Siblings Hazel and Ben live in Fairfold, an odd little town where humans live amicably but tenuously with the fae-folk – the “fair” of Fairfold. Both grew up enamoured with an enigmatic young man who has been sleeping in a glass coffin in a nearby wood. When he wakes, Hazel and Ben are thrust into an unlikely struggle with the beings that live so near to them. With a clever, unusual love triangle and with Black’s characteristic integration of the fantastic and very real adolescent trials, this is a balm to readers thirsty for romance and fairy tales. In The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black is at her glorious best – without succumbing to stereotypes or YA trends. Highly recommended.
Where I Belong
By Tara White, Tradewind Books, 128 pages, $12.95
Set against the backdrop of 1990’s Oka Crisis, Where I Belong – a gorgeous, sorrowful and yet hopeful novel that feels rather advanced to be considered YA fiction – tells the story of a young woman named Carrie, who learns her family is of Mohawk descent. After haunting, foreboding dreams warn of imminent danger to someone close to her, Carrie makes the journey to find her real father, who lives in Quebec. Written mindfully and delicately in the voice of an early master, Tara White’s second book is both a coming-of-age story and a story that desperately needs to be told. Combining a teenage, punk-rock need for acknowledgment and a nationwide need for attention,Where I Belong is a book that feels urgent and human.
All the Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven, Knopf, 400 pages, $20.99
Suicide is an ever-present topic for both young people and for the people who love them. In this book – Jennifer Niven’s first YA novel – readers are introduced to Violet and Finch, two young people who meet when partnering for a school project about natural wonders and bond during the most trying of times, sharing their secrets and pain with one another. This is a story that can’t be told enough times, and here we have it embedded in the perspective of young love. It’s little surprise that All the Bright Places has already been deeply and widely lauded by young readers. Read it, and soon. Surely it applies to someone close to you.