August 11, 2021 7:34 AM EDT

When 16-year-old Travis Coates died of leukemia, he underwent an experimental procedure: His head was, as Travis puts it, “chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado” in the hopes that, someday, science would find a way to bring him back to life. At the time, Travis and everyone he knew figured that if that ever happened, it would be many, many years in the future. But, unexpectedly, modern medicine makes some brisk strides, and, just five years after his death, Travis wakes up in a hospital bed with his head stitched onto a body that is taller, stronger and better at skateboarding than his old one ever was. An odd premise gives way to a surprisingly tender and resonant story, as Travis struggles to reconnect with his parents and friends, who have spent the last five years grieving his death and trying to move on. Noggin, which became a finalist for the National Book Award, is a sad, weird, funny story ideal for teens who are struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin. —Shay Maunz

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