Riddle from the Middle

real life with a side of snark

Youth fiction

1/1/18:  The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine grabs the reader and whisks them back to 1958 Little Rock, a time of upheaval as schools struggle with the order to integrate.  Twelve-year-old Marlee is having a hard enough time just tackling middle school.  When the one person Marlee truly considers a friend disappears amid whispers that she was caught passing for white, Marlee starts down a path that changes both their lives’ forever.  This remarkable story details what happened the year after the Little Rock Nine captured the nation’s attention.  Bear’s enjoyed it a number of times and loves it more with every read.


11/30/16:  Today’s post focused on fabulous books so this page will have a gracious plenty updates.  So be it.

**  Jodi Picoult has written an astounding number of extraordinary books addressing youth issues.  The Pact is a riveting story of two families intertwined, the best of friends, whose children eventually grow into a teenage relationship together.  Which is why everyone is shocked to learn that one dies as part of a suicide pact, while the other faces questions about his intentions when he doesn’t kill himself as well.  My Sister’s Keeper takes a hard look at family decisions.  Is it moral to conceive a child to save the first born’s life?  Is it ethical to subject her to years of medical procedures?  What happens when that teen decides she no longer wants to be a donor for her sister?  This is a mesmerizing tale of sisters, a life altering decision, and its repercussions in the family.  Nineteen Minutes examines a high school shooting from every perspective – shooter, fellow student, shooter’s parents, witness, and judge (who is also the witness’ mother).  It’s deeply thought provoking and, sadly, still timely reading.

**  The Percy Jackson series is engrossing from start to finish.  Much like JK Rowling’s creation of a magical world within our own, Rick Riordan designs a mortal world in which the Greek gods are still very much alive.  Demigods (half mortal, half god) are trained as heroes at a special camp and go on quests to stave off war between the Titans and the Greek gods.  Each of the series’ five books is filled with perilous adventure and rich character development that keeps you coming back for more.

**  The Hunger Games trilogy features a post-apocalyptic society where twelve poor districts are ruled by a cruel and extravagantly wealthy Capitol.  In punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol, districts are forced to send one boy and one girl annually to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised event where participants must fight to the death.  The three books examine human psychology under the most dire circumstances, survival instinct, class systems, how one’s appearance influences society, and uprising.

**  The Giver series consists of four young adult novels by Lois Lowry.  At first glance the novels seem to tell stories independent of one another, but the fourth one (Son) artfully weaves the books together into a coherent arc.  Each one is set in a unique community with challenging issues for the reader to consider – sameness vs. individuality, treatment of those with disabilities, generosity vs. selfishness, accepted roles vs. biological instinct.  Every book can stand on its own as a thought provoking read, but together?  It’s a remarkable series indeed.


4/10/15:  Okay, I’m just going to admit that I read a lot of youth/young adult fiction.  I don’t know if this is because I’m always looking for good books for my kids (gee, that would be a super reason) or I just really love a great read, but it means we always have a large number of books floating around our house.  BrightSide eventually got used to it.  So at this year’s school book fair I picked up a copy of Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and it is fantastic.  It’s about a boy named Auggie who was born with a severe facial deformity that had kept him out of mainstream school, but he’s about to begin fifth grade at Beecher Prep.  Being the new kid is hard enough; convincing people to see past your physical deformity and recognize that you’re “a regular kid” is a real challenge.  This book isn’t fluff about fifth graders immediately accepting Auggie into the fold.  (Have you met 5th graders lately?)  It’s a moving story about an unusual boy facing real life issues: making friends, dealing with enemies, navigating a new school, and the incredible impact he has on those around him.  Bear snatched it up as soon as I was done, and T-man called next dibs.  I think they’re really going to get a lot out of this story that is so beautifully written.


4/3/15:  I posted about my success getting T-man interested in fiction through the Harry Potter series. We read book 1 as a family, he finished book 2 this week, and launched himself into book 3 with a vengeance yesterday.  He’s so excited to see where the story leads him; it takes me back to the original release dates, when BrightSide and I couldn’t wait to grab a copy of the newest book and then endured the torture of sharing it.  Who would get to read it first?  How long would they take? And the pressure of not saying a word until the second person was able to read it, too.  Man, I love those books.  I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t, though I’m sure they must be out there (freaks). Anyway, this was kind of a no-brainer for my first book entry, but there it is.  If you’re looking for something to hook a kid, boy or girl, who might not be the biggest fiction fan (or they’re ready to transition to something longer but need high interest to carry them through the pages), JK Rowling’s series on Hogwarts is fantastic.

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