TTo celebrate the imminent release of Beyond, the exciting debut novel from Georgia Springate, we thought we’d share our Top Five Emotional Young Adult (YA) Books.
Beyond is the story of Alex, a 14-year-old boy who has to put up with not only the usual teenage boy issues – school; a girl who’s oblivious to how he feels about her; the school bully – but also his sister has been diagnosed with cancer. An emotional journey through one boy’s quest to come to terms with his sister’s illness, it appeals to readers both young and old and is a touchingly compelling and uplifting coming-of-age story about love, loss and discovery. You can read more about it at the bottom of this blog post, and can read a free excerpt by going to burningchairpublishing.com/georgia-springate/.
The YA genre is one of the most exciting right now, with so many great books covering love, conflict, loss, prejudice — all in the context of the confusing and challenging time that is adolescence (at least it was for us!). Of course, these novels don’t just appeal to teenage readers — the ones in this list are so good that anyone who loves a good book will surely enjoy them.
Now, we had a big debate in the office as to whether we should include a certain boy-wizard, or a half-blood son of Poseidon, or a vampire-loving teenager, or various other magic/fantasy-themed books. But in the end we decided that we would save that list for another day and only include novels that are not only focused on YA, but also take the reader on an emotional journey.
So, with no further delay, here are our Top Five Emotional YA Novels (with no spoilers – we promise):
What would you do if, when you moved into a new house, you discovered a strange creature in the dilapidated shed at the end of the garden? That’s what happens to Michael, who on top of moving house is also facing challenges from the illness of his baby sister, the absence of his mother, and romantic feelings for his quirky new neighbour, Mina.
The writing is beautiful and Michael and Skellig’s intertwining stories provide a perfect metaphor for most of our journeys into adulthood. The Chair of the 2004 Whitbread Judging Panel absolutely nailed it when they wrote:
‘David Almond’s lyrical tale of the angel Skellig is written with delicacy and restraint, and tells a story of love and faith with exquisite, heart-fluttering tenderness. It is an extraordinarily profound book, no matter how old the reader.’
‘We accept the love we think we deserve’. Published back in 1999, Perks, as it’s frequently referred to, is a stunning book about navigating adolescence — especially the feeling that, as you go through that period of your life, you feel so removed from those around you. The alienation that most of us feel as teenagers, as our relationships with friends and family shifts, with everything fuelled by the biological and chemical changes coursing through our bodies. Structured as a series of letters by Charlie, an introvert who shines a spotlight on the world around him, this is an extremely insightful and moving book.
It’s hard to write much about Bridge to Terabithia without spoilers, but suffice it to say that this a modern take on teenage love which, despite including a fantasy element, takes a realistic and gritty view of the challenges and hardships of living in a small town in the US.
Extremely well-written, the book’s clear, almost matter-of-fact style is reminiscent of CS Lewis, but the narrator always pitches the voices in a sympathetic but non-condescending tone. Through the main protagonist, Jesse, we view the world through a teenage and sometimes child-like lens. The story though is far from childish and doesn’t pull its punches emotionally, so be prepared for some moist eyes towards the end.
One of the most beautiful novels ever written. Despite the title leaving the reader in no doubt as to the fate of the two main characters, Mateo and Rufus, this doesn’t stop the author taking you on a heart-wrenching journey with two characters you can’t help but fall for.
The wonderfully-constructed plot, the depth of characterisation, and the insight into human behaviour all combine to make this one of the most compelling books ever written. Shining a light on the paradoxical nature of our existence – there is no life without death; there is no love without loss – the author leads the reader on a distressing but heartening journey that will stay with you long after you close the book.
A coming-of-age romance sparked by a meeting at a children’s cancer support group, this book has it all: laughs, loves, tears. The story punches harder than Mohammed Ali in his prime, and leaves the reader wondering if anything will ever be the same again. John Green’s writing is beautifully tender, and his characterisation of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters has incredible depth.
Apparently, John Green worked as a student chaplain in a children’s hospital in his younger days; reading this makes you realise that only that type of experience could unlock the insight required to write something this beautiful.
So what do you think? Do you agree with our list? Did we miss any out? Let us know. And remember that, on 1st March, Georgia Springate’s debut novel Beyond will be released — and if you like any of the five books we’ve mentioned here, we know that you’ll love Beyond.
As always, stay lucky
Beyond – by Georgia Springate
What happens when we die? Is this really all there is? What exists beyond this life?
Alex Duncan is just an ordinary 14-year-old boy. His main worries are homework, girls, the school bully…
…and his sister, Jenna, who has ovarian cancer, stage B.
As his parents retreat into themselves, Alex is desperate to find a way to help, a way to make things better for his sister. After all, it’s the not knowing that’s the worst thing.
While he tries to untangle the ultimate question, life still goes on: his best friend seems oblivious to his feelings about her, the school bully has taken a special interest in him, and everything he does just makes him feel more and more awkward and out of place.
What he learns on his journey helps him to come to terms with not only his sister’s mortality but also how he and his family and friends cope with that most compelling of questions: what lies beyond?
Beyond, the debut novel by Georgia Springate, is a touchingly compelling and uplifting coming-of-age story about love, loss and discovery. An emotional journey through one boy’s quest to come to terms with his sister’s illness, it will appeal to readers both young and old, in particular fans of The Fault in our Stars.
Beyond is released on 1 March 2019 – you can get a free excerpt (and be the first to hear about it when it’s released) if you sign up to Georgia’s mailing list at burningchairpublishing.com/georgia-springate/.