Saturday 15 September 2012

What is YA? - Tear Jerkers

Some readers just love a good sob. You know who you are. You pine for a book that makes you cry. A tissue box at hand, you settle into the comfy chair, and dig in. This summer I read two new YA books that fit the bill for you tissue-box readers. And both are amazing audiobooks, too, though I do caution against driving while crying. Tears get in the way. 

First off is John Green's new book, The Fault in our Stars.  Hazel meets Augustus at a Youth Cancer group, so you know the outcome of their relationship is going to be tearful. Hazel is a survivor, though; she has been living with cancer for years. Augustus has had a leg amputated and appears to be doing ok, too.  I don’t think I'm giving too much away when I say that they fall in love, albeit slowly, and this is the beauty of the book. Their relationship is filled with smart and savvy perspectives on life that most YA books just don't provide. The reader falls in love with Hazel, who calls it like it is. Behind the cancer story is Hazel's obsession with a book, and Augustus' desire to make her happy.  Be ready to cry for the last 50- 100 pages of the book, non-stop. 

In a completely different setting and time, there's Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Two girls in World War 2, Britain. One is a pilot; the other is a wireless operator. The British Army is so desperate for help that they allow girls to fly planes and learn code!  The two meet and become BFFs, which wouldn’t have happened if there wasn't a war on. You see, one girl is Scottish aristocracy, the other a girl from Manchester. But they do become friends, and again, it is this relationship that makes the reader reach for the tissues. This book is not for the faint of heart; there are awful truisms of war that demand a mature reading level. In fact, while reading, I wondered why this was a YA book, not adult. I decided that because the two main characters are still young (under 21), and the real gist of the novel is their friendship, it is more YA than adult. It moves, too, in a way that adult novels do not—the inner thoughts of the narrators are still young.  The proof of their friendship is one of the saddest and bravest scenes I've read in a long time. 

What are your favourite tear-jerkers? Let us know in the comments! 

WHAT IS YA? Will be a monthly feature, published on the 15th of each month, written by Angle Reynolds, our Head of Youth Services.  We are giving away YA books to go along with it! Make a comment below about one of the books we talked about, and you’ll be entered into a monthly draw for a YA review copy. Must be able to pick the book up at one of our branch libraries; no books will be shipped or mailed.

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