It is a particular joy to be able to lose oneself in a good book — to hear the characters’ distinct voices, relate to their stories, ride the emotional highs and lows with them, and have the pages turn voraciously with no sense of time passing. 

The lazy days of summer reading are now closed, but that doesn’t mean that the young adult readers in our lives are only left with textbooks to pore over. While school is the primary focus of the fall/winter season, it is still (hopefully) possible to sneak in a good dose of fiction in between studies and after-school activities. 

Three books, in particular, would make for a great teen and tween read this winter: Tremendous Things by Susin Nielsen, Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant, and Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe. Each story is compelling, uniquely told, and features a strong teenage voice at its heart. 

Tremendous Things

by Susin Nielsen

Wilbur Nuñez-Knopf is a beautiful high school misfit who, for the most part, the world walks all over. As a teen who is constantly bullied, disrespected at The Foot Long, where he works after school as a Submarine Sandwich Creation Expert, and generally invisible to the opposite sex (some of whom he pines to engage in acts requiring “enthusiastic consent”), Wilbur should be morose. 

But for our hero, a naive hope often springs eternal, bolstered by his supportive yet financially struggling mothers and an elderly next-door neighbour, Sal, a holocaust survivor, museum lover, and best friend to Wilbur. 

However, Wilbur’s fate changes when the school band is involved in a student exchange, bringing a worldly and charming young Parisian ukulele player, Charlotte Bourget, into his life. 

Falling head over sensible tennis shoes, Wilbur is catapulted through a quirky and heartwarming adolescent romance spanning Toronto and Paris.

Susin Nielsen creates a unique, vibrant, and vulnerable world for the underdog-romantic in all of us. Tremendous Things is a fun read that will have you rooting for true love and lasting friendships. 

Watch Susan’s Telling Tales presentation on demand

Tell Me When You Feel Something

by Vicki Grant

At the heart of this mystery story, told in two timelines (the recent past and the present), is Vivienne (Viv) Braithwaite, known publicly as a popular teen with much promise. 

However, when our story begins, Viv Braithwaite lies unconscious in the hospital after a presumed drug overdose at a house party. Additionally, a police investigation is now in full swing, and everyone in Viv’s world has become a person of interest in the mystery of this young woman’s presumed self-harm. 

Viv herself speaks to us from the past (weeks and then days leading up to the overdose). And the world, according to Viv, is a volatile and emotionally loaded rollercoaster: the mess of her parent’s divorce, the pressures of school, the throes of teenage love ending, and the shame of secret alcohol addiction. Her only refuge is the Standardized Patient (SP) Program at the teaching hospital, where she and her friends work after school. Ironically, Viv masks her own emotional life expertly well to inhabit the ailments of potential patients while forming strong bonds with her fellow SPs and the hospital’s doctors — possibly to a fault? 

In the story’s present timeline, only Davida Williamson, a shy late-bloomer in the SP program, is not convinced that Viv’s overdose was genuinely self-inflicted. Certain that there is more to Viv’s coma than is formally being investigated, Davida starts a quiet investigation of her own within the SP Program. As she discovers clues about Viv’s life in the days before her hospitalization, Davida begins to question if she ever really knew Viv, not to mention the other SPs and mentors within the program, all of which seem pretty nefarious. 

As the past and present timelines merge, our two heroines’ journeys become a thrill ride of exposed secrets, justice, and redemption. 

Tell Me When You Feel Something is the perfect novel for a reader who craves a page-turner, appreciates creativity in narrative styles, and enjoys bold female voices. 

Watch Vicki’s presentation on demand

Charming as a Verb

by Ben Philippe

Henri Haltiwanger, a first-generation Haitian American, has it all figured out, particularly when it comes to keeping up with the wealthy New York City Joneses and their privileged, ivy-league-bound children. As a less privileged senior student at FATE academy, Henri hungers for admission to Columbia University in hopes of becoming the pride of his family. Hustling to keep up with studies, extracurriculars, a full social life, and running his own dog walking company to help his parents with the bills, Henri is a tour-de-force of hard work, entrepreneurship, and of course, charm. 

That is until it comes to all things Corinne Troy, his wealthy, studious, but socially inept neighbour and classmate. When Corinne discovers that Henri is the only employee of the falsely advertised ‘robust’ dog walking company, she blackmails the charming teen into making her popular — an asset required for her own ivy league ambitions. 

Brought together through blackmail, the two teens develop an unlikely relationship bonded through mutual hustle, ambition, and a deep desire to be seen for their true selves. The difference, however, is their social status. While Corinne enjoys intense privilege, Henri fears his charm can only take him so far, and a risky move that threatens all he has worked for is required. 

Philippe’s storytelling is fast-paced, suspenseful, and with the palpable highs and lows of senior year. His characters are rich, funny, all uniquely penned, and speak with refreshing authenticity. 

Watch Ben’s presentation on demand

To keep the teens and tweens in your life engaged with fiction, they need stories that speak to them in their own voices and experiences — and hefty doses of creative storytelling certainly help as well. For those looking for stories that leap from the page and keep readers engaged chapter after chapter, I highly suggest picking up any of these titles for some great reading.

About the Author:

Shannon Currie is a freelance writer for hire who offers ghostwriting, copywriting, and content creation services. In addition, she works closely with entrepreneurs, developing content for their businesses such as blog posts, newsletters, and lead magnets.