One of the many things I loved when my sons reached their teenage years was the conversations we had. Their views on life, their opinions and their passions were, mostly, fresh and unhindered. They had an excitement about them, like they were on the cusp of something big. And they were. They were on the cusp of adulthood, and what a tremendous thrill and privilege it was to share this time with them. Now they are older, we still love being with them, enjoying them as adults. I am currently working in a secondary school with teenage boys, once again enjoying interesting and original conversations about many things.
I love talking about reading and books with my teen students. Their perspectives on the books we read together, and the books they love, are varied and intriguing. At the end of this school year we met to recommend books to read over the summer break.
The following are the books I took along. It was so very hard to restrict my list!
- My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner
- My Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke
- Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian
- Release by Patrick Ness
- Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
- All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
The boys borrowed all these books, leaving my pile non-existent, so we browsed the shelves for more. This was so much fun! They told me about books they’d read and I shared more favourites. Browsing shelves is such an important part of reader advisory in any library as the benefits flow both ways, between the borrower and the librarian.
Written by Sally Gardner, published in Australia by Allen & Unwin.
A gripping fantasy/science fiction read from one of the best. Told in interview style 11 years after Becky’s disappearance, the reader learns of the circumstances leading up to this time. They hear mostly from Jazmin, Becky’s best friend, but also from others close to the two girls.
Written by Judith Clarke, published by Allen & Unwin.
Aging priest Tom Rowland recounts his time when he first entered the seminary in the 1950s, his adoration for Frankie and disdain for Etta. This beautifully written novel evokes the era and attitudes towards homosexuality. It shows the importance of love, belonging and acceptance.
Ava is grieving the death of her best friend while Gideon, a performance poet, is recovering from his own demons. They meet when Gideon begins work in Ava’s workplace and they begin to communicate through writing letters. Told in alternate voices of these two main characters, this is a poignant, sometimes funny and sometimes incredibly sad, read.
Written by Patrick Ness, published by Walker Books Australia.
Following a day in the life of Adam, the reader is well positioned to know everything about this young man and the stiflingly conservative family in which he has grown up. Not only does he need to deal with his religious family’s ways and views, and sexual harassment at his work place, his only source of income, he is also trying to fathom his feelings for his first love, Enzo, and his current love, Linus. Woven through Adam’s narrative is that of Katherine van Leuwen, a murder victim haunting the town in which she once lived.
Written by John Green, published by Penguin Random House.
Ava and Daisy decide to investigate the disappearance of billionaire Russell Pickett in order to claim the one-hundred-thousand dollar reward on offer. In the process they meet his son Davis and Ava and Davis rekindle a friendship from their childhood, becoming close. Ava suffers from extreme anxiety that controls most of what she does and how she interacts with others. Much is revealed about Ava’s severe anxiety, Daisy’s life behind her cheery and positive outlook and Davis’s family situation. Another masterpiece from one of the very best.
Written by Maggie Stiefvater, published by Scholastic.
Set in the 1962, this is the story of the three Soria cousins, Daniel, Beatriz and Joaquin. Pilgrims travel for miles to Colorado for the Soria family to perform miracles. Each cousin has their life goal and are working steadily toward it, with or without the knowledge or permission of the adults in their lives. On their way there we meet Tony DiRisio, a well-known radio personality, and Pete Wyatt. Pete is not seeking a miracle, but going on the promise of work. Their arrival heralds a change in how the entire Soria family view the way they go about their business, their relationships with each other and the pilgrims. A beautifully crafted piece of literature for all ages.
My full review can be read in Magpies Magazine, Volume 32 No. 5, November 2017. Follow this link to learn more about Magpies Magazine.