Recommended YA books, news & events for August
Get ready for a wonderful month of YA reading We’ve got a page-turning ethical thriller, teens magicking up the perfect boy, coming-of-age heartbreak, a WWII adventure, and true friendships to revel in.
Find our August picks for kids books here.
YA BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson
A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are in the same predicament. A series of tests begin - the passengers are asked to vote on outcomes, starting with the classic Trolley Problem. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom - she’s fighting for her life.
A new novel from acclaimed Australian author Lili Wilkinson is always exciting, and it’s great to see her continuing her foray into psychological thrillers after the apocalyptic After the Lights Go Out and religious cult novel The Boundless Sublime. Our reviewer Angela highly recommends Wilkinson’s latest, saying that it’s ‘action-packed but also delivers some real moral dilemmas about good and evil, asking the reader whether people can change their basic character.’ You can read our full review here.
FIVE YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
You Were Made for Me by Jenna Guillaume
Sixteen-year-old Kate has never been kissed - she’s waiting for the perfect boy. After some late-night shenanigans involving clay, science and a little bit of magic, Kate and her best friend Libby accidentally create dream boyfriend Guy, in the flesh. Handsome, devoted and very willing, Guy turns out to be quite the complication. Kate hides Guy at her neighbour Theo’s house, and tries to sort out her conflicting feelings towards the ‘perfect’ boy and her long-time crush, Declan.
Narrated by Kate and fact-checking Libby, this hilarious, thoughtful and very Australian romantic comedy is the second novel from journalist Jenna Guillaume (What I Like About Me). Our reviewer Kealy was charmed and impressed, saying: ‘While exploring topics like grief, body image, and sexuality, Guillaume’s voice is delightful, always funny, and authentic.’ You can read our full review here.
The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff
A British family of six and their friends spend each summer at the beach, returning to a familiar holiday house and pursuits. It’s different this year as they are joined by Kit and Hugo Godden, two very different American brothers, the sons of a somewhat-known actress. Hugo is sullen and silent; beautiful Kit enthralls everyone around him. The observant teen narrator is charmed also, but there are devastating consequences ahead for their family.
The Great Godden has been likened to I Capture the Castle and Bonjour Tristesse, and our reviewer Kim recommends it as the perfect escapist read: ‘a gorgeously written, stormy coming-of-age tale of first love and family.’ You can read our full review here.
Tribal Lores by Archimede Fusillo
First-generation Australian Frankie Rescio lives with his traditional Italian family in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, and still struggles with the death of his sister. When the Marsh family moves in next door, Frankie and Lochie Marsh form an unlikely friendship. Frankie, for his part, pushes against the traditions constraining him and experiences his first crush on Lachie’s sister, who is coping with an unexpected pregnancy and a disappointing partner.
Our reviewer Natalie greatly enjoyed this story of two boys learning from each other and appreciating the differences and similarities in their families, saying ‘this is a story about the values that shape us and the tribes we belong to.’ You can read our full review here.
The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein
Fans of Elizabeth Wein’s impeccable historical fiction will be delighted that she’s back with another WWII novel; a story that slots in chronologically between The Pearl Thief and Code Name Verity. It’s 1940 and three young people desperate to make a difference in the war are posted to a remote Scottish village. Louisa Adair, newly orphaned and shunned for her mixed English-Jamaican heritage, has come to look after an elderly lady. Jamie Beaufort-Stuart is a flight lieutenant whose squadron is posted to the airfield over winter. Ellen McEwan is a young Traveller woman volunteering as a military driver.
When a German pilot deposits the first Enigma machine to come into Allied possession at the local pub, these three young people will have to figure out who they can trust. Featuring a sprinkling of characters familiar from Wein’s previous novels, this promises to be a code-breaking WWII thriller with heart.
Loveless by Alice Oseman
Eighteen-year-old Georgia feels loveless - despite loving the trappings of romance in theory, she’s never been in a relationship, or even had a crush. After a disastrous summer, Georgia is determined to find love while far from home at her new university, with the help of her besties Pip and Jason, and her new roommate and ‘love expert’ Rooney. But maybe Georgia just doesn’t feel that way about guys. Or girls. Or anyone at all. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.
Oseman has written an authentic, warm and witty story about self acceptance, identity, and the many forms love can be felt and expressed.
WINNER OF THE READINGS YOUNG ADULT BOOK PRIZE
We were absolutely thrilled to recently announce Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller as the winner of the Readings Young Adult Book Prize for 2020. This is a terrifying and spooky thriller set in country Australia and against a backdrop of family relationships, small- town grudges and casual racism. It is a cracking read for ages 14 through to adult that will scare the pants off you and make you question your biases.
You can read all about Fuller’s win and the Readings Young Adult Book Prize here, and attend our online Melbourne Writers Festival event on Sunday 16 August 2020 at 2pm.
LAUNCHES, FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Join us online on Thursday 27 August as we celebrate author, parent and librarian Christie Nieman’s second book Where We Begin. This heart-racing young adult novel follows 17-year-old runaway Anna as she flees to her grandparents' land in the country in search of answers. Nieman will chat about the novel with writer and editor Miriam Sved. This is an online event and free to attend. Please book here.
We recommend you book early for the online launch of None Shall Sleep, the riveting new YA thriller from Ellie Marney. When two teenagers are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers for information on cold cases, it leads them on a hunt for a serial murderer. Join us on Monday 7 September for this free online event. Please book here.
Melbourne Writers Festival takes place on 7-16 August via a wonderful online program, MWF Digital. There are two events for teens, including our celebration of this year’s Readings Young Adult Book Prize winner. As always, there is also an excellent schools program (10-28 August) that could work in very well with schooling from home. Authors in the schools program include Zana Fraillon, Will Kostakis, Helena Fox and Rawah Arja.
Libraries are also running online programs at this time. Whitehorse-Manningham Libraries have a fantastic event coming up - YA Author Panel: Finding My Voice - with authors Rawah Arja and Jenna Guillaume, and blogger and inspirational speaker Sumaya Harare. Find the event details here.
Get ready for some bookish couch travel (if you can handle the time zone differences)! From 15-31 August you can attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival online for free, including the very extensive Baillie Gifford Children’s Program, which caters for ages 0-14 years. YA events include a session on retellings with Joseph Coelho, Juno Dawson & Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Writing Resistance with Nikita Gill & Nic Stone.