONI) Twelve-year-old Miles Shaw goes to live with his father, a jazz musician, in New Orleans, and together they survive the horrors of Hurricane Katrina in the Superdome, learning about each other and growing closer through their painful experiences.

Cover image for Hold Tight, Don't Let Go

Hold tight, don't let go : a novel of Haiti, by Laura Rose Wagner, Fiction (Library Call Number: Y WAGNER) In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Nadine goes to live with her father in Miami while her cousin Magdalie, raised as her sister, remains behind in a refugee camp, dreaming of joining Nadine but wondering if she must accept that her life and future are in Port-au-Prince.

 a novel

Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward, Fiction (Library Call Number: WARD) Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.

 Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, by Don Brown, Non-Fiction (Library Call Number: Y 363.34 BROWN) On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage -- and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality.

 the true story of how I survived and escaped North Korea

Every falling star : the true story of how I survived and escaped North Korea, by Sungju Lee, Non-Fiction (Library Call Number: Y 951.9305 LEE) This is the memoir of a boy named Sungju who grew up in North Korea and, at the age of twelve, was forced to live on the streets and fend for himself after his parents disappeared. Finally, after years of being homeless and living with a gang, Sungju is reunited with his maternal grandparents and, eventually, his father.

Cover image for The bite of the mango

The Bite of the Mango, by Mariatu Kamara, Non-Fiction (Library Call Number: Y 966.404 KAMARA) When Mariatu set out for a neighborhood village in Sierra Leone, she was kidnapped and tortured, and both of her hands cut off. She turned to begging to survive. This heartrending memoir is a testament to her courage and resilience. Today she is a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

NOTE: This list was thoughtfully compiled for you by our *fabulous* Young Adult Librarian, Lara Mayelian, at the Rincon Valley Regional Library.  If you are looking for additional titles or need more recommendations, ask your friendly Teen Librarian at your local branch of the Sonoma County Library.  

We are here for you!

Post by Rosalie Abbott, Sebastopol Regional Library

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