Labeled women’s fiction but with a fourteen-year-old character, I believe The Girl with the Louding Voice (Dutton, 2020) by Abi Daré will be a good read for teens, too. It’s such a moving story of hardship and perseverance. And a reminder of the importance of education that we so often take for granted.
In a small village in Nigeria, Adunni just wants to go to school like Papa promised her mother when she was dying. But her father needs money and sells her to an old man who already has two wives. Not only does she have to deal with being forced to have sex (not described graphically), but also with the resentment of one of the other wives. When Adunni is put in an even more terrible situation, she runs away. Only to be sold again–this time as a housemaid in an abusive rich lady’s home in far away Lagos. But Adunni is willing to risk working and speaking up for a chance at a better life no matter how hard things are.
I love the voice of the character–it’s clear from her words that English is a second language–but more than that Adunni’s determination and sense of right and wrong comes through. She is a so admirable. It’s satisfying to see her learning, too.
This great book became a New York Times Bestseller. I wish everyone would read it.
Amazingly, this is Abi Daré’s debut novel. You can read about her here.
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee (Crown, 2019) by Jeff Zenter is so good! It’s a touching story that also brings laughter. And there are great lines, too.
Josie and Delia (aka Rayne and Delilah) are seniors in high school who dress like vampires for the show Midnite Matinee which they host on the local public television station. There they share low budget horror and scifi movies. Each girl has different goals. Josie wants to get into TV and is using the show for practice. Delia is using the show as a connection to her father who left. What happens when each get what she wants?
Jeff Zenter is an award-winning author—read about him here. And you don’t want to miss the “interview” here. This is his third novel.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
Dog Driven (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2019) by Terry Lynn Johnson is quite the scary adventure.
It’s risky enough for any teen to participate in the Canadian Great Superior Mail Run dog race, but for fourteen-year-old McKenna, who has hidden her deteriorating sight from her family, it could mean death for her and her dogs. But she is determined to win this race to encourage her younger sister Emma in her battle with Stargardt, an eye disease. Afterwards, she’ll tell her parents about her vision problems. And maybe she can help eight-year-old Emma gain some independence, too.
The author puts you right on the trail with McKenna and her dogs so you hear and feel what’s going on. As I said above, it’s scary to see what McKenna risks, but her determination is believable. Plus there are letters from the late 1800s about this mail run that increase the tension of the story.
Earlier I recommended her award winning book, Ice Dogs. I missed reading Falcon Wild, which I need to catch up with. Her newest book, is Rescue at Lake Wild–coming soon. Read about Terry Lynn Johnson here.
Note: Dog Driven is aimed at ages ten to sixteen according to the publisher.
Saint Anything (Viking, 2015) by Sarah Dessen was written for “all the invisible girls.” I definitely felt like one in high school, though nothing like this main character.
Sydney’s older brother is the focus of the family. She’s used to not being seen. So when her brother makes the news in a bad way, Sydney decides to change schools where she can go back to being anonymous. But will starting over help her sadness?
This book is SO good. The author really made me feel for Sydney. I enjoyed other characters. Definitely disliked a few, too. The ending was very satisfying.
Sarah Dessen is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. Check out her books here.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
Allies (Scholastic Press, 2019) by Alan Gratz is an amazing story of diverse parts of D-Day over the course of 24-hours through the eyes of seven different characters. Soldiers, paratroopers, medics, resistance fighters, a girl retrieving a forgotten bathing suit–so many in an impossible situation. Somehow the author fits it all together.
The story starts with sixteen-year-old Dee, a US soldier, who has a secret–one he can’t let his best friend discover. Will he survive the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944? Will the others we meet?
Bestselling author Alan Gratz has written many books for young readers, including four more set in this time period–Grenade, Refugee, Projekt 1065, Prisoner B-3087. Read about all his books here. Read about the author here.
Read more about Allies, including awards, here.