I am running through a decaying city, being shot at while I run. I know I am headed to a dilapidated area of a city. I am getting closer and closer. As I approach a large transport truck jackknifes in my path. Robotic animals emerge from the truck, running, trying to chase me down. I get away. I find the house I am looking for. I enter looking for the machine to get me out of this simulation. As I find it, I feel I am safe. They’ve never caught me here before. I am wrong. Just as I teleport to reality I am interrupted, sending me to an unfamiliar place.
Then I wake up.… This is a dream I have had.
I attribute it to reading and watching too many young adult books and movies. Call it a job hazard!
Young adult books are usually fun, smart, and dynamic. After all they need to grab the attention of young people. Many adults feel embarrassed when reading YA, like there is something wrong with it, or it is somehow inferior to more adult novels. These books are not always full of teenage angst, of twisted love triangles. Teen books are full of characters questioning sexual identity, prejudice, and mental health issues, while using straight forward language.
I will start my recommendations with a book full of teenage angst and twisted love triangles!
A Thousand Pieces of You. I don’t know why this has not been made to a movie yet. I read this book with my Youth Advisory Counsel. It has everything a good movie needs: a beautiful heroine, traveling thorough dimensions, and a juicy love triangle. I would recommend (and have) this book to anyone looking for the next Hunger Games, Maze Runner, or Twilight.
Half Bad is the story of Nathan, born half white magic and half black magic, making him a half-breed who is shunned by both. He must escape his captors, receive his gifts before his sixteenth birthday, and save the girl he loves. With just a hint of teenage angst, this was a book I could not put down.
I’ll Give You the Sun, written by Jandy Nelson, is the story of twins Noah and Jude who are inseparable from birth, torn apart by their mother’s death. Noah struggles with his sexuality, falling for the boy next door. Jude, struggling with school, meets a new mentor, who may change the course of her life.
Maus I & II are a fantastic and accessible way to learn about the holocaust. In this book Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish holocaust survivor, tells his story to his son. Maus uses cats (Germans), mice (Jews), dogs (Americans), and pigs (Poles) to recount Vladek’s memories. You can also look for MetaMaus, an in-depth look into the process of writing the book.
What would you do if you found out you were one of Thirteen Reasons Why someone would commit suicide? This is what Clay has to figure out. It is a beautifully told story of mental health, of trying to see the pain of someone else.
I hope this post will give you permission to pick up a Young Adult book and give it a try! You will not be disappointed.