Solanin is a young adult manga written by Inio Asano. First written in 2006, it has been reprinted last year with an additional epilogue. Solanin is a critically acclaimed manga that depicts the lives of twenty-something millennials living in Japan. The characters in the book have recently graduated from college and are attempting to find themselves and their place within Japanese society. The prescient ennui of fretting by the characters for their futures within Japanese society permeates this manga. The characters battle between what is expected of them by society and what they feel they should be doing with their lives. At first the protagonists feel the choice is binary; either they should grow up and get jobs or drop out and fulfill their passion for music. By the end of the manga we have observed the character’s growth through personal loss and see them triumph over the need to feel alive because they have recognized that their daily actions do have meaning. (Submitted by Shane)
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Written in 2007, 5 Centimeters Per Second by Makoto Shinkai, is a Manga novelization of an anime movie by the same name. The manga is illustrated by Seike Yukiko. The story is set in the early 1990’s when cellphones and email have not gained widespread use. This is an important plot device in this tale of unrequited love, missed meetings, and miscommunication.
The protagonist is Takaki Tono who falls in love with Akari Shinohara when they are still in elementary school. The story follows Takaki’s loss of contact with Akari due to it being a long distance relationship and his journey trying to restart their communication and relationship into adulthood. (Submitted by Shane)
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The Secret Path, written by Gordon Downie (from Tragically Hip) and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, devastated me, just reflecting on the tragic story of 12 year old Chanie Wenjack makes me want to cry. This book so beautifully and powerfully tells the story of his life and untimely death in October of 1966. And yet, it is books or art or the intricate dance of both, that heal and make us grateful that we allow ourselves to be tender, to feel, to cry, and to be real. To regret what was done in the past and be inspired to insure that the future is a better place for our children. My heart aches as I wish, with all of my being that I could travel through time and space, to help Chanie home: to be with his loved ones and to share Batman #189 with him in the summer of 1967.
The residential schools were a dark chapter in history, just like the concentration camps were a dark chapter in history, I am grateful for books that remind us of what I pray we as a world population moving beyond the mistakes of our past will never let happen again and inspire me for what we all can bring about in the next 150 years with respect, love and tears. (Submitted by Inti)
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I have loved the humour in Nanaimo based Susan Juby’s other young adult and adult novels, so I eagerly looked forward to reading her newest title, The Fashion Committee. The book did not disappoint. On the surface the plot line might sound like it’s a light or superficial story, as two teens are competing in the same fashion competition, to get a spot in a coveted art school. However, there is a depth to the writing and the characters that draws you into the many challenges each individual faces. This is excellent realistic fiction for teens or adults. References to local spots in BC are fun too. (Submitted by Kristen)
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This Young Adult novel sucked me in from the first line. A Master Cheesemaker who lives underground in a City called Caverna has discovered something eating his cheeses, but he can’t seem to trap it, until one day he spots its footprints in the remnants of a soft cheese – those of a 5 year old child. Once he discovers the child, he takes her under his wing and names her after one of his cheeses, Neverfell. Neverfell is an intriguing child who asks many questions, and grows up under his cheese tutelage. But he makes her wear a black mask whenever there is a chance that anyone could see her. When children are born in the caverns of Caverna, they are unable to learn facial expressions from their parents or nurses. Their faces are blank until they are taught a series of Faces by those watching them. Those who are poor learn very few expressions, those that are rich have more opportunities. Neverfell feels trapped but knows nothing different until a Master Facesmith visits their cave and things start unravelling. With a Master Kleptomancer stealing treasures from those in power and a Steward ruling the city who could be insane, how will Neverfell survive? (Submitted by Sharleen)
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This Dark Endeavour is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am always a bit skeptic about prequels that are written a century or more after the initial novel. Yet, this book is a pleasant surprise: it is believable (as if indeed it is the real pre-story to Frankenstein). This Dark Endeavour is like a triple-flavoured ice-cream. The novel literally has lots of layers: history, science, magic, love, integrity – just to name a few. All of these subjects are covered deeply enough to create a sense of realism, but not too deep to instill a sense of boredom. Kenneth Oppel does a marvelous job depicting 18th century Europe: I submerged into it head and toes! There is never a dull moment; the novel is always moving forward. There are three main characters: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein (twin brothers) and their cousin Elizabeth. The three of them grew up together and were happy playmates until they reached their adolescent years. Very soon, they learn too many things at once: love and friendship don’t always go together, jealousy knows no boundaries, passion and duty are often on the opposite ends of the spectrum, and there is never a good or smart way to outwit death… (Submitted by Mariya)
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Young Adult book, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli transports you to the fictitious town of Mica, Arizona. The narrator, Leo Borlock, attends high school and leads a very ordinary life just like all of his classmates. The normal lives of these students are shaken up when eccentric home school student, Stargirl Caraway, transfers and captivates the entire student body with her unusual antics. While at first the students are fascinated by her, they quickly turn on her when her peppy demeanour causes her to cheer for the school’s rival basketball team and she becomes a traitor. When the students start to shun her and anyone who is close with her, Leo is forced to decide on whether he will side with the students and once again live a normal life, or stand by Stargirl’s side and defend her non-conformity.
This is one of my favorite reads, especially in bad weather, because of the way Spinelli transports the reader into the hot Sonoran desert, where cacti grow tall and Stargirl spends her time exploring, meditating, and conversing with the wise paleontologist, Archie, and his dying cactus, Senor Saguaro. The characters are also a huge factor in my enjoyment of this novel because of their many layers and quirks. The theme of the book deals with the student body’s herd mentality and their reaction to someone who is different, which is always a relevant and relatable topic. This is a beautifully written story, packed full of desert imagery and meaningful life lessons, perfect for any age. (Submitted by DC)
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Book (in French)
New York Times Bestseller, Parents Choice Gold Award Winner, ALA Top Ten Best Books Award winner, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year
Sequel – Love, Stargirl