Tuesday 26 September 2017

Outstanding teen reads this summer

 

Author Cecelia Ahern's latest book is unmissable. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Author Cecelia Ahern's latest book is unmissable. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Justine Carbery

With summer days stretching endlessly ahead, here are some amazing books to keep your teens and young adults entertained.

The Girl in Between (Simon and Schuster, €8.99) is a poignant fable-like story about family and homelessness by Sarah Carroll. Sam and her mother end up living on the streets until they move into an old abandoned mill they call The Castle. But she has to be vigilant to remain invisible from the outside world for fear of being taken away from her mother by the authorities. A touching story with a wonderfully surprising ending.

I really enjoyed October is the Coldest Month (Scribe, €9.99), a Nordic Noir for ages 16+, by Christoffer Carlsson. This unusual story set in remote Swedish countryside reels you in with the sparse writing and eerie atmosphere. A gritty, edgy thriller that will get under your skin.

One of my favourite YA novels this year was I Have No Secrets (Electric Monkey, €9.99) by Penny Joelson, an absolute page-turner that I simply could not put down. Fourteen-year-old Jemma has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, unable to move, speak or communicate in any way. When a murder takes place and Jemma knows who is responsible, how will she bring the culprit to justice? For anyone who liked The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time or Wonder, this one is for you.

Perfect (Harper Collins, €15.99), the sequel to Cecelia Ahern's excellent YA debut Flawed, is out now and follows Celestine North's difficult journey back into society. With deftly-drawn characters and a pacey storyline, this sequel will not disappoint.

The Hate U Give (Walker, €10.99), by Thomas Angie, is a fearlessly honest and heartbreaking story about a teenage girl, Starr, who witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. This devastating and important book should be read by everyone. Brilliant.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Simon and Schuster, €8.24) is another terrifically moving read about a teenage boy, Griffin, who is coming to terms with the death of his first love and best friend Theo, and the complex web of relationships affected by this terrible loss. I guarantee your heart will ache.

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined (Scholastic, €9.99), by Canada's Danielle Younge-Ullman is like The Breakfast Club goes camping - an engaging, inspirational story about Ingrid, the daughter of an opera singer who has lost her voice. A pact with her mom sees Ingrid attending a wilderness camp to prove she can overcome any trials and obstacles that come her way. Ingrid's voice is wonderfully snarky, and the story is told in alternating chapters, giving us a glimpse into Ingrid's past and present. An emotional exploration of family relationships.

In Like Other Girls (HotKeyBooks, €8.24) Claire Hennessy tackles difficult subjects head on. Her protagonist, Lauren, is 16, Irish, attending a posh all-girls secondary school. She is bisexual and kind of in love with her transgender best friend. When Lauren discovers she is pregnant and wants to have an abortion she's bullied by a local anti-choice group masquerading as a women's health clinic. What's more, she has to deal with all of this alone, as she feels she cannot confide in her mother or her friends. A passionate, authentic, tough read but very important nonetheless.

Award-winning Patrick Ness also deals sensitively with some hard-hitting issues in his latest novel Release (Walker, €14.99). In it, there are two overlapping stories - one about Adam, a young gay man dealing with the conflict between his sexuality and the strict religious values of his family. The second story, a paranormal tale about a girl thrown into the lake with bricks in her pockets by her junkie boyfriend, and two fantastical creatures - the Queen and the Faun, is seemingly unconnected but overlaps at the end. Overall this is a powerful LGBT story of self-realisation, acceptance and the power of release.

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