Thursday, October 10, 2013

Books for YA Ginger: Social Acceptance & Issues

As an adult who reads a lot of YA, I am constantly coming across books that I wish I would have read as a teenager.  So I thought I'd begin a feature on my blog to showcase these books, and to explain why I think they would have been important for YA Ginger to have read.  I'm hoping this feature will inspire other teens to pick up a book, or if you're an adult maybe you know a teen who might need this book in their life.

What's This Book About?
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together. [goodreads]

Why Should YA Ginger Have Read It?
Social acceptance and the damage it has on teens.

While I was reading this book I couldn't help but think back to my high school days and wonder what happened to the kid in the cafeteria who always sat alone. Where are they now? Did they ever have a friend?  Being a teen is awkward, let's get that out there. You can be the most popular, put together person and still somewhere inside you feel that awkwardness of being a teen.  I wish YA Ginger had read this book because I know it would have caused me to seek out that loner in the cafeteria and befriend them.  Elise is THAT kid, and through this story the reader comes to realize what a beautiful person she is -- a character that so many looked over because they just never took the time to say Hi and see what she was all about.

So be that kid. Be that person. Say Hi to a stranger... you never know how it might impact their day.

What's This Book About?
Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn't have friends. She has, as she's often reminded, issues. Drea's mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on "a touch of Asperger's."

Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea's preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.

It's obvious that Drea can't hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she's found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them? [goodreads]

What Should YA Ginger Have Read It?
Look past the issue and see the person.

People are quick to label themselves and others by the "issues" they have. The one with cancer. The girl who cuts herself. The boy who is fat. They're all labels, and they should never define who we are. I wish YA Ginger had read this book because it's a true example of how someone with a syndrome, in Drea's case Asperger's, does not and should not be confined to only a certain degree. A person's potential is as endless as you want it to be.

Understand the issue, but do not let it define the person.

Have you read either of these books? Is there another YA that touches upon similar themes? Would you have found it valuable to read either of these books as a teen? Please share in the comments!


  1. This is such a great feature, Ginger! I think this will be helpful for a lot of teen readers. I know I could have used it when I was a teenager! I sometimes think back to my teen years wishing I read some books that could have helped me, because I struggled a lot in high school.

  2. I really like this feature! Unfortunately, when I was in high school, I didn't have a librarian that promoted YA. I loved to read, but I'd usually end up checking out/buying an adult fiction book, which I'd often end up not liking because I couldn't identify with the characters and their situations. So I think that it is GREAT that you're doing this feature. Anything that nudges a teen toward the YA section is a step in the right direction :)


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