One Writer’s Journey

December 2, 2013

November Reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:36 am

Don’t talk down to your reader.  Be honest.

I’ve always understood that advice at some level but this month’s reading drove it home.  This month I read several books with teen boys in them that are 100% teen boy.  This means that they don’t act like we want teen boys to act (sweet, chatty, helpful and no starch).  They don’t act the way that we fear teen boys act (over-sexed felons).  They act like real teen boys which means that they are awe inspiring, incredibly embarrassing and disgusting beyond belief all in the space of a morning.  But they are real.

Maybe it’s just because I am the mom of a teen age boy, but I appreciate this and I’d like to thank both A.S. King and Maggie Stiefvater for creating these characters.  In Reality Boy, we meet a teen who was on a reality TV show when he was about 6.  He was horribly behaved, pooping on the kitchen table, in his sister’s bed and in his mother’s shoes.  Twelve years later Youtube keeps these crimes alive for his classmates who believe that this is what he was really like.  Fortunately, there are a few people who consider what led to this behavior and encourage him to seize life on his own terms and refuse to live any longer as Reality Boy.

True, the character has an incredible temper, but with reason.  He’s also caring and loyal.  He is 100% real.

For her part, Stiefvater shows the lives of three teen boys and one girl.  Two of her boys come from elite families.  The third boy and the girl are from the wrong side of the tracks.  Yet, one of the wealthy boys describes the girl as rich.  Not because her family has money, because they don’t, but because she grew up with an abundance of love among people who encouraged her.

These teens pass judgement without information, two of the boys have tempers and one has a drinking problem, but they all take care of each other.  They are real.

If your teen characters are too good, readers won’t buy it, but you risk losing them just as completely if your characters are too sordid.  Yes, there are teens at both extremes, but there are also a lot of teens in the middle.

Now I will get down off my soap box and share my reading list.


  1. Barnett, Mac.  Oh No!  (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) (Disney/Hyperion)
  2. Black, Holly.  Black Heart. 
  3. Bradford, Laura.  Deadly Readings.  
  4. Cabrera, Jane.  The 12 Days of Christmas (Holiday House)
  5. Chernesky, Felicia Sanzari.  Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes (Albert Whitman)
  6. Khan, Hena.  Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors (Chronicle Books)
  7. Khan, Hena.  Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story (Chronicle Books)
  8. King, A. S. Reality Boy (Little, Brown and Company)
  9. Latimer, Alex.  Penguin’s Hidden Talent (Peachtree)
  10. Lawler, Janet.  Snowzilla (Amazon Children’s Publishing)
  11. McKinlay, Jenn.  Books Can Be Deceiving (Berkeley Prime Crime)
  12. Montgomery, Sy.  The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America’s Largest Mammal (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  13. Matt Phelan, Bluffton (Candlewick Press)
  14. O’Hora, Zachariah.  No Fits, Nilson!  (Dial Books for Young Readers)
  15. Preston, Douglas and Lincoln Child.  Relic.  
  16. Rosenstock, Barb.  Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library (Calkins Creek)
  17. Shannon, George.  Turkey Tot (Holiday House)
  18. Stiefvater,  Maggie. The Dream Thieves.  



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