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Chapter 16 - Young at Heart

Springtime always reminds me of being young. I feel the excitement in the air when the Spring Breakers and Out-of-Schoolers come to town. There is a vibrancy and also a nostalgic reminder of how wonderful it felt to be a child and have your whole life ahead of you.

So, I am going out on a limb here to let you know I like Young Adult fiction. Just with any genre there is good Young Adult or YA fiction and not so good. Much YA fiction deals with dystopian societies where something bad has happened and the young protagonist is trying to fix the wrongs in the world. Themes in Young Adult fiction also deal with conflict, finding oneself, trying to fit in, and often, the hard, ugly truths of life. The books touch me because, in many ways I think we are always trying to deal with these issues - maybe with a few more coping skills as adults but sometimes not.

Here are some Young Adult books I have read recently which for me held value even for adult readers. As my mother would say, "Don't knock it until you've tried it."

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - This was a book club book for me otherwise probably not one I would have picked off the shelf. It is about Finch and Viola, two young people who are damaged in different ways. They meet in the bell tower at their school where one of them is contemplating suicide and the other is the rescuer. The issues in the book are very real and relative to current events. I was very glad I read it.

Crow Moon by Anne McKerrow - The story centers on a young witch boy named Danny who lives in Greenworld with his mother and sister. At first Danny doesn't know he is a witch but certain events require him to travel to a neighboring village where he learns about his talents. This book is a combination of Celtic lore, rite of passage, love story, and good vs evil. I rooted for the good guys, booed the villains and ended the book wanting more. McKerrow also writes in a manner that will please adults as well as young people. A well thought out, clever, compelling book with many layers to it. I strongly recommend it. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee - This book was recommended by a teen customer and frankly, it was just a fun read. The story takes place in Victorian England where a young poor girl is saved from hanging. Spirited away to Scrimshaw Academy where poor and orphaned girls are taught skills that will help them find jobs or mates. If a young women is particularly clever she may be invited to be part of "The Agency", a group of women who solve mysteries for private clients as well as Scotland Yard. The heroine is part of this mix and the story holds mystery, smuggling, insurance fraud, evil people, and a little romance. A very enjoyable read!

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan - Two teens, Dash and Lily, find themselves without their parents during Christmas holiday. To amuse Lily, her brother devises a game where she writes clues or "dares" in a moleskine notebook and leaves it in the Strand bookstore in New York City. Dash not only meets the dare after finding the book but counters with dares of his own. A great romp through the Big Apple ensues.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak - Yes, you probably know about this book but did you know it is a young adult book? In 1939 Germany Death is very busy but is determined to tell a story. Liesel Meminger is a girl living outside of Munich who starts to steal books, something she can't resist. Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with others including a Jewish man she hides in her foster family's basement. Will she finally get caught? This is an intense read about growing up in a very bad place and time.

Do you have any Young Adult books you'd recommend?

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