Kelly, over at YAnnabe, is a genius! Kelly came up with the fantastic idea of bloggers around the blogisphere getting together and posting “Unsung YA: The best YA books you haven’t read”all weekend long. Initially Kelly came up with my list from the books I’ve read, but often I don’t I list every book I read. I scanned my shelves and came up with a few favorites I love that I haven’t talked about.
The Screwed-up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson. I found out about Charlie the Second from last year’s Nerds Heart YA tournament. Charlie is a seventeen year old boy who just wants to fit in and find a boyfriend. His parents aren’t getting along and to escape, Charlie spends much of his time playing soccer or by himself since his best friend’s in a relationship. When Rob, the gorgeous new guy, pays attention to Charlie and evens like Charlie back, things starts to get a little complicated.
Many times this book made me laugh until I cried. The only book that made me laugh just as much has to be I Love You, Beth Cooper. Because this is a book from the point of view of a seventeen-year old, there’s many references to masturbation and sex. There’s also issues such as domestic violence and assisted suicide in the book.
Chameleon by Charles R. Smith. I saw this book on a few blogs last year but it was Jodie’s review of the book that made me pick it up. It’s a summer of change for 14 year-old Shawn. Though he spends his days with his three best friends in Compton, he lives in Carson with his mom, and spends every other weekend with his dad in a third city. In Compton he and his friends have to avoid gangs and Shawn has to watch over his alcoholic aunt who’s in charge of him during the day. His parents has given him the choice of picking what high school to attend in the fall: the one that his best friends will be attending or a better school in his own neighborhood.
This is a great coming of age story. Shawn is an intelligent kid who just wants to have fun, spend time with his friends, and talk to Marisol, a girl he has a crush one. But being in a city full of gangs that’s not always easy for him to do and he learns a lot about himself. There’s some action but this is a character-driven story. The author does a fantastic job of getting the reader to know Shawn.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Sometimes I read a book and realize that I’m going to have to re-read it before I can write a review. This is one of those books. Marcelo is a seventeen year-old kid who’s on the autism spectrum. Marcelo goes to a special school where he has the job of taking care of the horses. It’s a job he loves. His father, a lawyer with his own firm, has a different dream in mind for Marcelo. He wants Marcelo to be more “normal” so makes a deal with the teenager: work at the law firm for the summer. Do it successfully and Marcelo can go back to his school in the fall. Don’t do it successfully and Marcelo will be going to a school of his father’s choosing. Marcelo agrees and becomes a clerk in the firm’s mail room. Just like Shawn in Chameleon, the summer is one of change for Marcelo. This is a great coming of age story.
Last but definitely not least is Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. When Ivy June’s school decides to participate in a student-exchange with another school nearby, it’s Ivy June who volunteers and is picked to participate. Ivy June is from a poor county in rural Kentucky where many of the men work in coal mines. The other exchange student, Catherine, lives a different life than Ivy June. She’s used to running water in the house and an indoor bathroom. If someone in her family is sick, the hospital is a few miles away instead the whole county sharing just one doctor. Though they have their arguments, Ivy June and Catherine develop a solid friendship that goes beyond economic class and differences. Reynolds does a great job of showing readers rural Kentucky.
So that’s my list for four books about four very different teenagers. Are there any great YA reads that you think I haven’t read?