Social Issues and Satire (young adult fiction)

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Article in Young Adult Fiction category.

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

  • Mena has just started high school but instead of enjoying what she had looked forward to as the happiest time of her life, she finds herself completely isolated and on restriction for life it seems. From a conservative fundamentalist Christian family, her social world revolved completely around her church youth group, until she is kicked out of church for writing a letter apologizing to a gay high school boy, who attempted suicide during a campaign of harassment by Mena's church friends. Without meaning to, her letter implicates specific teens in the church, and lawsuits follow, including one aimed at her parents, who now barely speak to their daughter. When her science class begins a unit on evolution, Mena again finds herself on the wrong side of her old church and friends, as they mount a vocal campaign in the classroom against the teaching of evolution, and in favor of the theory of intelligent design. Her one bright spot is her new science partner, brainy, yet funnily attractive, science nerd Casey, though she has to lie to her parents and sneak around in order to work with him after school on their science project. Could she be falling in love? Somewhat belied by the chatty first person account, this book is actually a serious, informed look at the controversy over the teaching of evolution in our schools.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

  • Roy Eberhardt is new to South Florida, and so far, he's unimpressed. He hasn't made any friends and Dana Matherson, the school bus bully, is making matters worse. Roy finally finds something to interest him when he spots a barefooted boy running away from the school bus. Intrigued, Roy follows the boy. Roy learns that the boy, known only as Mullet Fingers, is trying to stop the construction of a pancake house to protect a family of burrowing owls. An environmental protest follows, complete with alligators, sparkly poisonous snakes, Rottweilers, a cranky construction boss, the police, a girl named Beatrice Leep, and the mysterious Mullet Fingers. It turns out that Roy finds more than enough excitement in new neighborhood. Now if only he can get involved without getting into trouble! Check out the movie based on the book!

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

  • Whenever anyone at Camp Talequa asks Margaret Rose Kane to participate in anything, she says, "I prefer not to." Since her parents are in Peru, the camp director has no choice but to call her uncles Alex and Morris to pick her up. Margaret is happy to spend the rest of her summer with them at their home: 19 Schuyler Place. In the backyard stand three towers built of scrap metal, glass and porcelain. The uncles have worked on the towers for forty five years and consider them a work of art. But now some of the neighbors are protesting the towers and ordering that they be removed. Outraged, Margaret sets out to save the towers. Along the way she learns about friendship, history, and fighting City Hall.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

  • Lina Mayfleet wants to be a messenger for the City of Ember. On Assignment Day she picks a job in the pipeworks. Lina is disappointed until Doon Harrow offers to trade with her. As Lina delivers messages around the city, she learns that all is not as well as the mayor would lead people to believe. The stores of food and supplies left long ago by the Builders are running out. Frequent blackouts make Ember’s citizens nervous and afraid of being in the dark forever. Doon is learning similar things in the Pipeworks. Much of the system, including the generator, is in disrepair and no one seems to have a permanent solution. When Lina discovers a long-lost tattered document, she believes it will lead her to a city she has often imagined. Can Lina and Doon fill in the blanks in the message and find a way to another place before Ember's lights go out forever?

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

  • Twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest. See, last Christmas Eve, huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens - called Boov - abducted her mom. The Boov also declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod. Gratuity's story involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a road trip in a hovercar to find Gratuity's mother (including a stop at the Happy Mouse Kingdom in Florida); and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion. Along the way Rex touches on colonization and imperialism, environmental issues and consumerism, and other touchy subjects - but that in no way detracts from the endearing and amusing story.