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Dr. FYA: What To Read With Your Kids On Vacation

Dr. FYA looks at some summer reading that both you and your teenage daughter can enjoy together.

Dr. FYA: What To Read With Your Kids On Vacation

Earlier this summer, I suggested some titles for tricking your less-than-eager youths into doing some summer reading. But what if your teen is already a reader, and you just want something semi-fluffy that you can all read together by the pool, regardless of age? One letter writer has such a quandary. 

Dear Dr. FYA,

My fifteen-year-old and her best friend are going with me to spend two weeks at a lake house. I've been busy building some infrastructure to keep them from complaining too much. I'd like to find a young adult book that is really interesting and not too hard to read...for all of us to read at the same time. They both came off a very intense year with AP history in ninth grade with lots and lots of reading. I'd like the book to be fun to talk about among us - more like talking about the plot and what will happen next, rather than about issues. A female protagonist would be perfect. They are both pretty wordly kids, with deep and old, soft souls inside.

First of all, I'm assuming y'all have already read The Hunger Games. Otherwise, go directly to the bookstore. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray is a fun read about teen beauty queen contestants who get stranded on an island following a plane crash, and the villains are Kim Jong Il and Sarah Palin. I don't really know how to give you a better plot description than that. The book is completely batshit insane. Pros: hilarious footnotes, pretty much every diversity checkbox ticked (but not in an obnoxious way), and strong feminist values. Good summer read. 

Spoiled by The Fug Girls, the two writers of Go Fug Yourself, is fun and fluffy. The story follows 16 year-old Molly Dix, whose mother has recently died, as she goes to live with her long lost father--Brick Berlin, the famous actor. Only, he already has another daughter, Brooke, who is none to pleased about sharing his attention. Pros: this is a perfect summer read kind of book--it's fairly trivial and light while still being well written. There's a sweet romance in the book, but the focus is definitely on the two girls' relationship. If you enjoy this, the sequel Messy came out at the beginning of summer and is also fun.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart features a girl in a hoity-toity New England boarding school struggling with her identity, particularly her internal conflict between wanting to be liked and respected by teenage boys and exercising her feminist values. She infiltrates an all-male secret society and things get quickly out of control. Pros: Perhaps a little more substantive than the other books on this list, and might make for more interesting discussion around feminism and peer expectations. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is about teenagers with terminal cancer. Cheerful, right? But very witty and poignant and people LOVE it. Pros: It's a very funny and hopeful book, but it is, at its core, also deeply sad. Beautifully written.

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr is an amaaaazing book about a fiftyish woman deciding to adopt a baby after losing her husband in a car accident. Her teenage daughter, Jill, is seriously displeased with her mom's selfish midlife crisis, and is even less pleased when the super weird teenage birth mother Mandy comes to live with them prior to the birth. This makes it sound like an issue book, but it's really not! Like The Fault in Our Stars, this is SO much more than an issue book. Plus, everyone should strive to be like Sara Zarr when they grow up. Pros: If I could recommend a book solely based on the inter-generational reading aspect you're going for here, I'd pick this book because of the relationship Jill has with her mom. 

And if none of these options speak to you, why not peruse this list of "required reading" reviews?

What books would you recommend for a mother-daughter (and friend!) trio to read together?