It’s fair to say it: 2020 has been a long, hard year.
And as much as the #LoveOzYA team love discovering new local YA titles, there’s something to be said for that warm-and-fuzzy feeling that comes with opening up a cover and stepping back into a familiar story, well told.
With that in mind, we thought we’d share our 10 comfort re-read suggestions for the upcoming summer holidays, listed in no particular order.
These are the comfy-as-a-favourite-band-t-shirt stories we’ll be returning to this holiday season:
Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey
Late on a hot summer night in the tail-end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.
Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.
And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
Peeling the Onion – Wendy Orr
Jenny rushes in; stops and turns pale at the sight of my scaffolded neck. This isn’t what she expected to see – and for a moment Jenny, sunny, effervescent, ever-optimistic Jenny, stares at me and can’t speak.
‘They made a mistake – I broke my neck after all.’
Jenny begins to cry. And I think that maybe this is what best friends are for, not to be brave for you, but to tell you this is real, and it stinks.
Anna is used to being athletic, popular, ‘normal’. Now she feels the layers of her familiar self being peeled away; nothing is normal or easy. Can she pick up the pieces of her life? What part will Hayden and Luke play? And who, now, is Anna Duncan?
Obernewtyn – Isobelle Carmody
In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities that would see her sterilised or burned if discovered, it is also dangerous.
Sabriel . . . and the entire Old Kingdom series – Garth Nix
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories.
As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
Lost Property – James Moloney
I hoped Michael was all right. I’d bring him back, though, if I could find him. What could be more precious, what could be more valuable to my family than Michael? This was going to be so good. Roll on, bus, I cried in my head.
From the outside, Josh’s life looks pretty much perfect. He’s in a band, he has a gorgeous girlfriend and he does well at school. But Josh’s family has been slowly falling apart since his older brother disappeared two years before. Then Josh comes across a clue to Michael’s whereabouts in the Lost Property Office where he’s working for the holidays. Determined to put his family back together, and without a word to anyone, Josh too leaves Sydney in a desperate bid to bring his brother home.
After January – Nick Earls
This January is different. School is over for Alex Delaney and he’s waiting for his tertiary offer – only 17 days away. The waiting is killing him. He’s not expecting much from January. Bodysurfing, TV, but mainly waiting. So he’s not ready for the girl who cuts past him on a wave. Not at all prepared for her perfect balance on the board, the bare elegant muscles of her shoulders and back. Just a girl. Compelling green eyes, gold skin something graceful and elusive about her. January is about to change.
Aurora Rising . . . and the whole Aurora Cycle – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering
And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.
On The Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta
Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she’s lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that’s her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.
But Taylor has other things on her mind; a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road . . .
It Sounded Better In My Head – Nina Kenwood
When her parents announce their impending separation, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting or at least mildly upset. And now that Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, have fallen in love, she’s feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward.
Where does she fit in now? And what has happened to the version of her life that played out like a TV show—with just the right amount of banter, pining and meaningful looks?
Nothing is going according to plan.
But then an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even further.
A Pocketful of Eyes – Lili Wilkinson
Bee is in her element working in the taxidermy department at the Museum of Natural History, but her summer job turns out to be full of surprises:
A dead body in the Red Rotunda. A mysterious Museum benefactor. A large stuffed tiger in the Catacombs. A handsome boy with a fascination for unusual animal mating habits.
And a pocketful of glass eyes.
Can Bee sift through the clues to discover whether her mentor really took their own life, or is there a murderer in their midst?