Wednesday, December 27, 2017

New Teen Fiction for Teens and Teens at Heart

There is always something new and engaging to read on PWPL’s New Teen book shelf. Here are a few recent arrivals that come highly recommended for adults, as well as teens.
Philip Pullman fans are celebrating the long-awaited release of The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, a companion to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, in which we first met the magnetic heroine Lyra. La Belle Sauvage, set both before and after His Dark Materials, offers a thrilling return to Lyra’s parallel Oxford, where eleven-year-old Malcolm’s father runs an inn on the banks of the Thames, and the relentless rain has become a deluge. A secret message about a dangerous substance called Dust propels Malcolm into an adventure that will test him in ways he has never imagined.

The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe, is based on the real life experiences of Dita Kraus, a fourteen-year-old girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust. Dita and her parents are taken from Prague’s Terezin ghetto to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where a Jewish leader asks Dita to take charge of the eight books prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards for their “school.” Because knowledge is power, the Nazis forbid school or any other learning activities, but the prisoners choose not to abide by that rule. The eight precious books Dita fiercely protects, along with the “living books” - teachers who retell stories from past books they have read and reread – keep hope alive in a very frightening and uncertain world.

You Bring the Distant Near, by Mitali Perkins, gives readers a fresh perspective on the challenges of immigration in our modern world. Five Bengali-American women, across three generations, struggle to find their identities as cultures blend and often collide – a funny, slice-of-life story that feels both personal and universal at the same time. You Bring the Distant Near has earned a place on multiple “Best of 2017” lists, including my own.  Check it out and become intimately acquainted with the remarkable Das women, in just 320 pages.

Turtles All the Way Down, by rock star author John Green, will likely fly off the library shelf. Go ahead and place that hold, because this book is worth the wait. Aza and her best friend Daisy set out to solve the mystery of a missing billionaire, motivated by the promise of a $100,000 reward. Along the way Aza collects a charming love interest. Davis Pickett, who happens to be the son of the missing man. This isn’t a simple mystery/romance; Aza is afflicted with severe anxiety and OCD, which sends her thoughts spiraling out of control.  In a press release, John Green said, “This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal.”

Sharon Huss Roat’s How to Disappear offers a somewhat lighter look at social anxiety, and the power of social media for good or ill. Vicky Decker has become a champ at remaining invisible as she navigates her high school hallways. After her lifelong best friend moves away, Vicky’s social anxiety is impossible to hide – so she applies her prodigious Photoshop talent to creating a secret alter-ego for herself on Instagram, #Vicurious. As Vicurious gains a following, and even inspires an anti-bullying movement at her school, Vicky realizes she is not the only person feeling all alone in the world. Vicky’s story is heart-wrenching, witty, and thoroughly engrossing. Plan to read this book in one sitting.

--Mary Schneeberger, Teen Services Coordinator

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