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Archive for the ‘Wintergirls’ Category

I was lying awake thinking the other night (I don’t know why) that if I had to pick six books to show someone who grew up on Lois Duncan, the width and breadth of YA literature today, which books would I choose? Everyone has their favorites and there are obviously multiple combinations of six books to illustrate my point, but here are mine.

SmallDamagesLiterary YA FictionSmall Damages by Beth Kephart (or any Beth Kephart book). Beth takes pains to get the words right and the result are wonderful, sometimes ethereal prose narrating engrossing stories.

WintergirlsIssue Driven FictionWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (or any of her books). Speak, about rape, is obviously the most well known, with the movie starring a young Kristen Stewart, but all of Anderson’s books deal with real issues faced by teens.

KeepingYouASecretLGBTQKeeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters.  Keeping You a Secret is one of Peters’ earlier books portraying lesbian relationships and remains one of my favorites to this day. However she deals with all sorts of gender issues, from Luna (transgender) to gender neutral proms.

 

 

RevolutionHistorical FictionRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Donnelly, whose earlier work, A Northern Light won the Carnegie Medal, goes back and forth between current day and the French Revolution.

EonScience Fiction/FantasyEon: Dragoneye Reborn and Eona: The Return of the Dragoneye by Alison Goodman. Goodman combines action with signs of the zodiac in a spine tingling fantasy.

FaultInOurStarsIllnessThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green discusses the relationship between two teens having debilitating and potentially fatal diseases.

 

 

 

 

As we who read YA literature know, it has come a long way from the Lois Duncan days. And while Lois Duncan’s books play a significant role in the reading lives of teens, even today, there is a whole big wide world of YA literature out there begging to be read. I know I’ve left out great YA authors such as Lauren Oliver, Jordan Sonnenblick, Jennifer Brown. The list is endless.

I’m sure your List of Six is different than mine, so feel free to send me yours. I’d be interested.

 

 

 

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ImpossibleKnifeOfMemoryI come from the post-World War II generation. My father and two uncles were in the war but they never talked about it. I have photos of my dad in uniform looking so distinguished and photos of him stepping off an airplane or in an office, all smiling. I think my uncles had it worse than my father, combat-wise. But they never talked about it. Looking at the photos, you’d think it was sleep away camp.

Talking to the WW II veterans at our library for our Oral History Project, they all have stories, some happy, some sad, but they all talk about it and smile. There is a far away look in their eyes sometimes. But, by and large, it seems that the memories are fond ones.

But looking at old newsreels and documentaries we know it wasn’t a pleasure trip our soldiers took. Now compare the means we used to wreak devastation in that war with all the new, more effective, more ghastly means we have now and it’s no wonder that our soldiers suffer post-traumatic stress disorders when they return home.

That’s what Laurie Halse Anderson addresses so well in The Impossible Knife of Memory. Seventeen year old Hayley’s father, Andy, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and came home a shadow of his former self. For a while he drove a big rig with Hayley in the passenger seat. But he spontaneously decided to return to his boyhood home so that Hayley can finish high school like a normal kid. Unfortunately with a tormented father and no mother, her life was anything but normal. Being on the road and home-schooled, she didn’t know the rules of high school nor of boy-girl relationships. Add to that the uncertainty: will her father wake up, will he be sober and sane or tormented and drunk? Must she walk on eggshells?

Then enter Trish, Hayley’s surrogate parent for a while whose relationship with Andy was troubled and who walked out on them. Do Hayley or Andy need this?

As with Speak and Wintergirls, Anderson wonderfully, readably, delves into a difficult, relevant, contemporary topic. The characters come alive. You are in Hayley’s living room after Andy’s trashed it because he learned an Army buddy was killed in action. You are there, on the edge along with Andy. There are few books that, as you read, you feel that you are alongside the main character and this is one. The Impossible Knife of Memory will stay in your memory for a long time.

Read the New York Times Book Review write-up by Jo Knowles: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/books/review/laurie-halse-andersons-impossible-knife-of-memory.html?_r=0

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Kirkus recently had an article entitled “How to Read Young Adult Novels and Still Hang Out with Adults” (the link is shown below) which, of course, prompted me to make my own list, because YA books are my passion and there are so many that are ‘suitable’ for adult readers. My only criteria for my short and not all inclusive list are (i) that the books are a few years old so that they might have slipped our minds, (ii) they aren’t the well known books, such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (which is a great book, by the way) which has been used in adult book discussion groups and (iii) they are well written.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/lists/how-read-young-adult-novel-still-hang-out-adults/

So, here’s the Goldberg List (I’ve tried to satisfy varying tastes):

DisreputableHistoryDisreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: For those looking for cerebral stimulation, follow Frankie Landau-Banks, as she tries to infiltrate the school’s decades old secret all-male society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a society her father belonged to, back in the day.

EonDragoneyeRebornEon: Dragoneye Reborn (and its sequel Eona: The Last Dragoneye) by Alison Goodman: A flawless combination of Asian astrology, mythology, action and fantasy, these books are perfect for science fiction/fantasy fans and those readers who just want to get drawn into a magic world.

FreakShowFreak Show by James St. James:  Follow Billy Bloom, a teenage drag queen as he makes his way through his new conservative high school, Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy, and forges a relationship with the quarterback of the football team, in this hilariously funny as well as serious comedy/romance.

MarceloInTheRealWorldMarcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork: A realistic view of a high functioning Asperger’s teenager and his father’s push to have him acclimate to the ‘real world’. Absorbing and well written.

NothingButGhostsNothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart: Ms. Kephart is known for agonizing over every word, making some of her books have an ethereal aura to them. Nothing But Ghosts is a literary treat. As described in Kirkus, “A long-buried mystery weaves its way through this delicately layered portrait of a grief-stricken daughter and father that meditates on the nature of loss. A coming of age story with a mystery.”

RevolutionRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly: Historical fiction (also A Northern Light by Ms. Donnelly) combined with some time travel transports Andi Alpers from her 21st century Brooklyn home to the middle of the French Revolution. Wonderfully written and totally engrossing.

TamarTamar by Mal Peet: A story of passion, love and resistance fighters during World War II, this absorbing story rotates between two Tamars, one current day Tamar following clues to find out about her 1940s namesake.

WintergirlsWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson: A haunting look at teenagers and eating disorders.

I could go on, but I won’t. I truly hope you’ll give these books a try.

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