Enica/ November 6, 2019/ Walker's Bookshelf, Youth Services

With the Holidays upon us, most of us think about spending time with our family. Here are some young adult titles that focus on family stories and prove how important familial bonds are.


The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The premise: A modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the novel chronicles the story of a wild, sixteen-year-old named Violet. After her younger brother was sent to the hospital in Vermont and her partying got out of control, Violet’s parents sent her to live with her Uncle in the coast of Maine. There, she finds herself intrigued by her great-great-great-grandmother who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck and was the founder of the town.

Why you might like it: While the themes explored are heavy subjects, the book’s tone at times are funny and the characters feel authentic. If you like books such as All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven or It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, you would like The Last True Poets of the Sea.

Bonus: Even though it’s a fictional town, it is set in Maine.


The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu

What happens: Set in the 1980s, this a moving tale of the Finney family as it chronicles their journey through struggles and hardships. It explores family dynamics and posits questions about one’s identity.

Reason to pick it up: The characters are well-developed that we could easily relate with; the book is suspenseful and fast-paced.

What critics have to say: According to Booklist, “Mathieu masterfully invests readers in the the characters’ origin stories, emotions, and motives. Her descriptions of the various settings over time and space are vivid and pulsating, immersing the audience in the psyches and nostalgia of each narrator.”


The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

What it’s about: High-achieving 16-year-old Birdie tries hard to live up to her strict parents’ expectations, even if it means hiding how close she’s getting with Booker (a sweet guy who spent time in juvie) and her Aunt Carlene (who just got out of rehab, again). As it turns out, though, Birdie’s not the only one keeping secrets.

For fans of: the authentic characters and complicated-yet-caring families in books by Angie Thomas and Elizabeth Acevedo.


Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Featuring: fourteen-year-old Frankie, abandoned by her father in a Chicago orphanage during the lead-up to World War II; and Pearl, the ghost who watches over her.

What happens: While Pearl tries to reconcile her own tragic life and death, she watches Frankie grapple with poverty, family instability, falling in love, and the search for meaning in a harsh world.

Who it’s for: Fans of author Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap will enjoy this similarly subtle, strange, and thought-provoking story.

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