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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.

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3 comments

  1. This sounds like a great class! Will look forward to more of your book updates, and already put Catcher in the Rye on my summer reading list. (The HS kids hate it, we go out of our way to do it…) 🙂


  2. I want to read more about what you’re reading, too!

    Loved the Weetzie Bat books when I was in HS and I own them all as a collected works now (Dangerous Angels).

    Hated Catcher in the Rye when I read it in HS, haven’t read it since, but maybe I should give it another shot.

    I haven’t read the others, but I might go to the library to check out Jellicoe Road. I recently read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (also a YA fiction) and thought it was awesome. It won the Newberry this year and I think it was well-deserved.


  3. Haven’t read any of the other books – should probably read Catcher one of these days – but What’s Happening To My Body was the book my sister and I grew up on! I remember it being a great source.



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