Comforting, thrilling, moving … novels for teenagers and young adults are perfect companions to escape during the Christmas holidays. Carried by international bestsellers and numerous cinematographic adaptations, this genre brings together stories for all literary appetites. In different registers, here are five novels to put at the foot of the tree.
A romantic comedy: “Brexit Romance”
Under his wacky attire, Brexit Romance is one of the most personal works of the talented Clémentine Beauvais, who considers herself “franglaise”. The 29-year-old novelist lives in the United Kingdom, where she is a researcher in education sciences. She had the idea to make the referendum against the European Union in June 2016 the subject of a romantic comedy for teenagers. Brexit Romance tells how Justine, an English student, decides to set up a company facilitating white marriages between French and British, a way of opposing the divorce between her country and the European Union. This illegal start-up will embark on his adventure Marguerite, 17-year-old French soloist, and Pierre, his young singing teacher. The author expresses, with great reinforcement of tasty dialogues and comical situations, the cultural differences between the two banks of the Channel.
Brexit Romance, Clémentine Beauvais, Sarbacane editions, 456 pages, 17 euros.
An adventure novel: “The Fox and the Crown”
At the end of the XIXe century. In an epic that leads from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to France, Yann Fastier tells the story of Ana, a young orphan with troubled origins first collected by a gang of street children and then adopted by a French naturalist. Ten years later, a young woman educated and free, she found herself in spite of herself caught in the heart of a conspiracy and quarrels of power that surpass her, but of which she alone holds the key.
Like soap operas and popular novels, Yann Fastier plays with codes and the language of the time to offer a modern and feminist story in a historical setting, where women are outstanding warriors and tacticians, and little people thrown to the power board. From this dense, but beautiful and easy-to-read prose, and from its removed episodes, is born a magnificent story of adventure.
The Fox and the Crown, by Yann Fastier, Tall Talents, 544 pages, 16 euros.
A bestseller: “The Grim Reaper”
Welcome to the era of postmortality, where humans, thanks to advances in medicine, are no longer doomed to death and can even rejuvenate at will. This is the starting point of Neal Shusterman's trilogy, of which the first two volumes have been published to date. In this series, society has been living globally in peace since 2042, when “The computing power has become infinite”. An overpowering computer cloud governs administratively and politically humans. Crime is at half-mast, but a problem remains: overcrowding, because of immortality. To overcome this, the human is now responsible for a single task, that of regulating its population. For this, reapers are designated to condemn some of their congeners. A task that requires them to show impartiality and common sense. But condemns them to live on the sidelines.
Neither cynical nor cajol, Neal Shusterman questions the human face to death but also his fears. It is by becoming apprentice reavers that his two young heroes, Rowan and Citra, will learn human greed, morality but also that the most difficult tasks can be conducted with justice.
Mower, “Volume II: Thunderhead” by Neal Shusterman, Robert Laffont editions, 576 pages, 19.50 euros.
A committed novel: “The Hate U Give”
“In my 12 year, my parents had two conversations with me. The first was on cabbages and roses […]. The second conversation was to explain to me what to do if a cop controlled me. It upset mom who told dad that I was too young for that. He replied that there is no age to be arrested or brought down. ” These few sentences released by the first chapter by Starr, the heroine, can summarize The Hate U Give.
This first novel by Angie Thomas, a thirty-something writer from Mississippi, is told from the point of view of a 16-year-old black woman witnessing the death of her best friend during a police check. Starr, already torn between his life in a gang-ridden poor neighborhood and his schooling in a suburban high school, will learn to raise his head and fight for justice to his friend shot dead while he was disarmed.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement [Les vies des Noirs comptent], which denounces in the United States police violence and systemic racism against blacks, the book was widely praised across the Atlantic and adapted on the big screen in the fall.
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, translated by Nathalie Bru, Nathan Editions, 496 pages, 17.95 euros.
A dystopia: “Elia, the soul-passer”
After having made her classes with romantic stories full of good humor, the pen of Marie Vareille took a darker turn with Elia, the soul setter. In this dystopia that should end in 2019, Elia, a well-born young woman, will have to flee to save her life after helping a young Nosoba, a member of the poor caste, worker, and without rights. By hiding among the underprivileged, she will face injustice, hunger and constant danger.
In “Cold Season”, the second volume, the 33-year-old French novelist chisels the political determination of her heroine who joins the armed forces to find her little sister. Difference, solidarity and iniquity are at the heart of this series, which, by the way, offers an example of a heroine who progresses through her own perseverance and is not built through a sentimental relationship with a man.
Elia, the soul setter, by Marie Vareille, Pocket Jeunesse editions, 416 pages, 16.90 euros.