A Not-So-Different World
Last week, Tracey shared some great speculative fiction titles that take readers into completely new worlds, and she shared her childhood love for such magical worlds. For readers, like myself, who prefer contemporary realism for their fiction, you might try these books to explore our world from a new perspective or get a glimpse of what it might be like to come back to life and find that everything has changed.
In Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock, Starbird has spent her entire life on the communal farm with her mother and the rest of the Family. That’s capital-F Family because that’s what members of the Free Family Farm call each other. They don’t consider themselves a cult, but once Starbird moves away from the farm to help in the Family’s café, she finds that the world Outside has a different view. There is a lot to get used to on the Outside. She has to go to school, handle money, and live among non-believers for the first time. This is a fascinating and insightful look at a teen finding her way in a very strange world—our own. (9780670012763. June 2014. Gr. 7-12)
All Sky knows is Island. She has lived on the remote island since she was a small child. She and her mother were shipwrecked there with a man and his son, River. The four of them survive together, and after the parents die, the kids make it on their own. When a boat comes to rescue them, Sky isn’t sure she wants to go. Life on the island is hard, but it is what she knows. In California, Sky can’t make sense of anything. Modern life is so far removed from her experience, it may as well be another planet. The woman who calls herself Grandmother takes her away from River and calls her “Megan.” Sky is left with questions about herself, her mother, and where she belongs. It may take readers time to get used to Sky’s unusual narration, but they should be propelled by her odd perspective and the mystery of her past. (9781619633513. May 2014. Gr. 7-12)
Travis died five years ago, but thanks to a scientific breakthrough, he’s back among the living. Sure, his head is now attached to another (healthier) body, which is a little weird, but it’s worth it to be alive, right? The problem is that five years is a long time when everyone else goes on living (and aging) without you. Travis is still sixteen, just like he was when he died. His best friend and his girlfriend are five years older. He’s still in high school, and they are in college. The premise of coming back to life might seem far-fetched, but John Corey Whaley tells Travis’ story with humor and wit, and teens will find much to relate to in Travis’ unusual coming of age experience. (9781442458727. April 2014. Gr. 9-12)