Every spring I spend some time reading books for teenagers, looking for novels that satisfy and captivate these young readers.
There are, sadly, a lot of (in my opinion) dreadful books for teenage readers being published at this time. I hate to say it is all about money, but I believe it is. I want to offer these young readers something more - books that are well written, a story that will appeal to teenagers but will also give these young readers something to really think about as they read – all the same things that we adults want in a novel – entertainment, yes but also that “something more” that makes a book truly satisfying.
A Handful of Time by Kit Pearson was published in 1987, and just re-issued with a contemporary new cover. I read it then and loved it - I re-read it this winter and it is just as good as I remembered. The main character, Patricia, is a 12-year-old from Toronto, her parents are separating, and Patricia has been sent west to spend the summer with cousins at their cottage in Alberta. Her happy Aunt Ginnie is very different from Patricia’s sophisticated and remote mother.
This will be a summer of change and growth for Patricia. An only child, Patricia finds it both difficult and wonderful to be part of a large and boisterous family. A Handful of Time is contemporary, captivating and insightful – the perfect choice for young teenage girls.
Another great choice for young teenage girls is Facing the Mountain by Wendy Orr. Eleven-year-old Raven has recently moved to western Canada with her family. While on a hiking trip with her sister and stepfather, Raven is separated from the others who then become stranded in a rockslide. Raven must re-trace her path and find help – finding the physical and mental strength to keep going through very difficult terrain. This is a heart stopping adventure story with enough teenage turmoil to capture the attention of any girl.
For older readers – those who are thinking about sex, drugs and rock and roll (at too young an age for our comfort I know) there is a wonderful new novel from Alice Kuipers. A couple of years ago we read and recommended The Worst Thing She Ever Did by this brilliant young novelist. Now she brings us 40 Things I Want to Tell You – as good as her first and one we look forward to sharing with teenage readers. Set in England, we have a teenager character, Amy “Bird” Finch, a girl in her final year of school, a good solid student, with a very suitable boyfriend – a girl who seems to have it made.
With her own life completely in control she secretly sets up a website to help other teens with their problems. Little does she know she will soon have problems of her own – and there really are no easy answers.
I am sometimes reluctant to read books about teenage angst, so it takes a very good writer and a very strong story to hook me – but this book did from the very beginning – and I doubt there is a teenager out there who will not identify with this story and be as captivated by 40 Things I Want to Tell You as I was!