When an Advil at breakfast no longer seemed like such a good idea to my stomach and wasn’t doing a whole lot for my aching back anyway, focusing on reading a book was hard – but I wanted the distraction so badly. YA books came to the rescue – from unlikely sources.
Buried in a pile of old Scholastic books, I found an Alice Hoffman story about a mermaid – Aquamarine. Hoffman is one of my favorite writers for magical realism; I’ve read most of her books for adults and eagerly anticipate her next one. Aquamarine is a short tale, not requiring a lot of time or attention; it flows easily into a story about two friends about to be separated at the end of the summer. Aquamarine is a real mermaid, of course, accidentally trapped in a swimming pool after a storm.
Although I had started reading Eleanor and Park when it was first published in 2012, I never read past the sample pages on my iPhone. When my ninety-two year old friend suggested we be a book club of two to discuss the ending, I downloaded the story of the two teenagers’ story of first love. Not exactly star-crossed lovers, these two are from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, but they connect on the school bus and save each other. A short easy read with an ending my friend says “left her with a good vibe” – glad I read it.
A recent New York Times article by author Robert Lipsyte – “My Struggle to Write Honestly About a Test of Manhood” -alerted me to his YA book – One Fat Summer. The book has been reframed into a movie – “The Measure of a Man,” but the book sounds better. I have it on my iPhone to read.
“In “One Fat Summer,” my glorified semi-autobiographical hero, Bobby, stood up to the bullies and survived their beating, an important lesson for males then. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. He endured the summer in what he thought was manly fashion, hanging tough, taking risks and trusting only himself. No wonder at the end, the girl liked him back. At least in the novel.”
And finally, Margery Sharp. I found this author through an old movie with Charles Boyer and Jennifer Jones in “Cluny Brown.” Cluny Brown may be the patron saint of the distracted and Sharp perfected the easy style of story telling with a Sophie Kinsella flair over eighty years ago. The movie led to reading her books – funny and comforting. I had forgotten about “The Gipsy in the Parlor,” a two dollar purchase buried in my list of books on my iPhone. Not a YA book, but easy reading and I am now happily and distractedly enjoying it .
Do you have a favorite YA book or some easy reading to recommend for an aching back?