Courtesy of Penguin Teens
Reading isn’t exactly the most popular pastime of teenagers today, especially with the increase of daily social media usage in recent years. But with this current period of social distancing and self-quarantine, there has never been a better time to dive into some good reads.
The following books are just a few of the young-adult fiction favorites that I would recommend to anyone looking for stories to live vicariously through as we’re all stuck at home for the time being.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is everything a coming-of-age novel strives to be. This novel centers around two fifteen-year-old boys in El Paso, Texas in the late 1980s who work together to accept their ethnic backgrounds and sexualities. While reading this book, I found it easy to get lost in the beautiful desert imagery as well as each character’s path to self-discovery. Although one of the themes in this novel is romance, there is a much larger emphasis on friendship, familial love, and self-love before anything else.
Last month, Netflix released a movie adaptation of the novel All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, which was originally published in 2015. This novel follows the somewhat cliché premise of the outcast boy longing to date the pretty, popular girl in school, yet it still manages to be captivating by giving readers a raw, unfiltered look into the minds of the main characters, Finch and Violet, and their struggles with mental illness. If you’re looking to be swept up into a teenage romance that’ll break your heart but leave you wanting more, then I highly recommend giving this book a shot.
John Green is one of the most well-known young adult fiction writers – and for good reason. Whenever I read one of his novels, I quickly become deeply attached to the characters, as they are written with such realistic flaws and strengths that it almost feels like they could exist in my own life. Looking for Alaska and Turtles All the Way Down are two of my favorite novels from Green for different reasons. Looking for Alaska follows a lonely boy who enrolls at a boarding school and befriends a small group of students, including an eccentric girl named Alaska who helps him explore “the great perhaps”. I still can’t decide if I love or hate the characters in Looking for Alaska, as they are so deeply flawed but trying their best, much like most teenagers in real life.
If you’ve ever felt trapped in your mind full of racing thoughts that never seem to end, then you’ll empathize greatly with the protagonist in Turtles All the Way Down. Based on Green’s own experiences, this novel details life with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder through the eyes of sixteen-year-old, Ava Holmes. Turtles All the Way Down was published in 2017, making it Green’s most recently published novel. If you love John Green, you’ll love this novel, as his writing has only improved since his first novel, Looking for Alaska, was published in 2005.
Reading for pleasure is a skill that can be difficult to develop, but is beneficial in many ways. The key is to find what kind of books you love and be able to lose yourself in them. As Jim Rohn once stated, “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary”.