Saturday, November 07, 2020

YA Romances and Mysteries

Some of my very avid readers love romance and mystery books, so I am frequently looking at YA titles for them. The main difference between Middle Grade and Young Adult is not necessarily content-- it's length, pacing, and a certain introspective quality that is big on describing things and short on action. Sometimes this works well, sometimes it doesn't. There is more content in YA that I'm not a huge fan of-- drinking, casual drug use, and language that would get my students expelled. If authors want to include those things, I won't complain, but I also won't necessarily buy their books for my 11-13 year old students. 

For a while in July, I was 100 books ahead of my Goodreads Challenge schedule and worried that I would run out of books! I investigated some YA titles. Here are some I enjoyed but won't necessarily be purchasing. 

Namey, Laura Taylor. A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow 
October 6th 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by Edelweiss Plus

Lila Reyes life was thrown into chaos when the most important people in her life suddenly weren't there: her beloved abuela dies, her best friend decides to go to Africa instead of to the same college as Lila, and her long time boyfriend breaks up with her. She handles this poorly, and her family realize something needs to be done after she goes on a twenty mile run in Miami and ends up dehydrated and far from home. They decide to send her to a relative, Cate, in England. Cate and her husband run an inn, and since Lila will soon be running the family Cuban bakery in Miami, it seems lie a good place to send her to get some perspective. While there, she makes friend with the son of a local tea merchant, Orion, introduces her style of baking to the inn's customers with the reluctant help of the inn's baker, and helps Orion's sister while figuring out what she will do next. She doesn't expect to fall in love... with Orion or with England.
Why I am half tempted to buy it: I, too, love England, so I am a big fan of any book set there. The fact that it includes lots of descriptions of local sites, Cuban food AND tea... sigh. This made me super happy. The romance with Orion is a bit idealized, but perfectly appropriate for middle school. I loved the description of the cool English weather, especially since it was 88 in the house when I read it. 
Why I probably won't: For some reason, a lot of YA books involve people who get to travel even though they don't want to, and their complaints about having fantastic adventures don't go over well with my readers. There is a tiny bit of drinking (sometimes "plonk", which my students wouldn't register as alcoholic) and a surprising amount of the f-word, but in general, it was the introspective quality that my students probably wouldn't like, no matter how much I adored it personally. 

Ryan, Tom. I Hope You're Listening 
October 6th 2020 by Aw Teen
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Delia was young when she and her best friend Sibby ventured out to play in a tree house that their friend Burke's uncle built in the woods, and when Sibby is abducted and never found, her whole life changes. To try to come to terms with her experiences, she starts an anonymous true crime podcast that has helped solve several missing person cases. When another girl goes missing in her town, from the house where she used to live, old feelings come to the surface, and Delia uses her skills as a Laptop Detective to try to sort out both cases. 
Why I am half tempted to buy it: This was a super well constructed mystery and reminded me a bit of April Henry's work. Delia has a girlfriend, and I loved how matter of fact it was. The podcast angle was interesting (if slightly unbelievable that it's the 11th most popular true crime podcast), and Delia's efforts to hide her identity have merit. Sibby's family is well depicted as traumatized but trying to move on. The end had a fantastic twist and was happy. 
Why I probably won't: Delia's father, as well as Burke, frequently smoke marijuana, and there is a liberal sprinkling of conversational f-words. Also, Delia makes some very poor choices when it comes to going into people's houses and accepting food and drink from them. 

Meyer, Marissa. Instant Karma
November 3rd 2020 by Feiwel & Friends
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

I liked the premise of this one, but it's fairly psychologically complicated, and Pru isn't very nice. Still, it was a lot of fun to read. The main reason I won't buy it is that while Cinder was hugely popular with my students when it came out in 2012, it's no longer working well for my students. 

From Goodreads: 
Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.

Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment