Z is for Zugzwang

Z is for Zugzwang.

It is the last day of the A to Z Challenge! You, my readers, have survived! Yay, you!

So, zugzwang. I borrowed a chess term for today’s category of

novels for young adults.

Zugzwang describes a situation in which one must take one’s turn even if it is to one’s disadvantage. It also means to force someone else into that situation. Zugzwang so perfectly sums up what authors do to their characters, and that is particularly true of today’s two novels for young adults.

Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien

Sixteen-year-old Ann Burden (prophetic name, anyone?) believes she is the lone survivor of a nuclear war. Everyone she knows and loves is dead. She has created a life for herself in a valley and has lived there for a year. But one day she sees a campfire and realizes she is not alone. What if this other person is not to be trusted? This Edgar Award winner is about isolation and hard choices. You may know O’Brien’s work from his children’s novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, a beautiful Newbery Medal novel about kindness and generosity.

Zac and Mia

Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts

Two teens meet on a leukemia cancer ward. One of them is optimistic and sunny–Zac. The other is angry and despairing–Mia. Together they challenge each other to face an unknown future. Some critics have compared Zac and Mia to The Fault in Our Stars, but the relationship between Zac and Mia is more friendship-based than romantic. Other readers even feel Zac and Mia are almost spin-off characters of Isaac and Monica from The Fault in Our Stars. It might be interesting to do a reading comparison of these two books.

From nuclear fall-out to life-threatening cancer, I’d say today’s authors have presented their characters with ordeals of zugzwang proportions.

Have you ever heard the word zugzwang before? Do you have a favorite character facing zugzwang?

Thank you, readers, for joining me on this A to Z journey! I hope you have enjoyed the ride and perhaps found a new book or two to try.

Y is for Yarn

Y is for Yarn.

We are almost finished with the A to Z Challenge! Remember, my theme is:

Novels for Young Adults.

Today’s two novels fall under the category yarn. I’m using definition 4 (not fibers for knitting or weaving). No, definition 4 is “a tale, especially a long story or adventure…”

Year of Wonders

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders chronicles the advance of bubonic plague in a small English village in the year 1666. The narrator is a young housemaid who demonstrates great courage and resolve in her efforts to help her community despite a growing body count and mounting secrets. Year of Wonders is a fine yarn (and Alex Award winner) that I particularly recommend for sophomores studying AP World or AP European History. This novel will put a face on a pivotal event in history.

Yu Yu Hakusho, Volume 1: Goodbye, Material World! (Yu Yu Hakusho, #1)

Yu Yu Hakusho by Yoshihiro Togashi

This is the first manga book on my list, but it features a ghost! Yusuke was a delinquent teen until one day when he saves a child’s life. The afterlife officials decide to give him a mission, so now he roams the world as a ghost performing good deeds. For young manga enthusiasts, Yu Yu Hakusho looks like quite a yarn!

Have you read either of these? What favorite book would you categorize as a yarn?

In case you’re dropping in for the first time, you’ve just entered the A to Z Challenge. Bloggers from all over the world write 26 posts in the month of April, one blog for each letter of the alphabet, six days a week with Sundays off. Anyone who blogs or likes to read blogs can join in. Click here to check it out! And be sure to visit other participating blogs and leave comments.

W is for Woe

W is for Woe.

It’s day 23 of

theĀ A to Z Challenge!

Otherwise known as the letter W Day for my theme

Novels for Young Adults.

Often teens face more than the usual woe. And for teens, that woe often comes in the form of family troubles. This is the case for both of our novels today.

We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This award winning novel generates both love and hate reviews. We Were Liars is narrated by Cadence Sinclair who comes from a broken family and seeks solace in her group of friends. Truth hiding behind lies is a theme of this novel. Cadence’s family is outwardly perfect–beautiful and rich–but Cadence turns that notion on its head. Because lies are a part of the novel, the reader is often not sure how much of what she says is true until the surprising end.

White Oleander

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

White Oleander is a book I love, a book I have given as a gift several times. When Astrid’s narcissistic mother is imprisoned for murder, teenaged Astrid begins a long descent into foster home hell. I really felt Astrid’s despair as well as her moments of happiness. Oprah chose this as one of her dinner book group picks. One of the guests was a foster parent who said reading White Oleander helped her to connect on a deeper level with the young people in her care. White Oleander is not a young adult book, but it is a book many young people will enjoy. The writing is lush and lyrical.

What do you think of teen narrators in woe? Do you have a favorite woeful character?

In case you’re dropping in for the first time, you’ve just entered the A to Z Challenge. Bloggers from all over the world write 26 posts in the month of April, one blog for each letter of the alphabet, six days a week with Sundays off. Anyone who blogs or likes to read blogs can join in. Click here to get started! And be sure to visit other participating blogs and leave comments.

V is for Vicissitudes

V is for Vicissitudes.

So, this will be brief. I’ve been at jury duty all day.

This will also be brief because there are very few novel titles, let alone young adult novel titles, that begin with the letter V. I found one:

The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin SuicidesĀ by Jeffrey Eugenides

 

I’ll admit I haven’t read this though I have read another of this author’s works–Middlesex, which I found quite interesting. True confessions: I’m a little creeped out by the concept of The Virgin Suicides–five daughters of one house all commit suicide within the span of one year. Some have said this novel is darkly comic. Another critic compared The Virgin Suicides to Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” as a sort of modern Gothic in which “a family decays from the inside out.” This particular reviewer recommended this novel to any lover of great literature.

There you have it. Whether you want your teen to read this novel is a matter for discussion. It would depend on that teen’s personality and mental makeup.

Have you read The Virgin Suicides? Then tell me, how can this novel be comic?

In case you’re dropping in for the first time, you’ve just entered the A to Z Challenge. Bloggers from all over the world write 26 posts in the month of April, one blog for each letter of the alphabet, six days a week with Sundays off. Anyone who blogs or likes to read blogs can join in. Click here to get started! And be sure to visit other participating blogs and leave comments.