(Back to the YA and preteen reads this time around.)
Ruth Frances Long – The Treachery of Beautiful Things
Out this week! Seventeen-year-old Jenny follows the music into the forest where her brother disappeared years before, and gets caught up in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Ruth’s debut YA novel (she has written for adults previously) is an absolute treat for anyone into their fairy tales, folk tales, mythology, dark fantasy, and romance. There are layers of allusions to different archetypal figures, and lots of playing about with them… it’s delightful, and anyone who’s a fan of folklore (especially from the British Isles) will adore it. There is also a gorgeous love story going on (oh, Jack!), and high stakes all over the place. Definitely one to check out.
Abby McDonald – The Anti-Prom
Not my very favouritest of Abby McDonald’s books (would recommend Getting Over Garrett Delaney and Life Swap over this), possibly because the attention is split between three protagonists, but still an enjoyable read. On the night of the prom, three very different girls find themselves teaming up to right various wrongs. It’s nicely done – a nifty twist on prom stories. And the girls are very different from one another without being stereotypes, which is always refreshing.
Cathy Cassidy – Marshmallow Skye (The Chocolate Box Girls)
The second Chocolate Box Girls book, about a blended family and the chocolate shop their parents run, focuses on dreamy Skye, who’s feeling left out of things with her friends and twin sister, Summer. She slips more and more into a fantasy world of the past throughout the book, and there’s a lot of insights into what it’s like to be thirteen and finding your own identity. (It’s a Cathy Cassidy novel, of course it’s good.) Favourite quote: “Growing up is not all about glittery lipgloss and clumpy shoes and dissolving into giggles whenever a boy looks in your direction, surely?”
Cathy Cassidy – Summer’s Dream (The Chocolate Box Girls)
Summer is Skye’s twin sister, and all she wants is to be a ballet dancer. When the lead-up to a big-deal audition coincides with her parents being away, Summer finds herself eating less and less, and working harder and harder to achieve her dream. I’ve been raving about the portrayal of anorexia in this book – even though it’s for pre-teens, it’s never simplified or dumbed down. There are some aspects – like an obsession with cooking for others – that appear, things that don’t often turn up in portrayals of the disorder for young readers. It’s also great to see the difficulties of having such a strong dream and passion, alongside the benefits of it. Favourite quote: “The tiniest criticism or put-down soaks into me and lies in my heart like a stone. Sometimes that spurs me on to work harder, but sometimes it just fills me up with sadness.” Highly recommended.
Samantha Schutz – I Don’t Want To Be Crazy
A memoir in verse, about the college years and panic disorder. It is gorgeously done, and has reminded me of how powerful stories-in-verse can be.