Wildscapes Workshop

No Ordinary Matter: Books for Teens

Analisa Falcon
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Books for teens

Analisa Falcon talks books that will be meaningful for teens, such as Benjamin Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Lauren James’ The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

As a woman over 30, I often find myself advising our volunteers that life gets much better after those awkward teenage years. They ask for examples, but it feels foreign to put words to experiences crucial to your own evolution. I can only say, “Trust me.”

Reading Benjamin Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I was surprised to find myself relating to Aristotle’s struggle to sort it all out and, mostly, his struggle to say it all out loud. His world is complicated by the ghosts who haunt him: his older brother in prison and his uncertain relationship with his only friend, Dante, a boy who never falters when he speaks. He captures this when he says, “[w]ords were different when they lived inside of you.”

Far more eloquent than my “trust me,” Aristotle sums up the gravity of being a teenager. The claustrophobic feeling of never understanding the world and feeling like it’s light years away.

Likewise, Lauren James’ The Loneliest Girl in the Universe shows that teenagers feel vulnerable no matter where they are in the galaxy. Set on a space shuttle set to inhabit a new Earth, Romy, alone and having never lived on Earth, must navigate not only space, but the space between her real self and the one she criticizes as well. Full of suspense, you’re reading to find out if Romy can finally accept herself and recognize that just like life on a space shuttle, life as a teenager is no ordinary matter.

Trust me, these books do more than bring us to a teen’s world. They remind us even though the universe can feel too big, it’s comforting to know that the space for possibilities to really know yourself is endless.

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