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Escape the here and now with these teen books

Original article at The Statesman Journal

One of the great appeals of books is their ability to take you away from “here” to explore the vistas of time and space. Each of these recent books offers an interesting journey.

‘Of Metal and Wishes’ by Sarah Fine

What it’s about: New to the factory compound where her father serves as the doctor, Wen is humiliated by one of the new Noor workers undercutting the Itanyai majority. In a fit of pique, she challenges the “Ghost” who haunts the factory to avenge her — setting off a downward spiral of violence, intrigue and social unrest that changes her world forever.

What we think: This was an unusual, intense book that took the story of the Phantom of the Opera and moved it to a post-industrial Asian setting. I was at turns enthralled and disturbed, thoughtful and grossed out.

‘The Boundless’ by Kenneth Oppel

What it’s about: Welcome aboard the Boundless, the ultimate luxury train taking its first voyage on the TransCanadian Railroad. Will Everett is about to have the adventure of a lifetime — an adventure involving murderous brakemen, a wild circus, a mysterious key, hidden treasure, actual sasquatches and much leaping from car to car under the cover of darkness.

What we think: You will adore Will, cheer on his allies, hiss at the bad guys, gasp at the excitement and thoroughly enjoy this unique and magical adventure.

‘I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister’ by Amélie Sarn, translated by Y. Maudet

What it’s about: Two French sisters of Algerian descent suffer an unimaginable tragedy. The older, a devout Muslim, chooses to wear a hijab (headscarf), drawing a hailstorm of hatred. The younger has been horrifically murdered by the fundamentalist Muslim boys in the neighborhood because she has rejected the traditional ways. The complex grief of the surviving sister is almost unbearable.

What we think: Heart-shredding sadness abounds in this gorgeously written reflection on freedom and the struggle to grasp the idea that each person has the right to make their own choices.

‘The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender’ by Leslye Walton

What it’s about: A multi-generational drama that rides a river of heartache and tragedy from France to New York to Seattle, where Ava Lavender enters the world with a highly developed set of wings. Isolated by her family, yet intent on exploring what she can of the world, Ava’s impact is unique.

What we think: It’s the kind of lyrical magical realism that feels like a strange, sad dance. I was reminded of Jeffrey Eugenides’ “Middlesex” in many ways, which also brings me to the thought that this book is best saved for mature teen readers.

Did you know?

A Group Study Room is now available in the Teen Scene, equipped with a table seating eight easily, a white board and other study tools. The room is available to reserve by groups of middle or high school-age youth working looking for a place to gather. Quiet individual study is allowed when the room is not in use by a group. The sign up is available up to about two weeks ahead of time in person or through the Teen Scene Desk, (503) 588-6364.

Sonja Somerville is the Teen Librarian at Salem Public Library. Reach her at (503) 588-6083 or ssomerville@cityofsalem.net. Sonja also blogs about her favorite young adult book selections at www.myssr.wordpress.com.