Sunday, December 2, 2012
Books for a New England Fall, Part II
Now, you'll find that the difference between what I define as Children's Literature and Young Adult Literature is a fairly thin line. And then you will forget that it bothers you, because, what does it matter anyway?
So, I've addressed Children's Literature, and now it's time for:
Young Adult Literature
I like to write when and where I bought a book on the inner pages. Rarely do I expound into more specific journaling, but, written on this book is the date, Strand Books, NYC, and the message "in an attempt to get over Mockingjay". And, man alive, is When You Reach Me ever up to the task. Rebecca Stead places her story in New York City, during the fall and winter of 1978-79. It's effortlessly written, so cleverly constructed. I finished reading it the first time and just knew it was something special. I've read it many, many times since.
I'd feel like a particular heel if I didn't mention the Betsy books because they're such an absolute favorite of mine. Maude Hart Lovelace is a personal hero, and Betsy too. The books are, in order, Heaven to Betsy, Betsy in Spite of herself, Betsy was a Junior, and Betsy and Joe. There are more, but these four chronicle her high school years. Based largely on the life of the author, Betsy is both a product of her time (the early nineteen-teens) and so very, very modern. She's smart and flawed and constantly learning the importance of being true to herself. I love the descriptions of her life, her family, her friends, the parties, the food, the clothes, all delivered like a message in a bottle from a simple, wholesome age.
Gregor the Overlander, by, wait for it, Suzanne Collins. This is her first series, and it's written for a younger audience. It's a powerhouse on its own, but, if you're looking, you can hear heartbeats of what The Hunger Games will become. She likes to write about children in times of revolution, and this is that, with so much sweetness and so much heart. I don't think I've ever loved a young hero like I love Gregor. It's fun and scary and fantastical, and perfect to get you through long winter nights.
Everything on a Waffle. Is it possible I've never mentioned this? Is it? If not, it's a huge oversight because it's a long-time favorite. It's perfect for this list because it takes place in Canada, which is pretty much winter all the time, right? Polly Horvath* writes an everyman heroine we can all get behind, Primrose Squarp. She's smart and wry and just gets it, but not in an annoying, precocious way. Her parents are lost at sea and she keeps the faith through a long winter. She learns to cook along the way, and the book is filled with recipes, which I am always meaning to try. Maybe you'll do it.
I'd be a chump not to mention this last one: Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Come on, you guys. It's nearly Christmas, in Massachusetts I'd probably be arrested by the Concord police for not mentioning this one. If you haven't read it, it begins on Christmas eve, and while it spans many years and many seasons, that opening scene, with the four girls around the fire, makes this a must for my Books for a New England Fall(Winter) series. If you haven't read it, it's a classic for a reason (just take the conversations between Marmie and grown Meg with a healthy grain of salt - it was written a long time ago).
*this writer's style actually reminds me, forcibly, of my pal, Rachel. don't read her? you mean you don't read her yet.