Young Adult Literature: good books for teens
Sharon Creech (Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Realistic Fiction; Book Themes: Family, Emotions and Feelings
"Walk Two Moons" by Sharon Creech is a moving realistic fiction story for young adults. Sharon Creech's Newbery Medal award winner tells a story within a story that deals with themes of love, loss and family. The main character, 13-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, travels from Euclid, Ohio to Lewiston, Idaho with her eccentric grandparents to visit her missing mother. Along the way, Sal tells them the story of her friend, Phoebe Winterbottom. Phoebe is a girl of wild imagination. She finds mysterious messages such as "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins" on her family's doorsteps. Phoebe's mother leaves her family unexpectedly but eventually returns; Sal has to deal with painful life changes and come to terms with her own loss. The characters in "Walk Two Moons" are interesting and well developed, from the protagonist with her complex emotions and feelings to the wacky and loving grandparents. "Walk Two Moons" is a good book for teens in 8th grade and up.
Christopher Paolini (Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Fantasy Books
Eragon by teen author Christopher Paolini, the first book in the Inheritance Trilogy, tells an engaging tale of dragons, magic and adventure. The main character of this best selling fantasy book is Eragon, a 15-year-old farm boy in Alagaesia. When hunting in the Spine, a mountain range near his home village Carvahall, Eragon finds a blue stone that happens to be a dragon egg. After the egg hatches, Eragon raises the dragon secretly and names her Saphira. The evil Ra'zac sent by the King Galbatorix kills Eragon's uncle and destroys his home. Accompanied by old storyteller Brom, Eragon and his dragon sets out on a treacherous journey full of twists and turns. Toward the end of the story, Eragon the Dragon Rider, his newly made friend Murtagh, and Saphira arrive at Tronjheim, where the rebel force called the Varden is located. A big battle is fought in which Eragon helps defeat the enemies sent by the king. Likable protagonists and an interesting plot make it an entertaining book for both young adults and adults to read.
Carl Hiaasen (Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Realistic Fiction; Book Themes: Animals, Environmental Protection, School life
"Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen is a Newbery Honor award-winning realistic fiction book for young adults. The main character of "Hoot" is Roy Eberhardt, a middle school student who has just moved to Florida from Montana. Being a new kid on the block, Roy becomes a victim of a school bully named Dana Matherson. While riding on the school bus, Roy spots a kid running barefoot and carrying no books. Later on, Roy makes friends with the homeless boy nicknamed Mullet Fingers, who is on an ecological mission to protect rare and endangered burrowing owls at the future construction site of Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House. With the aid of Mullet Fingers' stepsister Beatrice, Roy outwits the bully, helps the boy save the owls and warms up to life in Florida. Also featured in Hoot are a few adult characters, such as the construction foreman Leroy "Curly" Branitt and the ambitious police officer Delinko, who are both up in arms against the pranks. While sending a message about environmental protection, "Hoot" is an interesting and entertaining story to read. "Hoot" is a good book for teens in 7th grade and up.
Richard Adams (Paperback)
Genres: Fiction - Adventure Books, Animal Fantasy; Book Theme: Animals
"Watership Down" by Richard Adams, one of the best novels of the 20th century, is a riveting animal fantasy book beloved by young adults and adults alike. A group of rabbits set out on a long journey to find a new home after a small rabbit named Fiver senses great danger to their warren. They go through many adventures before reaching Watership Down. Soon after the rabbits settle down at their home on the down, they go on another dangerous adventure to fetch female rabbits from Efrafa, a warren tightly controlled by a ruthless Chief Rabbit, General Woundwort.
Part of the attraction of this classic adventure story stems from its diverse and interesting characters. The talking animals have distinct personalities. Hazel the leader is fair, quick-minded and always looks out for the interests of the group. Bigwig the fighter is strong, brave and willing to stick out for the weak. Fiver the prophet is small and nervous. Woundwort the villain is intelligent, fearless and power-crazy. "Watership Down" also includes several chapters of short tales about El-ahrairah, the "Prince with a Thousand Enemies", who is cunning and clever.
Genre: Fiction - Adventure Books
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi tells a suspenseful adventure story with a riveting plot. The main character of this Newbery Honor award-winning book is 13-year-old Charlotte Doyle, who grows and changes over the course of her eventful voyage on the high seas in 1832. The only passenger and the only female on a ship called Seahawk, Charlotte gets caught between a cruel captain and his vengeful crew. Charlotte first sides with the seemingly charming Captain Jaggery while befriending a cook named Zachariah. After realizing the captain's true nature, Charlotte Doyle works hard to win over the crew by becoming one of the seamen. When the captain charges her with a murder she didn't commit, Charlotte is tried and found guilty. But Charlotte manages to survive and win in her struggle with the captain and to arrive at her destination safely. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is a good book for teens in 8th grade and up.
Lois Lowry (Mass Market Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Science Fiction
"The Giver" by Lois Lowry is a thought-provoking young adult science fiction novel. The protagonist of this powerful story is a 12-year-old boy named Jonas, who lives in a highly ordered community. The Elders assign jobs, spouses and families. Pain, poverty and war are non-existent. At the coming-of-age Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas was selected to become the new Receiver of Memory. As the giver transfers memories of the past to him, a whole new world opens up for the boy. After he discovers the terrible truth about his community, Jonas goes on a dangerous journey to escape. "The Giver" has received many awards, including 1994 Newbery Medal, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults and ALA Notable Children's Book. With original plot and believable characters, "The Giver" appeals to teens in 8th grade and up.
Esther Forbes, Lynd Ward (Paperback)
Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction; Book Theme: American Revolutionary War
"Johnny Tremain" by Esther Forbes, winner of the 1944 Newbery Medal, is one of the best historical fiction novels ever written for young adults. The main character of this classic book is Johnny Tremain, a sharp, arrogant and observant 14-year-old silversmith's apprentice in Boston. After an accident cripples his hand, the boy meets his best friend Rab Silsbee and gets a new job delivering newspaper for the Boston Observer. Johnny serves as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty in the days leading to the American Revolution War and becomes acquainted with historical figures like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and Dr. Warren. Johnny and Rab get intimately involved in the Boston Tea Party. Rab then joins the Minutemen and was shot by British soldiers during the Battle of Lexington at the start of the Revolutionary War. Teens in 7th grade and up will enjoy this moving story.
Gary D. Schmidt (Hardcover)
Genre: Fiction - Historical Fiction; Book Themes: Friendship, Race Relations and Racism
"Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy" by Gary D. Schmidt is a Newbery Honor award-winning book and well-written historical fiction for young adults. In 1912, Turner Buckminster and his parents have just moved to Phippsburg, Maine. Reverend Buckminster has been appointed the pastor of the First Congregational Church. Life is stifling and unbearable until the boy meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a smart African-American girl from nearby Malaga Island. They form a close friendship in spite of disapproval by Reverend Buckminster and the townspeople. After the town elders decide to remove the people from the island for the sake of a prospective tourist trade, tragedies follow one after another. "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy" depicts a disturbing picture of racism during early 20th century, a sad chapter of race relations in the US. The main characters of the story are well developed, especially Turner Buckminster, who grows up and matures right in front of reader's eyes.
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