Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Timely Teen Reads

One for Hallowe’en…

“Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead.”

This is the first sentence of A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb, an unconventional ghost story and this month’s High School Book Club selection. It is Whitcomb’s first novel but hopefully not her last, as her wonderfully lyrical language and compelling characterizations make this a book that will intrigue teens and adult readers alike.

Helen is a 130-year-old ghost who isn’t quite sure why she didn’t move on when she died; she has discovered that the only way to avoid repetitively reliving the harrowing moments of her death is to attach herself to a human and stay faithfully within a certain proximity to him or her. She is hovering in the classroom of Mr. Brown, high school English teacher and her current “host,” when she suddenly becomes aware of eyes watching her, though no “Quick” human has ever seen her before. She soon discovers that James, who used to be “Light” like her, has moved into the vacant body of a teenage boy who overdosed on drugs, and the two of them embark upon a relationship that leads to some startling turns as they explore the possibilities of life, love and redemption. Melancholy and sweet yet uncompromisingly real in its themes and observations, this is a satisfying journey from first page to last.

And one for Election Day…
From the author of The Gospel According to Larry comes Vote for Larry, Janet Tashjian’s teen candidate for a political novel about the presidential race. Anti-consumerism blogger Josh Swenson (aka “Larry”) decides to run for president—motivating his fervent supporters to press for a constitutional amendment to allow eligibility for 18-year-olds. The story jumps back and forth between Larry’s unconventional campaign speeches and wacky platform and his preoccupation with his love life: Will he choose his best friend Beth—who he’s been crushing on since 6th grade—or new/first real girlfriend Janine, who liked him for himself before politics made him famous? A fun mix of the personal and the political that also poses some astute questions our current candidates might benefit from considering.

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