2015: YA Round up!

One of the fun things about unpacking in the new house -- one of the very few fun things about unpacking - is that I am getting all my YA books that were sitting in the attic in D.C. out on shelves (now my fiction that was on shelves in D.C. is sitting in boxes in my garage because life is  rich tapestry).  Which is to say, I commandeered the shelves in my kids' rooms, and now it's all out on display.  Hopefully at least one of them grows up to be a reader because we have a pretty good selection, between stuff I had as a kid (at least that which survived the fire), and things I have acquisitioned, magpie-like in the interim.  

As I've been unpacking I've been picking up books here or there to read (or lets be honest re-read), and I thought I'd do a big post listing them, in case you've missed a few of these, most of which are divine.  Oh, P.S. these are all ancient books I've had forever - nothing trendy or modern here.


Anne of Green Gables, et. al., L.M. Montgomery - First up, I re-read so much Montgomery.  I read all the Anne books except House of Dreams (can't remember why) and Rilla (uh, doy, I'm afraid of Rilla of Ingleside).  I read all the Emily  books, and Jane of Lantern Hill, and both stupid Pat books, and all those short story collections, and even Magic For Marigold.  I read half of the first volume of Montgomery's journals.  I went on a binge.  And it was a total delight and I regret nothing.  Though I continue to worry about poor Una Meridith? Why did it have to end with her never getting married and teaching domestic science? What the hell is that? Can't we marry her off to, say, Bev from The Story Girl? #Montgomerydeepcuts.  I have no apologies for my Montgomery obsession. I'm 37 years old and I like Anne.  Deal with it.

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 The Phoenix and the Carpet, E. Nesbit - oh my lord, E. Nesbit with her lovely kids who are getting into scrapes and keeping stiff upper lips and being so goddamn Edwardian it is amazing. This one involves the kids from The Five Children & It, finding a phoenix and a magic carpet and having adventures and getting into jams and I love them.  I love Cyril, Jane, Anthea, Robert and the Lamb, and I think you should read these if you have any softness for early 20th C Britain.  AND I got to sneak out of reading a book with a stupid dog for a character on my Newtonville Book Challenge, because the phoenix was a non-human character in this one.

However, I am going to say the saddest thing right now so maybe you should look away (ties into my Rilla issues above).  It was brought to my attention, on The-toast.net that Cyril and Robert and even the Lamb are exactly the right age to go into the trenches.  Try not to cry forever now.

Tell Me if the Lovers Are Losers, Cynthia Voight - Another old favorite - though tilting slightly older, as it not only talks about sex (though it's just talk), but really grapples with deep issues at the end, this book is set at an all-girls college in the early 1960's.  Nikki, Hildy and Ann are thrown together as roomates, and couldn't be more different. Over the book they learn to live with each other (largely through volleyball which sounds nutsy but work), and at the end there is a major crisis (bring your tissues, this is a tearjerker).  I have read this book a whole bunch of times and I love it. I love Voight anyway - she's amazing, but I love the way the three characters interact here - realistically, gingerly, trying to figure it all out.  And it's super interesting to see what college was like in the 1960's for women - a very different experience from mine own.  But mostly it's the girls and how they become women over the course of their freshman year.  A very high recommendation (though I think its out of print its easily available on Amazon).

Taking Care of Terrific - Lois Lowry.  Another out of print gem, by the author of the Anastasia books, and (like more well known these days), Giver trilogy.  This one is about Enid (rhymes with fetid), a high schooler who spends the summer baby sitting Tom Terrific (not his real name) and trying to make her life, and his more magical, largely through trying to improve the lives of the homeless ladies in the Boston Public Garden.  This description obviously sounds like madness, but actually this is a super sweet book about trying to be who you really are, and noticing people who don't get noticed. And its about a 45 minutes read, because it's 1980's YA.  Also, it takes place in Boston, and we just went on the Swan Boats, which made it a fun read for me.  All Lowry is great - this is early and not as well known but a fun read.

The Treasures of Weatherby, Zilpha Keatley Snyder -

Continuing the grand tour of authors I loved when I was a kid, this is a newer book by Snyder, and it, like many of hers concerns a crazy old mansion (in fact, she acknowledges in the authors note that this is the crazy old mansion book to top all crazy old mansion books).  Harleigh J. Weatherby the IV lives in Weatherby house - a crazy old mansion where anyone descended from the author is allowed to live, but only "direct descendants" have any authority.  Here that means Harleigh - and also his grim Aunt Adelaide, who rules him with a strict thumb.  But when he meets a mysterious girl names Althea on the property, he begins to open his eyes to the secrets and mysteries of Weatherby house.  

This book was ok - I love crazy old mansiony houses too, and it all works as you breezing through it, but as I write this up, the plot basically falls apart.  At the most basic level, we need to believe that the first Weatherby was a terrible old tycoon - who also set up a will where any descendant can always have a home because "he likes having people around." And the plot is all a bit much, especially given the YA number of pages.  Like, it needed 100 more pages to make it work and not just be "and this happened" "and this" "and this."  Read The Egypt Game instead.

Finally, though I could probably go on (i've been doing a lot of junky re-reading, what can I say?)

The Magic Summer, Noel Streatfield.  This book is BONKERS (and this copy, which is the paperback one I have is on sale for $21.00 on Amazon!! WHUT?).  It's by the author of the "Shoes" books, but isn't Shoe branded.  It's about four normal children who live in England with their parents.  Their father is a scientist who studies germs - he goes off to Asia to study for a year, then gets sick so the mother leaves them in the care of the father's Great Aunt Dymphania, who lives off the coast of Ireland.  Her childrearing philosophy is they can take care of themselves.  So these four poor children are left to just figure out how to feed and care for themselves as their father is practically dying of typhoid or whatever. I MEAN, it works out ok, and they learn to love Ireland, and blah blah, but my lord, the aunt is a MENACE.  The children are, like, 9-14.  It doesn't make them soft that they just don't know how to cook and do laundry and TOTALLY TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES. Super weird book.

Ok, that is all for now.  But if anyone has read any of these, let me know in the comments!!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017