MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
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These days when grown-ups need some escapist reading, many of us sneak into the kids' aisle. We dive into the world of YA, or young adult fiction. Well, if that describes you or you actually are a young adult reader, writer Julianna Baggott has these five recommendations for you.
JULIANNA BAGGOTT: A good novel doesn't just transcend the boundaries of its target market. It knows nothing about target markets. Young readers have always reached above their reading level, and lately, we've seen adult readers reaching into the world of teen fiction in search of no-holds-barred storytelling. Here are five titles for summer reading that will appeal to readers across age groups. In Martyn Bedford's novel "Flip," the 14-year-old narrator, Alex, finds himself inhabiting the body of Flip, a charmer, athlete and slacker who is foreign to Alex, who's never kissed a girl. Martyn Bedford's novel portrays heartsick longing and tender relationships among family, friends and first loves.
In Lauren Oliver's "Delirium," Lena Haloway lives contentedly enough in futuristic Portland, Maine, where a medical procedure cures people of deliria, AKA love. In a world with a militaristic "Pleasantville" feel, evaluators make smart marital matches based on class. Haunted by the deliria-induced suicide of her mother, Lena toes the line. That is until she meets a boy who knows what's beyond the electrical fences.
Frances O'Roark Dowell's "Ten Miles Past Normal" features Janie Gorman, a whip-smart, snarky, bighearted narrator whose parents chuck suburbia for farm life. At 9, this delighted Janie. Now, a hopelessly lost freshman, she smells like goat poop, and she lunches in the library. Dowell offers the upside of embracing your own weirdness and barreling on with life.
In the opening of Michael Northrop's "Trapped," a tale of seven classmates trapped inside their high school during an epic blizzard, I thought, how bad can it get? Tensions build, however, as the snow does, accumulating in drifts, blocking windows, casting the story into darkness. And finally, this novel buries you. Northrop doesn't dive too deeply into a love story. As a result, with some parental vetting, "Trapped" might be a good read for middle schoolers who enjoy disaster tales.
Cathy Ostlere's "Karma" is a rich and unpredictable historical novel. Set in 1984, it begins with poetic diary entries from 15-year-old Maya, who is shattered by her mother's recent suicide. Half-Hindu and half-Sikh, Maya and her father fly to India with her mother's ashes. In the violent aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination, Maya is cast into the streets alone. "Karma" is a novel-in-verse that tells a whirlwind story with heartfelt emotion.
Regardless of age, there's something to be pulled from each of these novels because some things never change. As it turns out, the search for self in this world is a lifelong one.
NORRIS: That's Julianna Baggott. She's the author of the forthcoming novel "PURE." You can find details about her reading recommendations, along with other summer reading picks, at our website, and please check out the summer books page at npr.org.