By Mrs. McHugh
With some books, being confused is part of the fun. The author drops clues and layers plot twists so you’re constantly trying to figure out what’s going on. When it’s done well, you enjoy the ride – even if your predictions were off the mark. The final reveal shocks you, entertains you and makes you go back through the book to see what you missed.
These young adult books do it really well. They can be hard to describe without spoilers, but I’ll try.
Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed is the story of Fern, a quiet working-class teen living in a community that’s a playground for the rich and famous. Floods and drought have destroyed much of the country, and there’s a huge gap between rich and poor. Fern watches and waits – for college, a boyfriend, and adventure. When teen celebrity Ivy Avila moves into town, Fern feels alive for the first time in her life. Touching on serious issues like inequality, climate change, drug addiction and sexual assault, the story is about finding and keeping your identity in a turbulent world.
In Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson, Claudia is trying to solve the disappearance of her best friend. But no one else seems to know anything about the missing teen, or they assure Claudia that everything is fine. The story highlights racism, poverty and other social issues that cause people to fall through the cracks. It also explores the impact of trauma on your heart and mind. I was confused through much of this book, but since it received good reviews, I trusted the author and stuck with it. The ending was shocking and thought-provoking.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is about a group of friends that spend summers together with their families on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Raised in privilege, the friends have few worries until one devestating summer. Cadence, the main character, reveals the story in two parts – what happened that fateful summer when she was 15 and what takes place when she returns two years later, still bearing the scars. When I finished this book, I immediately flipped back to the first page to try to see how I missed signs of the big twist. It was amazing. Family of Liars, a prequel by the same author, will be published in May.