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The Best in Young Adult Fiction in 2019, So Far . . .

PART OF THE Under Blue Skies ISSUE

‘Sometimes oor Sonny’s no the brightest. He’s lucky he’s got me tae keep him right. I tap my temple and Sonny does the same. It’s oor wee code tae let the other yin ken we’re on the same wavelength.’

Who says the adults should have all the reading fun on your holidays? Not us, and so we’ve gathered together a selection of the best YA titles to come from our favourite Scottish publishers this year. With action, laughs, heartache and adventure, there’s truly something for everyone here . . .

 

Sonny and Me by Ross Sayers (Cranachan Books)

With his latest novel that is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and a brilliant, heartwarming portrayal of teen friendship, Ross Sayers has been gaining plaudits far and wide for his second YA book.

Daughter and Sonny are two best friends just trying to get through fourth year at high school without too many detentions. But when their favourite teacher leaves unexpectedly, and no one will say why, the boys decide to start their own investigation. As they dig deeper into the staff at Battlefield High, they discover a dark secret which one person will kill to protect…

If you like whip-smart dialogue, and unforgettable characters, then get your hands on a copy of Sonny and Me as soon as you can!

 

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Ink Road)

Akemi Dawn Bowman is an author to watch with a gift for writing books that provoke every kind of emotion.

Rumi Seto loves to play music with her younger sister, Lea, but when Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii Rumi struggles to deal with those losses. With the help of the “boys next door”–a teenage surfer named Kai, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago, Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, and to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Aching, powerful, and unflinchingly honest, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible. You might want to get your tissues out for this one.

 

Sea Change by Sylvia Hehir (Stirling Books)

Sylvia Hehir’s first YA novel is the winner of the Pitlochry Quaich from the Scottish Association of Writers, and was shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award in 2017.

Struggling to look after his grieving mother, sixteen-year-old Alex wants nothing more than to leave school. He makes friends with the mysterious Chuck, a stranger hiding out in this remote part of the Scottish Highlands. Then Chuck turns up dead next to Alex’s fishing boat. Were Chuck’s paranoid stories about men hunting him actually true? And is Alex facing even greater danger?

Hold on to your hats with this one; there’s thrills and spills in Sea Change from start to finish.

 

One Shot by Tanya Landman (Barrington Stoke)

Inspired by the life of the infamous Wild West sharpshooter, Annie Oakley, Tanya Landmann takes us back to 19th century America with this enthralling historical novel.

After the death of her beloved father, Maggie and her family are thrown into a life of destitution. Maggie tries to provide for her family the way her father always had – with his hunting rifle and whatever animals the forest would provide. But when her mother is confronted with her “unladylike” behaviour, Maggie is thrown into a life of unthinkable cruelty and abuse. With no one to care for her and only the hope of escape, all Maggie can do is survive.

A powerful and deeply moving coming-of-age drama unlike any other, and a glimpse into a time and place that has been much mythologised.

 

Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen & Robert J Harris (Cranachan)

Staying with historical dramas, but with a setting closer to home, Jane Yolen and Robert J Harris bring to life a breathless chapter from Scottish history in this thrilling novel with an unforgettable young heroine.

When her father, Robert the Bruce, is crowned King of Scotland, Marjorie Bruce becomes a princess. But Edward Longshanks, the ruthless King of England, captures Marjorie and keeps her prisoner in a wooden cage in the centre of a town square, exposed to wind, rain, and the bullying taunts of the townspeople. Marjorie knows that despite her suffering and pain, she must stay strong: the future of Scotland depends on her…

 

Outcasts by Claire McFall (Kelpies Edge)

The million-selling Ferryman Trilogy comes to a brilliant, heart-stopping end with Outcasts, and fans can also take heart in knowing that a Hollywood movie deal has been secured too!

Tristan and Dylan have escaped death and conquered destiny. Finally, there is nothing to stop them from being together. But every action has a consequence, and their escape to the real world has caused an imbalance in the afterlife. It’s owed two souls — and it wants them back. When the world of the dead claims Dylan’s parents to restore the balance, Dylan and Tristan are offered a terrible bargain: stay together and condemn innocent souls to death, or return to the wasteland to take their place and face separation. Forever. With no place left for them in the world of the living or the dead, will Dylan and Tristan make a heartrending sacrifice?

 

 

Good Boy by Mal Peet (Barrington Stoke)

Powerful, unsettling and wholly original, if you’ve not already become a fan of Mal Peet, then you really must dig into your pockets for this one.

Sandie has been battling it since childhood: the hulking, snarling black dog of her nightmares. For years, her precious pet dog Rabbie has kept the monster at bay, but when he is no longer there to protect her, the black dog reappears to stalk Sandie in her sleep. . .

Illuminating the undeniable power of Mal Peet’s pared-back prose, Good Boy is an evocative examination of fear and anxiety that will leave you guessing long after its final page.

 

The Year After You by Nina de Pass (Ink Road)

If you’re a fan of stories with a boarding school setting, then you must pick this one up, as it offers that and more, giving us a story that packs a real emotional punch.

Up in the Alps, in a Swiss finishing school, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. Nobody at Hope Hall knows her past, and the tragic death of her best friend, Georgina, and she intends to keep it that way. Yet, as much as she keeps her distance, her new friends break down the walls she has so carefully built up – especially the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands how she feels better than anyone. But the closer Cara grows to Hector, she wonders, can she allow herself this second chance?

 

The Disconnect by Keren David (Barrington Stoke)

Hands up if you think you spend too much time on your mobile phone? If you agreed, then you might want to check out this novel from Keren David with its very topical and interesting premise . . .

Could you disconnect from your phone for six weeks? Six weeks without sharing photos, without group messages, without being kept in the social‑media loop? An eccentric entrepreneur has challenged Esther’s year group to do just that, and the winners will walk away with £1,000. For Esther, whose dad, sister and baby nephew live thousands of miles away in New York, the prize might be her only chance to afford flights for a visit … But can she really stay disconnected for long enough to win?

 

Black Snow Falling by LJ MacWhirter (Scotland Street Press)

If you’re a fan of fantasy writing, may we introduce the debut YA novel from LJ Macwhirter, a dark, medieval fairy tale that really pushes the boundaries of the imagination . . .

A girl with spirit is a threat and Ruth has secrets. An old book of heresy belonging to her long-absent father. A dream that haunts her. A love that she has to hide from the world. When she is robbed of all she holds true, her friends from Crowbury slide into terrible danger. Hope is as faint as a moonbow. Dare Ruth trust the shadowy one who could destroy them all?

Exploring themes of loss, hope and resilience Black Snow Falls is a novel full of enchantment, magic and adventure.

 

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