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  • Gary Seigel

Books to Get Lost In

It’s about a month away and the cover to my book will be uncovered soon. Reveal date — October 21.

In the meantime, I thought I’d recommend two coming-of-age novels that both fall into the YA genre and yet are crafted quite differently.


Young Adult Fiction refers to a story whose protagonist is between the ages of 15 and 19.The narrative voice generally reflects that of a teenager, and the themes include friendship, first love, family, identity and self-discovery. In Haskell Himself, we are inside Haskell’s head the whole time, experiencing the story through a somewhat confused and at times tortured teen, not so unlike Simon Spier in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.


This was Becky Albertalli’s debut novel and a real knockout about a sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay kid who has a love connection with a boy by email, but the only problem is that Simon has no idea who he's talking to. Simon must discover who that boy is— he goes by ‘Blue.’ And along the way, he tries to find himself.


It’s a fun, contemporary tale and very successful. Made into the movie, Love Simon, it’s sad and not surprising that Simon and Haskell face varying degrees of bullying, homophobia, self-doubt, and the fear of coming out —even though the two stories are set fifty years apart.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is also a coming-of-age. young adult novel by American author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Set in El Paso, Texas in 1987, the story follows two Mexican-American teenagers, Aristotle Ari Mendoza and Dante Quintana, their friendship, and their struggles with racial and ethnic identity, sexuality, and family relationships. And though this story of a deep and complex friendship is quite different from Haskell's narrative, both novels share something important in common. Our heroes learn how to reject the story others have written for them and attempt to live their own truth.


I recommend these two novels because Saenz and Albertalli create reading experiences where you'll feel lost in these two worlds as you get to know several great, fictional angst-ridden characters.

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