So far, my favorite job in my entire working career of three jobs (Costco, non-profit Director, Librarian), has been working at a school library. Not only do I get to read books out loud to little kids practically every day, I get to read and recommend books to the tween population at our school. These kids are too old for Diary of a Wimpy Kid but too young for Gone Girl. Thanks goodness for Scholastic’ss Teen Book Beats Book Club. Every few months, I’ll peruse their offerings. Order one or two, read them and then recommend them to my library patrons. Oh, and it’s my job!
In this post, I’m reviewing The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, All the Rage by Courtney Summers and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
First, I recommend that all parents download the app from Common Sense Media. They rate movies, tv shows, books and more. Each game, tv show, movie or book review has a recommended start age for and even list things parents need to look out for like profanity, violence, “sexy stuff”, etc. I use it before I decide whether or not to let my own kids see a movie or read a book.
And before I review these titles…guys, I am a glass half full kinda gal. I can find something in everything I read or watch that I love. So, please do your own research before going all in on these titles, just because I love something or think it’s ok to share with my pre-teen-don’t take my word for it.
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. This book was on my radar after I read The Fault in my Stars. It popped up as a suggestion from Amazon Prime (my favorite place to buy books). I delved in and I loved that the main character was male (it’s been a while since I read a book with a male lead). In a nutshell, Ezra, the main character, has everything in life going for him. Tragedy strikes him. He questions everyone and everything in his life and has to discover himself again in order to find that he’s still a cool cat. In the meantime, he has a love interest that pushes him away at the end and the big question is why (but you easily put the pieces together towards the end). The recommended age for this book is 14+. There are a few sentences discussing oral sex and genitalia and some strong language. Would I give this to Olivia, my 12-year old to read? Probably not until next year. But if you want a quick weekend reading escape-pick this one up.
All the Rage by Courtney Summers. Can we say that this is a heavy book to read? Because it is. The writing style is a little confusing at times and somewhat choppy but I think it has a lot to do with the theme of the book. This isn’t a spoiler but it starts with a girl named Romy that is at a party and is sexually assaulted by a classmate. There is no way to gloss over rape and sexual abuse for the main character and how her small town turns on her when she names the sheriff’s son as her attacker. There is strong and sexually explicit language although there aren’t specific details of what happened to Romy when she was raped. It’s heart breaking to read her struggles with the aftermath of her sexual assault encounter and the confusion she experiences as she develops feelings for a new boy. Common Sense Media recommends this book for readers 14 and older but I’m not going to hand this one to Olivia anytime soon. With that said, this might be a good book to open the discussion with your teen daughter about rape and sexual abuse.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Another heavy book. This one deals with suicide and mental health issues. The two main characters both dealing with heavy personal issues use each other to find hope and light in their worlds of darkness. They get pushed together for a class assignment and then (there’s a formula here) end up learning to deal with their problems and face their worlds, thanks to having each other. This book like the other two, have some strong locker room talk, does include descriptions of heavy make out sessions and has some profanity. Common Sense Media recommends this book for age 14+. I’d probably let Olivia read it next year, if she wants.
Phew. It looks like I need to delve into some other types of YA books. Any recommendations out there? I say YA because I am a busy lady and I like the satisfaction of knowing I can get through a book in a weekend.
What are you all reading out there? Leave a suggestion or two in the comments!