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.