Sunday 20 January 2019

Must-reads for all young adults

Justine Carbery has been on the lookout for 2018's best books for young adults. Here's a selection...

Author Laura Sebastian
Author Laura Sebastian
The Weight of a Thousand Feathers
No Fixed Address
The Science of Breakable Things
The List of Real Things
The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree
Are We all Lemmings and Snowflakes?

We all love stories, be they songs, movies or novels, and 2018 has delivered a wealth of relevant and engaging tales for the teen or young adult in your life. So as you gear up for the gift-giving season, consider sharing some of these great books with friends and family.

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree (Hot Key €8.99) is one such powerful book. The author, Paola Peretti, like the main character Mafalda, has Stargardt Mist; a degenerative eye condition that ultimately leads to blindness. Nine-year-old Mafalda has known for some time that she will lose her sight and this is the story of how she comes to terms with her journey towards darkness. Will she still be able to go to school, play football and look after her beloved cat? A tender, thought-provoking read for all ages.

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The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

The List of Real Things (Hachette €9.45) by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald tells the story of Grace and Bee, whose parents have died and are now living with their uncle and grandfather. They deal with grief in different ways. Grace, at 14, wants to fit in with the cool crowd at school and is embarrassed by her little sister Bee, who insists that their dog can talk, and that their dead parents live in a hotel at the top of the cliff. Lovely characters, with a touch of magic.

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The List of Real Things

No Fixed Address (Andersen Press €13.99) by Susin Nielsen is another novel for the younger teen that deals with the topical issue of homelessness. Thirteen-year-old Felix and his mother have to move into a stolen camper van, which seems like a great adventure at first. But he soon gets tired of being cold and hungry and having to shower at the community centre. He decides he must come up with a plan! A timely, funny and compassionate book with an endearing protagonist.

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The Science of Breakable Things

A book that realistically portrays what it is like to have a parent with depression is The Science of Breakable Things (Random House €18.19) by Tae Keller. Natalie wants to win a science competition so she can use the prize money to bring her mom to see the rare Cobalt Blue Orchids. Then her mom won't be depressed any more. Keller lets us walk in Natalie's shoes and see the impact that parental depression can have on a young teen.

Death in the Spotlight (Penguin €8.99) is the seventh instalment in the brilliant A Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens, and has the girls Daisy and Hazel staying in London with Daisy`s uncle and aunt. To keep them out of trouble, they are sent to help out at a production of Romeo and Juliet in the Rue Theatre, when suddenly one of the cast is murdered. A roller coaster of a mystery ensues. Great fun and well-written.

Complete with beautiful vintage photos, A Map of Days (Penguin €14.99) sees the Peculiars sent on a mission by Abe's old partner H in America. New wonders and dangers await in this brilliant next instalment in the Miss Peregrine series by Ransom Riggs. And another breathless adventure is in store for fans of the hugely popular Gone writer Michael Grant. His second book in his new series Villain (Egmont €9.99) is pure action and carnage from start to finish.

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The Weight of a Thousand Feathers

An Post Book Awards winner Brian Conaghan delivers a novel with a big heart in The Weight of a Thousand Feathers (Bloomsbury €12.99). Bobby is a young carer to his mother who is dying of MS, and a younger brother who is a handful. Life sucks until he goes to a group for those caring for an ill parent and meets the exotic Lou. A great read and worthy prize-winner.

Another insightful read is Tahereh Mafi's A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Egmont €9.99) about Islamophobia, breakdancing, and first love. It's 2002, a year after 9/11, and 16-year-old Shirin has just started at yet another new high school and is tired of being stereotyped. She is fed up with the stares and the racist comments she has to endure because of her hijab. But then she meets the gentle Ocean, and her defences are tested.

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Are We all Lemmings and Snowflakes?

Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes? (Usborne €9.99) is the latest YA by Holly Bourne and deals with teen mental illness. It revolves around Olive, who is sent to Camp Reset, a revolutionary new clinic for teenagers with psychological disorders. An honest, funny book full of heart. One of the most popular books this Christmas is What If It's Us (Simon & Schuster €9.99) by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. This sweet book follows two characters, Ben and Arthur, who meet in a post office in New York and charts their romance in a kind of Sleepless in Seattle-style story. Super cute. And Leah on the Offbeat (Penguin €10.50) by the same Becky Albertalli is spot on when it comes to teen angst, humour and dialogue.

Inspired by the Tony Award winning Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen (Penguin €13.99) is a story about a senior at high school, who suffers from extreme anxiety and has difficulty making friends. But things change and Evan finds he's living the dream. Only it's based on a lie, which leads to more lies. Evan has to find a way of untangling the web of deceit and accepting himself as he is.

The psychological thriller Broken Things (Hodder & Stoughton €17.99) by Lauren Oliver about an obsession with a book that had no ending, which leads three friends down a dangerous path is a clever twisty tale, while Ash Princess (Pan Macmillan 10.80) by Laura Sebastian is a nail-biting fantasy debut full of daring and vengeance. And Sarah Maria Griffin's Spare and Lost Parts, a post-apocalyptic Dublin tale, will appeal to those who enjoy dark and lyrical writing.

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