I like 14.
When I was small, I wanted to be fourteen. Not ten or eleven - those weren't quite the teens. Not thirteen for all that it was my favorite number; it was still too young. But fourteen seemed just right. I wrote stories with fourteen-year-old protagonists saving the world. My fourteen-year-old alter-ego met with heroes real and fictional and discovered her unknown super-powers, like never getting tired, or breathing underwater, or imagining the world's greatest inventions. My fourteen-year-old protagonist had a team of followers, or flyers, or worked alone, lived with her family or hid in a magical cabin in the mountains, wore black (always black) and nobody told her not to, and had a dog or cat or both. I loved 14.
Then I was 14. Then I was 15. Then 16. But fourteen was still my ideal age, and the age of all my protagonists. Maybe that's why my Hemlock stories have languished since Siobhan grew too old - or maybe I just ran out of time. Don't worry, my magical friends will have more adventures when we retire... or something.
Anyway, I also love reading about fourteen-year-olds. They're on the cusp of adult responsibility. They're still magical, still free. They're fun. And they don't really have to be fourteen - just somewhere near.
So here are some book reviews:
The Boy And The Sea By Alkahera isn't technically a middle-grade book, or a book about 14-year-olds. It's a deceptively simple picture book. But it's just as inviting for older readers, or adults, as for small children, with its image of life's ebb and flow, love's give and take, and spiritual complexity. Enjoy with some rich, elegant, complex four-star coffee.
Meeting of the Mustangs by Cathy Kennedy explores life through the eyes of a wild horse, and offers a truly intriguing view of animal emotions, the wild world and the tame. With scenes both scary and gentle, great scenery, and a lovely story arc, it's one to enjoy with some rich elegant four-star coffee.
The Three Worlds by Nara Duffie is the sequel to Nara Duffie's first middle-grade novel, The Monster Realm. It's a smooth-reading, fast-flowing tale of three girls from an everyday town suddenly thrust into a fantasy realm. But it cleverly avoids those clashing cliches about vampires and mermaids, creating something truly original, well-balanced between the Hobbit and Independence Day The Movie. Enjoy with some well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.
Making Manna by Eric Lotke is aimed at adults, slightly older or more mature teenage readers. It's a surprisingly hopeful coming of age story of a mother too young to be a mom, a child in serious poverty, and a young girl whose parents are prey to all the law's misdeeds. All of which sounds kind of downbeat, but Making Manna is incredibly upbeat, a cool, fast, thought-provoking read which keeps that seed of hope alive and watered from start to end. Highly recommended, and best enjoyed with some intense, well-flavored five-star coffee.