RELEVANT YOUNG ADULT NOVELS FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS THIS SUMMER
With the summer in full tilt, you might be looking to get stuck into for a good book, so why not pick one up that could prompt a bit of reflection, or show you a different way of thinking? Teenagers are very sensitive to what is going on around them, and we can certainly say that 2020 has been an explosive year.
Sometimes books have the ability to put into words the things we struggle to process or express. Given the tumultuous year we've had so far, these reads might just have the answer to the questions you aren’t sure how to ask.
The following is a list of topical novels that explore the ideas of environmental protection, migration, racism, homelessness, human history and being a teenager amidst it all. This summer, challenge yourself to give at least one a read. Who knows, perhaps you’ll get through them all!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Made into a successful film last year, Angie Thomas’ book describes Starr Carter’s difficulties as she tries to balance her life at a private school with the violence and racism that rule her neighbourhood. Uplifting, rousing and devastating in equal measure, this is a book that makes everyone think, not just teenagers.
The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Michael’s politically-active parents want tighter rules on immigration to be brought into the United States, and take him along with them to anti-immigration rallies. He doesn’t question this until he meets Mina, a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. This is a story of star-crossed lovers with a far from simple storyline.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This classic novel by Harper Lee is written from a child’s point of view, but explores issues that are far from innocent. Follow Scout as she observes her father’s struggle to defend a black man in court during the Depression in the USA’s Deep South. Exploring issues of race, blame, innocence and the flaws of human behaviour, this is a classic for a reason.
Saving Red by Sonya Sones
This sensitive and perceptive young adult novel tells the tale of teen, Molly Rosenberg, who volunteers at an annual Santa Monica homeless count, where she meets Red, a girl nearly her age who is living on the streets. The novel explores their friendship, mental health and how we can all actively help with the issue of homelessness.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Beautifully written and narrated form a very unique viewpoint, this bestseller is a poignant, funny and sad novel that brings home the reality of life for people young and old during World War II.
HEROES by John Pilger
Any budding current affairs journalist or passionate defender should dip into John Pilger’s collection of war correspondence. From the Vietnam War to coverage of famines in Africa, this compilation will be an eye-opener for a new generation of students, just as it was for me.
Sapiens by Noah Yuval Harari
Any teenager interested in the evolution of modern society and how it has come to be as it is today will gobble up Noah Yuval Harari’s seminal exploration of mankind’s history. It might take the whole summer to read, or perhaps one truly intense week of reading, but you will emerge feeling far clearer about how we as a society have ended up here today.
Confessions of an Eco-Sinner by Fred Pearce or Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle
These non-fiction works explore the journey our human ‘stuff’ takes and where it begins, chasing waste and consumer products across the globe and into the oceans. Young eco-activists or any student interested in knowing more of the facts would do well to give these a read.