My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Three 4 Thursday: Three YA Five-Star Novels


I've been thinking a lot about what I want my posts to be about lately.  I am trying to find ways to connect with my readers in meaningful ways.  I thought today's post should be about books that I gave five stars to and were really surprised by.  I know that some people give YA novels a lot of grief.  Many people who don't read them write them off as trite and superficial.  But in my reading journey I have found such profound truths in YA stories that transcend age and experience and get at the heart of being human.  Here are three gems I read this year:

1.  OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn:

I cannot stop singing the praises of this book!  I picked it up at the library based on the quirky title, but fell in love with this book.  I adored the format of letters, emails, and school papers used to tell this story.  It is about a high school senior trying to cope with the pressure of that last year of school.  She is dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety, but working mightily to act like everything is fine.  With humor, this book shows real problems and the ways teens often cope when things get to be too much for them.  You will be rooting for Danielle as she navigates the complicated social scene at her school.  This book gave me (happy) tears at the end.  It is a very special book that I hope more people will read.

2.  It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini:

 I wanted to read this after I saw an advertisement for the movie. I am a "gotta read the book first" kind of girl, so I bought it at B & N soon after.  I just thought this might be a book with some quirky characters but was set in a mental hospital.  But it is so much more than that.  I really enjoyed this because it shows that there is more to life than getting perfect grades.  There is so much pressure to create the perfect high school experience that will have colleges fighting over you.  The protagonist, Craig, gets in to a great high school, only to bomb spectacular.  Craig learns to relax, and see the bigger picture.  I hope that people read this and learn to stop contributing to setting unrealistic standards for teens.  To be fair, Craig did this to himself, but when you are fed with a steady diet of sky-high standards from society, it's no wonder we have a generation of kids cracking under the pressure.

3.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio:

If you haven't had a chance to read this amazing book, drop whatever it is your doing right now and get it.  This is a story of a boy who has a severely disfigured face and how the world reacts to him.  Told mostly by the kid himself, the book shows what it is like to be perceived as very different.  While he may look unusual, August Pullman is a very average, normal kid and he wants to be treated that way.  As he goes from the safety of home-schooling to a brick and mortar school, August must deal with peoples reactions ranging from utter disgust to pity to friendship.  Who are making fun of him behind his back?  How can he get people to see him as any other student?  While his situation is extreme, his struggles to be accepted are what kids deal with every day.  I works in school inclusion, and see first-hand how challenging it can be to just be a normal kid in a body that is different from everyone else.  And it's not just the students who are difficult to deal with, but the parents as well.  This book touched me deeply and reminded me of the need for normalcy when faced with unusual circumstances.

What books surprised you in 2015?  Let me know in the comments section.
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  1. You already had me with the Winona Ryder gif :). These 3 books definitely sound like something I would like to read. My own high school years weren't very pleasant either and reading these kinds of books can be great in understanding things more, and possibly getting more closure out of it. People who think YA is too superficial need to wake up and look at it from a different angle!

    1. Yes, I think books can help us sort out our feelings, especially if we can identify with the characters. I work in Special Education and I think that is why Wonder was so powerful to me. Thanks for commenting.

    2. I'm putting it on my wishlist for Christmas! :) (Aargh, I keep failing at posting comments with my Wordpress account. You'd think they have a working cross-over if there's a Wordpress option in the reply section right?)


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