With summer holiday plans changing dramatically, travel limited and 'stay-cations' looking like the norm this year, lockdowns and home/online-schooling are leaving us all in need of a break; especially the young people in our lives. Social distancing and isolation are causing a new and different type of stress, but I have to say, the kids have been real heroes. They need to be uplifted now more than before; they need to know there are still adventures to be had, friends are still out there and life is still vibrant and exciting. While most of us will be enjoying the familiar surrounds of our local area (we still have to stay safe!), books offer a brilliant opportunity to "get away from it all." Here are a few of my very best recommendations for teens and YAs to escape into this summer:
Helen Corcorans' debut novel The Queen of Coin and Whispers offers a fantasy journey into a medieval kingdom of political intrigue, duty and honour. When idealistic young Queen Lia inherits the crown, she seeks to end the corruption and division so carefully nurtured by her dead uncle, the king. Aarkala is bankrupt; its' citizens are suffering. But she needs advisors and courtiers on her side. And desperately, she needs protection. Enter her new spymaster, Xania, the last person anyone would expect in such a position. But when the two fall for each other and conflicts deepen, neither may survive the treason or their love. (14+)
Siobhan Curham whisks us away to Brighton in Clementine and Rudy; and into the world of creativity and artistic expression via Instagram. Rudy is a young street artist, hoping to unlease her talent on an unsuspecting public. Clementine is a poet, responding to images she finds on Instagram with a genuine voice that seems to flow out of her of its own accord. When the two join forces, a strong, new collaborative vision encourages them to give voice to the unfairness they see around them and imagine a vibrant life that will bring huge change to both their worlds.
Published last summer, A Strange Kind of Brave by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald grasps the reader and does not let go. Jake McCormack has held the small town of Clanfedden in an iron-grip of fear for many years. But when the town council finally decides to break his reign of fear and a familiar face returns to bring colour, life and joy back to their lives, a new hope emerges, new interest in each other...and Jake isn't having it. When disaster strikes and all are left in horror, young Allie is left with nothing left to lose. Stepping up, determined to bring Jake down, she displays a desperate courage she didn't know she had...and a shocking secret is finally brought into the light.
On Midnight Beach by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick takes us back to the summer of 1976 in the small Donegal village of Carrig Cove. It was a summer of excruiating heat, long sweltering days and nights; a summer like no other. And then, the dolphin came. Emer sneaks away to the beach to spend her nights away from the crowds that have miraculously appeared; to spend her nights swimming with the dolphin and falling in love with the one boy she knows she should stay away from. But as rivalry with the neighbouring town swells into vandalism and violence, an event occurs that brings tragic consequences...for everyone. (14+)
Just published by Firefly Press, Too Dark To See by Chloe Heuch is set in the life of 16-year-old Kay after the death of her mother. Kay harnesses her overwhelming grief into a mission to self-destruct, pushing everyone away. When she and her father move into a small, old cottage on the edge of Blackmoss Mountain, Kay finds new freedom there, roaming the rugged landscape, running with the wild ponies and meeting Sion, a beautiful boy with sadness in his eyes and a vast understanding of the natural world. Sharing their love of animals, the pair are drawn into an intense relationship, meeting secretly in a ruined cottage on the mountain. There, they find escape from their difficult lives and hope for a beautiful future. But when Sions' violent father finds them, events spiral quickly out of control and Kay faces the possibility of losing everything...again. A remarkable story. (14+)
In Asking For A Friend by Kate Mallinder, three school mates take off for a 'study-break' to Weston before the exams set in. They all have their own reasons for wanting to get away from home. But each one is unwilling to confide with each other. They aren't really friends, after all. Agnes is living on the autistic spectrum and needs to find 'normal' at a time when her life is rapidly changing. Hattie has been 'ghosted' by her friends, the popular girls, over an incident that was not her doing. She can't bear being at home right now. And Jake has suddenly dropped off the sports scene. He says it's so he can focus on exams, but he's hiding something...something life-changing. This is a 'cosy' read that deals with some hard-hitting issues and real-life concerns with an exacting, yet warm character-driven narrative. I can also thoroughly recommend Mallinders' offering from last year, Summer of No Regrets, in which best friends Hetel, Cam, Sasha and Nell have just finished their exams and make a pact to experience a summer like no other. Dealing with friendship, family drama and diversity, they discover that the choices they make are rife with challenges. They turn to each other to find the courage they need to face the future.
The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth really took me by surprise. What I expected was a rom-com style book, filled with cliched tropes that oozed young love and filled in the gap in LBGTQ romance writing. And while you'll find that here, there is also so much more. Saoirse has been heart-broken after her ex, Hannah finished their relationship. Determined not to ever fall in love again, she embarks on a summer of getting drunk, watching horror films and leave her troubles behind by kissing straight girls. When along comes Ruby, the prettiest girl she's ever seen...and this pretty girl has a different plan. An incredibly engaging story that will definitely take you away from yourself and move you in a joyous direction.
Just a few for you there. I'll be back soon with some great escapes for younger bookworms. Until then....


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