Angie Morrow is fairly quiet and keeps to herself. In Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly the reader gets a glimpse into the summer before she leaves to college. It is a period of many firsts for her. She falls in love, and finds an identity. In the end she asserts her independence as she goes off to college.
I read this when I was fifteen and had no idea that it was written in 1942. It is a story that is relatable even today. It is also fascinating to me that Daly wrote this novel as she was in college. I love this story every time I read it, and it is fun to discuss with others who have read it as well. There is always a differing of opinions on the ending.
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud is a fantasy. It is the first book in a trilogy about a London that is run by wizards. The book follows a boy named Nathaniel who is an eleven-year-old wizard. The wizards in this book have no power themselves, but summon demons to do the work for them. What is interesting is the relationships between the wizards and the demons. The demons are basically slaves and are forced to do whatever the wizards demand of them.
Nathaniel is something of an oddity to the wizards in the book. Young wizards are made by taking them from their parents and placing as apprentices to older magicians. They are treated with a distance as they are not even called by their names. Nathaniel does not let his circumstances stop him from learning and teaching himself to be a powerful wizard.
I personally responded well to how the book was written. Stroud uses footnotes that explain the story and are full of sarcasm. I had not seen this in a work of fiction and it turned out to be extremely entertaining. The chapters alternate between Nathaniel’s point-of-view and Bartimaeus who is the demon Nathaniel is controlling.
Anyone going into the series thinking it will be another Harry Potter will not find many similarities at all. The books are certainly entertaining and are being made into movies in England. Click here for Jonathan Stroud’s website for information on his other books, and what he is up to.
If your students have gotten into the idea of reading young adult literature and are looking for another book with some
The China Garden
mystery in it, I would recommend The China Garden. Though the book is geared towards women but the mystery element, along with historical incorporations, could trigger a male teen as well.
The China Garden, written by author Liz Berry, is set in England where the main character Clare has to make major life changes about going to University and her career at the end of high school. Only there’s a twist. Her mother has a secret that she has been keeping from Clare in order to protect her from the life she never wanted her daughter to have, a life she herself was able to be spared from. Through ancient ruins and old legends, Clare will discover who she really is and the great destiny that was always hers. Not only that, but she will find love along the way while also discovering her mothers secret past that has lead Clare into the arms of Mark.
The entire plot of this book has considerable twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing and striving to find out what happens next. Though there is a warning for any teachers who own and lend out the book; there is an explicit scene, though not entirely graphic, where Clare does have relations with Mark that are not exactly PG. Therefore, be aware of this scene or explain to those who read it that there is chapter worth being cautious of.
Nonetheless, this is a great book with mysteries that keep the reader guessing till the end. It is also very well written and styled as though the reader is Clare herself and attempting to figure out the next clue to her secret life.
Sarah Dessen is a published author who has been a hit within Young Adult Literature for many years. Primarily writing teenage books for girls, her high school characters go under a transformation of thought and realizations. Her main characters are young women who are coming of age and finding their way through life. Most often than not these girls have dealt with death, divorce, abuse, a broken heart, friendships, self-esteem issues, you name it. Dessen gets right at the heart of young girls and while reading her books young teens get the opportunity to relate, sympathize, and even learn life lessons alongside Dessen’s characters.
I have personally read many of her books including Dreamland, This Lullaby, Lock and Key, Just Listen, Along for the Ride and my personal favorite The Truth About Forever; ALL have teenage women learning something about themselves as the swim through the sea of high school and family drama.
I highly recommend these books for high school teens who are looking for a book that they
can possibly relate to, one with romance, life lessons and even some drama. Check out Sarah Dessen’s website and blog to find all the books she has to offer with her own comments and her desires for the books she writes and the readers who get swept away in her amazing stories.
This book takes place in Germany during WWII, but this book is unique in the fact that Death is the narrator. Death tells the story of a young girl Liesel Meminger as she grows up during the war. Liesel has lost all her family and is taken in by the Hubbermanns. As Liesel steals books and learns to read from her foster father, she discovers a love for the written word in a culture where book-burnings are taking place.
The Book Thief is rife with symbolism and feeling, allowing the reader to learn about the story of a normal girl of the time. It is an amazing narrative that I would highly recommend.
Click here for an interview with Markus Zusak. To go to Markus Zusak website click here, for information on his other book and discussion question to go along with The Book Thief.