Archive for May 20th, 2009

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round 1 of YA books

May 20, 2009

As I have said before I am going to be reading a LOT of young adult books this summer for my class and while I couldn’t be more excited about it I am also pretty sure I am going to have a hard time remembering which books were which and what I actually thought of them.   So here is the first installment of books I read for class, of which there may or may not be any sequels.

Weetzie Bat:Weetzie Bat

Full of voodoo, interesting names, wishes, love and set in a magical realist version of L.A., this book tells the story of one girl’s journey from teen to adult.  It takes place during late 80’s California culture, so AIDs plays a large role and unconventional family situations are given a sense of normalcy and wonder.  Overall I really liked the book and the glimpse it gives into a fantastical life and I think the book would translate well to young girl readers of today despite its publish date of 1989.

ridiculous / hilarious / terrible / cool : a year in an American high school:

Ridiculous Hilarious Terrible CoolThis is one of those novels that blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction and probably adult and teen literature.  Set in a Chicago high school, this book follows 4 seniors and 2 juniors through their day to day high school lives.  Included in the book are small rough sketches of the students, their school and the surrounding city.  Overall I really loved this book, but I had a hard time imagining it connecting with teen readers who are still living those years of their lives.

Catcher in the Rye:Catcher in the Rye

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book, seeing as I never actually read it in either high school or college.  Plus the high school I work requires it for students, so I am constantly hearing about the book and hunting down lit crit on it.  So I have to admit I was kinda amazed by how much I loved the book.  The narrator’s unique and strong voice drew me into the story and despite frustrations with Holden’s choices in life, I found the book highly readable and actually quite captivating.  In the end I guess people actually do have a point when a book is deemed a classic, because Catcher in the Rye sounded like a book that could have been written yesterday (although the slang would obviously have to be updated).  So if for some reason you weren’t required to read this book, I would recommend doing so soon, you won’t be disappointed.

Martyn Pig:

Martyn PigHmm, what to say about this one.  In all honesty I didn’t like it very much, which may be in part because I read it directly after Catcher in the Rye.  The two books are very similar in style (young man narrates his story of woe, angst and apathy), and even a few key scenes of Catcher in the Rye appear in slightly different versions in Martyn Pig.  While I do appreciate realistic fiction, I require some amount of redemption in my stories.   Go ahead make every horrible thing happen to a character, as long as you give me a ray of hope, a trusted friend, at least something to make me feel like the character will be okay.  Martyn Pig, pretty much no redemption at the end, I felt pretty strongly that the character had nothing but a life of misery ahead for him.  And in the end I can never really forgive authors for doing that do their characters.

What’s Happening to my Body (Girl’s edition):What's Happening to my Body

Highly informative and written specifically for young girls, I thought this book did a great job of presenting facts and even voices from young people in a non-threatening, non-patronizing manner.  I would highly recommend this book (or a recent edition of it) to parents trying to explain the massive changes of puberty to their daughters.

Jellicoe Road:

Jellicoe RoadThanks to this book and a tendency to enjoy late night reading, I am working a bit slow this morning.  I started this book on my commute to class last night, read it during the break, and all the way through my commute home, only to stay up another 2 hours to finally finish it around 11pm.  This is one of those books that works much better when the plot is left to the reader to figure out, but I will say I had to flip back several times to reconnect earlier passages with what was being revealed.  But in order to give you at least some idea, I will say this book is about an abandoned girl dealing with huge tradgedies and the magical home she finds at a boarding school in the Australian outback.  Apparently other people think this book was quite good, because it won the Printz award this year and I have to say I think it rightly deserved it.