I have this feeling that most of the people who read these humble entries left teen books behind in their teen years and have not looked back. I, however, regard children’s and teen books as comfort fare, to be returned to whenever life gets a little rough. The characters always grow and even the toughest situations are usually viewed with optimism – much more cheerful than adult books. And this week, with airplane rides and visits to the doctor, I definitely needed cheerful reading. So, at the risk of boring my audience:
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan In a town where PFLAG has higher attendance than the PTA, and the homecoming queen is a drag queen and the star quarterback, Paul meets the boy of his dreams. While the course of true love isn’t entirely smooth, this is the first-ever gay romance where the gay part of the romance isn’t cause for large doses of angst. Leaving the gay-related angst out makes room for probably the sweetest, most touching teen romance I’ve ever read. It’s guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and just a little happier about the world.
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale A friend of mine once mentioned that she thought fairy tales weren’t very applicable to modern-day life. Pardon? Princess Anidori never felt very comfortable being a princess or talking to people, but she is prepared to marry a prince she’s never met to save her kingdom. On the long journey there, her lady-in-waiting convinces the guards that she would make a better princess than Ani. The few guards loyal to Ani are killed, and Ani hides as a goose girl to escape herself. Having lost her country and her identity – and still in danger of losing her life – Ani must work hard to figure out who she really is and where she can fit in. OK, so maybe her situation is a little extreme – but how many of us haven’t had to reinvent and reevaluate ourselves? Relevant to your life or not, this is a beautiful and compelling story of betrayal and redemption.
Alice, I Think by Susan Juby Redemption again. In this case, Alice is trying to redeem herself from her aging-hippie parents, who were cruel enough to let her start first grade dressed in a burlap hobbit costume. Now in high school, and home schooled since the fateful hobbit incident, Alice knows she must try normal society again, or be forever doomed. Her counselor, Death Lord Bob, encourages her to make a list of Life Goals. Coming up with the goals is easy – making them happen is another thing entirely. Yes, it’s an angsty teen, but her misadventures on the road to normalcy are laugh-out-loud funny.
And on a completely unrelated note, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine This was recommended to me by several friends, and it is indeed chock full of useful information. Figuring that there are plenty of books out there already to give you the medical advice, this one focuses solely on how to deal – with morning sickness, with the Pregnancy Police, with being too big for your regular clothes but too small for maternity clothes. The collected advice of the author and her Girlfriends are presented with a view towards practicality and humor. The advice is pretty mainstream – the author is firmly in favor of giving birth in the hospital, for example, where a doctor will be there if something goes wrong and someone else will clean up afterwards. But, even if you are leaning towards home birth and a family bed, there’s plenty of useful advice in here for everyone.
[Updated 2007-09-17] I’ve since changed my mind about this book. It’s great for its humorous take on pregnancy, and encouraging you not to worry too much. But the practical advice is often just plain wrong – she tells you that things just don’t matter that do, like eating, exercising and whether or not to breastfeed. And, from friends who’ve done it, if you hire a midwife for a home birth, she will clean up for you, too.