Category Archives: novels

Powerful (true) Novels

Here are some powerful novels I enjoyed reading. Hope you (or your (pre)teen readers) will, too.

The 2004 Asian tsunami lead Canadian author Eric Walters to write his novel Wave (Doubleday Canada, ISBN 978-0-385-66443-1), a juvenile fiction novel. Sam and his parents leave his sister behind in snowy New York to spend Christmas on the beach in Thailand. Little did they know that their lives were about to change forever. The first part of the story is written in the voice of 12 year old Sam, the latter part in Beth’s voice – making this a book that will appeal to both boys and girls. Once the tsunami hits, the book becomes a page turner.

Walters uses a similar natural disaster – the earthquake in Haiti, to pen another novel based on a current event that will bring reality to students who have heard about it and seen it on TV. In Shaken (Doubleday Canada, ISBN 9
78-0-385-67081-4) 15 year old Josh and a church youth group travel to Haiti to help, not knowing that a devastating earthquake will change minds and lives forever. (Also available as e-book.)

And two more powerful books written in the first person; both gripping personal narratives showing the importance of keeping a diary.

The Story of My Life (Simon & Schuster, ISBN 1-4169-0670-3) was written by Farah Ahmedi, an Afghan girl who shares an insight into her childhood in Afghanistan where the classrooms only have a chalkboard and where it is difficult for a girl to get an education. Farah’s life is forever changed when, en route to school, she steps on a landmine. The book was voted Winner of America’s #1 Story. 

Similarly powerful is the novel The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland (Annick Press, ISBN 978-1-55451-158-7). Mariatu lived in Sierra Leone where war changed her childhood. During an attack by child rebels, Mariatu lost both hands. Her amazing story is well written and brings home the reality of war but also of hope and human resilience. Mariatu now lives in Canada and serves as special representative for UNICEF.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
One of the advantages of being in a book club, I find, is that it sometimes makes me read books I might not select on my own. The Hunger Games is a perfect example. Judging by the short content on the back cover, I would never ever have picked this book to read. Gruesome, terrible, not at all ‘my kind’ of book. I am not at all a fan of science fiction (if that’s what this is).

However, my book club decided that we should read this first book in the series, mostly to find out what all the hype was about. My book club consists of about 6 – 8 women ranging in age from 19 to 80.

And so I took The Hunger Games home from the library and, hesitantly, starting reading.

I don’t remember now how long it was before I was completely, totally hooked: in the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I could not put the book down. The writing was superb, the story riveting. And with today’s popularity of reality TV shows, scary as it is, even has a ring of truth to it.

When my book club next met we discovered that the story had gripped each of us in a similar way. Each of us read all three books in a row:
Part 2: Catching Fire
Part 3: Mockingjay

Powerful writing! Highly recommended for YA and adults of all ages. Good discussion material in highschool.
I had no need at all to see the movie: as with all good books, I had already seen the movie in my head while reading.

http://www.scholastic.com/thehungergames/ (for games, downloads)