Books – what better way to learn about life and death situations? Whether real or fictional, historic or futuristic, these books can help readers reflect on feelings, emotions and learn about life situations.
Cleaning Up, Leanne Lieberman. This was a YA novel I really enjoyed. The writing is great and brought the characters and settings to life. Jess is coming of age despite her druggie mother and alcohol addicted father. She has common sense and a plan for the future.
What she had not planned on is spending the summer in a tent away from the jobs she had lined up. But Jess stays grounded, finds a new job that helps her save money for college but also has her meet new friends and a lost diary. Who wrote this diary? Based on what she knows, Jess starts to create a much needed friend in her head. When reality turns out to be quite different, Jess can reply on those around her. A great read for teens who can recognize themselves in the character. ISBN 978-1-77306-806-0, Groundwood Books
Jacob’s Dilemma by Daphne Greer is a story that draws you right in. Jacob struggles with the death of his father but has recently been reunited with the grandparents he didn’t know he had. And he has Maggie who plans on adopting him. Until his birthmother unexpectedly shows up, complete with all the struggles that made her give him up. Starting at a new school, in his new home town, is hard enough but Jacob soon makes new friends and, eventually, finds out where he belongs and how strong he really is. A well written story that will speak to young teens struggling to find their own way in life. ISBN 978-1-77471-152-1, Nimbus
When The Dikes Breached by Martha Attema is an admirable, realistic historical fiction novel for teens. This book focuses on real events that had a major impact in Europe for years to come. Placed in 1953, the southern provinces of The Netherlands are under storm watch. Klara is the oldest daughter in a large Christian family. When the unthinkable happens and the dikes break, Klara and her family find refuge on the second floor of their farmhouse while the water continues to rise. Will the family suffer the same fate as the nearly 2,000 others who drowned during this flood? Tied to a strict religion, the family copes with the hardships that follow and Klara discovers a dark family secret that will change her life forever.
In the book’s back pages, the author gives websites to see real, historic footage of this devastating flood. In the Netherlands a museum is dedicated to the catastrophe. ISBN 978-1-55380-674-5, Ronsdale Press
Catch Me If I Fall by Barry Jonsberg is reminiscent of Tomorrow When The War Began, which is aimed at older readers. This dystopian novel is set in Australia after it has been ravaged by climate change’s wild fires and storms, leaving the population distinctly split between poor and rich. Sheltered by their parents’ wealth, twins Ashley and Aiden are turning 13 as they become aware of problems facing others. A series of unsettling events lead to a shocking discovery that will change their lives forever. Readers who like dystopian tales combined with futuristic settings and a sprinkle of AI will enjoy this riveting story.ISBN 978-1-77306-891-6, Groundwood Books
Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of over 40 books for children. She conducts author visits to International Schools.