Books by Nora Raleigh Baskin

NINE, TEN by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: June 28, 2016

"Tense, disturbing, and thought-provoking. (author's note, acknowledgements) (Historical fiction. 10-14)"
Four children of diverse ethnicities, unknown to one another, are at Chicago's O'Hare airport on Sept. 9, 2001. Read full book review >
RUBY ON THE OUTSIDE by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: June 16, 2015

"A deeply compassionate exploration of an experience underrepresented in children's literature but overrepresented in the real world. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Having a mom in prison presents Ruby with complications and challenges. Read full book review >
SUBWAY LOVE by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: May 6, 2014

"An ambitious concept that doesn't take off. (Historical fantasy. 12-16)"
A time rift connects Laura in 1972 with present-day Jonas. The story of their romantic connection alternates with scenes of each struggling with parental divorce in his or her own time. Read full book review >
RUNT by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: July 23, 2013

"A thought-provoking and worthy effort on a multifaceted, seemingly all but insurmountable, problem. (Fiction. 9-14)"
Bullies and the bullied: Could it help if they just better understood each other? Read full book review >
SURFACING by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: March 12, 2013

"At once frustrating and deeply moving, this ambitious novel comes tantalizingly close to getting it right. (Fiction. 14 & up)"
When Leah was 9 and Maggie 5, the sisters made a forbidden trip to the condo pool, where Leah drowned. Now 15 and a swim-team star, Maggie interprets her world, her worth and her choices through the prism of that loss. Read full book review >
THE SUMMER BEFORE BOYS by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: May 10, 2011

"Baskin adeptly portrays Julia's ambivalence and anxiety in this thoughtful tale that artfully brings the war to the homefront. (Fiction. 9-12)"
An extraordinary novel explores the challenges faced by children whose parents have gone off to war. Read full book review >
ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: March 24, 2009

People say 12-year-old Jason Blake is weird. He blinks his eyes oddly and flaps his hands, his fingers jerking "like insects stuck on a string." Jason is autistic. He hates art class and PE, where there's too much space and unorganized time, but he feels at home on his computer, writing stories on the Storyboard website. When he meets a fellow writer named Rebecca online and has the chance to meet her in person at a Storyboard conference, he panics. What will happen to their comfortable online relationship when she meets him? Baskin's delineation of an autistic boy's world is brilliant, putting readers into Jason's mind, showing how he sees the world, understands how his parents feel about him, frets about fitting in and yearns to find at least one friend in the world. Readers even get some tips about writing short stories as they observe Jason composing his way to self-acceptance. "This is who I am. This is me," as one of his characters says. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
ALL WE KNOW OF LOVE by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: Aug. 1, 2008

Natalie's obsession with Adam, her glib sometime boyfriend, and the very real possibility of pregnancy compel her to take a 24-hour bus ride to Florida to find her missing mother and some answers about love. On the road, her path crosses those of others: people sitting next to her in diners, stations and bus seats. Baskin drops brief interludes, gorgeous vignettes describing the love experiences of fellow travelers, into each chapter, and readers will soon see striking similarities between Natalie's story and those of these strangers. Teens will wonder at this unusual, fascinating examination of human intersection and the myriad, imperceptible ways we relate to one another. Varied love verses head each chapter, prompting further introspection. The narrative keeps from straying too far into the metaphysical by sticking close to Natalie's unrelenting, self-destructive addiction to Adam; readers in the throes of compulsive infatuation will identify with her constant urge to check her cell for messages. Girls navigating relationships with boys, mothers, fathers and friends will gladly share Natalie's bus seat as she heads south. (Fiction. 14 & up)Read full book review >
Released: March 25, 2008

When her Nana dies and bequeaths her a Jewish-star necklace, 12-year-old Caroline enters a period of self-reflection with some confused ideas about what her Jewish identity signifies. Her interfaith family pretty much ignores all religious celebrations, including the High Holy Days, limiting Caroline's experience to rare remembrances of Hanukah candle lightings that gradually transitioned to Christmas gift-giving. A friendship with Rachel, who has been attending religious school and is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah, piques Caroline's interest in finding out more about being Jewish. Is wearing her grandmother's Jewish star enough? Does Caroline need to have a Bat Mitzvah to be a Jew? Baskin poses some important questions for a child struggling to find her own religious path. However, although she correctly points out that a girl born to a Jewish mother is always a Jew who will automatically "become" a Bat Mitzvah upon her 12th birthday, the author denies the concept that a Jewish identity develops through the religious and spiritual education a child receives at home and within the greater Jewish community. It seems incomplete, if not incorrect, to conclude this diminished theme with a scene in which Caroline explains that all of Rachel's studying for her big day was unnecessary since her reaching the milestone birthday is enough. Despite the interpretation that one's concept of religious identity is personal, this is disappointing in its final message. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
IN THE COMPANY OF CRAZIES by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: Aug. 8, 2006

Mia Singer (13) is having a bad year. Her grades are plummeting; her social life is practically nonexistent; she is experimenting with some serious shoplifting and skips school regularly. When the accidental death of a classmate prompts her to make a call to the school to announce her own death, she "agrees" to a mutual decision with her therapist, parents and school administrators and enrolls in an alternative boarding school. Mia quickly learns the only schooling here is the keeping of a journal and the dodging of classmates' strange and erratic behavior. Her month-long stay provides an unexpected opportunity for her to reflect on her own behavior. When Mom picks her up for a weekend visit, they reconcile and terminate Mia's alternative experience immediately. Her introduction to a world of different kids with serious challenges prompts a certain reality check about her own fortunate home and school life. But the source of her troubled behavior, a discontent with parental expectations, remains tenuous. (Fiction. 12-14)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

Sixth-graders Hank, Nathan, Jeremy, and Anabel form a lasting friendship over the course of the North Bridge Sixth Grade Travel Basketball season, the setting for this school sports story. Perhaps it is the distance of the third-person narrative that keeps each of these characters from coming alive, or perhaps it is their stock situations: Hank's parents live for their son's sports success; Nathan isn't any good; Jeremy is a star, but unhappy in his new home with his grandmother; and Anabel's family ignores her talents in favor of her brother's. The influence of adults on pre-teen athletics is as much the subject as basketball itself. Although believable, the message takes over, to the detriment of plot and character development. The framing news article helps flesh out Anabel's story, but the last chapter, explaining what happened right up into their senior year, seems tacked on. Readers might want more about the games, but those who play on sports teams will recognize these characters and be rooting for them. (Fiction 10-12)Read full book review >
ALMOST HOME by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Released: May 1, 2003

Sixth-grader Leah Baer knows immediately that something is wrong when her psychologist father, who has trouble expressing himself, picks her up from summer camp. She moves in with her father and his wife, Gail, while her mother and younger sister, Anne, now live across the country in California. As Leah tries to cope with her mounting incomplete schoolwork, writes unanswered letters to her mother, tests boundaries with Gail, and befriends Will, another loner, readers gradually learn about the woman who raised Leah after her mother died and about her inseparable bond with her sister. Although Leah does not always understand the ways of the world, she begins to accept those who love her and become part of a new family and home. Continuing themes established in What Every Girl (except me) Knows (2001), Baskin creates a perfect tween voice in Leah, whose painfully real emotions and reactions help her find solace in an imperfect world. Heart-wrenching, bittersweet, and genuine to the very end. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

In this unusual, deeply felt story about a motherless girl, 12-year-old Gabby lives with her painter father and older brother, Ian. She longs not only for a mother to instruct her in the womanly arts, but also for a best friend to share things with. Her wishes are suddenly answered when Cleo, her favorite of all the women her father has dated, becomes engaged to her dad and a wonderful new girl joins her school class. Gabby is relieved and happy that she has finally found females she can connect with, until the unexpected happens. Her father and Cleo break up, and in a heart-wrenching gasp-out-loud moment, Cleo shatters Gabby's hopes for a fairytale family with a real mother at the helm. But Cleo's temporary presence has awoken Gabby's long-dormant curiosity about her own mother. She's particularly interested in probing into her mother's mysterious death, a taboo topic in her household and something she has always felt guilty about. Determined to find out the truth, she talks her older brother into accompanying her on a pilgrimage to New York, hoping a visit to their old home will jog their collective memories. There she learns some hard, though guilt-relieving truths, finally becoming able to have "embraced her [mother's] existence" and say "good-bye." Although slow in spots, Baskin's first person narrative is smoothly engaging overall, and the dialogue rings true. The sympathetic protagonist has reality and dimension, and readers should be squarely in her corner as she goes through the difficult process of becoming a young woman. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >