It’s kind of funny that I’ve ended up being a high school librarian, because when I was a teenager, I didn’t even read YA. I remember reading some Cynthia Voigt in about fifth grade, but that’s it. I was in an accelerated program through middle and high school, so I went from Roald Dahl and Babysitter’s Club to The Perfect Storm and Shakespeare. After all of the required reading in high school, I simply went on to read adult novels and non-fiction in college. So I just never really dipped my toe in the pool of YA. Until now! In the last five years, I’ve been able to find out what I was missing out on. YA has really become such a strong part of best-selling fiction now, and I can see why. The books I read are so well written and full of heart, that I see why they appeal not just to 15-18 year olds, but to adults, too. Check out this article to see my point. Three of the best-selling books this year were YA, and two were written by YA god John Green. I heard somewhere that his book Paper Towns will be turned into a movie, so I’m looking forward to see if lightning can strike twice, not to mention how cool it will be to see Orlando on the big screen (I’m a native Floridian).
Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. The end of the school year is always crazy, and then once it’s over you need a little time to just vegetate. But, I finished a book last night that was so good it required me to come back on here to rave about it.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Wow. What a read. It was chosen as one of this year’s nominees for the Florida Teens Read list, so I had to read it, but it’s also one I kept hearing such great things about that I think I would have eventually come around anyway.
I think it’s actually a perfect follow-up on the heels of the uber-popular The Fault in Our Stars. Once you’ve read that, cried, seen the movie, cried, listened to the soundtrack, and then cried one last time, then you should pick up Eleanor & Park. It’s in a similar vein, and it’s just as well written, clever, fresh, and realistic, if not more so than Fault. Does that sound like blasephemy? I don’t think so, because honestly, we all know that Augustus and Hazel do tend to use a lot of lofty vocabulary and both come from loving and well-off families. In Eleanor & Park, none of the characters talk like 20-something Harvard graduates, and Eleanor comes from a terrible home life, which I think many more teenagers can (sadly) probably better relate to.
I still have nine more Florida Teens Read books to finish this summer, so we’ll see, but I highly doubt any of them will come close to the magic and feeling of Eleanor & Park. Rowell has also written another book called Fangirl, which I haven’t read, but one of my very bright and well read students did read it and said she enjoyed it very much. John Green… watch out… Rainbow Rowell is onto something here…
Laurie Halse Anderson has created a list of some great choices for teens (and us adults) dealing with difficult topics, such as drug addiction, death, and alienation. I’m happy to say I have most of these in my media center already, but it’s nice to see them compiled together to make it easier to help make good suggestions to my students.
That’s what I love about books- they’re a wonderful way to remind you that you’re not alone, no matter what you’re going through. You can escape and connect through the characters’ experiences, all judgment-free.
Two of my favorites of all time, American Born Chinese and The Fault in Our Stars, are on here, as well as some I’m dying to read, like Eleanor & Park. It’s sitting on my desk… now to find the time!
The books have been chosen, and I heartily agree. Enjoy!