Friday, April 9, 2010

be holden! a message!

oh no! i really should have spent some more time reflecting on my top 10 YA books because i've remembered at least two more that i should have included. and i've also decided that it is impossible to narrow the best YA down to just 10. there are too many factors to consider. first, my favourite ten to read and reread (ie. comfort books). second, those books which i believe hold important lessons or stories that all teens should experience. third, ones which continue to resonate with me as an adult (and a sub-consideration of this, whether or not this is even important at all when one is considering YA).

king dork, frank portman

from the blurb: "...when tom henderson finds his father's copy of the catcher in the rye, it changes his world. it puts him in the middle of several interlocking conspiracies and at least half a dozen mysteries involving dead people, naked people, fake people, ESP, blood, guitars, monks, witchcraft, a devil's head and rock and roll. it appears to be just the tip of a very odd iceberg of clues that could help tom unravel the puzzle of his father's death, and - bizarrely - reveal the secret of attracting semi-hot girls."

tom 'chi-mo' henderson is the anti-holden caufield (or a kind of post-modern holden) protagonist of this riotously funny book. tom has a little sister amanda - not unlike phoebe from catcher. his mother spends a lot of time sitting on the back porch smoking and drinking low-balls (bourbon + soda) talking to a friend (when she isn't depressed) and it is in this way that she is not unlike a sterotypical mother from the 50s. his stepfather little big tom doesn't really fit into the catcher family...but he's a paid up member of (what tom calls) the "catcher cult" - these are people who love holden caufield so much 'they want to have sex with him, and with the book's author too, and they'd probably even try to do it with the book itself if they could figure out a way to go about it.' tom doesn't beat around the bush.
here is a character with one hell of a voice. the book is split into month-long sections with shorter 'scenes' - all hilariously titled - within. tom is cynical and smart, but he's also pretty angry. he is determined to find out what happened to his dad, and if ploughing through an old copy of catcher in the rye will help him, then so be it.
in other news, tom and his (only) friend sam hellerman are destined for greatness with their band 'baby batter'. or was that 'the plasma nukes'? or 'the nancy wheelers', with pseudo-mo on guitar, sam hellerman on bass and ouija board; first album - margaret? it's god. please shut up.
five kinds of awesome, people. read this book.

the messenger, markus zusak

honestly, i feel terrible that i forgot this book off my list last week. it is up there, up there right at the top, of my favourite books of all time (not just young adult, but ALL BOOKS).

many of you will have read this. you've met young drifter and cab driver ed and read about how he briefly became a local hero for stopping a bank robbery only to then start receiving playing cards in the post with unnerving and cryptic messages on them. and how, in delivering these messages the best way he can, he meets some amazing and horrible people and his previously stagnanting life begins to change.
zusak has such a marvellous way with words; his carefully chosen prose hits you hard in the heart. this book is a remarkable essay on humanity - the very best good (and very worst) in people. it's kind of a scungy, rough pollyanna. when you read it you will probably cry, definitely laugh and i dare anyone to tell me it didn't make their hearts soar, and ache.
the people that i've spoken to have mixed feelings about the ending. i won't spoil anything here. but i love it.


  1. I'm with you on The Messenger, but will definitely look for King Dork too.

  2. it'd be perfect for a 17 y/o lad also!

  3. Very handy that I have one then! :)


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