Monday, December 1, 2014

Brief reviews of teen books adults will enjoy

My nieces and nephew, ages 11 - 22, visited this Thanksgiving and reminded me of a couple of books I read last summer that are technically YA books, but will be enjoyed by adults, too.  In fact, adults should read them to 1) see what kids are reading and 2) learn from what kids are reading.  

The best part of their visit was our book discussions (and watching my nephew beat his dad at Scrabble).  I had a lot of books on the coffee table, hoping they would take a few home with them (and free up my shelves).  They are devout booklovers and were reluctant to take anything, but I was able to finally send them home with The Mockingbird Next Door, Wonder and two baseball books.  Mission accomplished.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a 5th grade boy living in Manhattan.  Auggie is bright, funny, loves Star Wars and has a facial deformity that makes people cringe.   After being home-schooled, he enters a private school and learns the intricacies and dynamics of changing classes, friendship, betrayal, and rivalry.  A quick read, this novel dwells not on Auggie’s face, but on his resilience.  He learns – and his family and friends also learn – that appearance isn’t everything.  It’s a life lesson one is never too old to learn.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green tackles a subject that frightens most everyone:  cancer.   This novel centers on Hazel, a 16 year-old with terminal cancer.  Hazel’s struggles with her illness, her family and friendships are warmly portrayed.  Teens will appreciate the dialogue and rebellious behavior and cheer for Hazel and her friends to survive. The author keeps the reader in suspense regarding who might make it and who, sadly, will not.   But Green doesn’t dwell on sadness or loss.  He treats these issues matter-of-factly and this gives the reader the best gift of all:  hope.

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