The timing to recommend my girl a few books to read could not be more perfect – she has recently turned a teenager and her summer vacations are also on. So why was I waiting for her to turn a teenager before I recommend these books? Because going by the facts, during teenage years brain starts to think more logically and is capable of getting a better perspective on the things around it and what better way to broaden a teenager understanding and rationality than suggesting them devour some book to do the needful .
In past 2 years my daughter has lapped up all Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series, the Divergent trilogy, books by Roald Dahl and every girl’s favorite Nancy Drew mystery stories. And I let her be; anything which takes her mind off from the thick course material for some time and let her explore the fantasy world was OK with me. But now that she is done with the aforementioned books, I want that she reads some different-from-the-usuals during her vacations. Just to make sure she doesn’t get bored I have picked 3 books from different genres, all with different style and settings.
Pride and Prejudice:
It comes under the genre of British drama/romance set in early 19th century. The novel tells the story of Bennett family comprising of the father, the mother and five very different daughters. Even though the story is set in a different era but it is relevant even after 200 years. One can still encounter the story’s characters in today’s modern times; for example, Mrs. Bennet whose sole aim in life is to marry off her 5 daughters, Mr. Bennet, who finds this “aim” rather silly and is always supportive of his daughter Elizabeth and Caroline Bingley, who embodies the upper strata of society which thinks lowly of people who have ordinary social standing.
Although there is bevy of characters but one can say the novel is essentially the story about the second daughter, Elizabeth and her tumultuous relationship with one Mr. Darcy (which ends on a happy note). Being a romantic novel, the focus of the book is on their encounters and intelligent conversations which leaves the readers asking for more.
One can say that in this novel the main hero is the heroine who shows the strength of her mind and character in front of extra rich and dashing Mr. Darcy. Even a wealthy, pompous and a haughty person like Lady Catherine (she is one of the antagonist in the novel) could not intimidate her.
I want my daughter to read this novel as I want her to absorb all good qualities of Elizabeth and put them to a practical use in her life. After all, we all want that our girls too grow up into fine young women with a mind of their own and I certainly believe that one of the best ways to teach this trait is to offer them such books to read. But at the same time I don’t want my daughter to grow up into a judgmental person, a characteristics trait of Elizabeth, at least in first half of the novel, who holds prejudice against Mr. Darcy right from the first meeting. Elizabeth eventually sees the good side of Mr. Darcy and marries him, a fine example to show that first impressions are not always correct; another takeaway for the young readers.
Besides the main story there are sub-plots which keep the young reader enticed throughout. There is no use of vulgar, violent or sexual language; instead, the book is a heady mix of surprises, fun, intrigue, intelligence, wittiness and a super interesting plot.
To give you a brief overview, Alchemist is a story of a shepherd boy from Andalusia, a Spanish province who dreams of finding a treasure and embarks upon an adventurous journey to find it. In the course of his journey he faces a lot of hurdles but with each obstacle he learns a lesson; the most important being that when in doubt he should listen to his heart, which in fact, is the voice of God.
I want my daughter to read this motivational book written in a form of a fable, using the simplest language you can ever imagine.
A few takeaways for the youngsters from the book:
- When you want something, the entire universe conspires to help you achieve it (do you remember the hindi version of this dialogue from a famous Shahrukh‘s movie; it must be inspired from this book) But jokes apart, I keep quoting this saying to my kids to instill a positive mindset in them.
- This inspirational book uses many metaphors, allegory and similes, which is great for young readers to polish their grammar.
- God helps those who help themselves- the book has explained this saying beautifully.
- Don’t be afraid of obstacles. Fear them not because if you do, you won’t be able to start your journey to success.
- It’s ok to follow your heart at times. You never know this could become the true way to reach your destiny.
- Miracles do happen, all you need is belief. (You might wonder if the book makes one hyper-optimist; could be, but what’s wrong in that if it teaches your kid to be one).
- Always show excitement and enthusiasm to learn new things in life; it enriches your soul.
- True love never holds you back; instead it will always support and encourage you to chase your dreams.
- You can’t be a people-pleaser all the time. The real happiness can only be achieved if you do things what you love and not what the society demands.
The whole book is layered with quotable quotes which gets better and better as one turn the pages. I hope you agree with me when I say that it’s hard for parents to make their kids sit and talk about “life” and even when they want, sometimes fall short of words. That’s why I recommend you to gift this guide book to your daughter (or son); it can be a great keepsake for them which they can turn to whenever they require some inspiration.
Hot chocolate is thicker than blood
Now my search for something not dense and complicated; basically a light read ended up with this book. Since the book is a coming to an age story of a teenager, it made me all the more eager to buy it for my 13 year old. I too have two daughters and wanted a reading material which the elder one could relate to (at least in terms of sisterly-bond after the fights.)Moreover since the book is authored by an Indian writer, it gives a better viewpoint of the problems an Indian teenager faces.
The book has a character named Anu who thinks her life sucks as it is filled with so many problems; she has to manage her curly hair, at school she has to dissect cockroaches, sit through boring history lessons and her crushes never reciprocate. But the warm bond with her family, especially with her elder sister gives her utmost comfort. A visit by an aunt who discloses the truth that her sister is not her real sister, leaves Anu’s life topsy-turvy. How things get back to normal and how Anu deals with the situation forms the crux of the story.
A few takeaways:
- The novel beautifully depicts the pressure, anxiety, apprehensions of a teenager. Every teenage girl can instantly relate to one of protagonist
- Though the story revolves around some serious issues like teenager’s angst and predicaments, adoption, family secret, tension between siblings; all are tackled in a very tactful manner sprinkled with right amount of humor.
- It teaches kids to refrain from judging others until they know their side of the story.
- The book is humorous which makes it a perfect material for a light read.
- The relationship between the two sisters is beautiful depicted. Other than the sisterly-love the book touches upon various human relationships.
Since the book is a discerning study of the interplay between behavior, rebellion, relationship and social norms in middle-class homes, it’s a page turner from the first page. Highly recommended.