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Parent Nooz Camp Guide
Posted on May 13, 2017 | 11:30 a.m.

Lee Littlewood: Teen Reads for All of Us

Source: Lee Littlewood

Fall into a young adult novel, and leave worries behind. These new teen reads are every bit as exciting and absorbing and brimming with timely tops as those aimed at older audiences.

The Suffering Tree

By Elle Cosimano; Disney Hyperion; 357 pages; $17.99

Elle Cosimano recently won praise for Holding Smoke, now up for a Bram Stoker Award. Her latest, The Suffering Tree, proves to be just as intelligent and fascinating.

The story begins with Tori Burns and her family leaving Washington, D.C., for the small town Chaptico, Md., and an inherited house. Things immediately aren’t normal, and Tori witnesses a young man crawl out of his grave under the gnarled oak tree in her new backyard. She then proceeds to fall for him while digging for the property’s twisted truth and tries to break the curse in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree.

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The paranormal story, coupled with voodoo magic, a slave ship, a family with generations-old secrets and a flawed Elle, who struggles with self-harm, make The Suffering Tree an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter.

Cosimano seems to be a prolific, exciting new young adult author to look for with more fantastic reads.


By Ashley Poston; Quirk Books; 320 pages; $18.99

The perfect fangirl novel for Comic-Con season is Ashley Poston’s completely modern and timely tale, Geekerella, starring geek girl Elle Wittimer, who is obsessed with a classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her dad.

She discovers a contest for an invite to a cosplay ball starring the main actor of the series’ remake, and she scrapes together tips from her job at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back. You get where this is going — the parallels to a modern Cinderella are ripe.

But the teen actor set to play the Federation prince is less than thrilled about “ExcelsiCon.”​ It turns out the Starfield fandom has written him off as a heartthrob and not a true actor, and he’s had it with autograph requests and photo sessions.

As in any Cinderella tale, there’s got to be a romance, and things look up considerably for Darien when he meets Elle.

Part truly fun ode to nerd culture, part light love story, part homage to a classic fairy tale, Geekerella is a fun ride for those who believe in the magic of fandom. In fact, fans of Poston can find her on Twitter as @ashposton, hanging around geek-related tweets.

The Hate U Give

By Angie Thomas; Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins; 444 pages; $17.99

With the current hard-hitting plea for equality in the battle against racism and alleged police brutality, Angie Thomas’ gut-wrenching novel, The Hate U Give, is stunningly penned, brilliant and perfectly timed.

Her story centers on 16-year-old Starr Carter, who lives in two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. When she witnesses the tragic shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer, Starr is the only witness and the only one to stick up for Khalil when police ignore the case.

Thomas, a new author, does a brilliant job portraying the ongoing strength of a girl who comes of age under extraordinary circumstances that could endanger her life. Her novel is searingly honest in the way it addresses these real issues with intelligence and heart.

Gap Life

By John Coy; Feiwel and Friends/MacMillan; 215 pages; $17.99

Gap Life, a refreshing journey into one young man’s decision to delay college for a year, should reassure teens that there’s never just one path to success and happiness. About the same time Cray doesn’t feel right about immediately attending the same college his father did, he meets a girl taking a gap year who helps him find a passion. Cray learns a lot about himself and others at his first job, a home for developmentally disabled adults, including how the real world can be more satisfying than any university, and much more difficult.

A tragedy, a new friend, real-world experience and the chance to grow up a bit help Cray eventually move on with his life. Readers, especially boys, will relish the take-your-time approach to John Coy’s story.

Bottom line: Teens should never feel pressure and uneasiness to travel a different path than what’s in their heart.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.


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