We Recommend: A Really Great Book, Please

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

Well, friends and foes—Ok, probably not foes, to be honest—we have a challenge. I mean, grownups (most of us) recommending books to non–grownups is already a challenge. But this one has more terrifying heights and dizzying abysses (?) than most: I fear there may be an inverse relationship between someone's need for a book and the ease with which we find the right one. But what are challenges for if not to be pushed against, and maybe even overcome? Forward! To the request!
My son is an 8th grade boy who likes fast paced but deep stories (not boring) and is struggling with feeling like he doesn't matter to any of his friends. He has loved over the years: Rick Riordan, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, all David Levithan. Loved The Martian and is currently reading Lovely Bones. Likes pathos and feelings but also action and adventure and a good story. Is currently loving the entire Marvel franchise.
This one hit me right in the feelings. It is oh-so-crappy to feel like you don't matter to your friends, on top of the various difficulties of being in 8th grade, and in the world at all (am I leaning maudlin? I fear so.). But having a book makes everything better, and having the right book is even better than that. 
The thing that occurred to me first, and hard, was Terry Pratchett. Funny! Smart! Fast! Silly! Heartfelt! But the question lingers: which one? I went to the expert, ie: Chestnut, for guidance. She says this:
And the excellent thing about this, is if it's a hit, there are more more more! 
In any case, there are probably other, perfect books out there waiting that we don't know anything about—books that would be perfect for this particular person. If you know of one, put it in the comments!

9 thoughts on “We Recommend: A Really Great Book, Please

  1. Oooh! Yes! And also, maybe, The Round House, by Louise Erdrich? And I apologize for my “wait, Native American fiction!” reflex, but The Round House is excellent and so much about the difficulties of friendship.


  2. I second Sherman Alexis. I wonder if The Raven Boys might be good. It’s a bit older-teen but seems like an extension of HP and all those.


  3. If he enjoyed THE MARTIAN, he might like INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer. I would also recommend CRAZY FOR THE STORM by Norman Ollestad (memoir about a boy who survived a plane crash, but so much more than that and so well-written). And maybe AN ASTRONAUT’S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH by Chris Hadfield.


  4. If he enjoyed the hard science aspect of The Martian, I recommend almost anything by Robert J. Sawyer. In particular, one of my favorite was Calculating God, where aliens arrive and don’t want to speak to a government leader, but to a paleontologist. They believe the various mass extinctions prove the existence of God. Tell that to the atheist paleontologist! All of Sawyer’s novels use hard science, meticulously researched, to provide gripping plots with good characters.
    If books that show characters learning self reliance in tough times are of interest, Mike Mullin’s Ashfall series is good (the Yellowstone megavolcano blows and nuclear winter sets in) or Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen (a true historical novel where a father and two sons claim land in the wilds of Ohio and the boys end up alone for the winter while their father returns east for the rest of the family).


  5. A Sawyer novel with a high school student as a main character is his WWW trilogy, in which a blind teenager, adept at surfing the web, accepts a brain implant to help her see. Instead she can see the internet and is surprised to realize that someone is looking back at her… somewhere on the internet is a developing consciousness. While the girl and this entity become friends, the government is less happy about this AI and is plotting how to take it down.


  6. Perhaps THE OUTSIDERS? My 7th grader just devoured it this week, and he has similar tastes to the young man in need.


  7. My son liked all of the books listed by the requestor. He also loved:
    Genuis by Leopold Gout
    Anything by Eion Coifer including the Artemis Fowl books
    Fish in a Tree
    The Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz.
    Hope that helps! Thanks for the other suggestions, I’ve put them on hold at the library for my son!


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