Grimm, Top 10

Top 10: Relationships with Parentals

16.09.10 | Comment?

Lots of YA fiction does its best to avoid the topic of parents. There are lots of convenient boarding schools (or exclusive academies, as we like to call them here), or parents with jobs that mean they have to travel a lot, or parents who are just rather absent (which would make for a good story, except that’s often not the point). But then there’s the brave book that jumps in and explores parents, who can be problematic creatures sometimes. Lots of potential for conflict (a key ingredient in story telling). Here are ten books in which relationships between teenagers and parents are explored in, we hope, thoughtful and challenging ways.

  1. Solace of the Road, Siobhan Dowd (also try A Swift Pure Cry) – In Solace of the Road, Holly is newly fostered by a seemingly perfectly lovely couple, and her life should be on track, but she’s haunted by the idea of her mother and, with the help of a wig, she becomes Solace and travels across the UK, heading for Ireland. The road trip turns out to be one of self-discovery and the upheaval of buried memories.
  2. Once Was Lost, Sara Zarr – Samara’s mother’s lost it a bit and has gone away to sort out her rather public drinking issues, and her father, the local minister, is kind of hopeless (and way too busy), so Samara is left to herself a bit to keep herself and her household going. The story is about faith and family, and it also follows the mystery of a disappeared girl.
  3. Twisted, Laurie Halse Anderson – this is one of my most favouritist YA books. Possibly more interesting than anything else in the book is Tyler’s relationship with his (controlling) parents, most specifically his father.
  4. Dirty Little Secrets, C J Omolulu – this story plays out over a one day period. Lucy’s mother dies suddenly, leaving Lucy to cope with her loss, and also her dirty little secret – a compulsive, shameful hoarding habit that leaves their house a real health and safety hazard and earns Lucy the nickname “Garbage Girl”. Cleaning up happens literally and figuratively.
  5. Blue Plate Special, Michelle D Kwasney – proof that your mother wasn’t always a middle aged embarrassment. Three generations of 15 year olds tell their stories of being raised by single mothers, from 1977 through 1993 to 2009.
  6. Borderline, Allan Stratton – Sami Sabiri is the only Muslim in a private school, then his father is implicated in a terrorist plot. One reviewer said this book would be great for fans of the TV show 24 (which I wasn’t one of, so I couldn’t comment, but that sounds good).
  7. Counter Clockwise, Jason Cockcroft – Nathan’s mother was killed when she was hit by a bus, and his father will do anything to prevent this from being truth, even travelling back in time in an attempt to change history. Chaos ensues.
  8. Choppy Socky Blues, Ed Briant – Jason’s father is a former stunt man who runs a dojo who Jason wants to have nothing to do with, on account of his having abandoned his family. But when Jason meets Tinga, who is going for her blue belt, he feels compelled to get back into the karate world of his father.
  9. For Keeps, Natasha Friend – Josie is 16 and her mother is 33, and they’re close, but when Josie’s father’s family moves back into town things get a bit complicated and Josie learns some truths about her parents and her arrival, in amongst both herself and her mother finding love.
  10. Infinity: Chronicles of Nick, Sherrilyn Kenyon – Nick’s mother is an exotic dancer, a truth that causes Nick endless grief and adds to his social outcast-ness. He’s fiercely protective of her, though, which winds him up in lots of trouble, both with her and others, and this is all before he’s drawn into a supernatural battle against zombies (this time rather than cheerleading they’re football-playing). The first of a series.

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