Adult Fiction for Teens

While I primarily read YA fiction these days I do enjoy some adult fiction every once in a while. This monthly feature will look at some of the adult fiction I am reading and examine its appeal for those who prefer Young Adult literature.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their Georgia peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart’s answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words “Tiburon, South Carolina” scrawled on the back. When Lily’s beloved nanny, Rosaleen, manages to insult a group of angry white men on her way to register to vote and has to skip town, Lily takes the opportunity to go with her, fleeing to the only place she can think of–Tiburon, South Carolina–determined to find out more about her dead mother.

This is a good fit for those who like to read YA realistic fiction that has a focus on character and storytelling. The Secret Life of Bees has a very rich and sometimes lyrical narrative, making this a good fit for people who prefer books by Deb Caletti. The main characters are fun and dynamic, and a lot of the novel is spent on Lily’s reflection of herself and the other characters. There are also elements of historical fiction and a romance that might appeal to young readers. Overall, those who want to be taking away by a descriptive setting and read about a feisty 14 year old girl will enjoy this novel.

YA Connection: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti

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Coming Soon to a Library Near You

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine that looks at upcoming books.

This week’s Book: Freefall

Author: Mindi Scott

Release Date: October 5th 2010

Summary

 How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he’s ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . .

Willow by Julia Hoban

“except the only times that she’s laughed in the past seven months have been in his company. When he’s with her she’s able to forget the lure of the razor for more than five minutes at a time.”

Willow is a cutter – that’s how she deals with the grief caused by her parents’ death. She was driving them home and there was an accident. Now she lives with her brother and cuts to take away the emotional nightmare of her life. She’s fine with self-punishment, and she’s not looking for anything else.  However, when a fellow student, Guy, comes to learn her secret and yet still cares for her, Willow realizes that cutting doesn’t just stop the hurt but it blocks out everything else. If she wants to feel anything for Guy and be what he deserves her to be, then she’ll have to decide – him or the cutting.

I unfortunately did not like this book, despite all the positive feedback I heard from it. I didn’t connect with the characters, the relationship or the storyline. It was really lacking for me, and I found the writing at times a little superficial. However, that isn’t to say that there weren’t good elements to it and that other people wouldn’t like it. I do enjoy issue novels and I’m glad that this type of literature exists, so those in Willow’s circumstance can find some reflection and perhaps some solace from her story. I think readers will like the honesty of the story, and the fact that cutting is dealt with in a frank manner. I think readers will also enjoy the romance, and Guy as a character; he was well created.  For those who like issue novels, this fits in the genre well. I just recommend you read other, perhaps more positive reviews before reading.

You might enjoy Willow if you like books with: difficult issues, emotionally driven storylines, romance, a central character who has to overcome a difficult situation

If you liked Willow you might also enjoy: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Resources:

Self-injury.net – a great neutral website for people who are self-injurers to talk, get support, be creative (poems, art, etc)

Rating: W2.5/4   C2.5/4   P2/4   O3/4   PP2/4  CR3.5/4

Grade Level: JS ( I put it a little lower because I think this issue affects those younger than in grade 10)

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

Coming Soon to a Library Near You is a weekly feature inspired by Jill at Breaking the Spine that looks at upcoming books.

This week’s Book: Hunger

Author: Jackie Morse Kessler

Release Date: October 18th 2010

Summary:

“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

“That day, I learned that an elephant feels tough and soft at the same time. Wrinkled, warm. And I learned that you can be brave, if you must.”

Jade DeLuna suffers from panic attacks because she’s afraid of dying. One of the things that helps calm her is watching the elephants in the zoo near her house. She even keeps an elephant webcam on in her bedroom so she can watch them from home. It’s through the webcam that she first sees the boy in the red jacket, a boy who also seems to love the elephants, a boy who is carrying a baby.  She learns his name is Sebastian and he is raising his baby alone. While completely complicated and terrifying, Jade finds herself falling for Sebastian. By being in his world with his adorable baby and his crazy activist grandmother, Jade learns valuable lessons about strength and courage and the importance of living life and being free.

The Nature of Jade is rich and compelling. While some may be turned off by the slower paced plot, the value of Caletti’s books is found in the richness of the characters and writing. I’m not sure how to describe it, but to me, reading Caletti’s books feels like those late summer afternoons sitting on a dock – a mixture of the refreshing air combined with the rich warm sun of a late afternoon. The story is beautifully written, and is unflinching in its examination of the complication of life and relationships. The side story of the elephants and the fasincating excerpts about animal behaviour provide a unique and entrancing element to the narrative. I am so in love with this story, and the character of Jade in her brokenness and the frankness at which she looks at life. Captivating. Definitely recommended.

“I am not my illness. “Girl with Anxiety.” “Trauma of the Week” – no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can’t.”

 You might enjoy The Nature of Jade if you like books with: real life issues, slower moving plots with more of a focus on character development, introspective characters, rich and sophisticated writing

Also by Deb Caletti: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Wild Roses, The Queen of Everything, The Secret Life of Prince Charming, Six Rules of Maybe

If you liked The Nature of Jade, you might also enjoy: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Additional Info: Watch the Elephants via the San Diego Zoo webcam here.

If you read a lot of Deb Caletti’s books you might find this part of her website interesting – shows how all the places and people are connected throughout her book

Author website: http://debcaletti.com

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P4/4   O4/4   P3/4   CR2/4

Grade: S

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Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter is tired of his life at home; it’s uneventful and lonely. As someone who memorizes people’s last words, he’s looking for something more from life; the Great Perhaps. So he decides to enrol in Culver Creek Boarding School to shake up his life. There he finds friends, love and more adventure than he can handle – by the name of Alaska, the beautiful yet crazy girl who lives down the hall.

From the back of the book: (about Alaska) She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After, nothing is ever the same.

I so deeply loved this book. Green did an amazing job of creating radiant and magnetic characters. Readers will enjoy the duality of Pudge’s dry whit with Alaska’s desperate brokenness. Where he is awkward and innocent she is wild and crazy. The story itself was incredibly well written, with the climax being at the middle of the book. I was so grateful for this as it gave a sense of fullness to Pudge’s story. Green’s incredibly poignant use of language solidifies the excellence of this novel; creating a story that is both sweet and heartbreaking. You will laugh and you will most definitely cry. Of all the YA novels I’ve read up to this point, this one is the most highly recommended. It was simply wonderful.

My favourite quote from the book…bare with me it’s long.

“Just like that. From a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond. I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane. “

You might enjoy Looking for Alaska if you like books with: a male voice, poignant observations on life, strong characters, a slower paced plot, realistic storylines rather than fantasy or science fiction, awkward and candid humour

Also by John Green: An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson; Will Grayson, Paper Towns

If you liked Looking for Alaska you might also enjoy: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Perks of Bing a Walflower by Stephen Chbosky, Nick and Norah’s Infinate Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga,

Additional Info: won the Michael L Printz Award. Also, Paramount has the rights to the movie and Josh Schwartz (think O.C) will write the screenplay and direct. It has been renamed ‘famous last words’ and is expected to be released 2013.

Author website: http://www.sparksflyup.com/

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P4/4   O3/4   PP3/4   CR3/4

Grade: S (sex, language, drinking, smoking)

Covers

Awesome Book Trailer

Check out the awesome trailer for Linger, the sequal to Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.