Another week closer to Christmas… and we have more books for teens!
As I sift through the options, I keep wondering why it can be such a challenge to find great stories by Christian authors for our teens? It seems like it’s a little bit of a vicious cycle. Books stores often don’t carry them–so publishers shy away from publishing them. Because we aren’t looking for them. But we don’t look for them because they can be so stinking hard to find, so publishers shy away from publishing them, thus, there aren’t many available for bookstores to carry.
Does this sound about right?
Speculation, on my part. The finding YA books for my teenagers problem has bothered me for quite a while. As I said in my first post, YA books for Christian teens are out there, and there are some great writers with some fantastic YA reads on the market. They are there, but not in abundance, and they are kind of hard to find. WHY IS THAT? The YA market in general is pretty big. Really, it is. So, is the Christian YA market just too niche to be of any use? Is the problem that people just aren’t buying Christian YA, or is it that the Christian publishing world has given the YA market the cold shoulder?
I really don’t know–and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
I hope it’s not the cold shoulder thing, though. That’d be a little bit like the Church’s response to the entertainment industry in the ’80s and early ’90s. Remember that? The it’s all bad, worldly, and self-focused, so we’re not going to engage attitude? (that wasn’t everyone’s approach to it, but it was pretty prevalent). In the meantime, there was this massive platform that like 99% of the country engaged with, and we kind of missed it.
Sad. And, we’re still trying to make up time for that short-sighted snubbing. (I know, I’m full of opinions here…)
There’s this pretty big platform out there right now that engages our culture. Young Adult Lit reaches not only our children and teens, but a huge chunk of New Adults as well as those of us who have been grown up for a while. It’s a market that bleeds through the generations in a way that most niche genres don’t.
I really think we shouldn’t miss this opportunity. That’s all I’m trying to say here. 😉 And now I’m all done preaching.
On to the books! Here we go… this week’s great Christian fiction for teens, part 2…
My Pick of the Week:
Unblemished by Sara Ella
Eliyana can’t bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength?
Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird. Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.
Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?
My Thoughts: Layered worlds, complicated relationships, and discovering that the thing you dislike about yourself most may be exactly what makes you marvelously special. This book is definitely YA–so adults, fair warning there–but I loved it. It was engaging, beautiful, and left me anxious to read book two (which is out, by the way). 🙂
The Sixteen-year-old’s Pick of the Week:
The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.
But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.
Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.
Her Thoughts: This book went a little bit weird, and there were a few scenes that made her a bit queasy (it’s dystopian… so, there you go), but it was super interesting, and really made her think about her value before God–that she was made beautiful and special, no matter how the world defines those terms.
The Fourteen-year-old’s Pick:
Katie Parker Series by Jenny B. Jones
(For Book 1, In Between)
Can we overcome our past?
Katie Parker is about to get a new life—whether she wants one or not. With her mom in prison, and her father AWOL, Katie is sent to live with a squeaky-clean family who could have their own sitcom. She launches a full-scale plan to get sent back to the girls’ home when she finds herself in over her head…and heart. When Katie and her new “wrong crowd” get into significant trouble at school, she finds her punishment is restoring a historic theater with a crazy grandma who goes by the name of Mad Maxine. In the midst of her punishment, Katie uncovers family secrets that run deep, and realizes she’s not the only one with a pain-filled past. Katie must decide if she’ll continue her own family’s messed up legacy or embrace a new beginning in this place called In Between.
Her Thoughts: Katie is funny! She is prone to trouble–sometimes her fault, sometimes not. She’s real, she’s sarcastic, and she’s figuring out how to do life. She’s not perfect–she’s a girl you would meet at school–and love, because she’s kind of just like the rest of us.
The Twelve-year-old’s Pick:
The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine (Okay, it’s not published with a Christian imprint, and it’s not necessarily a Christian book, but we put it here, instead of as an outlier, because we’re fairly certain CJ is a believer, and this book will be readily available at a public library–which for some of us is important!)
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.
In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic of his own—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman—and bring her Lorelai’s heart.
But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
Her Thoughts: Another awesome fantasy! (are you picking up on this one’s favorite genre?) This book is a unique retelling of Snow White, and she just HAD to finish it. It is an epic battle of good versus evil, and we are desperately hoping light triumphs over darkness.
***The School Library Journal lists this as GR 9 and up. Perhaps because it’s considered a dark fantasy (most fairy tales have darkness in them, right?) Perhaps because of grade-level measurements (this twelve-year-old of mine reads at a GR 13+ level). In any case, parents, as always, use your best judgement.
Fury by Bill Bright & Jack Cavanaugh
He just witnessed a murder…and now the killer is on his trail.
But no one will believe him!
Ever since his parents drowned while crossing the Atlantic after a revival, Daniel Cooper has felt as if the world is out to get him. For the past year he’s had to live with his Uncle Asa and Aunt Camilla — and all their rules. One night, deciding he’s had enough, Daniel sneaks out his bedroom window and flees to the alley behind his employer’s casket shop. What he sees there shocks him to the core.
Pursued by two men, Daniel embarks on an agonizing journey…through deceit and betrayal. A journey that will test his physical stamina and challenge his understanding of God and friendship. A journey that may well change his life…if it doesn’t kill him first.
Our thoughts: This book isn’t YA, but my oldest read it when she was fourteen, and she immediately reread it. It was that good. NOTE: the oldest’s tastes, with a few excepts, run toward mystery, intense action, or dystopian–she’s not very much into romance, fluff, or silly. That would be the second oldest’s taste. Fury falls into the first two. It is intense and mysterious, and super interesting. This one could definitely fit in the “for the guys” category (which is why I skipped that one this week).
And there you have it, this week’s list of Great Christian Fiction Books for Teens. I’d love to know what else you know of that would fit this list!