YSN Reads: 2017 Summer Reading List (Part 2)
The Catholic Register’s Youth Speak News is celebrating the warm weather with a list of faith-based youth titles that we think young book lovers might enjoy for summer reading. Check out what our youth writers are saying about the newest books in youth and young adult literature. Click here to read part one of YSN’s summer reading list.
Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg (Harper Collins, 320 pages, $21.99)
By Emily Barber
Foxlowe provides a surprisingly chilling insight into the dangers of blind devotion and the abuse of power.
Told from the perspective of an adult still stuck in the traumas of her childhood, the story follows a disturbing case of spiritualism gone wrong. A group of well-intentioned individuals in modern-day England, mistrustful of the rest of the world, create a “family” of their own. It’s a life with its own unique beliefs, rules and punishments, a life that superficially appears good and wholesome, admittedly a little unorthodox. But corruption spreads inside the family, turning member against member and making abuse, lies and ignorance commonplace.
The novel does not specifically mention Catholicism, yet there are many themes and lessons that pertain to living a moral life, even if most of them are what to avoid.
Many of the characters’ pitfalls are relatable difficulties faced by people today: jealousy, lust, the desire to dominate others, neglect and feelings of abandonment and loss.
While these pitfalls hopefully do not have the same consequences in our lives as they do in this novel, they serve as a reminder that giving into temptation and failing to think critically about the world around us is always dangerous and can lead us away from our good intentions.
(Barber, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)
Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl (Bethany House, 304 pages, $14.99)
By Teresa Quadros
Fatal Frost is the first instalment of the Defenders of Justice series. Nancy Mehl spins a suspenseful tale around characters in the world of U.S. Marshals, gang-bangers and drug cartels.
As the title indicates, the majority of the book takes place in the middle of a deathly chilly winter storm. Add in sinister chaos, a deadly pursuit of evil villains and a heart-stopping race against time, and readers are swept up into the horrors of spine-chilling suspense.
Excellent character development reveals the weakness and strength of both our heroine, Mercy Brennan, who is afraid of forming relationships after a traumatizing childhood, and of our hero, Mark St. Laurent, Mercy’s ex-boyfriend and fellow U.S. Marshal.
While corruption of white-collar workers and of low-life gang members create numerous fearful encounters, there is the golden promise of hope. Characters turn to their Christian faith and to developing a personal relationship with God in devastating moments of trouble.
Readers who enjoy suspense or mystery novels are in for a treat. The novel is descriptive and graphic. However, be warned, you will be left in breathless anticipation until the last page.
(Quadros, 17, is a Grade 11 student at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Secondary School in Brampton, Ont.)
Live Love Lead: Your Best is Yet to Come by Brian Houston (FaithWords Press, 272 pages, $15.99)
By Patrick Peori
Battle. Surrender. Trust. Despair. Glory. Tribulation. Pioneer.
These words all play important parts in Live Love Lead: Your Best is Yet to Come, the memoir written by Brian Houston, founder and Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church.
It recounts how a church that started in a warehouse of a small Australian town in the early 1980s became a world renowned Pentecostal movement. That mission has not come without its challenges. Houston emphasizes the importance of relying on the strength of God during every season of your life.
One of those most difficult moments came when he had to dismiss his father from the church because of child abuse. It was a time when the church was growing and all eyes were on Houston to keep composure.
He accounts that by the grace of God he was able to speak to his dad about this and forgive him, while bringing all his thoughts to his tender and loving heavenly Father. His earthly father may have failed him, but Houston was able to choose the path of love by his heavenly Father.
For any young person, this book is one of inspiration, hope and love. It is a great reminder that we all have a mission to fulfill in Christ based on our gifts and our talents. We just need to use them.
(Peori, 19, is a second-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ont.)
Purgatory Road by Samuel Parker (Revell, 304 pages, $14.99)
By Alister Vaz
One road. Three lives changed forever.
A married couple trying to rekindle the spark in their relationship are stranded in the middle of the desert because their car broke down. A runaway teenager is kidnapped by a man who plans to torture and kill her. These people all cross paths in the action-filled book, Purgatory Road.
Samuel Parker expertly crafts the perspectives of the different characters. He provides the reader with a clear sense of each person, including their flaws and weaknesses.
In their near-death experiences, each person had moments of regret as they realize the mistakes they made in their life. Parker does a great job highlighting character development and growth by showing how the characters’ emotions change as the story progresses.
Some aspects of the story are not clearly explained and are left for the reader to interpret. It complements the fast-paced suspense of the plot, making the book entertaining and also insightful.
Although there is no explicit reference to God or Christianity, there is a sense of spiritual warfare as each character attempts to achieve their motives.
While some moments in the book may be too violent for a younger audience, I would recommend this book to older teens and adults.
(Vaz, 19, is a first-year accounting and financial management student at University of Waterloo.)
Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith (Revell, 368 pages, $15.99)
By Breanna Azevedo
Taking place during biblical times, this book takes us on an adventure in the search for God, life’s meaning and answers to faith-driven questions.
The novel is set in two very different locations at a time where Israelites and Moabites were enemies.
In Bethlehem, we grow to know Boaz, his wife Adi, Naomi and her husband Elimelech, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.
When the story switches to Moab, we learn about Ruth, a woman finding herself disagreeing with her god and her culture’s ways. Facing a possible marriage to a man she despises, she is seeking an escape from the life that is in store for her. As we follow each character’s journey, we see the many obstacles and challenges that cross their path, putting their loyalty and trust in their faith to the ultimate test.
Although the novel takes place in a time when ways of life and laws of society were quite different from today, I found that many of these characters share the same struggles as today’s youth when it comes to faith.
One of them is how to view God’s actions as “good” in the face of tragedy and negativity, and pondering whether there is still a God that cares.
Smith tells a compelling story and captures the details of this historical time period. Throughout the novel, the readers are able to relate to the characters. I would recommend this novel to young adults.
(Azevedo, 18, is a Grade 12 student at Holy Name of Mary College School in Mississauga, Ont.)