“A Good Book For Every Teen?”

Cover of "Monster"
Cover of Monster

When I was a tweenager, I won a copy of Monster by Walter Dean Myers as part of a summer reading program at my local public library. A year later I donated it to Goodwill. Unread.

Is this a good book for teens? Absolutely. It’s written in a uniquely captivating screenplay format, it has tense moments and tender moments, and in spite of the fact that most teens have never been on trail or to jail, the main character is deeply relatable. Like many other teen novels, this is a book about injustice, acceptance, innocence, creativity, and self identification. This is a great example of YA Lit.

Is this a good book for every teen? Using my 11 year-old self as an example – no way.

Of course I realize that no one book is “a good book for every teen.” Even Harry Potter has its exceptions (somehow). However, the experience of reading and enjoying the book I once rejected really brings the concept of timeliness to my attention. An 11 year-old girl whose first choices are Redwall and A Series of Unfortunate Events and Inkheart and Silverwing is not going to jump at the chance to read a vastly different type of book – even if it is free. A 11 year-old girl who realizes that she has the rest of her life to read whatever she wants (and who barely scratched the surface of her library’s teen fantasy collection) isn’t going to get excited about a courtroom drama. A 16 year-old who is fascinated by screenplays, and loves Suits and Orange Is The New Black? Probably. A tweenager who thinks he might want to be a lawyer when he grows up? Perfect. A 20-something MLIS student who is taking a YA Materials course and who considers fortune cookies a form of literature? Definitely.

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