What YA Novel Should Our Book Group Read?
One of my friends recently asked me to suggest a YA novel for our book group, and I relished the chance. The women in our group are avid readers with thoughtful, perceptive observations, and they help me discover new books—fiction and nonfiction—that I’d never find on my own. Of different generations and backgrounds, they bring unique, nuanced perspectives, and I appreciate the moments we disagree in our interpretations of a novel as much as I do the times when we agree.
1. For a novel that might change the way you see the world, try Every Day by David Levithan. It’s about A, an entity who wakes up in a different body every day. Concepts of gender, love, and soul abound.
2. For a recent discovery, try Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger, a sweeping adventure story with a little bit of fantasy about a girl who crosses the country during 1849 in time for the California Gold Rush.
3. For an old favorite, try Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Practically a classic, it’s an epistolary novel of a lonely kid who makes the best sort of friends in high school. Serious experimentation included.
4. For a mind-game of a novel, try Mary Pearson’s The Kiss of Deception, where a runaway princess is pursued by an assassin and her jilted fiancé, but neither she nor the reader knows which man is which.
5. For a disturbing story of slavery and revolt, beautifully written, with a girl in a ravishing dress on the cover, try The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.
6. For a layered, psychological thriller, try The Vault of Dreamers by your favorite local YA author (me). It features an arts school that doubles as a reality show, and a girl with valuable dreams.
Are you not yet in a book group? It’s easy to start one. Ask one of your friends who likes to read if he or she would like to start a book group with you, and keep adding. I find 5-7 readers works well. My group meets for an hour or so at a set time—the first Thursday of each month—in a low-key café. We have no fuss over calendars, clean up, or food. Each time, we talk about the book, and then we pick a book for the next month or two, so people can have a chance to order the selection from the library.
It’s great to have friends to share books with, and the books deepen our friendships, too. Happy reading!