Well-Read: 5 Great Books for “Young Adult” Readers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


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When I was a young adult, the YA genre (young adult) didn’t really exist. Sure there was Judy Blume and I read everything from Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret to Deenie and It’s Not The End of the World. For the most part I filled in with romance novels and Judith Krantz. There are so many fabulous novels for today’s teens although ages for these titles vary so please check them out before you give to your young adult…either way, keep the kids reading!!

Island’s End - Padma Venkkatraman

Uido, a young woman from the En-ge tribe, is ecstatic when she’s chosen by her Oko-jumu (spiritual guide) to succeed him as the future leader of her people.  Along with making the decision to become an apprentice comes all of the trappings of modern society—jealousy from her older brother and from her best friend, mistrust. As in Padma’s previous novel, Climbing the Stairs, a strong female protagonist demonstrates courage and grace way beyond her years. At the center of this story Uido has a big choice to make when her brother falls ill and her only option is to cross over to the strangers’ island, which is forbidden by the tradition of her people. What would you do?

(Inside tip: Come to Padma’s book event at Books On The Square, Angell Street, Providence this Saturday, October 1st at 2pm) 

Everything I Was - Corinne Demas

This is the first YA title by Demas, the author of one of my favorite novels, The Writing Circle. A professor of English at Mount Holyoke College, she has written in so many genres:  memoir, poetry and short story

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collections for young readers. Everything I Was is a timely tale in this age of economic uncertainty. Thirteen-year-old Irene’s story begins with, “My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall.” When her father loses his high-powered job, the family is forced to make many changes. Eventually the family is forced to move in with Irene’s grandfather in the family farmhouse upstate. What starts off as traumatic  winds up being the beginning of a journey that takes Irene places she never knew were possible.

Tell It To Naomi - Daniel Ehrenhaft

What first struck one reader who commented on her love of Tell It To Naomi was that its author, Dan Ehrenhaft, wasn’t a girl! Dave Rosen is a high school sophomore and is full of the teen angst that the age would suggest. In a convoluted scheme concocted by his older sister to help along a romantic relationship with the girl of his dreams, Dave pretends to be a female advice columnist for his school newspaper. Dave’s sister is an unemployed journalist and pitches the column idea to Joel, the newspaper’s teacher advisor, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. Joel loves the sample he is sent but refuses to believe that Dave wrote it and assumes that Naomi is the author. With hilarity all around, will Dave take Naomi’s own good advice?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

Beloved by so many YA readers, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, has the cult-like following of its YA predecessors, most notably J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The story is narrated by a teenager who goes by the alias of

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"Charlie"; he describes various scenes in his life by writing a series of letters to an anonymous person. Charlie is left to face high school alone after the suicide of his best friend and only friend. I interviewed Stephen back in 2005 and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He had told me years ago that he was working on the screenplay for Perks “for himself.” The film was directed by Stephen and filmed this past summer staring Brown University’s own, Emma Watson. When asked what she most enjoyed about Chbosky’s novel, one fan replied “EVERYTHING!! Stephen gets it!”

The Wonder of Charlie Anne - Kimberly Newton Fusco

RI author Kimberly Newton Fusco has received a Parents Choice Silver Medal and was placed on the 2011 American Library Association's Amelia Bloomer list of books that feature strong, powerful, capable, girls. She is also the author of Tending to Grace, which I read years ago and still think about. Fusco writes, “In my own writing, I am drawn to strong girls who face adversity and through their own determination, press on. In Tending to Grace, Cornelia must confront her stuttering and in The Wonder of Charlie Anne, Charlie Anne must confront her reading disability and the racism around her.”

She goes on to say, “When I was young, I loved books about strong girls. I loved how Harriet the Spy made sense of people and their absurdities by writing about them.” She says that when she heard Charlie Anne’s voice in her head for the first time, she was nearing the end of a first draft of another novel. She then scrapped that book because of the strength of Charlie Anne’s voice calling her a “spirited, tough little nut!” 

I have copies of these titles – email me at [email protected] for your chance to win!

Reading enthusiast and all around "book-pusher" Robin Kall can be heard live Saturday mornings from 7-8am on Reading With Robin WHJJ 920AM. (This week’s guest, Lisa Tucker, will be on to talk about The Winters In Bloom.)  Also streaming live at www.920whjj.com. Follow on Twitter @robinkall, and Facebook - Reading With Robin. All new Web site! www.readingwithrobin.com


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