Ethan is an anxiety-ridden loner who relies on medication to get through his day. During one of his fairly frequent panic attacks, a girl from school named Gabriella comes to his rescue. Gabe, as she prefers to be known, is facing her own inner turmoil. She has always been a tomboy, but the more pressure she faces to act and dress "like a girl," the more she wonders just who she really is.
When he learns that Gabe is being constantly harassed at school, Ethan discovers he is able to overcome his own fears in order to stand up for his new friend. Then Gabe finds a disturbing note in her locker, and the threats begin to escalate. Ethan confronts the person responsible, but things take an unexpected turn, and he suddenly finds himself being questioned by police, accused of assault. With a dose of courage and a surprising ally, the two friends come up with a plan to set things right and end up discovering who they really are along the way.
Chick is a popular fourteen-year-old who is essentially on this earth to live up to his father's impossible expectations—or, at least, that's how he feels. This pressure is a grinding source of anxiety for him, which he copes with by making lists. He itemizes every aspect of his life, from his daily routine to the things that make him nervous. But as the pressure of school and his budding romance with his debating teammate Audrey builds, his compulsion starts to feel impossible to control—or conceal.
It's the start of a new season for Harrington High's improv team—and Chloe is determined that this will be the year they make it all the way to the top. Her teammates (who also happen to be her closest friends) are a talented bunch, and she knows they can do it. They have to. Because getting to nationals is Chloe's best chance to prove—to her parents, to the improv scouts and, most of all, to herself—that she has what it takes to succeed. Chloe is doing everything she can to help her teammates perform better. So why are they all mad at her?
Lindy has been working hard cleaning and doing odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn money for a trip to the Arctic. When Mrs. Naulty, an elderly client, mistakenly pays her a huge amount of money, Lindy keeps it to pay the early-bird rate for her trip. It's only when a schoolmate learns what she did and starts blackmailing her that Lindy starts to suffer for her actions.
At fifteen, Will already knows he wants to spend his life playing classical violin. And when he is invited to take part in a summer program for young musicians, he realizes it is a chance to make his dream a reality. But years of playing only for Mr. Jorgensen, his elderly neighbor and mentor, haven't prepared Will for what will happen when he steps onto the stage. He never expected the self-doubt that takes over his thoughts, or the fear of failure that makes his hands shake and his heart race. What happens when the one thing you need to achieve your dreams is something you find utterly terrifying?
Ellie is used to getting leading roles in her small-town school's musicals, but her place at center stage disappears when her dad becomes the host of a breakfast TV show and they have to move to the big city. When Ellie auditions for—and lands—a spot with the Youth Works Theater Company, she comes up against a tight-knit group of talented, experienced and competitive triple-threat performers. Not only does she not get a lead, but she has to share a role with Marissa, a company veteran who seems determined to do all she can to outshine Ellie. Out of her depth and far from all that she's known, Ellie wonders just what she has to do to stop feeling upstaged by everyone around her.
After budget cuts force the Southside Saints football team to disband, Jamal and his friends have to settle for playing pickup on the hardscrabble field behind their high school. Then the president of a sporting-goods company offers to donate $20,000 worth of equipment to the team. There's only one catch: he wants to be the coach. Thrilled to have a real team together, the players turn a blind eye to Coach Fort's racism, bullying and discrimination. Until he takes it too far. Now it's up to Jamal and his teammates to take back their team and show what they're made of.
Gerri waits outside all night to audition for Big Time, her favorite TV singing competition. She believes she has a shot at success, but when she's insulted by one of the judges and kicked out of the competition, she thinks she'll probably never sing again. After a teacher at her school asks her to join a choral club, Gerri reluctantly gets involved. Even though she can't read music and she doesn't know the other kids, she finds herself enjoying the group and learning a lot about music. A cute guy she met at the Big Time auditions joins the group, and when they perform their unique mashups at an open-mic night, Gerri realizes there's more than one way to be a successful-and happy-singer!
When Ally's mom dies, Ally is left with no family, no friends and no future. Put into foster care at the age of fifteen, she has less than $200 to her name and nothing left to lose. When Ally meets Tate, a busking fire breather, she starts to see a new life for herself as a street performer. Ally decides to run away from her foster home, but her problems follow her. Hiding her age, sleeping on the streets and avoiding fights with other buskers, Ally discovers that there's more to life as a fire-breathing busker than not getting burned.
Escaping the pressures of big-city policing, Maxine Benson is happy to be appointed police chief in the resort town of Port Ainslie. Max's biggest challenge is to overcome skepticism at her ability to deal with major crimes-like the murder of Billy Ray Edwards.
Few people mourn Billy Ray's passing. He was a bully and was also intent on derailing the biggest development project in the town's history. But murder's murder, and Max is ready to solve it on her own and prove her worth to the townspeople. And maybe even to herself.
Sixteen-year-old Rasheed is smart, tough and a survivor. In his neighborhood, he has to be. The streets are run by a gang called the E Street Locals, and they've been trying to jump him in since he was a child. So far, he's managed to escape their clutches. But the gang is not his only problem. Rasheed's sister, Daneeka, was paralyzed in a drive-by shooting, and now she's confined to a wheelchair, mentally frozen at the age of nine. His mother is an addict. His father hasn't been heard from in years. High school is no safer than the streets, so Rasheed seeks solace at the local university campus. There he meets a young woman named Lanaia who takes an interest in him. He also bumps up against a police officer who he thinks at first is hassling him just because he's black. But eventually Rasheed realizes that the officer is only pushing him to become a better person. Though he can't escape his home life, or the gang, as easily as he'd like, Rasheed does learn some valuable lessons in his struggles: you and you alone are accountable for the decisions you make in life; even though the world is not a fair place, you can still accomplish whatever you set your mind to; and we all become stronger when we admit we need someone to lean on.
Dylan O'Connor is in trouble again. While riding his bike home after dark, he has a run-in with a truck but doesn't give it a second thought until police show up at his door the next day. CCTV cameras put Dylan at the scene of a crime, and when the police question him, Dylan realizes he was an inadvertent witness. But he doesn't tell them the driver of the truck was Jeff Walker, a nasty piece of work. Dylan knows it's in his best interests to keep his mouth shut. Then he starts getting stalked by Jeff's weirdo sidekick, Eliot Barnes, a classmate of Dylan's. Is Eliot trying to protect Dylan, or is he making sure he stays silent?
This is the fourth story featuring Dylan O'Connor after The Snowball Effect, Caught in the Act, and Rise of the Zombie Scarecrows.
Josh had been living in a group home after being ratted out by Scott, his one-time best friend. Now he has moved in with his brother and overbearing sister-in-law and has been sent to a class designed to teach him to deal with his anger. When an old enemy continues to push his buttons and Scott appears to be up to his old tricks, Josh struggles to control his temper. Framed for a crime he didn't commit, it will take all of his new-found strength to keep his cool-and his freedom.
Also available in Spanish.