29 May 2012

A listing for Young Adults and Not so Young Adults

Over the weekend I was at a BBQ with a group of friends that my husband and I have known forever.  While catching up with some of the folks a discussion of books started and that lead into a discussion of books in the Young Adult genre.  First, let me say, this genre and it's title always make me smile as a book that is classed as YA can be for anyone from middle school age to older.  At least it seems that way to me, so the moniker Young Adult book seems sort of misleading.  Adding to the confusion (for want of a better word) is the fact that so many of our youngsters are reading at different levels.  In discussions with other mom's, I have continually been amazed at what books some students are reading at certain ages, but some readers are able to handle more mature subject matter at one age, while others may not.  In the end, it is up to the reader, and most importantly, the parent for the younger readers, to determine what topics they are ready to explore in their reading.  With all that said, below is a list of some of my favorite books in the Young Adult genre.  So Beth, this list is for you.  :)

But first....a few caveats.
CAVEAT 1: Very few YA books have gotten a 5 star rating from me.  I am sure that is due to the fact that they are written for a younger audience, and while I enjoy a lot of them immensely, not may have the complexity that I usually look for in a five star book.

CAVEAT 2: I am leaving some of the most popular YA books off of the list and there are two reasons for this. First, most of those books have been written about profusely, including by me in the past, so there is a myriad of information regarding them.  Secondly, if I included ALL of the YA books that I have read and liked, this list would go on so long that no one would ever read it.

So without further ado, the books:

1.  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - This book is a classic that I count as one of my favorite books of all time.  I really enjoyed this book about a society where all is not what it seems.  In the end, this book is about friendship and the choices we make in life.  I would class this one in the upper edges of Young Adult reading, but it is definitely a book that could give a young adult reader something to ponder on.

2. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim - Perhaps the best YA book that I have read recently.  Although there are many books about Slavery and the South,  what sets this one apart is that the story is largely told from the perspective of the young daughter of the plantation owner and keys on the relationship between her and the black women that is her Mammy.  This perspective is fresh and new, and is what makes this book well suited for the young adult reader.

3. Things Not Seen by Andrew Clemmons - I was on a quest for a book with a blind main character that was not portrayed totally as a victim, and my son's best friend from high school (who happens to be blind) turned me on to this story about a boy who wakes up invisible one day and how he learns to adapt to his new disability.  Also, his best friend turns out to be a young blind girl who, I must say, is a wonderful character.

4. Hold Still by Nina LaCour - This story about dealing with the aftermath of suicide is well written and poignant, but ultimately hopeful.  There is a lot here to explore and discuss with the YA reader.

5. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman -  If you have a reader on the younger side of the YA spectrum, this is one of those books that you would need to evaluate the reader's readiness for.  I loved this beautifully written story about grieving, relationships, and the ultimate choice that the main character must make regarding her own life.

6. Holding on to Max by Margaret Bechard - What I particularly like about this book is that it is about a high school boy who decides to keep his baby, even though the mother wants to give it up.  Again, this gives a different and fresh perspective to the issue.  Also, I loved the author's treatments of the decisions that the young father had to make along the way, and ultimately, the way the book ended.

7. Rebellion and Revolution by Rachel Cotterill  - These two book are the first two in a trilogy, with Rebellion being the first and Revolution being the second.  While they are mostly the typical fantasy books, they are, in my opinion, worth reading as the heroes and heroines must use mostly their intellect and their knowledge as they go through their adventures.  There is very little magic in these books.

8. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray - For those young readers who love historical fiction, this first book in a trilogy about the life of Cleoptatra's daughter Selene is very well written and gives one some insight into life in Ancient Rome.  The second book to this trilogy, Song of the Nile is also out, but I have not had the chance to read it yet.

9. The King's Rose by Alissa M. Libby - Another historical fiction, this book is about Katherine Howard, the youngest of Henry VIII's six wives.  It is a well written book and would be enjoyable to young readers interested in the Tudor era.

10. By The Time You Read This by Lola Jaye - While this book is not strictly a YA book, I think there is a lot here to appeal to a YA reader, especially one of high school or college age.  In this story, a father who died when his daughter was young,  writes a journal for his daughter to read, one entry every year on her birthday.  As she grows up and becomes an adult, what she learns from her father's writings about him, herself, and life is really quite good.

I hope that you are able to enjoy some of the books mentioned here.  They are all, in my opinion, worth the read.