My life has been pretty hectic lately–full of some wonderful things–but it’s left little to no time for reading.
When life hits me hard, I don’t like to slog through a difficult classic, or plod through some dense nonfiction. I like to crest down the hill of a reading rollercoaster, at top speed, with some fast-paced YA literature. Here are three great YA titles I’ve read of late, at full speed.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews – This book is full of voice and fun, and I absolutely loved it. The narrator, an awkward teen named Greg, is encouraged by his mom to befriend Rachel, a cancer-stricken childhood friend. Together with his film-making Earl, Greg sets out to try to make Rachel smile during her last days on earth, through awkward jokes and films and companionship.
This story rang much truer for me than The Fault in Our Stars, as it seems to reflect more accurately what teens go through when sudden death strikes their midst. I adored Greg’s sarcastic writing voice, which is often self-deprecating and rather obtuse. The believable plot, humorous writing, and fast pace of this book made it the perfect Saturday morning distraction from my busy life.
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios – Augh, this book! It was the only YA I heard Penny Kittle recommend at UNH this summer, so I knew it had to be good, and when I picked it up, I was not disappointed. The protagonist, Skylar, is working her way through her post-graduation summer, excited for college and a departure from her small town. That is, she’s excited until her friend Josh returns from war in Afghanistan, missing a leg. She’s excited until her widowed mother falls into a funk of depression and alcoholism. She’s excited until she realizes she may never be able to leave her small town, and this book is the story of her quest for freedom.
This book had so many great themes–issues of war, teenage love, poverty, familial duty, and friendship make this story appealing to many students. Additionally, Demetrios’ writing is gripping and beautiful, and she made me laugh, cry, and hold my breath for the brief afternoon it took me to read this compelling novel.
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin – I’m in the middle of this book, and I’m so happy I picked it up. It was an impulse buy when I was sucked in by the cover–a National Book Award Finalist stamp, and a picture of a bowl full of broken glass. It’s the story of a boy named Matt and the life he lives with his physically and emotionally abusive mother. He tells his story often through letters to his younger sibling, and it is a story of hope, desperation, and heartbreak. The writing is beautiful, personal, and simple, making the sheer plot of the story that much more poignant. Most powerful are the five simple rules Matt lives by:
- Sometimes, the people who mean you harm are the ones who say they love you.
- Fear is your friend. When you feel it, act.
- Protect the little ones.
- If you coped before, you can cope now.
- Always remember: in the end, the survivor gets to tell the story.
These books fly off the shelves of my “Life in High School” section, allowing my students and I to become lost in the stories of others, blissfully distracted from our own lives through reading. I highly recommend these three YA picks if you’re looking for a good, fast read.
What are some great YA titles you or your students have loved recently?
Tagged: Readers Writers Workshop
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