Hi everyone, there are times in the life of a tween when they’re faced with the unexpected fate of having to merge families. It could be following the divorce of parents and finding new partners or some other set of circumstances. The seven titles I found that filled this category can be found in the booklist below. Hope you enjoy them…
I must add at this point that I’m definitely not an expert in anything when it comes to handling the dynamics behind the thoughts that tweens can have at this time. All I know is that, through the books I’ve read, my understanding of what tweens can cope with increases ten-fold. They are resilient, courageous, and exceptionally smart. The list below shows families of all sizes, shapes, and colours. A bit like a rainbow really. Also to note, this list includes a few teen titles.
This list starts off with a title I enjoyed mostly because of the road trip aspect. Drive me crazy by Terra Elan McVoy tells the story of an unique summer road trip between two girls and their honeymooning grandparents!! Told from the two different voices of Lana and Cassie, this adorable middle grade fiction novel explores the loves, lives and dramas that involve growing up. Cassie’s addiction to her cell-phone, Lana’s sudden mood changes plus all the fun-loving adventures their grandparents get up to make this an enjoyable read!! Without giving too much away, I’d say I enjoyed the dynamics of their fledgeling relationship and how it blossomed, the girls’, that is!!! Great for all ages, this lovely story is filled with funny characters and an amazing travelogue to some amazing sites!!
My next is Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick. This is your typical blended family story. Our two main characters share first names and now will have to share a bit more. When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other – and maybe join forces to find new ways to define family. I love how this story is written in the distinct voices of the two Naomis and we see the story unfold from both points of view. Fresh and vibrant voices capture everything from heartache, guilt, anger, to eventually acceptance and somewhat of a friendship as their families combine.
This next one is a teen read based in Vancouver, Canada. We are all made of molecules by Susin Nielsen takes us into the life of teens Stewart and Ashley as their worlds collide when their parents move in together. They are complete opposites, yet they have one thing in common: they – like everyone else – are made of molecules. In this hilarious and deeply moving story, award-winning author Susin Nielsen has created two narrators who will steal your heart and make you laugh out loud. Told in the two distinct voices of academically-gifted Stewart and social-climber Ashley, this story takes us on a journey. Along the way the reader will meet their parents who despite their differences are trying very hard to accommodate the needs of two teenagers and be true to their own lives. It is essentially your typical mixed-family plus high-school drama story with a whole lot of hilarity, academia and teen angst.
The list of things that will not change by Rebecca Stead is also a teen read. When Bea’s dad and his wonderful partner, Jesse, decide to marry, it looks as if Bea’s biggest wish is coming true: she’s finally (finally!) going to have a sister. Though they’ve never met, Bea knows that she and Sonia will be perfect sisters. But as the wedding day approaches, Bea’s joy is clouded by a terrible secret she has kept hidden since last summer. This engaging and fascinating read tells about the different types of families and bonds we create in these families. Stead has taken a unique way of crafting the narrative of this read but you can’t help but be taken into the world of Bea and her new family.
My next choice reads quite a bit like a Hollywood movie!! Love you like a sister by Robin Palmer has a few hilarious elements with a group of not just two girls on either side, but a total of four!! Avery’s father is determined to make all the girls one happy family, so he and his fiance ask the girls to be the bridesmaids at their wedding. It’s one (hilarious) disaster after another as Avery tries to help with the wedding plans and get to know her future step sisters – who are all dealing with their own issues with the upcoming nuptials. This was a truly hilarious blended family story filled with some great characters and storyline!! You can’t but help laugh out loud at the antics Avery gets up to!!
Blended by Sharon Draper is another blended family story. This exceptional story from Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon Draper centres around mixed race eleven-year old Isabella, her African American father and white mother, and the family dynamics and relationships that she has to navigate her way through not to mention the school dramas that enfold. I like how each chapter is coded either a ‘Mom week’ or ‘Dad week’ highlighting the nature of custody for a child after divorce. A great story told of some pretty heavy topics that are plaguing America at the present moment. The ending chapters, although dramatic and traumatic for me, were some of the best bits of writing I’ve seen from Draper to date. Be prepared with tissues!!
My last story takes the reader to New Zealand. Whale Pot Bay by Des Hunt takes the reader to a remote part of the Wairarapa where our young hero Jake can surf and watch the whales feeding as they pass up and down the coast. It’s paradise – and that’s why international rock celebrity Milton Summer has built a private retreat next-door. So when Jake’s dad begins a relationship with a new partner, who moves in with her daughter, Stephanie, at the same time as a local photographer starts stalking Milton, Jake’s peaceful life erupts in violence and deceit. And when a whale and her calk get into trouble on the treacherous coast, the history of Whale Pot Bay seems to tragically doomed to repeat itself, unless Jake, Milton and Stephanie can survive the deadly tide. A steady mixture of family drama, friendship, mystery and conservation of both the natural and ancient landscape give this story it’s body!!
So there you have my seven titles on new families. I do know that there are so many more issues that young tweens have to deal with and I hope these stories can help understand a few of those and maybe become a starting point to discussing the others.
Stay safe and keep reading