There’s More to Literature than Twilight

There’s More to Literature than Twilight

Young Adult Fiction today is increasingly dominated by dystopian thrillers and Sci-Fi novels written for the purpose of conversion to the big screen rather than the quality of the writing or the relatability of the themes. These books are exciting and gripping, but sometimes the value of the YA genre is lost, which is generally finding books that represent the turbulent period between childhood and adulthood. With that in mind, the following selections are both realistic fiction, but without boring narratives or gushy romance.

The first book selection is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Don’t be fooled by the title, this novel is anything but cheesy. This coming-of-age tale tells the story of two Hispanic boys growing up in 1980’s New Mexico. Aristotle, also known as Ari, is a teenage boy struggling to find a purpose in life while dealing with his father’s nightmares of the Vietnam War.

Dante is a dreamer, a free spirit struggling with his sexuality and his place in the world. The boys become unlikely friends over the summer and their friendship grows through Ari’s relatable and thoughtful narrative. Saenz writes with a subtle poetry; his writing is not difficult or challenging, but illustrating the world like a painting with words and small sentences that leave you thinking once the book is closed.

For fans of John Green, this book is a perfect read because the writing style and messages are so similar to ones found in The Fault in Our Stars or Looking for Alaska. Aristotle and Dante is the perfect blend of funny and serious to represent the feelings of all teenagers as they find their way in life, and it is a timeless and relatable tale of friendship, acceptance, doubt, hardship, and love.

Another considerable option is I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. This book is an absolute must-read for anyone who has a sibling, especially a brother-sister relationship. Dual perspectives tell the story of Noah and Jude, twins growing up in Southern California, with Jude’s perspective taking place at age 16, and Noah’s at 13.

Throughout the novel, readers make connections between the two narratives as the story unravels, and anyone would be left flipping through the pages avidly thinking, “What happened to these twins?” Noah is a quiet, artistic boy unable to keep up with his popular and pretty sister, Jude. All he wants is to be accepted to CSA, the local art school, and make friends with the boy next door, Brian.

When Jude’s story begins, Noah is a popular jock at the public school, and she has gone from perky and inquisitive to sullen and closed-off at the art school. What happened to affect this change? Find out in this story of a ghost grandmother, meteorites, and a parrot who only says, “Where is Ralph?”

I’ll Give You the Sun is the ultimate story of familial love, redemption, heartbreak, and acceptance. Nelson is a poet in the way she uses imagery, and while her writing style is hard to decipher at first, it adds to the artistry and complexion of the story. If you enjoyed The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, you’ll love and relate to this book.