Or have I been only reading picture books for the last seven years?
Recently, however, I have been having so much fun reading contemporary YA books by Canadian authors (or at least authors living in Canadian which is good enough for me).
Here are two of them:
This was one of those books where I was annoyed with the children for making me parent instead of reading the entire book in one sitting. The kind where you hide in the bathroom, or the pantry, so you can read a couple more pages. It is also the kind of book where your two-year old daughter climbs on your lap to wipe away your tears. Yeah, that kind. So worth it though.
Are You Seeing Me by Darren Groth (Australian by origin but lives in Vancouver with his family) is the story of twins Justine and Perry. It is also a story that seems to deviate from so many YA novels these days – there are no love triangles (the romance in the novel is minimal), there are no supernatural elements, there are no plot-contrived false-fights (I hate those), and the prose is beautiful.
Justine is the primary caregiver of her autism-spectrum brother Perry. Justine is the older-before-her-time sister while Perry is the forever-young brother. That description may sound cliche (because they are cliches) but the characters and the writing do not come across that way at all.
Justine has a speech prepared that she repeats every time people encounter her brother:
“He has a brain condition that can cause him to feel anxious or upset in different places and circumstances. He has trouble with people – mixing with them and communicating with them – and it sometimes results in inappropriate behaviours. I appreciate your understanding a patience.”
Most of the time though it seems as if Justine is trying to find the patience within herself – but not just about Perry. The great thing about this novel is that there is no doubt ever that Perry and Justine love each other. But they are 19 now and are trying to find a new normal with the loss of their father and their new adult selves. The road trip is supposed to be the last hurrah before separating themselves into adulthood. It’s funny, and bittersweet, and kind of heartbreaking all over the place.
Other than to tell you to read it that is really all I am going to say about the plot because it unfolds in such a beautiful way that I don’t want to give away any of it.
This one I did read in one sitting. On one hand I was smart and didn’t start it until the kids were in bed, and on the other hand that meant that I stayed up way past my bedtime. I’m the adult here so I’m allowed to do that. Nothing that a half-dozen cups of tea couldn’t fix the next morning.
Trouble is a Friend of Mine is by Winnipeg-based (but from all over the world) author Stephanie Tromly’s first book. The jacket says that at one point Tromly worked in Los Angeles as a script writer and I can believe that. This book reads like a fast paced adventure movie, complete with ridiculous plot points pushing the story forward. However, the ridiculousness of the plot doesn’t subtract from the enjoyment of it. If anything, it made the story of Zoe and Digby that much more endearing. Who wouldn’t want to be a teenage sleuth, solving a missing girl case and bringing down a criminal meth ring? Plausibility of plot is not why one reads this book. Who knows, in Digby’s bizarre world it seems like anything could happen – and it does. Good news for those who were left hanging on the last page is that a sequel is coming next year. The only request I would have is that Digby turns down his creepiness a bit – I mean, he is quirky and adorable and all but reading a teenage girl’s diary really draws a line.