Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Good Summer YA Books for Teens & Tweens
Can you believe that it's almost summer? I went for my first ocean swim of the season on Monday and lasted nearly ten minutes in the frigid Maine water. My husband reassembled our hammock, leaving me to compile my annual summer reading list of recently published books for teenagers. You might be tempted to read along with your kids. I've also included one adult nonfiction book that would crossover well to younger readers. Follow the links to the full reviews previously posted on my blog.
YA Short Stories
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins. Perkins's last YA short story anthology, My True Love Gave to Me: 12 YA Holiday Stories was one of my favorite books from 2014. Once again, she has pulled together a talented group of authors running the gamut from realistic to fantasy, this time on a summer theme. There is something for everyone. Purchased at Bull Moose.
Contemporary YA Beach Books
Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider Who wouldn't love two months in Hawaii? Unfortunately, it's hard to swim or to surf with a cast. Sloane broke her hand punching her boyfriend after he got her best friend pregnant. Nonetheless, Sloane is determined to leave her angst and her ex behind in rainy Seattle. This is the ultimate beach book with a gorgeously lush setting. Native Hawaiian characters add diversity. The author attended college in Honolulu and this is her debut novel. Kindle ebook.
This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart This novel is also set on an island off the Jersey Shore, but the writing style is literary and the content is way more innocent. Follow the link to my review of this environmental thriller. Galley from Chronicle Books, publisher.
Historical YA Fiction
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee Released yesterday, this bittersweet novel about the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 features Mercy (Wong Mei-Si), the most delightfully headstrong protagonist since Anne of Green Gables. Although there is death, the content is otherwise tame enough for younger readers. Lee's first book, Under a Painted Sky, is also available in paperback and was my favorite YA book from 2015. Galley from Putnam Books, publisher.
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse I read a Buzz Books excerpt and fell in love with the gorgeous writing and the original premise of this World War II novel. A Dutch teenager who supports her family through blackmarket deliveries joins the search for a missing Jewish girl. This book was nearly published as adult historical fiction and would crossover well to older readers. The author is also a Washington Post journalist. Purchased at Barnes & Noble in NYC.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. This historical fantasy is set in Darwin's time on an island off England. After the suspicious death of her father, 16-year-old Faith feeds lies to a magical plant which reveals truths in hallucinogenic dreams. Hardinge was the first YA author to win the Costa Children's Book Award in the UK since Philip Pullman. I purchased the Kindle ebook because I couldn't wait for the April hardcover release in the USA.
The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh is the sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, one of my favorite YA books from last year. This magical retelling of 1001 Nights is set in ancient Persia. I'm saving it to read on the beach. Purchased at Harvard Book Store.
Lower YA/Upper MG (ages 11-13)
Where You'll Find Me by Natasha Friend. Although this novel was shelved in the YA section at the Harvard Coop, the naive POV sounds more upper Middle Grade. The narrator is a 13-year-old girl who has moved in with her dad's new family after her bipolar mom tried to commit suicide. This gritty book explores mental illness and doesn't use it as a plot device to allow the protagonist freedom from supervision. It's also rare to find a book that bridges the divide between MG and YA. The protagonist's sassy but sweet voice brightens the narrative. I can see why Judy Blume blurbed this literary novel with feminist themes.
The Disappearance of Emily H by Barrie Summy This magical mystery set in middle school would be a lighter choice for tween readers. Since I reviewed it last year, this upper MG novel is now available in paperback. Galley from Delacorte Press, publisher.
Narrative Nonfiction (paperbacks)
I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch One of my favorite nonfiction books from last year is now available in paperback. Teenage American-Zimbabwean pen-pals form a deep friendship over seven years in this inspiring YA memoir. The accessible style would appeal to younger readers too. Purchased at Longfellow Books.
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery The New England Aquarium was so impressed by this National Book Award finalist for adult nonfiction, they just named their latest Giant Pacific Octopus after the author. Montgomery also shares the story of a teenage girl with autism who volunteers at the aquarium, making this an excellent crossover read for teens and tweens. The only shocking part would be octopus sex. Follow the link to my full review with octopus photos. Purchased at Gulf of Maine Books.
YA Thriller coming in June:
With Malice by Eileen Cook After reading a Buzz Books excerpt, I requested the galley. This YA suspense thriller is reminiscent of the Amanda Knox scandal in Italy. Galley on the way from HMH for Young Readers, publisher. I will post a review this summer. Update: my review of With Malice.
Reviewer's Disclosure: I was not compensated for these reviews. I'm blog buddies with Beth Kephart and Barrie Summy and requested their galleys. I've read 6 of the listed book and am currently reading or planning to read the rest.
If you have other suggestions of good summer books, please leave a comment.