978-0-8129-7861-2Being a Teen, author Jane Fonda’s comprehensive guide to adolescent issues, was recently assigned to students taking the “Our Whole Lives” class at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Susquehanna Valley (Northumberland, PA).  Fonda’s new book, which covers topics from the body and sex to friendship, family and more, was universally praised by Unitarian Universalist’s students and teachers: “Being a Teen is a wonderful guide to yourself and to others, a pocket encyclopedia, a guide to the roller coaster of puberty. Jane Fonda answers questions that would be difficult to ask….”

Students were engaged by the book, including Henry, age 15, who wrote: “I was apprehensive at first because I thought it would be generic stuff that I already knew or have heard. After the first chapter I read, however, I found that I was learning a lot, and I ended up reading the whole book.” Another student, Emma, age 14, wrote: “The teenage years are a confusing time. Being a Teen is a clear guide with really good information.” (more…)

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I knew that my novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was making its way onto high school reading lists when curious emails began popping up in my inbox. They tended to go something like this:

“Um, you know, your book, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour—dude, it’s like m favorite novel of all time!! And I’m kinda wondering if you could, like, answer these twelve questions for me? (In my mind, I always hear this question coming from a nasally, voice-cracking, pre-pubescent 14-year-old boy wearing a Hot Topic hoodie with his ear buds in, listening to “Bring Me the Horizon”).

And just like that, I was suddenly someone’s homework. Right up there with Of Mice and Men, the Pythagorean Theorem, and building dioramas out of old shoe-boxes and craftpaper.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how my novel would be received.

So then I asked myself why so many students embrace books like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird—because they’re amazing novels? Sure. But moreover, these are books with young protagonists. They offer voices that are readily absorbed by the intrepid imaginations of young adults. (more…)