Readers' Favorite

September 27, 2017

Screening the Young Teen's Reads

by Kathleen Barker

Choosing books for the budding teenage reader is like stepping gingerly through a minefield.  How can we tell when raw language and inappropriate sexual content will appear?  And what "clean" stories will lure the reluctant reader from relentless social media to discover the joys of literature?

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The Beginning of Everything
I've spent the last year on a reading rampage - a quest for the holy grail of YA novels to entice my granddaughter to read more.  It hasn't been easy to alternate between my own perusals to those that might lure this typical just-turning thirteen year old.

My latest "find" on her behalf is Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything.

Life was on target for popular athlete Ezra Faulkner as he finished his junior year in high school.  His coming senior year held such delicious promise for the guy who reigned supreme at the most popular kids' lunch table.  Then tragedy struck - a horrific car accident that left him in the hospital and rehab for the majority of the summer and ended his legendary tennis prowess.  Both physically and emotionally, Ezra limps through senior year.  He abandons and is abandoned by his school's "in" crowd.  Then he meets Cassidy Thorpe, a beautiful and strange girl who has just transferred from a boarding school to Eastwood High.

Ezra reconnects with his rather nerdy childhood friends, yet feels like he doesn't belong in their group either.  He struggles with his attraction for this oddly secretive girl, unable to understand her often inexplicable behavior.  It isn't until their relationship shatters that he learns that she too has experienced a personal disaster, the kind that either destroys or frees someone.  The central lesson for Ezra is that tragedy can allow him to choose a path that lets him live, not just exist.

Author Schneider's understanding of the teen psyche produces sharp, spot-on situations and conversations that are funny, acidic and bitingly real.

I enjoyed The Beginning of Everything and  hope my granddaughter will give it two thumbs up as well.

Buy The Beginning of Everything at Amazon

Kathleen Barker was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. A graduate of Blessed Sacrament, the Institute of Notre Dame and Towson University, she spent twenty years as the much-traveled wife of a Navy pilot and has three children. While working for a Fortune 500 insurance company in New Orleans, she wrote feature and human interest articles for their magazine and received the Field Reporter of the Year award. After Hurricane Katrina, she returned to her beloved state of Maryland where she started work on "The Charm City Chronicles". All four volumes, "Ednor Scardens", "The Body War", "The Hurting Year", and "On Gabriel's Wings" are available in Amazon's Kindle store.


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  1. My niece was a reluctant reader, but then she got hooked on the Gateway Chronicles by K.B. Hoyle and hasn't stopped reading since. In the course of a year she went from practically a non-reader to the top reader in her class.

  2. That's good to know. I'll try those! She has read all of Gae Polisners' books, but has discovered the agony of waiting for new works by a favorite author. She had NO IDEA how long it takes from the time an author picks up a pen until the work appears in print!

  3. Sounds like a wonderful clean read, love the sound of it. I like your analogy of a minefield in picking out goods books for teens, or suggesting ones. Thanks for this one!

  4. You are very welcome, Greg! I'll keep wading through and let you know of any additional gems that I find!