YA supernatural fever

They’re everywhere! And I love it!

When I was a teen, like many teens today, I loved supernatural young adult fiction. The witches, vampires, werewolves and other creatures absolutely thrilled me. They still do. Unlike today’s teens, however, I didn’t have such fiction readily available. With the exception of a few classical favorites—like Lord of the Rings and A Wrinkle in Time—and a couple of contemporary amazing authors—like Christopher Pike and LJ Smith—there was a paucity of YA supernatural lit. YA lit was still good, but it wasn’t as wide-spread as read as it is today, and it sure as hell wasn’t the market it is today.

Today, you can find YA supernatural lit on every bookshelf. It dominates the teen sections of our libraries and I love it. The moment I’m done with a series, it’s time for another. I know I could switch to adult fantasy—and I do read those sometimes, especially since you can get more violent and more sexual in adult fantasy—but oftentimes the adult books are more boring than the YA ones. You’ll find a slower pace—not always a bad thing, of course—as well as pages and pages of descriptions about brocade gowns or swords or tapestries. Yeah, not what I’m looking for.

I’m looking for adventure! I want to be hooked, scared, surprised. Romance is good, but not necessary; I want a hero who has flaws but still kicks ass, and if she’s a female all the better. I want characters who are consistent but still grow, and if you can make me laugh, all the better, as well. YA authors must do this because despite popular belief, I think teens are the most challenging audience. Sure, sometimes they love crap, as many popular novels demonstrate, but they are also the hardest to hook, to please. If a teen doesn’t love your book, it’s going to be put down.

I’m not sure what caused this surge of fascination with the supernatural and the otherworldly; I think it’s always been there on the fringe, but not this insanely popular. Still, even if it’s because of said abysmal series, I’d like to issue a thanks because without it, I wouldn’t have so much to choose from. My shelf from the library is constantly full these days and I know I’ll never be able to read all of the books out there that I want to, which makes it that more thrilling to seek and find the best of the best.

Mirette on the High Wire

Enjoy the story of one “gallant, resourceful little girl.”

After reading the delightful story of Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McGully, the only word that comes to mind is enchanting. It was absolutely enchanting! Not only were the beautiful watercolors of the book mesmerizing; the story itself was so inspiring. Mirette is a young girl who lives in Paris 100 years ago. She helps her widowed mother run a boarding house, which is frequented by unique circus performers and other colorful people.

Mirette is a good helper to her mother, but she really loves to listen to the stories. One night, a quiet man who looks very sad comes to board at their home. Mirette sees him walk a tightrope and declares that she would love to learn the skill; however, he tells her no. Of course, this does not stop headstrong red-haired Mirette! She begins to practice secretly each day until she gets quite good at the skill, and when she shows the man how she has been practicing, he agrees to take her under his wing and teach her more.

When it is revealed that the man is actually the great Bellini who crossed over oceans and mountains on the high wire—sometimes shooting a cannon, or frying an egg, or stopping to drink champagne on the way—Mirette is amazed and wants to join his act. He refuses, and it is revealed that his sadness stems from his fear of doing such acts again.

Inspired by Mirette, however, the artist becomes brave enough to perform in front of a crowd again—until he panics and freezes! Minette then joins him and helps him regain his confidence—as well as a new protégé.

This was such an amazing story about a girl who conquered both her own fear as well as helped a man conquer his—who found a love of something extraordinary and wouldn’t let anything come between her and her dream. I love that she is the hero of the story, and that she is able to overcome every obstacle with her own determination. While it’s sort of a rags to riches story, it’s also simply one of a girl with a dream who knows she can do it, no matter what an expert even tells her. This is a theme we often encounter from stories about boys with their teachers but not with girls (except maybe Million Dollar Baby, which didn’t end very well), so that made it even more refreshing to read and enjoy.