There are a few reasons that StrawberryGirl has not posted any YA book reviews this summer. The first one is an exciting one. She has been spending her time writing her own YA book, and is now going through the process of trying to get it published! So, even though she has also been reading a lot, she really hasn't had any time to write anything other than her book. The second reason is more complicated.
I decided that I do not feel comfortable letting my children write YA book reviews if I haven't read the book as well. While I give my children a lot of freedom in selecting books, I realize that not every parent does. I don't believe in book banning; but if one of my children picks out a questionable book, I am sure to read it either before, or soon after, they read it. Sometimes, books raise issues parents are not comfortable with, but they can be used to discuss important topics that never would have come up otherwise. Open communication is important, especially these days.
One YA book that I'm REALLY glad I read soon after StrawberryGirl read it was Twenty Boy Summer, by Sarah Ockler. It's a book that teenage girls will LOVE, but parents will not.
Why teenage girls will love it:
- It's a page turner. Once you pick it up, it'll be hard to put down.
- You can really put yourself in the place of the main character because her voice is so authentic. Her love and grief seem real.
- The themes are ones that many girls can relate to: a first love and loss, a secret between friends, a California beach vacation, dating, partying, lying to parents, and losing your virginity.
Why parents will not:
- Anna and Frankie repeatedly lie to parents and get away with it.
- They make very poor choices, and end up putting themselves in dangerous situations.
- Virginity is treated like something that girls just need to get rid of.
- While the girls do learn to handle grief and loss, they do not learn from many of their mistakes.
I don't think I need to give a detailed review, but I think this book is a perfect example of why parents should keep track of what their tweens and teens are reading. Twenty Boy Summer is certainly not appropriate for girls under the age of 14.
There are many wonderful reasons why mothers should read this book along with their teenage daughters, though. It is beautifully written, and the issues of grief, loss, and friendship are addressed in a very real way. I just wish that Anna and Frankie had made better choices. Did Anna really have to lose her virginity to someone she barely knows and might never see again?
On second thought, part of me is glad that such bad choices were made. After all, it probably is a true reflection of what teens are thinking and doing these days. So for that, I thank the author. Books should be real, and should not always come with happy endings and neatly wrapped packages.
Really good books make you think, and this one certainly did that for me. While my daughter wasn't all that comfortable with talking about some of the sensitive material in the book, I was able to tell her how I felt about some of the poor choices that were made. I know she was listening, and I can only hope that she will remember what I said later on, when I'm not there to guide her.
There were times when I would pretend not to care about things my own mother told me when I was a teenager, but there were also many times when her words guided me long after she'd said them. They still do.
We can't live our lives for our children. They need to make their own mistakes. But we can and should find ways to open the lines of communication, and to share our thoughts, emotions, and values.
A great way to do that is to keep track of what your tweens and teens are reading. It's a wonderful way to make connections that otherwise might have gotten lost in your busy lives.
So, I hope you understand why I haven't posted many of my children's YA book reviews this summer. While they did both read a lot, many of the books they chose were not worthy of being mentioned on this blog. I only want to offer you books that are most likely to get you and your child thinking and wanting to read more...
Have you and your child read any thought-provoking YA books lately?
By the way, your teenager can vote for Young Adult Library Services Association's (YALSA's) Teens' Top Ten, and find some additional reading material there as well. Voting goes through September 18th, and I found out about it through the Bookshelves of Doom blog.Have a wonderful week!