Realistic Fiction Offers Young Adults Insight into Tough Situations

Watching the news seems to have become more depressing and disheartening than ever. Things are happening that most adults are having trouble fully understanding and coping with on a daily basis. I think our young adults are especially having trouble not only understanding the events we see on the news, but trying to reconcile their still forming personal views with the world around them and the views of those with whom they have the most contact. I think it is important for parents and teachers to stand up for and with the next generation and help them understand and cope with current events and the violence, injustice, and conflicts that seem all too common today.

Here are some novels for young adults that offer multiple points of view and insights into some of the hardest situations our young people are facing in the real world today. Some of the topics handled by these books include school shootings, suicide, drug abuse, racism, and rape. None of these are light, feel-good reads, and not all of them are tough1new. However, one or more of them might help a teen or adult have more understanding of the problems that I wish were completely unthinkable rather than news headlines or tabloid sensations.

Violent Ends: a Novel in Seventeen Points of View
In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, 17 of the most recognized YA writers come together to share the viewpoints of a group of tough2students who are affected by a school shooting.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best tough4friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melinda Sordino finds herself an outcast at her high school for calling the cops on an end of summer party, and, although she finds comfort in her art class, she still holds a terrible secret.

toughtLittle Peach by Peg Kern
Hospitalized in Brooklyn, New York, fourteen-year-old Michelle recalls being raised in Philadelphia by a loving grandfather and drug-addicted mother before running away and getting lured into prostitution.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
tough3After her boyfriend goes on a shooting rampage at school, Valerie is implicated because of her involvement in writing the list of names and so now must come to terms with what has happened, her feelings for the boy she once loved, and the part she played that resulted in such tragic events.

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
Seventeen-year-old Matthew recounts his attempts, starting at a tough6young age, to free himself and his sisters from the grip of their emotionally and physically abusive mother.

tough5There are many books that do a fantastic job of taking extremely difficult subjects and making the characters dealing with them realistic tough7and relatable for readers. More realistic fiction of these tough topics that I would recommend include;  Hold Still by Nina Labour, Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian, My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Levitt, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King, We Were Here by Matt de la Peña, What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton, Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, The Beast or Monster by Walter Dean Myers, By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters, Tricks by Ellen Hopkins, Ana’s Story: a Journey of Hope by Jenna Bush, and Go Ask Alice by Anonymous.

JK Rowling Secret Revealed!

jk rowling

JK Rowling

JK Rowling had hoped to keep her secret for a little while longer, but over the weekend, after receiving a tip, The Sunday Times of London reported that Ms. Rowling had written an adult fiction crime novel under a pseudonym.  The Cuckoo’s Calling, written under the guise of Robert Galbraith, was published in the United Kingdom back in April by Sphere – the same publisher as her first fiction novel after Harry Potter, The Casual VacancyMs. Rowling is quoted as saying “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name”.

The book is set in London and features a private detective named Cormoran Strike who lost a leg while serving in the military in Afghanistan.  He is barely making ends meet, he has just broken up with his long time girlfriend and he is living in his office  Then a client walks in the door with a story about his supermodel sister who fell to her death.  It is ruled a suicide, but the brother doesn’t believe it.  Strike wades into a world of multi-millionares, rock stars and designers to try to find answers about her death.   The book received a rave review in Publishers Weekly when it was released and called it a “stellar debut”.

Before the news broke of who the author really was, the book had only sold 1,500 copies.  Sales at Amazon have since soared 150,000% and is now number 1.

For the Harry Potter books, Ms. Rowling used her initials JK as her official published name because she was told books written by men sold better.  With this new book, she was able to create a male persona and a fictional biography was supplied by the publisher.  It states: ” Born in 1968, Robert Galbraith is married with two sons.  After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP.  He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry.  The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world.”

Rowling plans to continue writing the series with the next book due out next summer.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is available at the Cheshire Library.


7/18/13 UPDATE – Today it was revealed that a partner at the British law firm, Russells, inadvertently revealed the information.  Chris Gossage let the information slip to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari and she tweeted it.  Her Twitter account has since been deleted.  Russells said in a statement that “we apologize unreservedly” to Rowling.  While Gossage is culpable, “the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly”.

Ms Rowling said:  “To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.  I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”