Revisiting My Youth

by Julie, enjoying stunning weather in Somerville

Like many, many others I watched Enola Holmes on Netflix this week. I hadn’t realized that it was based on a series of books by Nancy Springer, the first of which is The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery. Though they are YA books, and I haven’t been a young adult for many, many years, I downloaded the book and started to read. And continued to read.

YA does not mean easy, or without complicated themes. Catcher in the Rye anyone? While the target readers are 12-18, the fact is that more than half of YA readers are adults. I hadn’t dipped into YA fiction recently, though many of my friends have. The themes of discovery, coming of age, and solving problems are universal. And helpful for those of us of a certain age who are thinking about changes in our life.

I love reading, and have for my entire life. I was drawn to mysteries early, so I think I missed some foundational reading. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia, though Daphne du Maurier came into my life around the same time.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction, learning, satiating curiosity on a number of subjects. Still, I’ve missed falling into another world and going on adventures. I could use that sort of escape, especially these days.

Who reads YA? What wonderful adventure can you recommend to me?

29 Thoughts

  1. I recommend any book by Elizabeth Atkinson. She writes for middle grade kids, but as you say about YA, there are real issues, and she’s a fabulous storyteller. The latest, FLY AWAY AGNES, touches on a transgender child, divorce, and friendship. I, EMMA FREAKE, THE ISLAND OF BEYOND, THE SUGAR MOUNTAIN SNOW BALL – all great reads. Now I’m off to read Enola Holme (and watch it when we get our Netflix back). Thanks for the spark, Julie!

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  2. I read YA all the time!! We are in the golden age of Samantha wonderful YA writers! There’s something for everyone too. I love “girly” YA and any great YA mystery series. My current favorite is the “Daisy & Hazel” mysteries by Robin Stevens.

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  3. There’s always the Flavia de Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley (they may be more kids than YA- Flavia is 11 in the first book). So fun for adults, too!

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  4. I’ve read YA and middle-grade. Harry Potter (of course) and I enjoyed Rick Riordan’s mythology books (and learned/re-learned some things along the way). I haven’t read any in a while. Perhaps I need to pick up Enola Holmes.

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  5. I finally picked up a Trixie Belden book – I know, how could I have missed that. It was wonderful. I’m also re-reading Nancy Drew on Kindle – but the originals haven’t gotten to the later ones yet.

    You’re right, Julie, most of the books deal with pertinent issues. One I remember reading in the original was titled Take Me To My Friend. It had to do with becoming self-sufficient and trusting yourself. Something every child needs to learn. Wonder if that’s still available???

    Got to pick up Enola Holmes and now I know what will be on my Netflix tonight!

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      1. Julie, you have some time to fix your lack of Trixie, but I suggest you do it soon. I’ll be watching, and this is one of those things that might impact your next review. “I loved the new Garden Squad mystery, but the author still hasn’t read Trixie Belden….” 😉

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  6. This is my dearest ambition, to turn adults onto YA books, because there are so many really great ones. When I was working I always recommended to our students that they read two series: Susan Cooper’s fantasy series of five books starting with the first book: Over Sea, Under Stone AND Cynthia Voigt’s seven book series (she called it a Cycle) about four abandoned children in Connecticut who decide that if they want to stay together as a family they need to find a distant relative…first book is entitled Homecoming. I read a lot of YA, but lately I have read some good ones about WWII and the Holocaust: Whistling in the Dark and Hero on a Bike both by Shirley Hughes; My Survival–A Girl on Schindler’s List by Rena Finder; It Rained Warm Bread: Moishe Moskowitz Story of Hope by Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and a short non-fiction children’s book entitled Thirty Minutes Over Oregon–A Japanese Pilot’s WWII Story by Marc Tyler Nobleman. There are oh, so many, many more!

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  7. I’m never quite sure of the line between YA and MG, but I think I tend to stick to the Middle Grade category more than the Young Adult. Those books are so creative and fun in a way that books for adults are, and they are wonderful pallet cleansers from cozies, which I need every so often.

    Two of my favorites are Stuart Gibbs and Shannon Messenger.

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  8. Julie, thanks for the Netflix recommendation! I have read a lot of books geared at children of various ages over the last 20+ years because I wanted to have a shared experience with my kids. That said, I don’t tend to read YA for pleasure left to my own devices but you have inspired me to give it a look once more! Thanks!

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  9. I agree with Shanna that the Flavia de Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley are a lot of fun and show real growth in the character.

    I sort of stumbled upon a YA trilogy by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society. It’s hard to describe, but a group of intelligent, inventive, and resourceful unrelated kids get together on a secret mission and solve serious problems. There is a lot of fun in the book, but also a lot of “growing up” advice. Wonderful read. The series was was the top YA choice somewhere (I can’t remember where) and I agree.

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  10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein is one of my favorite YA novels of all time. It’s a beautiful, heartwrenching tale of women’s friendship during WWII that doesn’t read at all like YA. I’ve read it at least 3 times in the past few years. Verity and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (NOT YA) are my favorite books of the past decade. As a rabid Anglophile who hopes to return to live in England again someday, I love books set in WWII England.

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  11. Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. 🙂 I recently picked up “Four Dead Queens,” after a chat with a B&N helper in the YA section. It was still in my TBR pile until the SinC Australia group awarded it the Australian YA Book of the Year honor the other day. I started it and it’s quite a read!

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  12. I’ll be 72 next month and I LOVE YA. While there may be romance, there is no graphic sexual imagery. Granted, I DO review seriously adults only books, but there is only so much spice one can take without getting heartburn!

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