Books for Teens

Before There Were Bars; Ghetto By The Sea; Runaway ThoughtsP.O.P.S. the Club

Three anthologies produced by the students of P.O.P.S. the Club, a club for those whose lives have been touched by prison. In short memoirs, poems, photographs and drawings, the students tell the stories of their lives--sometimes stories about how their lives have been touched by prison, often by the ways in which all kinds of losses change us, forever.

Mexican White Boy – Matt de la Peña

Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.

But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.

That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see--the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.

My Father’s Son - Terri Fields

WHAT IF YOUR FATHER ISN’T WHO YOU THOUGHT HE WAS?

“I turn up the volume as a woman at a news desk announces, ‘This just in . . . the alleged DB25 monster has been arrested.’ Good. The camera switches from the anchor to a mug shot…and it is my face—or at least my face as it will look thirty years from now . . . A new image replaces the full-screen mug shot as I see two cops hustling my handcuffed father into the back of a police car.” Kevin has to face the worst imaginable possibility: that his father may be the man responsible for a series of vicious killings. How much does he really know about his father?

Romar Jones Takes A Hike: Runaway or Missing Person…- Jan Walker

Meet Romar Jones, 15 ½, basketball player with months to go before the next season and no one who cares about him since Granny died. His dad’s been dead for two years.

When his 9th grade language arts teacher says pay attention to the poetry unit or take a hike, Romar opts for the hike, leaves Roseburg, Oregon, and embarks on a journey to find his mother. He knows she’s in prison in Washington. He shrugs on his dad’s trail-guide backpack, and sets out, heading first to the coast to leave some of Granny’s ashes.

Within minutes of first chasing waves on the ocean beach, he encounters a derelict man he dubs Meth Mouth. Five days after leaving school he stops at Vesta’s by the Sea near Yachats. Could have been good luck. Could have been Granny steered him there and had a hand in all that happened after.

Somewhere in the Darkness - Walter Dean Myers

Jimmy hasn’t seen his father in nine years. But one day he comes back -- on the run from the law. Together, the two of them travel across the country -- where Jimmy’s dad will find the man who can exonerate him of the crime for which he was convicted. Along the way, Jimmy discovers a lot about his father and himself -- and that while things can’t always be fixed, sometimes they can be understood and forgiven.

Tyrell - Coe Booth

Tyrell is a young African-American teen who can’t get a break. He’s living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. His father’s in jail. His girlfriend supports him, but he doesn’t feel good enough for her -- and seems to be always on the verge of doing the wrong thing around her. There’s another girl at the homeless shelter who is also after him, although the desires there are complicated. Tyrell feels he needs to score some money to make things better. Will he end up following in his father’s footsteps?

Wish You Were Here: Teens Write About Parents In Prison - Pat Brisson

This timely book features true stories written by teens and parents coping with the complicated feelings of guilt, shame, fear, anger, sadness and longing that have arisen when the parent is incarcerated. The short entries are eloquent with the pain of separation, the struggle to remain involved in each other’s lives while discovering and meeting individual and family needs.


We’re always looking for books about children with incarcerated parents. If you come across any, let us know!