Ten Mile River is the story of two teens, Ray and Jose, who have spent the last few years escaping from juvenile detention centers and foster homes, and living in an abandoned shack in the wooded area of a park in New York City. They survive by stealing, and looking out for each other. Ray is very bright, and tries to read everything he can get his hands on. Jose just figures that learning anything isn't worth the trouble because he'll just continue to live by stealing, and will probably end up dead or in jail at a relatively young age anyway. Ray is given an opportunity for honest work and really wants to take advantage of it, but his record is following him. There is also Trini, the girl that both of them are interested in. It's a view of a very different lifestyle. I usually don't really like books written in heavy urban slang, but this one was done better than most. That's probably because the author has actually spent time teaching in the juvenile detention centers in New York. The characters are more complex as well. Despite, or perhaps because of, the conditions that they live in, you see the deep relationship that Ray and Jose have developed. They are very, very different in both personality and in hopes for the future, but because of circumstances, they are closer and would do more for each other than most biological siblings. It's a pretty quick read. Some rough language, but nothing real graphic. Best for high school students.
Wake is the story of Janie Hannagan, a high school student from the wrong side of the tracks, who lives with her usually drunk mother, and works as an aide in a nursing home to try to save enough money to go to college. Since she was 8 years old, if Janie is in close proximity to another person who is sleeping, she is suddenly and uncontrollably drawn into that person's dreams. To an onlooker she appears to be having a seizure. This makes sleepovers and overnight class trips difficult, to say the least. She has never told anyone about it, and struggles to maintain control, and to keep the secrets that she is privy to by witnessing other people's dreams. When she becomes friends with Cabel, another student from the wrong side of town, things take some interesting twists as he witnesses what happens to her and tries to help her. Another quick read, that draws you in and keeps you reading a little later than you intended. I liked this one a lot. Fine for older middle school or high school students. When you finish this one, look for the sequel, Fade. Another book in the series, Gone, is scheduled for release in early 2010. I'll be picking that one up when it's available.