In my By the Book post, I mentioned buying three YA paperbacks to enjoy this summer. Overall I was pleased with my picks and wanted to share some brief thoughts on each. There’s a heavy dose of teen romance here, but also some great stories about how we love our friends.
I bought Forever because it’s a classic teen book (and because I like the new Judy Blume covers—not that I’m swayed by packaging or anything). Since its publication in 1975, this book has been controversial for its frank discussion of teen sexuality. Even by 2014 standards, the sexuality was more explicit than most contemporary fiction for teens. That’s not to say that the situations are sensationalized or exploitative, just very matter-of-fact. Actually, Blume’s whole writing style is straightforward in the extreme: heavy on the dialogue and light on the description. Although Forever won’t make its way onto my list of favorite teen reads, its honesty makes me glad that the book exists.
Sometimes I worry that I will lose my ability to find joy in a simple love story. Then a book like Anna and the French Kiss reminds me that I am still perfectly capable. The book’s premise has wish-fulfillment written all over it, but Perkins delivers it with enough good humor to seem plausible. Anna is sent by her newly-rich-and-snooty father to spend her senior year at a boarding school for Americans in Paris. (One of my favorite details is that Anna’s dad is clearly a spoof on Nicholas Sparks.) Life in Paris has its challenges, such as her adorably British, inconveniently taken new friend. Anna and the French Kiss is a well-crafted romp, and I can’t wait to read more from Stephanie Perkins.
I became a John Green fan in 2011, yet somehow I let three years pass before reading this book. Was I turned off by the presence of a co-author? Could be, but I shouldn’t have been. This is the hilarious story of worlds colliding when two Chicago teens named Will Grayson meet. Each author writes chapters from the perspective of one of them. Although I found John Green’s chapters more appealing initially, I soon became interested in both characters, especially at hints that the two storylines would soon intersect. And really, if one Will Grayson has a physically imposing gay friend named Tiny Cooper, who happens to be writing a musical autobiography, you’ve captured this girl’s attention.
Ah, teen fiction. Sorry I’ve been neglecting you this year. Thanks for still being awesome.