Young Adult novels make good reading for everyone
With Mary Rogers
Young adult novels are written for a teen audience, but these stories often resonate with older — and sometimes wiser — folks who know how it feels to be an outsider, misunderstood or full of misgivings. And who doesn’t long for a bigger life, acknowledgement and everlasting love, which are often the themes of YA books. Think John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
This year, Stephenie Meyer, author of “The Twilight Saga,” a breakout blockbuster a decade ago, is back with Midnight Sun. The “Twilight” series morphed into a series of movies, so it’s no wonder that fans made Midnight Sun an overnight bestseller. This one again tells the love story of 17-year-old Bella Swan, a mortal, and Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire, but this time from Edward’s point of view.
Sounds captivatingly creepy, doesn’t it? There are lots of new YA titles, but to reach the intended audience, each must battle a host of action-filled video games, including the wildly popular Fortnite. It’s hard to beat teaming up with friends to build amazing virtual worlds and fight terrifying monsters.
Luckily for hardworking writers everywhere, I’m not a gaming fan. Better yet, there are many of us who prefer books to computers. And, best of all, lots of us enjoy YA fiction.
I’m ready to read Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman, about a girl who dreams of becoming a trapeze artist. Her parents own a circus, so it’s not such a crazy idea, but she runs away to join a competitor. Of course, this betrayal complicates things. Ultimately, this is the story of love, loyalty and the choices we make to belong.
There were other titles on my list, too, but I felt I needed a guide to find more YA reads worth the time. I turned to Shelley Lowe, owner of Monkey & Dog Books, the charming independent bookstore located at 3608 W. 7th St. in the hospital district. (In-store shopping is by appointment only because of the pandemic; follow the Facebook page, facebook.com/monkeyanddogbooks, for updates.
Here are three of Lowe’s recommendations.
They Went Left Lowe promises that this bit of historical fiction by Monica Hesse is a “quick read, because the reader is reluctant to put it down.” Set in 1945 in the aftermath of the Holocaust, it’s the story of an 18-year-old girl who sets out to find her younger brother.
When they arrived at Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp, three years earlier, they turned right, away from the gas chambers. The rest of the family went left toward the ovens and certain death. But now that the war is over, how will she find her brother in a world turned upside down?
“This ends in a twist that few see coming,” says Lowe.
Elatsoe Elatsoe lives in an America where kids deal with homework and have fun with best friends, but her world is a little different, too. She knows the old stories and has witnessed the magic of the powerful spirits. She also can raise the ghosts of dead animals, just as others in her Lipan Apache family have done for generations.
When her cousin is murdered, she resolves to expose the dark secrets of the little town of Willowbee and protect her family at any cost.
Lowe says Darcie Little Badger’s debut makes her an author to watch.
A Beautiful Foolish Endeavor: A Novel YA is all about stories told in a series of books. Endeavor is the follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green.
The bestseller tells the story of alien robots named the Carls and a young woman who stood up for them but suddenly died. Lowe says it’s a fast-paced adventure, but one that offers social commentary and asks questions about freedom, isolation and the way we live.