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NON-FICTION: It Happened to Me: Memoirs for Teens

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A long way gone : memoirs of a boy soldier

Beah, Ishmael, 1980-


What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

El deafo

Bell, Cece, author, artist.


Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful--and very awkward--hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become "El Deafo, Listener for All." And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.

Little fish : a memoir from a different kind of year

Beyer, Ramsey, author, illustrator.


Told through real-life journals, collages, lists, and drawings, this coming-of-age story illustrates the transformation of an 18-year-old girl from a small-town teenager into an independent city-dwelling college student. Written in an autobiographical style with beautiful artwork, Little Fish shows the challenges of being a young person facing the world on her own for the very first time and the unease--as well as excitement--that comes along with that challenge.

A long way home

Brierley, Saroo, author.


This is the miraculous and triumphant story of a young man who rediscovers not only his childhood life and home, but an identity long-since left behind. At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia. Despite his gratitude, he always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family. This is a true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.

The life and times of the thunderbolt kid : a memoir

Bryson, Bill.


Using his fantasy-life persona as a springboard, Bryson re-creates the life of his family in the 1950s in all its transcendent normality--a life at once familiar to us all and as far away and unreachable as another galaxy.

The year we disappeared : a father-daughter memoir

Busby, Cylin.

TEEN 363.2092 BUSBY

Cylin and John Busby share the challenges they faced after their family was forced into hiding to protect themselves from a killer who had already shot John, a police officer, and was determined to finish the job.

Hole in my life

Gantos, Jack.


The author relates how, as a young adult, he became a drug user and smuggler, was arrested, did time in prison, and eventually got out and went to college, all the while hoping to become a writer.

They call me a hero : a memoir of my youth

Hernandez, Daniel, 1990-


Daniel Hernandez helped save the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and his life experience is a source of true inspiration in this heartfelt memoir. When Daniel Hernandez was twenty years old, he was working as an intern for U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. On January 8, 2011, during a "Congress on Your Corner" event, Giffords was shot. Daniel Hernandez's quick thinking saved Giffords's life until the paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital. Hernandez's bravery and heroism has been noted by many, including President Barack Obama. But while that may have been his most well-known moment in the spotlight, Daniel Hernandez, Jr., is a remarkable individual who has already accomplished much in his young life, and is working to achieve much more. This memoir explores Daniel's life, his character, and the traits that a young person needs to rise above adversity and become a hero like Daniel.

Rethinking normal : a memoir in transition

Hill, Katie Rain, author.


In this young adult memoir, a transgender girl shares her personal journey of growing up as a boy and then undergoing gender reassignment during her teens.

Smile for the camera : a memoir

James, Kelle.


Kelle James ran away from an abusive home at the age of fifteen to the best place she could think of. New York City. She was going to be a model, rich, famous, and she was going to find people who treated her right. She had no idea what was in store for her and within three days she was homeless and broke. What follows is her exceptional story of trying to make it on her own with nothing to her name and no one to trust. She endures a string of people, mostly men, who take advantage of her youth and beauty, many disappointments and rejections, and the most famous murder trial of the 1970s. This is the story of a girl losing herself before finding her way in the city that never sleeps.

Tomboy : a graphic memoir

Prince, Liz, author.


Eschewing female stereotypes throughout her early years and failing to gain acceptance on the boys' baseball team, Liz learns to embrace her own views on gender as she comes of age, in an anecdotal graphic novel memoir.

Unlikely warrior : a Jewish soldier in Hitler's army

Rauch, Georg, 1924-2006, author.

TEEN 940.5413 RAUCH

A YA memoir of an 18-year old part-Jewish youth who, despite his heritage, is drafted into Hitler's army and sent to serve on the Russian front.

Positive : surviving my bullies, finding hope, and living to change the world --a memoir

Rawl, Paige.


A teenager's memoir of the experiences of bullying, being HIV positive and surviving the experiences to become a force for positive change in this world.

The pregnancy project : a memoir

Rodriguez, Gaby.


In this book, Rodriguez shares her experience growing up in the shadow of low expectations, reveals how she was able to fake her own pregnancy, and reveals all that she learned from the experience. stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

Do you dream in color? : insights from a girl without sight

Rubin, Laurie.


Colors, Rubin tells us, affect everyone through sound, smell, taste, and a vast array of emotions and atmospheres. She explains that although she has been blind since birth, she has experienced color all her life. In her memoir Do You Dream in Color?, Laurie Rubin looks back on her life as an international opera singer who happens to be blind. From her loneliness and isolation as a middle school student to her experiences skiing, Rubin offers her young readers a life-story rich in detail and inspiration drawn from everyday challenges. Beginning with her childhood in California, Rubin tells the story of her life and the amazing experiences that led her to a career as an internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano. Although most of us aren't blind, Rubin believes that many of us have traits that make us something other than "normal." These differences, like blindness, may seem like barriers, but for the strong and the persistent, dreams can overcome barriers, no matter how large they may seem.


Satrapi, Marjane, 1969-


An intelligent and outspoken only child, Satrapi--the daughter of radical Marxists and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor--bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

A list of things that didn't kill me : a memoir

Schmidt, Jason, 1972- author.


Jason Schmidt wasn't surprised when he came home one day during his junior year of high school and found his father, Mark, crawling around in a giant pool of blood. Things like that had been happening a lot since Mark had been diagnosed with HIV, three years earlier. Jason's life with Mark was full of secrets--about drugs, crime, and sex. If the straights--people with normal lives--ever found out any of those secrets, the police would come. Jason's home would be torn apart. So the rule, since Jason had been in preschool, was never to tell the straights anything. A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me is a funny, disturbing memoir full of brutal insights and unexpected wit that explores the question: How do you find your moral center in a world that doesn't seem to have one?

Tweak : (growing up on methamphetamines)

Sheff, Nic.


Sheff relates his personal struggle with drugs and alcohol in this poignant and often disturbing memoir. Paul Michael Garcia is the perfect choice for narrator; his stern and entirely believable voice captures the desolation in Sheff's tale. His reading is wonderfully underplayed, and necessarily so. Garcia becomes Sheff, offering a gritty and raw performance that demonstrates just how dire the circumstances surrounding Sheff's existence really were.

Stitches : a memoir--

Small, David, 1945-


Remarkable and intensely dramatic, Stitches tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute—a vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot. From horror to hope, Small proceeds to graphically portray an almost unbelievable descent into adolescent hell and the difficult road to physical, emotional, and artistic recovery.

My story

Smart, Elizabeth, 1987-


Ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life. Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving.

I love yous are for white people : a memoir

Su, Lac.


Heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting, this stirring memoir chronicles one Asian-American immigrant's struggle to find himself--and to transcend the dangers of gang life in Los Angeles.

We should hang out sometime : embarrassingly, a true story

Sundquist, Josh, author.


"Why was [Paralympic ski racer and cancer survivor] Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: what went wrong? The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here: disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided 'grand gesture' at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love--or at least a girlfriend--in all the wrong places"

Popular : a memoir : vintage wisdom for a modern geek

Wagenen, Maya van.


Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at "pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be here," Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise-meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself.

The glass castle : a memoir

Walls, Jeannette.


Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.


Wiesel, Elie, 1928-

940.5318 WIESEL

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

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