Book picks similar to
Check Mates by Stewart Foster


middle-grade
family
school
young-adult

What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows


Nora Raleigh Baskin - 2001
    If only her father would cooperate, Gabby would have someone to tell her what is and isn' t happening to her body. For awhile her father' s girlfriend, Cleo, forms a bond with Gabby. But when the adults break up, Gabby' s hopes for a stepmother are shattered. Still, sharing feelings with a woman has awakened Gabby' s curiosity about her own mother' s mysterious death. Once and for all, Gabby is determined to discover the truth.

Long Story Short


Siobhán Parkinson - 2011
       Jono has always been able to cope with his mother's drinking, but when she hits his little sister Julie, he decides it's time for them to run away. Told in Jono's funny, self-conscious voice, the layers of his past and the events of his escape are gradually revealed. Amusing and touching but never sentimental, Siobhan Parkinson is a well reviewed middle-grade author who now turns her considerable skill as a writer to a young adult audience.

Losing It


Erin Fry - 2012
    But there’s no way Bennett could ever play baseball. Bennett is fat, the kind of fat that gives you belly button sweat stains and makes it tough to get off a saggy couch.But on one perfect, baseball-watching day, everything changes. Bennett’s dad is taken away on a stretcher, and Bennett doesn’t know if he will live or die.Now Bennett has to move in with know-it-all Aunt Laura, his mom’s sister, who hates Bennett’s dad. And Aunt Laura is making it her personal mission to Get Bennett Healthy. Bennett knows that Aunt Laura will take over his entire life if he lets her.It’s time for Bennett to step up to the plate. Because maybe there are some things a fat boy can do.

Skin Deep


E.M. Crane - 2008
    High school has its predictable heroes, heroines, villains, and plotlines, and Andrea has no problem guessing how each drama will turn out. She is, after all, a professional spectator. In the social hierarchy she is a Nothing, and at home her mother runs the show. All Andrea has to do is show up every day and life basically plays out as scripted. Then one day Andrea accepts a job. Honora Menapace–a reclusive neighbor–is sick. As in every other aspect of her life, Andrea’s role is clear: Honora’s garden must be taken care of and her pottery finished, and someone needs to feed her dog, Zena. But what starts out as a simple job yanks Andrea’s back-row seat out from under her. Life is no longer predictable, and nothing is what it seems. Light is dark, villains are heroes, and what she once saw as ugly is too beautiful for words. Andrea must face the fact that life at first glance doesn’t even crack the surface.

Tender


Valerie Hobbs - 2001
    Liv's father, Mark, simply handed her over to his own mother and left. Now Liv's beloved Gran has died. Liv has to leave New York to live with her father in California, where he dives for abalone. It is a disaster. Mark isn't the talking type, and Liv cannot forgive him for abandoning her. Samantha, his girlfriend, has to serve as go-between. Then Mark's 'tender' the man responsible for his lifeline when he dives breaks his arm, and Liv takes his place. Now she literally has control over her father's life, and once they head out to sea, there is no turning back....

End of the Alphabet


Fleur Beale - 2009
    Ruby feels a bit like a doormat - she has to help out while her brother doesn't. He wins lots of prizes at school but she has a learning difficulty and needs a reader/writer to help her in exams. What's more, her surname, Yarrow, is at the end of the alphabet and when the roll gets called out she's always at the end. She hates it. She feels she's always at the end of the line.Not that Ruby is a misery bag at all. She's bright and vibrant. She has great friends and loves clothes, fashion magazines and sewing, which she has a real knack for. She's very keen to go on the school trip to Brazil and so she gets a job to earn the money for her airfare, working in a supermarket for an old grump. She also learns a bit of Portuguese and meeting exchange students.This book is about having a dream and aiming for it. Ruby learns to stand up to her parents, gets some backbone and starts to see herself in a much better light. There's even a bit of romance.

Defining Dulcie


Paul Acampora - 2006
    Quirky, uplifting, and written in a spare prose, this hopeful and humorous debut explores the connections made in life, the resilience of the human spirit, and the absurdities that keep life interesting.

Dear Anjali


Melissa Glenn Haber - 2010
    In letters to Anjali, Meredith puzzles through how to cope with the ongoing challenges of school and regular life—without Anjali by her side. Complicating matters is the new friendship Meredith develops with Noah, the object of a crush she and Anjali once shared. Meredith’s connection with Noah leads first to guilt as the two grow closer…and ultimately to revelations that could shatter every memory Meredith holds dear regarding her lost friend.

The Education of Ivy Blake


Ellen Airgood - 2015
    But now Ivy’s mom has decided to take her back. Ivy tries to pretend everything is fine, but her mom’s neglect and embarrassing public tantrums often make Ivy feel ashamed and alone. Fortunately, Ivy is able to find solace in art, in movies, and from the pleasure she finds in observing and appreciating life’s small, beautiful moments. And when things with her mom reach the tipping point, this ability gives her the strength and power to push on and shape her own future.

Speed of Life


Carol Weston - 2017
    Talking with her dad about puberty and s-e-x is super-awkward (even though he is a gynecologist). And when she wants to talk about her mom, her friends don't know what to say and her dad gets sad.When Sofia discovers Dear Kate, an advice columnist from Fifteen magazine, she’s grateful to have someone to confide in about everything from crushes to mourning—someone who is completely, wonderfully anonymous. It feels ideal—until Sofia’s dad introduces her to his new girlfriend, Katherine Baird, a.k.a., Dear Kate…Praise for The Speed of Life: "The Speed of Life is the kind of book that you want to read speedily, all at once, because the characters are so engaging, the voice of the narrator pitch perfect, the situations convincingly real and raw, the humor and liveliness of the prose such fun to follow, and the feelings of that time in a teenager's life when everything can go from awful to awesome in a heartbeat are so vividly captured. You won't want to put it down. But my advice is slow down and savor this delightful book, full of carino, funny and heartfelt, and (spoiler alert) not just for teens." -Julia Alvarez, award-winning, bestselling author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies"Carol Weston's Sofia moves beyond sorrow to all the possibilities of teen life in this wonderful book that takes us from loss to laughter."--Richard Peck, Newbery Gold Medalist for A Year Down Yonder"

Home Girl


Alex Wheatle - 2019
    Haven’t had a proper home since . . . This is just somewhere I’ll be resting my bones for a week and maybe a bit. This time next year you’ll forget who I am. I haven’t got a diddly where I’ll be by then. But I’m used to it.New from the best-selling black British author Alex Wheatle, Home Girl is the story of Naomi, a teenage girl growing up fast in the foster care system. It is a wholly modern story which sheds a much-needed light on what can be an unsettling life—and the consequences that follow when children are treated like pawns on a family chessboard.Home Girl is fast-paced and funny, tender, tragic, and full of courage—just like Naomi. This is Alex Wheatle’s most moving and personal novel to date.

Lost in the Sun


Lisa Graff - 2015
    Trent’s pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he's not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is.  If only Trent could make that fresh start happen. It isn’t until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little—the girl with the mysterious scar across her face—that things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren’t always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.

Season of Ice


Diane Les Becquets - 2008
    As the lake freezes over, so, too, do the lives and hopes of her family. Because with no body, and no hope of finding one until the lake thaws, the family is denied access to insurance money. As the long winter drags on, Genesis begins to unravel the truth behind the rumors-of an affair, and possibly worse-and for the first time, questions how well she, or anyone, really knew her dad. Her odyssey will take her into the thick woods along the Canadian border where her father worked at a logging camp . . . and into a romance she isn't sure she wants. Taut, dark, and compelling, Season of Ice perfectly captures the complex, interior life of a young woman bracing for truth, inadvertently finding love, and waiting for answers that only the thaw can bring.

The Melting of Maggie Bean


Tricia Rayburn - 2007
    But the past year's been kind of rough, what with her dad losing his job and her loads of schoolwork. Maggie's learned to cope by eating chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. So much so, that Maggie is dragged by her aunt to weekly Pound Patrollers meetings. No big deal, just utter social devastation. She keeps her mind off PP meetings by "accidentally" running into gorgeous 8th grader Peter Applewood; updating her study spreadsheet--a.k.a, Maggie's Master Multi-Tasker; finding a job for her dad; and secretly practicing for one of the two freshman spots on the synchronized swim team. She's got a long way to go to reach her goals, but when Maggie Bean sets her mind on a goal, nothing--not even a bag of Kit Kats--can stand in her way.

Pieces of Why


K.L. Going - 2015
    Tia's dream is to change the world with her voice; and by all accounts, she might be talented enough. But when a shooting happens in her neighborhood and she learns the truth about the crime that sent her father to prison years ago, Tia finds she can't sing anymore. The loss prompts her to start asking the people in her community hard questions--questions everyone has always been too afraid to ask.Full of humanity, Pieces of Why is a timely story that addresses grief, healing, and forgiveness, told through the eyes of a gifted girl who hears rhythm and song everywhere in her life.