Sick Of Young Adult Lit? 3 Books For The Whiz Kid

Sep 7, 2011
Originally published on October 4, 2011 9:14 am

If there's anything the writers I know share besides an unhealthy relationship to caffeine, it's a childhood spent immersed in books. All my young adult favorites look more like accordions than novels, because they've been dropped into the bathtub so many times.

They're also seared into my consciousness like few novels I've read since. I used to chalk that up to the impressionability of youth, until I started revisiting those stories and realizing how well they stand up as literature. The ones I continue to love now, a quarter-century after first mauling their spines, tend to confront complex social issues bravely, convey emotions with tremendous, empathetic clarity, and rest on compelling narrative voices. In other words — the very elements that draw me into novels today.

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A: Mansbach recently revisited some of his childhood favorites, and he found to his surprise, that they are still just as good as he remembers. Here he is for our series Three Books.

ADAM MANSBACH: For the Carnegie-esque Pittsburgh clan in "Father's Arcane Daughter" by E.L. Konigsburg, time stopped years ago when the family's eldest daughter was kidnapped. Now, a grown woman claiming to be the long-gone Caroline has returned. She's embraced by the family, even as doubts linger in the mind of her young half-brother Winston. Soon, it becomes clear that Caroline is there to unlock the cage of fear in which Winston and his younger sister have been forced to live. Atmospheric but never stuffy, this is a finely wrought mystery as well as a meditation on the truths we choose to live with and the truths we choose to live without.

SIEGEL: Returning to these three books reminds me of why I fell in love with reading. Pick one up and lose yourself in it. Why should kids have all the fun?

SIEGEL: Adam Mansbach is author of the book "Go the Blank to Sleep." For more on his reading recommendations, you can go to our website, Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.