I must admit that when faced with choosing a book for a teenager I often take the easy route and hand them a gift certificate to a book store. But – if you want to be sure your gift dollars don’t go for chocolate – here are a few suggestions.
1. John Green is a popular and award winning author for this age. His books deal with difficult subjects but are wonderfully written. His most recent is The Fault in our Stars and is the story of two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group. (three hanky story)
2. Our first Maynard Reads Together selection The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is back in the news as the film opens. Dealing with the lives of people living in Germany during WWII, it is an engrossing story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
3. Also set during that WWII period, Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity won the YA Edgar award this year. This heart-in-your-mouth adventure has it all: a complex plot, a vivid sense of place and time, and resonant themes of friendship and courage.
4. Another historical mystery/romance is our own Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s in Me – (her latest great review is in the NYT). “Every now and then, a novel comes along with such an original voice that readers slow down to savor the poetic prose. This is such a story. A tale of uncommon elegance, power and originality” Kirkus, starred review
5. Dystopian themes seem very popular with teenagers. In the mode of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Giver by Lois Lowry, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth is this year’s hot series. “In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.”
6. One more suggestion for people who aren’t avid readers – graphic novels are often a way to ease them into books. Jeff Smith was recently at the library to talk about his latest novel RASL “When Rasl, a thief and ex-military engineer, discovers the lost journals of Nikola Tesla, he bridges the gap between modern physics and history’s most notorious scientist. But his breakthrough comes at a price. In this twisting tale of violence, intrigue, and betrayal, Rasl finds himself in possession of humankind’s greatest and most dangerous secret.” Smith’s earlier books in the BONE series are equally delightful and are now perceived as books for younger readers – that 10-14 age – but were originally written for adults.