Gabrielle’s excellent post this week, “The Broken Boys of YA,” and subsequent huge Goodreads list inspired me to dedicate today’s post to highlighting some of our favorite young adult novels written from a male point-of-view.
These are all contemporaries, which is near and dear to us here, though there are some excellent paranormals and dystopians which Gabrielle’s Goodreads list highlights as well. It’s interesting, because I didn’t realize until now that many of my favorites are written by women. It’s funny, because many of the books I’ve had the biggest problems with have also been written by women. It seems like authors either knock this out of the park for me or absolutely fall flat. Funny… I would have thought there’d be more of a gender divide.
Freefall by Mindi Scott
“I just love that feeling when things are about to change. Like when you know that in a few seconds you’re going to do something and become someone else.”
I’m pretty sure that Laura and I are friends thanks to this book. Seth’s voice is one of my absolute favorites, it has a wonderful note of authenticity that makes Seth seem absolutely real. (I read Mindi’s new book last week and I literally squealed because Seth is mentioned and thought something along the lines of “I hope he’s doing well” before reminding myself that Seth is a fictional character.) Freefall has a very strong theme about actively choosing to make things change and it really resonated with both Laura and I. Seth Rocks.
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
He was the person all of us should be, but most of us aren’t. And if I could have taken his place to buy him a little more time in the world, I’d have done it. I’m sorry I couldn’t.
Trish Doller’s debut is still reigning as one of my absolute favorite books of 2012. A 19-year old Marine coping with PTSD, on leave back in his hometown, in his family home, Travis’ should be pretty unrelatable for a dorky girl like me, but his story is told with such emotional authenticity that ultimately I found extremely compelling and familiar.
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
There is no getting away from yourself, so it’s highly important to get one’s brain under control. That’s a fact.
This is a Laura recommendation—and a book I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet. (Why, why, why? I have it on my Kindle, ready to read! I have no excuse.) Stupid Fast is about a fairly typic 15-ear old boy who’s suddenly grown. He’s suddenly a good athlete, and everything changes. Except it kind of doesn’t, because even though he looks different, Felton—the main character—still feels like the same guy, with the same problems. I asked Laura awhile back if she was planning on reading the sequel, Nothing Special, and she proclaimed that Stupid Fast was so “right,” she didn’t want to risk ruining it in case the sequel wasn’t up to the high standard set by Stupid Fast.
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Sometimes I wondered why she’d written this book. She’d never given it to me, or even told me about it. But then, the Colt she was writing to was not exactly me. She had told him a lot more than she’d told me. He was more dependable than I was; he didn’t talk back or have moods of his own.
I meant to actually review this book after I read it this spring. However, that never happened, because the next book I read was the aforementioned Something Like Normal, which distracted the hell out of my from all other books. The Secret Year is a book that readers seem pretty divided about. However, I liked it and appreciated the way it handled the “after the bad thing happens” storyline (I like this particular type of plot, yet because I’ve read so many of them, I am pretty critical of this type of novel). Colt, the main character, isn’t necessarily a boy you’d want to be friends with, but I sure felt for him throughout The Secret Year.
Split by Swati Avasthi
We all screw up. We all wish we were stronger than we are, and not one of us will get through this life without regret.
Laura highly recommends Swati Avasthi’s novel about two brothers and their complex experience with domestic violence. I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages—and even have a copy—but it sounds so real, that I’m a bit intimidated by the potentially emotionally draining experience of picking this novel up. However, Laura writes that it Split is distinctive in it’s portrayal of family violence and its possible escape routes and the ripple effects of the choices that are made.
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
He knows bad days. Bad days take him completely by surprise. They make him not trust the good days because it’s likely something is lurking twenty-four hours away.
The Piper’s Son, which is a companion novel to the also-excellent Saving Francesca, is one of those funny books that seems like it shouldn’t be as awesome as it is—I mean it’s about a 21-year old screwed up Australian guy and his 40-year old aunt. And yet, it all works perfectly. I’m usually pretty understanding when people’s taste doesn’t match mine, but The Piper’s Son is one of those books I’m completely psychotic about and actually get incredibly annoyed when people on Goodreads—who intellectually I realize are wholly and completely entitled to their opinions—give it any less than five stars. I am a crazy person when it comes to The Piper’s Son. (Seriously, the Kindle edition is around six bucks—what are you waiting for?)
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
But still, I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I’ll get through today.
It’s funny, I think of The Piper’s Son and Where She Went together because I read them one after the other and loved them both so much, so obsessively, that I’ve paired them up in my mind. And, so have Gayle and Melina.
Unlike The Piper’s Son, you really do need to read the first book, If I Stay, to understand and appreciate Where She Went—but it’s also a very good book. Adam’s pained voice and downward spiral following the events of the previous book (which is narrated by another character) are extremely affecting. The bridge scene is one of my favorite scenes in any book, ever. (Also, Gayle & Melina: I’d preorder that Adam-Tom book is a heartbeat. Just sayin’…)
There are so many more excellent male-narrated YA novels I could recommend, like The Disenchantments, The Lighter Side of Life and Death and Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, but I’d love to discover some more that are really stand-out.
What would you add as can’t-miss young adult fiction written from the male point-of-view?