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8 excellent books reviewed by my OLDER teens

Kim Brush7 Comments
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My kids are readers.   Sometimes too much. 

8 Excellent Books Reviewed/recommended by older teens -

Really can you imagine having to take books away from kids to get them to do other things? 

Yeah well I do that at times.  Chores and school work has to happen sometime.

8 Excellent Books Reviewed/recommended by older teens -

My kids are growing up & I don't screen their books anymore

The books my girls have read in the past year deal with HEAVY topics and contain language and (gasp) sexual topics.  No more Little House on the Prairie or Nancy Drew here.

What is a momma to do?

I pray a lot. 

I pray that they are wise in their choices but I also talk with them occasionally about what they are reading.  I do NOT screen their books anymore unless I know the book is terrible.  In fact my oldest daughter screens her 13 year old brother's book choices.  I want them to "bump" in to the world in a safe environment while they are still under my roof. So we can discuss these topics.

Out of the wading pool into the deep end

So the following books are NOT mild "safe" no language, no sex, no HARD topics books for younger teen children.  These books have challenging and sometimes disturbing subject matter.

  • Parents, I advise you to read them yourselves if you are in doubt. 
  • Teens, (yes I have some teens read this blog), please, check with your parents before you pick up these books.  Make sure your parents are okay with you "bumping" into the world in this way.  You have been warned.

Reviews by an 17 year old

The Spy Princess by Sherwood Smith

This is a kids book that I randomly picked up, out of curiosity.  It is okay for younger teens to read.

Encountering Lady Lilah and her brother for the first time was an interesting and worthwhile time. In a land fraught with poverty and threats of revolution, Lilah escapes the palace and learns a secret about her brother.

Whenever the revolutionary war begins, they flee their uncle the king. She feels helpless in this grown up world of responsibility where kids are rarely allowed to help in any significant way.

Her urchin friends and Lilah become frustrated with their inability and, taking inspiration from a book of stories, decide to become spies and help the rebels. Some side plots slightly distracted me from the story, but they helped develop Lilah as a character.

I’m still not sure if this book is a single or part of a series, but the story was refreshing for me. A simpler, slightly lighter book than the other ones I’d been reading, it surprised me by still addressing some important decisions people have to make, like when to act and when to wait, whose advice to listen to and who not to trust, also encouraging others to be themselves and do what they’re meant to do. Overall, a good kids book.

WARNING**sexual content and language warning for the rest of these books**

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

This is a teen book about a high school girl who has schizophrenia.

Growing up seeing hallucinations makes it difficult for her to tell the difference between reality and her imagination. As she joins a new school, we watch her find new friends, try to be normal, and figure out if the annoying emo boy in her classes is actually the same guy who helped her attempt to set some lobsters free in a store when they were kids. 

Her confusion over fake vs real & other experiences showcase some of the most common struggles of teens as they transition into adulthood.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

This is a book about a world where abortion has been made illegal, and children between the ages of 13 and 18 can be ‘unwound’ if their guardians choose to do so is portrayed in this book.

We follow three primary characters as they, willingly or not, avoid being unwound and try to survive. This book shows teenagers’ journey from blindly following the things they have been taught while growing up to their making their own decisions and choosing for themselves what they stand for. It also gives a very mixed and slightly controversial view on abortion and how human life should be treated.

This is a teen book and is not appropriate for younger children.

Reviewed by a 19 year old who can't stand capital letters and LOVES to read

If you like her style, then you should check out her awesome blog at What Can I Say?

Sway, by Kat Spears

  • stereotypical guy-meets-girl, guy-can’t-have-girl-because-someone-else-wants-her, guys-life-drastically-changes, guy-ends-up-with-girl-despite-it-all-after-a-huge-fight story
  • but it’s a little more than a stereotype
  • boy is broken up from mom’s death. boy cannot play guitar any more. boy finds himself in selling drugs, petty jobs, and manipulating people. boy grows up because of the girl and figures out there’s more to life than drugs, money, and risks
  • girl is annoyingly perfect (but sarcastic, so I still like her) girl’s brother has a very cute friendship with boy
  • I guess this book is less of a romance and more of a story about a boy falling back in love with life--and himself
  • a little warm, a little funny, a little serious. recommended 16 years and up

Everybody Sees the Ants, by A.S. King

  • lucky linderman is not lucky. he is more like a punching bag. but a punching bag you hurt for.
  • his parents resemble a squid and a turtle. you can understand if he’s more than a little lost.
  • his brain is a little screwed up. just kidding. a lot screwed up. he finds more comfort in the Vietnam jungle, with his POW/MIA grandfather, than in the real life.
  • his mother drags him away from his life --being beat up, having no friends, being a joke to his dad--he finds out how to own himself. no more punching bag.
  • I love Lucky a lot. he keeps on going, even when his face was a giant scab and his only friend was his grandfather. I admire him for that.
  • recommended to mature 16+ year olds and up
  • there is a more extensive review of Everybody Sees the Ants on my blog


Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman

  • the story of a teenager with schizophrenia.
  • this book is a journey and a half
  • worlds collide more than you’d think
  • if you struggle with mental illness, this book will echo your thoughts in words you never thought you could find.
  • don’t give up on this book. it won’t give up on you.
  • recommended 13+ years.
  • I've never had a book speak to me so loudly as Challenger Deep did.

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby

  • weird things happen in Bone Gap, which is your typical small town on the surface. people leave all the time. so when Roza, the girl who mysteriously appeared one night, disappears just as fast as she appeared, no one thinks anything of it. except Finn, the pretty faced boy who hears voices in the corn and who is called “Moonface” or “Spaceman.” The problem is--no one believes him. Not even his brother.
  • recommended 16+ years
  • this book rivals Maggie Stiefvater’s works for weirdness. Finn is a strong, yet unreliable narrator. there are so many underlying stories threaded through the plot, and none of them are boring. very well written book.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness

  • you know indie kids? the cool ones, who always end up being the chosen ones. like the kids with purple hair in anime. you always know they’re going to be the main character.
  • this book isn’t about them. this book is about the ordinary people.
  • and some cats.
  • a lot of cats.
  • each kids has their own personal problems. Henna lost a family member, Jared’s gay, and Mel and Mike deal with their parents’ neglect in their individual harmful ways.
  • they also try to avoid glowing lights and zombie deer at all cost.
  • very important message that you’re not a failure because of your mental illness.
  • we live in a day and age where mental illness is ignored or romanticized. this book shows how damaging and trapping obsessive disorders (and eating disorders as well) can be.
  • recommended to 15+ years
  • I loved The Rest of Us Just Live Here so much I reviewed it on my blog

If you would like to see more reviews of books or have any feedback about how to handle letting your older teens "bump" into mature topics in books, I would love to hear what you have to say in the comments.

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