I’m a part of a large reading community, which also blurs into my smaller but thriving writing community. It’s fun. I learn stuff from both groups, and like I said, the information often seeps from one group to another.
One of the perennial topics I see in both groups goes something like, “what do you recommend as far as fiction books for Christian teens?”
And then there’s a lull.
I’m quite honestly puzzled by some of the books tossed out there as recommends. Seriously, I’m not trying to be ugly here, but my sweet ladies (and gentlemen, because I know there are a few out there) by-and-large, our teenagers aren’t into the same things you and I are into in our forty-plus(ish) universe. Here’s the thing: some of us totally dig the young adult fiction culture. We love it. We devour it. And we’re not ashamed to admit it.
But the deal is, the stream doesn’t really flow both ways (I’m saying this as a mom of three teens and one preteen, and also as a woman who finds herself in the teen crowd fairly often). There are always exceptions, but in general, don’t start recommending your favorite read at forty-something for a fifteen-year-old. Just… it doesn’t work that way, and the reality is, and if we don’t respect that, we will continue to lose our Christian teens’ interest in the Christian publishing world (you knew that was a problem, right?)
Also, on the topic of good books for teens, don’t assume that because they’re not reading your books, that means they’re not reading. They are. Ravenously. I live with a few of them, and hang out with several others, and whenever we talk books, they’re into it. Enthusiastically.
Story still speaks, peeps. It will always speak, regardless of the generation.
So… back to the original question. What fiction books are out there for the Christian teen?
I’m surveying my own teens–they are rabid readers. I’m looking at the YA books I’ve loved. And I’m putting together a short series that I hope will be helpful–especially as Christmas rolls around (there are ALWAYS books under our tree)! There will be a mix of genres within the YA grouping, and I’ll include a couple of OUTLIERS. Books that are either not specifically YA, or not specifically Christian, but fit the Christian Young Adult reader well anyway.
So here we go. Great Fiction Books For Christian Teens, part 1
My Pick of the week:
by Laura Frances
Publisher’s Description: There is no sun. There is no moon. There is only gray—the smog belched from coal-fueled factories. The Workers silently shuffle to their assigned posts. The Outcasts watch from the alley walls. On every corner, a Watcher stands stone-faced, a rifle in hand. This is the only life that exists. Beyond the mountains is a dream. But dreams are foolish in a place like this.
Hannah has spent nineteen years dodging Watchers and doing as she is told.
Do not look Watchers in the eye. Don’t give them a reason to notice you.
But when she wakes to the valley exploding in revolution, Hannah is forced onto a dangerous path, where nothing is what she believed. Suddenly freedom is in her grasp, and the way there requires working with the men she fears most.
My thoughts: I listened to this book on audio, and I was completely absorbed in it. If your teen likes dystopian, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Matched (a massive percentage of them are completely in love with this genre, in case you were wondering), they’ll love this book. And bonus! Book two, Hero, is scheduled for release soon (I’m reading an early copy now. It’s fantastic).
The Sixteen-year-old’s Pick of the Week:
Golden Filly Collection
by Lauraine Snelling
Publisher’s Description (Bethany House): Sixteen-year-old Tricia Evanston and her father share something very special: their love of horses. With Tricia as jockey and her father as trainer, the two have big dreams of winning the Triple Crown. Tricia has other pressures, too, like declining grades, a strained relationship with her mother, and the constant worry about her father’s failing health. But Tricia’s faith in God always gives her the strength to push her limits. Collection One includes The Race, Eagle’s Wings, Go for the Glory, Kentucky Dreamer, and Call for Courage.
Her thoughts: This is a standby favorite for years. If you have a horse-lover, this is your go-to.
The Fourteen-year-old’s Pick of the Week:
Dauntless (Valiant Hearts Book #1)
by Dina L. Sleiman
Publisher’s Description (Bethany House): Where Legend and History Collide,
One Young Woman Will Fight for the Innocent
Born a baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father’s failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village–a group that becomes known as “The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest.” Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.
Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he’s forced to reexamine everything he’s known.
Her Thoughts: Courage and adventure… a clever twist on the classic Robin Hood, this was a book that needed to be finished. ASAP.
The Twelve-year-old’s Pick of the Week:
by Serena Chase
Publisher’s Description (Candent Gate):
DESTINED by prophecy. GUARDED by deception. PURSUED by Love.
Centuries ago, an oracle foretold of the young woman who would defeat E’veria’s most ancient enemy, the Cobelds. But after two centuries of relative peace, both the prophecy and the Cobelds have been relegated to lore—and only a few remain watchful for the promised Ryn.
Finally, a child is born who matches the oracle’s description, but a Cobeld curse accompanies her birth. Led to believe they succeeded in killing the prophesied child, the Cobelds emerge from hiding with plans to overtake the Kingdom.
But the child survived.
Secreted away and called “Rose” for the first nineteen years of her life, Rynnaia E’veri has no idea of her true identity until a chance meeting with an injured knight reveals not only her parentage and true name, but the task assigned her by the oracle: discover the Remedy that will destroy the Cobelds’ power.
Now, her time has come.
Offered the assistance of pirates, scribes, storytellers, a young woman who died centuries ago, and the knight who is quickly working his way into her heart, Rynnaia is fortified with friends. But if the Ryn is to complete her task, she must come to terms with not only who she is, but for whom she must be willing to die. For the kingdom’s survival depends on her.
Her thoughts: It’s fantasy (favorite!) It’s Narnia-ish. It’s adventure and love and magic and allegory and… amazing. What else could you possibly want?
And something for the guys…
The Shock of Night
by Patrick W.Carr
Publisher’s Description (Bethany House):
The Darkwater Claims All Who Enter It.
All But One.
When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded, Willet Dura, reeve to the king of Bunard, is called to investigate. As he begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.
Willet returns to his task, but the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers, and his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, as though he can divine their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he’s been passed the rarest gift of all–a gift that’s not supposed to exist.
Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he’s pulled into a dangerous conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world–a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his inability to remember how he escaped the Darkwater Forest–and what happened to him inside it.
Finally, this week’s outlier…
It’s neither Christian, nor is it YA, but it’s powerful, beautiful, and one of my favorite books, even when I put on my “think like a teen” hat. I know what you’re going to say… Nicolas Sparks??? Yes. He’s got a few that are appropriate for teens, and this is definitely one of them. The story hits family, forgiveness, and life after everything falls apart, and I had no problem recommending it to my oldest when she was fourteen.
The Last Song
by Nicolas Sparks
Publisher’s Description (Grand Central Publishing):
Seventeen year old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father…until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.
The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels–first love, love between parents and children — that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts…and heal them.
And there you have it. A short list to get you started. Next week we’ll add more. Any you think I should know about?