Making time to read for fun is tough when you’re a teen. Between bio homework and basketball practice and SAT prep and community service and YouTube and Insta and Finsta and a steady stream of existential crises…it’s like everyone wants a piece of you. Well, if you’re ever tempted to run away from it all, throw your phone out the window* and hide under the covers, I’ve got some reading suggestions for you. These books make excellent companions for those moments when you’re maxed out on memes and you’ve already watched every episode of The Office twice, but I’m warning you, they may keep you up all night.
First up, In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund. Have you ever played the board game CLUE? Remember Miss Scarlet and Professor Plum? This book is a totally modern, thoroughly edgy, perfectly spine-tingling take on the classic game…one that finds prep boarding school students Scarlet Mistry, Finn Plum, Beth “Peacock” Picach, Vaughn Green, Samuel “Mustard” Maestor, and others stranded in a school dorm after a violent winter storm. Things get worse when the teens discover the dead body of their school headmaster, Mr. Boddy. In the Hall with the Knife is a good old-fashioned murder mystery, teeming with a familiar yet fresh cast of characters, all of whom have shady secrets and dark motives that spill out in tantalizing bursts as the story unspools. Warning: this novel is the first in a trilogy, so don’t expect to breathe a sigh of relief after the last page.
Next, if you dressed up like the character Eleven for Halloween (a.k.a. you’re a superfan of the Netflix series Stranger Things) you must read the graphic novel series Paper Girls by Brian Vaughn. The year is 1988. Young newspaper delivery girls Erin, Mac, KJ, and Tiffany experience an Armageddon-esque morning-after-Halloween as they try to deliver their newspapers, clashing with mysterious black-clad figures, stumbling into a foreboding capsule, and slowly realizing they may be the only survivors in their hometown after a terrifying, unexplained blast. If time-traveling hippies, cave-people, dinosaurs, and the 1980s get your heart pumping, join these four bad babes as they battle to save the world…and each other.
Speaking of bad babes, the nonfiction book History Vs. Women: The Defiant Lives that They Don’t Want You to Know by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams is a comprehensive look at some of the world’s most ambitious, fierce, and impactful women across time. What I really love about the book is that these women’s stories are told in depth, not just as accessories or sidekicks, or a list of heroic accomplishments, but as real people whose experiences often aren’t rosy. These women had to defy cultural expectations to get things done and they did. If you want to epitomize cleverness during Women’s History Month in March, namedropping defiant women from around the globe, get cracking on reading this book now.
No offense to the quadratic formula, but sometimes you need to set that homework aside (temporarily, of course), mute your notifications, ignore your existential angst, and treat yourself to a juicy story. Come in to the A.K. Smiley Public Library and we’ll do our best to help you find one that you can’t put down.
*recommended for ground floor windows only