The second of my two summer courses was Resources and Services for Young Adults (the other being collection development). One of the requirements was to read one book per week, chosen from a list of 58 books. The books were divided by week and category. A few of the books I had read before, but most were not the kind to be on my reading radar. That being said, I enjoyed most of the books I did read, and have added to my already overwhelming “to read” list.
Books I read during the course:
Week 1: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – I read this book 20 years ago as required reading in middle school. I remember thinking it was alright, and then mentally moved back into fantasy novel mode. This time around, I had a different perspective. It’s still not a book I would read for fun, but I can see why it is considered the first YA novel, and why it still resonates with readers 40+ years later.
Week 2: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie– I can see why this book has been challenged, but I loved it. It’s well-written, and heavy topics are dealt with in a humorous manner (which is a great way to cope with being dealt a crap hand. My father maintained a very black/dry sense up humor about his circumstances right up until he died from cancer.) I’m no expert on rez life, but there was a small number of kids from the rez at my high school, and the descriptions they gave of it was very similar to how it was depicted in this book.
Week 3 (a): Inexcusable by Chris Lynch – I chose this from our list because it was short. The fact that it was written from the perspective of the perpetrator was different. I didn’t like it, and found the narrative confusing and disjointed. I know part of that is because the main character is living in a delusional bubble, but I wasn’t able to find anything redeeming about him.
Week 3 (b): The First Part Last by Angela Johnson– Another book I chose to read because it was short, but I ended up enjoying it. Like the previous book, it was told from a different perspective. In this case, however, the narrator was relatable, stepped up to his circumstances, and did the best he could. His decisions did not seem out of line with how a teen would react. The only thing I found confusing initially was what happened to his daughter’s mother.
Week 3 (c): The Perks of Being a Wallflower – I read about 2/3rds of this book, then skipped to the last chapter. It was interesting at first, but became tedious and somewhat redundant as it progressed. If I had read this in high school or college, it would have resonated with me, but as it stands, I am not at that point in my life anymore.
Week 4: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner – The tone of this book was akin to the classic dystopian novels, but it wasn’t as well written. I liked the concept, but the plot felt disjointed, and certain events/relationships were poorly explained. I never became invested in the characters, and so wasn’t pulled into caring about their struggles.
Week 5: I did not read any book from this week. (Bad me!)
Week 6 (a): American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – The three separate narratives threw me off at first, especially because it started with a story about the Monkey King and not a modern teen suffering from an identity/culture crisis. The plots flowed well, and I liked how all three came together at the end.
Week 6 (b): Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer – My best friend has been after me for a while to read this book, but I never got around to it (obviously) until now, and I have to say that I really liked it. It is a slow-paced story, but life isn’t always quick or action-packed. It felt like an accurate portrayal of how one family might handle such an extreme situation. The characters’ actions didn’t feel out of place for who they were. This is a well written story about average people. It was a nice change from many of the crazy dystopian YA novels.
Books I had read previously:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Delerium by Lauren Oliver
Feed by M.T. Anderson (I attempted to read this, but the slang was obnoxious and made it hard to read the book)
Book I want to read:
Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Gavin J. Grant
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Nobody’s Secret by Michaela MacColl
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Death Note, Vol 1 by Tsugumi Ohba (watched the anime several years ago and loved the main character’s psychological downward spiral caused by unlimited power)