Lately I’ve been pulling some books off of the junior fiction shelves and finding them so wonderful. These books often have a depth of feeling and thought that might surprise you. These are now my go to ‘summer beach reads’, though you won’t find me on the beach, usually!
I just whipped through a book by Frances O’Roark Dowell, called The Second Life of Abigail Walker, all about a girl who gets fed up with trying to fit in, and the surprising connections she makes as she takes ownership of who she really is. Oh, if only we could force our teenage girls to read such things, when they actually need them! There’s an appealing touch of mystery and magic thrown in, which is rather beautiful. I highly recommend it for kids and adults.
Then there’s Corey Ann Haydus’ Rules for Stealing Stars. Ostensibly a book about magic, this is really an unsparing, thoughtful and ultimately hopeful look at the complex loves and tensions between four sisters as they begin to challenge the unspoken rules for dealing with their mother’s mental illness. I found it engrossing, moving, and sometimes frightening. Definitely worth a read.
Or you could try Wishing Day, by Lauren Myracle. This is yet another book where a family is dealing with a mentally ill mom, family secrets, and, possibly, magic. Once again, the focus is on sisters, whose inner and outer lives are beautifully protrayed. I *highly* recommend it. Ms. Myracle gracefully juxtaposes an atmosphere of mystery with the every-day. In her hands, the commonplaces of growing up become themselves imbued with mystery. It is a lovely tale, and the first of a three part series.
Lastly, I quite enjoyed The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse, by Brian Farrey. In a land in which peace has existed for centuries, and in which all of the common people literally cannot feel sorrow, there is one young girl who can feel the forbidden emotions, and one young princess who cannot stop asking questions. As in many of these books, “What price utopia?” is the question being asked. What sorts of inner gyrations must we go through, secrets be kept and subjects never broached to keep the peace? The answer in this book is not a happy one, but surprising none the less. I would not say this book has the emotional depth of the other novels I’ve mentioned, but it is certainly worth the time of an adult…at least this one!
So, if you’d like to try out the children’s section…you might be surprised about the good reads you find! I sure have a lot more to recommend!