With a multitude of social media opportunity it’s hard to figure out what and who tweens and teens are interested in. It can appear that key interests lie in is their social networks to varying degree, and when they become predictable or isolating, tweens/teens may turn to unknown others for entertainment and mis/information. I decided to blow the dust off my Young Adult specs and devote more time to reading and listening to Young Adult fiction so that I can guide my kids to books that speak to their generation, developmental perspectives, sense of popular culture and their futures as they assemble who they are both consciously and unconsciously. This issue of Bookisshh seeks not to instruct readers on what is wholesome or correct for a tween or teen’s reading menu, but instead offers a peek into some of the Young Adult novels that they may be seen staring meaningfully into as they turn from their from their devices.
Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan
Perhaps you remember your senior year of high school. You were tired from all of the growth promoted by your educational surgeons as they expanded, directed and cultivated your brains. You may have been achy from squeezing in and out of different social cocoons. You may have felt occasional paralysis due to the big, wide world opening its arms to you as you tip-toed away from the family nest. Piper Perish infuses these feelings into the reader as Kayla Cagan brings together an artsy trio of best friends who plan on fleeing Texas for college in New York City.
Main character, Piper Perish, comes from a dual-income, lower middle-class family and is learning what it means to succeed and fail during her senior year. The book opens with Piper’s discovery that the first and only love has discovered he’s gay and that her older sister returning home from college is pregnant. Between these two events and learning that her two best friends are either not accepted or not attending college with her in NYC, Piper’s world is becoming unglued. Readers witness Piper’s process in coping with these changes while becoming a rising star in the art and fashion community.
For fans of Andy Warhol, Cagan embeds Warhol’s terse quotes which demonstrate his philosophies on life and art. Warhol serves as Piper’s muse and she channels his ideas through her in the work she produces for her senior project which is central to the narrative. Piper Perish brings together art, technology and fashion as all three friends embody each form in their final Senior gallery presentations. Each of Piper’s best friends hail from families we see every day: upperclass working doctor couples with one child who substitute time together with excessive open opportunities both economic and social, and families whose dreams place them in denial of who their children actually are for the sake of who they want them to be (even when their child is brimming over with integrity, loyalty, rich creativity and honesty). Readers watch firsthand how during the teenage years, friends become family and deeper truths and confusions are worked out therein.
This is a great read for super mature 14 and up year olds. It’s a great opportunity to see what issues are possibly on the table during high school and how people handle things. It’s not too explicit on the physical level, but there is definite mention of substance, particularly alcohol. My approach to this content is at the moment is two-fold: I don’t want to pretend it’s not out there AND knowledge is power. If you know me though, a two-fold can become origami-like, because the more I read and learn about their world, the more I have to inform and reconsider my own. Give it a look!
Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell
I know most of what I review is up and coming works of fiction, but this offer appears on my screen way too often and I thought it’s necessary to give her a chance and find out why she’s so important. Fan Girl, 2013, is one of several books by Rowell all of which are favorably reviewed.
Written in first person point of view, readers encounter main character Cath (Cather) who is the sibling of identical sister Wren (Cather + Wren = Catherine). Through Cath readers learn about the difficulty twins suffer when separating and moving down their own paths. It is especially difficult for these twins who are just beginning college when the story opens. Both were abandoned by their mother at very young ages and were raised by their father who suffers from either depression or bipolar disorder. Rowell does an outstanding job forcing Cath to disconnect from her sister and unfold and connect with roommates, boyfriends, professors and her parents as she comes into herself as a writer.
So why’s this called Fan Girl you ask? Cath, used to being intimately connected to someone to inform her identity gloms onto a series, Simon Snow, and launches the key characters into her life as blood and oxygen fuel our bodies. Excerpts are extracted and inserted into the narrative demonstrating the deeper conflict and development which Cath experiences as she grows as a character. The characters, Simon and Bas, allow her to connect to a wider world and herself and her spinoff fiction has many fans. Except her college professor who would like to see her separate herself from all the others she is symbiotic with in order to express herself.
I like Fan Girl for parents and teens of twins who are beginning to ponder the larger separations that life holds. I like the work for the sneak peek into conflicts which can occur when away at school and how people solve them. I like the book because Rowell, has a warm sense of humor and deep insight into human nature. She fashions wonderful scenes that are entirely relatable if you went away to college and were starting anew. I am on a mission to read all of her books and share them where appropriate. Fan Girl does share some physical scenes but not few and far between and briefly explicit. There is mention of alcohol but it is definitely not shown in a positive light.