Hi, and welcome to my first monthly round up of the AWW Young Adult books for 2019. I’ll be taking over from Nadia and am hopeful I can do this justice. I’m Ashleigh, The Book Muse, and in between my other challenges, reviewing, and work with Scholastic and a small press in Canberra, I will be writing these wrap up posts each month.
First of all, in January, we had only nine books reviewed, by seven reviewers, written by Jessica at Reading to the Hoofbeats, Jennifer Cameron-Smith and Nadia L. King, calzean, Brenda, Michelle Scott Tucker, and Bill Holloway.
Michelle Scott Tucker’s review of Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong series is a guest post on a website called Australian Legend. I’ve never read Mary Grant Bruce, but as Michelle points out, they are representative of a certain time and place in Australia’s history, and social and cultural landscape. She notes that the books champion mateship, the ANZACs, independence and hard work for women – but just as with beloved books, there are always things that in today’s world, we find unpalatable about them or the author. Of course, books written in a certain era will always reflect that era, and Michelle notes that the 1990s editions make note of the offensive content in a footnote, whereas recent reprints have been edited to remove controversial material. In this essay/review, Michelle notes that she has not looked at these editions to compare and is not sure how it might have affected the story. When considering how to make older texts accessible and palatable to a modern audience, perhaps this is something to consider, and whether or not changing the words can alter our perceptions of the world the book comes from.
The second book I want to highlight in this round-up was reviewed by Jennifer Cameron-Smith on Goodreads. She has reviewed one of my favourite books from last year, Vasilisa The Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington. Jennifer notes that these were stories she was unfamiliar with – perhaps like many readers, and this is what she enjoyed about it – the new stories and the retellings, accompanied by exquisite art created by the wonderful Lorena Carrington. I have to agree, having read this when it first came out, that Lorena’s illustrations enhance Kate’s words and stories, bringing these unknown characters to life for a new generation. Jennifer also reviewed Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend in January, another book I have enjoyed.
Jessica, at Reading to the Hoofbeats, read Utopia by L.J. Higgins. She is new to this challenge, and many Australian authors, so I decided to highlight her this month. In her review, she notes that this is the first in a series, for an author who is new to her, just as she is new to this challenge, and many Australian authors. She notes that this novel shows that family isn’t always who we are related to, and the importance of this and what she hopes to see happen across the series. I look forward to seeing what else Jessica reviews for us over the next months.
The Young Adult books this month were mainly focussed around classics, or fantasy/speculative fiction. As it is January, this might be accounted for people being on holiday, and will hopefully pick up next month, in particular with the release of the final book in the Medoran Chronicles, Vardaesia – this was the series that got me blogging seriously in 2015, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Until next month!
Welcome Ashleigh. Nice to have you on the team.
Thanks for this round-up. YA isn’t my particular area of interest but like Michelle I did read the Billabong Books in my youth. (My mother’s old copies. I think she read her mother’s friend’s copies!!)
Great roundup, interesting how they mostly crossed over to spec fiction, I only had 9 books reviewed in January too. When I checked Feb had 10, I’m hoping theirs some new ones to feature next month.
I too read the Billabong books (originals) and loved them. I never realised, until I was an adult that yes, there were some ‘unpalatable’ aspects of these books and I think I’m torn. I loved the way M Grant Bruce wrote, and I feel to change the wording may lose a bit of the feel that her writing created. But I also know (now) that, as a kid, soaking up those books like a sponge, that I was soaking up the ‘unpalatable’ bits too, and never realised that what I was reading wasn’t necessarily right.
I think a lot of older books have that issue – and as modern readers, we need to realise they are questionable but also, that we can learn from them – what not to do, rather than what to do.