I don’t wanna! Back to School Books for the Reluctant Teen

I'd rather be readingI say “reluctant teen,” but what I mean is, “teen who knows this is bullshit.” No, I don’t miss high school. But I’d love to go to a reunion of the library staff in my local branch, because I lived there during the summers.

Here’s a sample of books I’d like to put in teen-me’s back-to-school pack.


The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

Author Karen Finneyfrock is a good friend, so, yes, I may be biased. Set in my home state of  Pennsylvania, this book tugs many of my heartstrings: individualistic girl, her gay best friend, a humiliating secret. The only thing missing is mention of the candy kiss streetlamps in Hershey.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

This book is what I think the t.v. people call “riotously funny.” Maria Semple‘s tender story is of a family coming undone, and a send-up of my adult hometown Seattle’s quirks as only an outsider can see. I think this would be especially delightful for teens who have a few things to say the area’s elite nouveau riche snoots. And anyone with a website featuring dollhouse vignettes is aces.

Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself

I mean, Judy Blume. C’mon. I haven’t read this book in years, but I still remember the party line and sitting shiva for the pregnant teen. Ms. Blume’s characters were my surrogate sisters, and I learned a tremendous amount about seeing things from different points of view from reading her books. This is especially great if you’re really sick of moving to a new school.

No-No Boy

John Okada‘s book isn’t necessarily a YA title, but it’s a great book, and important for high school kids to read. I was in my mid-twenties when I first learned of the US Government’s incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII. A sad irony when you think about the simultaneous fight against Nazi Germany during that war. It was a huge miss in my American history growing up, but we can always educate ourselves when our school systems don’t.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened

Blogger Allie Brosh‘s paper-n-glue compendium is a treat of lovers of her blog. Ms. Brosh’s crude computer cartoons underscore the childlike naivete running through her stories, and she touches poignantly on dogs, orthodonture, cake, and depression. It’s a great book to read on the bus or while waiting for you mom to pick you up from band practice. buy

Bonus: get the Hyperbole and a Half 2015 Engagement Calendar for all your assignments!

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