A holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a good book to read. Is there anything as wonderfully indulgent and satisfying as curling up in the garden with a great novel and letting the hours slip past? I think not! So in part 2 of my summer reading post, here are some more titles that you or your teen might like to read over the holidays. First up is the very sweet and touching, Popular.
Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
When I was in third year in senior school a new girl joined our class. She was Irish but had been living in Canada for many years. She had boundless enthusiasm for school activities, from hockey to the school musical and she was determined to introduce herself to everyone – rugby players and computer club members alike.
She’d appear beside you at lunch break and simply break into conversation. At first she was teased for being different and for not sticking with one ‘gang’ but soon we all realised that she simply didn’t care what team you were on or what clubs you belonged to, she wanted to get to know you regardless. It took a whole year and a lot of dogged determination on her part to be accepted, but by sixth year she was one of the most popular girls in the school. To this day she remains one of my closest friends.
Reading ‘Popular’, the teen memoir by Maya Van Wagenen’s which chronicles her quest to be liked and accepted by everyone in her American middle school 8th grade, made me realise just how bewildered and excluded my friend must have felt at times. However Maya, unlike my friend, had support in the form of a self help guide published in 1951: Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide.
Using this book to work out ‘what to wear, what to say, how to behave and who to be friends with’, Maya sets herself tasks inspired by Betty’s advice. She pays attention to her posture and tries out new looks, she bravely sits at different tables during lunch break and she invites people to attend the prom with her. As Maya works her way through Betty’s suggestions, she discovers a lot about the nature of school cliques and how they work, and what being ‘popular’ really means.
Maya is a highly likable girl and by the end of the book I was rooting for her. I even shed a few tears on the DART (train) when after all her befriending and kindness to others, she wasn’t invited to one of her new friend’s parties.
The overall message of this book – that we are all the same, ‘geeks’ and ‘jocks’ alike and we should all be kinder to each other – is an important one. Age 11+
Half Bad by Sally Green
If you like books like The Hunger Games and Divergent (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), this is the book for you. Half Bad hit the headlines recently after breaking a Guinness World Record for most translated book pre-publication. It’s already been sold into over forty-five territories and the film rights have been snapped up by Fox 2000.
The book opens with two boys playing with matches. One holds the match for too long, until his fingers burn, the other lets go. And so we are introduced to Nathan, a boy locked in a large cage, a fearless boy with remarkable healing powers. We learn that Nathan is a Half Code – son of a black witch, and a white witch. Whites are ‘good’ witches, rulers of the witching world and terrified of the more dangerous and unpredictable black witches.
Nathan’s father is Marcus, the darkest and most hated black witch of all, a man he has never met. The only person who can kill Marcus (according to an ancient prophecy) is his own son. So Nathan is stolen away from his family by the white witch Council, locked in a cage and trained to fight and eventually kill his own father.
Want to find out more? Read the book! (Teens)
If you loved The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) you could try Rainbow Rowell’s Fan Girl or Eleanor and Park. Sarah Dessen’s novels – both wonderful American writers.
And finally, a book I’m dying to read but I’m keeping for my own holidays is The Castle by Sophia Bennett. Here is Sophia talking about it (from her wonderful website): The Castle (published in August) is a story about a girl called Peta Jones, who has a special connection with her dad. He chose her unusual name, he’s a decorated army hero and he’s always been her hero too. But now he’s dead. Supposedly. Peta doesn’t believe it, despite the ashes which were returned to her mother from Iraq.
When she gets a strange warning phone message and odd things start happening to her at home, she’s convinced her father is alive and trying to contact her. Peta is not the kind of girl to give up easily. She’ll do anything to find him. Any stupid, dangerous thing.
Next thing she knows, she’s heading (unintentionally) for an island in the Mediterranean. The truth about her family lies hidden there. So do a few other secrets . . . (Age 11+)
A brave girl on a dangerous adventure, sounds like the perfect book for my summer holidays. Happy reading – talk to you all again in August.
Yours in books,
This post first appeared on www.girlsheartbooks.com