Few of us remember adolescence with much fondness, but perhaps that’s why authors are able to mine those formative years for inspiration. For readers, compelling young characters help us remember our own youthful struggles – and remind us of how much we’ve grown. Here are three recent books (from three different sections of the library) with convincing adolescent protagonists:
Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
Seventh-grader Georges has a lot to deal with: his father lost his job and the family’s Brooklyn home, his mom is always working, and he’s a target of nasty bullies at school. Then a new friend from his apartment building enlists Georges’ help spying on a mysterious neighbor. How Georges learns to stand up for himself and forge new friendships is at the heart of this delightful children’s novel.
Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
Astrid Jones, 17, is just trying to get through high school in her small town. Her mother is critical of her, her father is perennially checked out, and she’s keeping a big secret – she’s in love with a girl. When Astrid and her friends are busted for underage drinking at a gay bar, she’s forced to figure out exactly who she is under the scrutiny of family, friends, and classmates. This YA novel is about how the community defines Astrid, and how she defines herself.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Part coming-of-age novel, part dystopian sci-fi, The Age of Miracles is the story of what happens when the earth’s rotation inexplicably slows. Days and nights lengthen, crops fail, birds drop from the sky – and a San Diego tween named Julia is growing up, dealing with shifting friendships and nursing a crush on a neighborhood boy. This is a haunting, character-driven story of apocalypse and the ordinary disasters of adolescence.