Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña

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“‘If I don’t make it to the NBA I’ll kill myself. I know it don’t sound so good when I say it, Annie, but that’s how I feel. There ain’t nothin else I wanna do. Just play ball.

De la Peña, Matt. Ball Don’t Lie.  Delacorte Press, 2005. 280 pages. Hardcover. $8.99, ISBN 978-0-385-902588

Matt de la Peña is one of my new favorite authors. I did a lesson for my high schoolers introducing Matt, book talking a few of his books, and practicing writing a story from a primary source picture just like he did with Last Stop on Market Street.

I became intrigued by Matt after reading “Sometimes The ‘Tough Teen’ Is Quietly Writing Stories”


From School Library Journal (Courtesy of

“Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–That white boy can ball….He don’t play like no regular white boy. Sticky, 17, has spent his life being abused by pimps living with his prostitute mother, bouncing from one foster home to another, and living on the street between failed placements. But he’s developed incredible hoop skills that have given him considerable social standing among his mostly black peers. And he gets a girlfriend named Anh-thu, who loves him and wants to help him reach his dreams. Sticky sees basketball as his way out of his dead-end life and is determined to make the right moves in the game to attain his goal. But he doesn’t quite know how to make the right moves in his life, until a bad decision leads him to confront dark secrets. Jumping back and forth in time, this first novel has a unique narrative voice that mixes street lingo, basketball jargon, and trash talk to tell Sticky’s sorry saga from a variety of viewpoints. Although readers who are not familiar with basketball may have trouble following some of the detailed game action, even they will be involved in the teen’s at once depressing and inspiring story. Sticky is a true original, and de la Peña has skillfully brought him to life.–Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego”

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Ball Don’t Lie was made into a movie. Unfortunately, it’s rated R.



Want to learn more about Matt de la Pena? Click Here for an interview with Matt de la Peña.



  • An ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults
  • An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick
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Matt de la Peña’s
 Website ,
Twitter Account 



One Death. Nine Stories. edited by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr.

HRS One Death Nine StoriesThis interesting book includes nine different stories by nine different authors that all are somehow related to the suicide of one person, Kevin Nicholas. I included the School Library Journal review because I think they did a really great job of summarizing the book for you. Enjoy!

Aronson, Marc & Charles R. Smith Jr. One Death. Nine Stories. Candlewick Press, 2014. 148 pages. Hardcover. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-7636-5285-2

From School Library Journal

“Gr 9 Up—Kevin Nicholas, a popular high school football player, has committed suicide, though readers don’t know that at first. In fact, through nine stories, each told by a different author and from a different point of view, readers come to know only a little about Kevin himself. Instead, readers observe the reactions of Kevin’s sister, his best friends, people who barely knew him, even of the funeral home workers who handles his body. The death of a teenager, especially by his own hand, can be impossible to understand, but lives don’t stop just because one life did. Each chapter deals with the process of initiation, acceptance, growing up, and moving on even in the face of death. The authors included are all well-known young adult writers, such as Ellen Hopkins, Rita Williams-Garcia, and A. S. King, and it is clear that they know and understand their audience. Despite the differing perspectives and characters, the writing is remarkably consistent in tone. The vignette feel of each section may appeal to reluctant readers who can manage a narrative in small chunks without losing the arc of the story itself. More enthusiastic readers will devour it whole. Keep it in mind as bibliotherapy, should the unfortunate need arise, or as a springboard for journaling or creative writing.—Katherine Koenig, The Ellis School, PA”

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Kindle Edition



Hate List by Jennifer Brown

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Nick and Valerie keep a list of all the people and things they hate to help them deal with all the abuse that they receive. It’s just a list, until the day Nick begins shooting and killing those on the list and then himself leaving Valerie to deal with the reality of it.

Brown, Jennifer. Hate List. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. 405 pages. Paperback. $8.99, ISBN 978-0-316-04145-4

“Valerie Leftman, 16, was the last victim shot before Nick Levil, the alleged shooter, reportedly turned the gun on himself.”

Nick was Valerie’s boyfriend. Nick and Valerie were both picked on and bullied at school – a lot. One way they found to deal with all of the abuse, was to make a Hate List. In this notebook were the names of people and things that they hated. But it was just a list, right? Until one day Nick came to school and began shooting, targeting those named in the Hate List.

Nick is gone but Valerie is left. Left to deal with her family and friends who don’t know if she was part of Nick’s plan or not. She’s left loving and missing someone who is now considered a monster. How could she still love Nick? She’s left wondering how she missed all the signs. She’s left finishing her senior year at the school where it all happened.

Read to see how Valerie deals with the internal and external turmoil after the tragedy at Garvin High School on May 2, 2008, a day she will never be able to forget. Will she be able to move on?

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Book Trailer:

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Available in:



Kindle Edition

Jennifer Brown’s Website 

Facebook Account


School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Michigan Library Association’s Thumbs Up! Award

Louisiana Teen Readers Choice award

ALA Best Book for Young Adults

2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award

VOYA “Perfect Ten,”

 YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback

  2010 Thumbs Up! Winner

“I like realistic fiction. It’s what I read most. I like it because it’s most relatable.” Aly P. Age 15

© Chris Peeler 2013