With two teenagers at home I am eager to increase my awareness of titles released and publishing within the YA genre of children’s publicity, so here are a couple of my recent reads that I would massively recommend to my children and their peers, as well as young adults beyond those that I can advise. The passion and conviction within these featured titles is on a whole new level, as is the depth of the text along with topics and storylines that are relatable and relevant, which ensures popularity with audiences. I shared some of each book with my two teens to gain a personal insight into relevance to intended audience and my 14yo son particularly was extremely impressed, saying that if a book can make you feel strong emotions such as anger then it is written brilliantly as it has impacted the reader directly, and these did, for various reasons. Enjoy these great titles.
Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab
- Published by Scholastic on 5th September 2019 (paperback)
Picking up where the first title in this series City of Ghosts ended, we join Cassidy as she is concluding her journey from Edinburgh to Paris with her parents, as they are filming a TV show there. Alongside her best friend and ghost Jacob she explores the places within the french capital that her parents have sought out – beginning with the catacombs that stretch underneath Paris’ streets like rabbit warrens. It is here that a poltergeist makes himself known by creating mischief and mayhem for Cassidy at every opportunity, and when she struggles to return him to the other side of the veil (which separates the living from the dead) she knows she has to do something before he becomes stronger and achieves so much worse. Cue research and investigatory work from Cassidy and Jacob, and so much more besides in this incredible story of unlikely friendships, sacrifice, and mystery.
The way the story is written makes it easy to follow the action as the reader, even when the pace quickens along with the plot. Paris is described and detailed in this book in such a way that you not only feel immersed within its streets but you also find yourself longing to travel their yourself, and experience it all in person too – and this is testament to the incredible writing skills of author Victoria Schwab. The next instalment Bridge of Souls is due for publication on 1st September this year in hardback, and I cannot wait to see where Cassidy goes next and how she balances everything to avoid being overwhelmed. I would advise reading the books in order as this allows you to indulge in all the finer details within each of the books, and would definitely suggest this series as one that could be started when entering high school and continued as you journey through the years there as the book has just the right level of spooks and scares to make this an enjoyable story, part suspense and part mystery, one completely brilliant read.
Gloves Off – Louisa Reid
- Published by Guppy Books in hardback on 29th August 2019, and due for release in paperback on 5th March 2020.
Written in verse, this book tells the story of Lily – a young school girl who turns 16 and soon after faces awful treatment at the hands of bullies at school, both physically and mentally as it seems Lily is obese like her mum, unlike her mum however Lily is determined to turn things around for herself, and does so with the help of her dad who introduces her to the sport of Boxing. Reinforcing the powerful feminist feel to this book is the authentic feel to the world of boxing that author Louisa Reid has achieved successfully. Whilst the book opens with a quote from the legendary Rocky Balboa (anyone who is familiar with the film character will at times hear the theme music in their heads while reading this book) and nods to the strength and masculinity of the sport, there is a sensitive, beautiful and uplifting feel to the world of boxing being portrayed throughout the actual story.
The first person narrative of the prose makes it easy to follow and dive into, and the use of different font sizes to emphasise the content makes this interesting in format as much as in storyline. There is also an insight into Lily’s mum Bernadette’s perspective of things as some of the verses are written as her, which gives additional variety to the content and maintains readers interest. This is a beautiful story of bravery, self believe, grit and determination which is written so powerfully that feminists of all ages will appreciate every word.
Furious Thing – Jenny Downham
- Published by David Fickling Books on 3rd October 2019 in hardback, and due for publication in paperback on 4th June 2020.
Telling the story of Lexi, a frustrated teenager that feels like the black sheep of the family, misunderstood and overlooked. No matter how much Lexi tries to behave – and she does try – things just never go her way and she always seems to find herself in trouble and consequently reacts with anger – which at times is actually justified! The story flows easily from the offset and it isn’t long before you feel a connection to main character Lexi, who you sympathise with greatly given that she faces GCSEs soon and is stressing over those and how the outcome of those results will affect her future, has to accept her mum’s fiance as her new stepdad even though he’s really awful and she has a crush on his son, who has moved away to uni. This story is powerful and raw, and it mirrors real life and relationships for so many, and with an apt title that truly reflects how the reader will at times feel it is testament to author Jenny Downham that we become so invested.
Stay tuned for more YA titles featuring on my blog again very soon, and a huge thank you to publishers for providing me with these titles which are being donated to our feeder high school (once my teens have had their turn!).