Recommended Reading by Caragh O’Brien
My tastes in reading run all over the place, from outer space to contemporary prisons, hot and cold. I tend to relish characters who invite me to see the world in a new way. For this list, I’ve limited myself to 7 Young Adult novels I have loved this year and heartily recommend.
Trail by Fire by Josephine Angelini. In an alternate universe, Salem is run by witches while scientists are persecuted. Lily from our world meets her double, Lillian, and discovers hidden powers within herself. Especially cool: the connections between chemistry and magical medicine are ingenious.
The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely. An altar boy battles with the secrecy, shame, and anger from an abusive relationship with a Catholic priest. Especially cool: the writing is heartfelt and Aidan’s character is vividly real.
Say What You Will, by Cammie McGovern. In this story about a high school senior with CP and her peer helper, a quiet guy with OCD, the two minds of the protagonists completely sucked me in. Especially cool: the play between how Amy thinks, her partly honest typed speech, and how she is perceived by Matthew, who sees her through his own insecurities, is fascinating.
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci. This pure sci fi adventure takes place in outer space, with a deserted human girl who has to face ruthless and often putrid aliens all alone. The succinct, telling prose perfectly matches the chill and brutality of deep space. Especially cool: Plucky Tula Bane is a heroine for the ages, right up there with Princess Leia.
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu. In this contemporary story, five high school students tell their perspectives on the accident that killed the high school quarterback, and the girl who supposedly caused his death. Especially cool: the slut shaming invites outrage, and the mean girl is so mean, I’m still mad at her.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. This intriguing, nostalgic graphic novel set in the recent past at a shoreline vacation community captures a time when Rose is stuck between the tension of her estranged parents and the charged sexuality of older teens. Especially cool: the drawings are incredibly expressive, as when the flip-flops whisper words of complicated disapproval.
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. I hardly know where to begin. This novel is told from the points of view of an escaping princess, a prince who wants to school her, and an assassin who wants to kill her, but when the princess meets the two men, she doesn’t know how their jobs match their names, and neither does the reader. Especially cool: it’s a clever mind game for the reader.
About the Author:
Caragh M. O’Brien is the author of the BIRTHMARKED trilogy and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS, both from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ms. O’Brien was educated at Williams College and earned her MA from Johns Hopkins University. She recently resigned from teaching high school English in order to write young adult novels.
Courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, I have a copy of The Vault of Dreamers for one (1) lucky winner!
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