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Books We Loved as Teens

Recommendations from the BreakPoint Staff



For today's Teen Fiction Week feature, a few of us BreakPoint staffers would like to share some of the books that we (or our kids) read and enjoyed when we were teenagers, and ask you to share some recommendations of your own!

Bear in mind, again, that not every one of these books will be suitable for every teenager. You know your own kids best, and can discern which ones are appropriate for them.

Kim Moreland

At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald. A poor but happy boy is visited by the North Wind and taken on a journey. Through this fantasy, MacDonald helps readers to make sense of pain and suffering.

Smokescreen, by Dick Francis. The narrator is an actor, Edward Lincoln, who is kidnapped and left to die in a gruesome manner. Besides the physical discomfort, Francis also allows readers to see the mental suffering Lincoln endures. Francis’s stories usually include horses, villains, a hero, and a family. Francis’s mysteries never glorify the cruelty of man; the hero, while battered and bruised, always wins; and while sometimes broken, the family is cherished.

The Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, by Sigrid Undset. Set in medieval Norway, this trilogy is about a woman coming to terms with passion and betrayal, and finding happiness and grace through faith in Christ.

While We Still Live, by Helen MacInnes. Set in Poland during Nazi invasion, it tells of the terror of evil and the heroic acts of the underground resistance movement. The intrigue centers on a young English woman and her involvement with friends and her new love. I’d also recommend reading MacInness’s other novels, which are also centered on a fight against tyranny.

The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton. An exciting novel about a small town whose inhabitants are infected with a deadly extraterrestrial microbe. Medical and scientific experts scramble to kill the microbe before the military has to wipe out the town. I’d also recommend other books by Crichcton because through his novels, he warns about manipulating life through biotechnology without considering the consequences.

Coma, by Robin Cook. Set in a hospital, this is a chilling look at what happens when we start denying the sanctity of human life for gain. Some people who go in for minor surgical procedures aren’t waking up from anesthesia.

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. Claudius has had his brother killed so that he could take the throne and his wife. Prince Hamlet finds out about the adultery and murder and seeks revenge. It’s a tale about sin and its tragic consequences.

The Moon-Spinners, by Mary Stewart. This suspense novel also includes a touch of romance. Stewart writes vividly about the Greek isles, particularly Agios Georgios, in this story about a young woman who stumbles upon an attempted murder. Stewart told stories about ordinary people who would fight for what is right.

Bonnie Knapton

The Trixie Belden series, by Julie Campbell and Kathryn Kenny.
The Sugar Creek Gang series, by Paul Hutchens.

Stephen Reed

The Merlin Trilogy: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment, by Mary Stewart. Since then, so many other Arthurian works have been produced, but back in those days, only these and T.H. White's The Once and Future King (also good) were really prominent.

Mary Stewart's trilogy was particularly good because it didn't rely on a lot of bells and whistles or even hocus pocus to present the narrator, Merlin. Stewart did a lot of research into the original legends and came up with a Merlin who was not that much older than Arthur, more like an older brother than an aging sorcerer. This Merlin was more of a counselor to the king, who
used his wits to outfox Arthur's enemies.

As a result, the whole trilogy seemed more realistic, and Stewart's flow as a writer, her descriptions, and her command of a compelling plot made these books places you wanted to get back to right away.

Kay Spruill

I loved anything by Edgar Allan Poe.

Jason Bruce

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was a favorite.

Gina Dalfonzo

The Anne of Green Gables series, by L. M. Montgomery. Before I caught Dickens fever, these were my favorite books. Anne still holds a very special place in my heart.

A Tale of Two Cities/Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. And then I caught Dickens fever, thanks to these two books. (Now conveniently packaged in one volume! Or you can buy them separately here and here.)

An Old-Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott. As heroine Polly Milton learns to be true to herself and her convictions, she’s a great role model for girls who feel that they don't quite fit in with the crowd. I prefer this book to Alcott’s Little Women (though the latter is good in its own way).

Now it's your turn! Tell us about the books that you and/or your kids loved when you were teens.


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Comments:

Gail Carson Levine
The author of Ella Enchanted. The movie is completely different from the book, and, of course, the book is much better. I've only started reading Gail Carson Levine's books in the last three years, but I know I would have loved them when I was a teen; however, they weren't yet written when I was a teen. I now own most of her novels and all six of her princess tales to share with my daughter. These are great re-writings of classic fairy tales with some *very* different story twists from the originals. Her heroes and heroines endure trials, make mistakes, make good choices, experience character development and tend to live fairly happily ever after. Her young women aren't waiting for Prince Charming to rescue them, but certainly want to marry and live happily with Prince Charming. Strong families and fractured families are to be found with the emphasis on desiring well-matched unions leading to healthy, strong families.

One book, Ever, investigates more deeply the nature of mortality, immortality, the nature of the gods and of an unknown and intangible god who is definitely meant to evoke the God of the Old Testament in the minds of the readers. This god is believed to be vindictive by his worshipers. Whether this intangible god is real or imaginary is a question left unanswered at the end of the book.
Maybe I'm just older than most here, but I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Robert Heinlein's juveniles, for example, Tunnel in the Sky, The Rolling Stones, Rocketship Gallileo, etc.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, of course.

To Kill a Mockingbird.
Up Periscope by Rob White. Though now my favorite book of his is Silent Ship, Silent Sea.

Ice Falcon by Rita Ritchie

Horatio Hornblower series

and lots and lots of others
Jr. High Books
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane is a good classic from the perspective of a young person in battle.

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander is a jr. high age coming of age fantasy that encourages values such as honor, honesty, and hard work.
I second Sherri on anything by Shannon Hale.

And Scott on the Uglies series. Great action.

Nancy Drew IS one thing I remember reading as a young person, but I do think that the old Nancy Drew and especially Hardy Boys are different than the current ones; the old more focused on the mystery, the new more violent.

Adding: The Black Joke by Farley Mowat, a sea adventure set in Canadian waters.
Teen Reading
Where to begin? There are so many!

The Door Within trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson (Christian author)

The DragonKeeper Chronicles and The Vanishing Sculptor books by Donita K. Paul (Christian author)

anything by Edward Eager (non-Christian author)

anything by Shannon Hale (non-Christian author)

Redwall series by Brian Jacques (non-Christian author)

Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Christian author)

Nancy Drew by Caroline Keene (non-Christian author)

Hardy Boys by Franklin Dixon (non-Christian author)

These are some of the books enjoyed by various members at our house!
Scott and Ruth, thanks. We're looking specifically for novels, so the Harris books wouldn't qualify, Ruth. But thanks for the Peretti recommendation! I used to enjoy some of his books when I was a teen.
Nightmare Academy by Frank Peretti
Do Hard Things and Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris
The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Ender's Game and The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

After the First Death by Robert Cormier

Byzantium, Arthur, Merlin, The Paradise War, and The Silver Hand by Stephen Lawhead

Dune by Frank Herbert