October 20, 2017

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5 Beach Reads for Teens: From Superhero Adventures to Thrilling Whodunits

When I think of a perfect summer day, I picture a cool drink, a seat in the shade, and the prospect of losing myself in the pages of a book. Whether it’s a superhero adventure, a camp experience like no other, a whodunit, a coming-of-age tale, or a short but complete history of surfing, these five choices all make me think of the old ad: Calgon, take me away. Or in this case, summer, take me away.

If for your teens summer means sun and surf, this is the book for them. An abridged version of Matt Warshaw’s adult book, A Brief History of Surfing (Chronicle, Mar. 2017; Gr 8 Up) covers surfing from its beginnings (pre-1900) to today. Important people, moments in the history of surfing, locations, surfboard development, and more are highlighted in individual entries. The glossy pages, full-page photos, and use of white space enhance the readability of this small, almost square-shaped book. Warshaw is the former editor of Surfing magazine, and his books are considered essential reading on the sport. This book lacks source notes, end notes, or a bibliography, making it a good choice for pleasure reading, but use the unabridged version for reports.

This book about a summer camp is like nothing I’ve read before. In Mary McCoy’s Camp So-and-So (Carolrhoda Lab, Mar. 2017; Gr 8 Up), 25 girls receive a mysterious invitation to spend a week at Camp So-and-So. When they arrive, they are divided into five cabins. There’s a story devoted to each cabin. The girls of Cabin One battle their rich rivals from the camp across the lake in the All-Camp Sport & Follies. Cabin Two’s head counselor is murdered, and it appears that a deranged former camper is to blame. The campers of Cabin Three set out on a quest after they find a prophecy written in the rafters of their abode. The Cabin Four girls find a current that leads them to their soulmates, and Cabin Five is mysteriously surrounded by thorns. This title is written like a play with an omniscient narrator and more than a few dashes of horror and fantasy, and the twists and turns will keep readers guessing until the end.

After stealing her father’s credit card to finance a cooler wardrobe, Margot is stuck working at the family grocery store in the South Bronx. Angry at not being able to spend the summer in the Hamptons with her two best friends, spoiled Margot has a lot of growing up to do. Her inability to see the truth that’s in front of her about her family and new friends comes to a head in a drama-filled summer. Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez (S. & S., Feb. 2017; Gr 8 Up) is a coming-of-age story about family, friendship, and the importance of being true to oneself. Although these are familiar themes, they are treated with sensitivity and depth. Margot’s growth is hard-won but deserved.

With a setup like The Breakfast Club—five students, each a stereotypical teen, are stuck in detention at the same time—Karen M. McManus’s One of Us Is Lying (Delacorte, May 2017; Gr 9 Up) quickly turns into a murder mystery. While in detention, Simon, “the outcast,” dies after drinking water laced with peanut oil. Suspicion quickly lands on the other students—Bronwyn, “the brain”; Addy, “the beauty”; Nate, “the criminal”; and Cooper, “the athlete”—when Simon’s gossip website divulges major dirt on all four of them. Simon’s EPI pens are mysteriously missing, and it quickly becomes apparent that this was no accident. Alternating chapters in each of the four protagonists’ voices reveal that they are more than just the cookie-cutter characters they appear to be. Who is lying? Teens will be surprised when the truth comes out, making this a thrilling beach read.

At the tail end of summer and just in time for the new movie, Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Random, Aug. 2017; Gr 6 Up) tells the story of teen Diana and her quest to cure (or kill) Alia, a descendant of Helen of Troy. Diana, not yet Wonder Woman, against the rules of the Island of Themyscira, saves Alia from certain death by drowning. Bringing Alia to Themyscira has devastating consequences for the Amazons and the island. Alia is a Warbringer, and it is in her blood to bring war and destruction to the world. To save her home and humankind, Diana must bring Alia to Therapne, Greece, before the first day of Hekatombaion. Aiding Diana and Alia on their journey are Jason, Alia’s brother; Nim, Alia’s best friend; and Theo, Alia’s potential love interest. As in any good superhero story, the fun is in the battles and the relationships among the characters. An exciting adventure filled with action and wit, this new addition to the superheroine’s world earns its place in the Wonder Woman canon.

Kefira Philippe is a librarian at Nichols Middle School in Evanston, IL. She has served on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults and, most recently, the 2017 Printz committee.

 

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