Today on the Book Talk I’ve got a couple of good titles for boys. A lot of the time I hear people insisting that boys don’t read as much as girls, to which I say, “No, you just have to give them the right books.” Here are two examples of exactly the kinds of books that boys can dive into.
IN DARKNESS by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury, Jan. 2012) Shorty is a child of the slums in Site Soleil, a Haitian city torn to pieces by gang wars and daily violence. A gunshot wound lands him in the hospital the day before the earthquake of 2010 obliterates the city, bringing the building down around him. His only solace in the pure blackness is a voice that speaks to him of courage, and visions of a different time. Shorty is a twin, which is sacred in Vodun. His sister was stolen from him during the gang wars and he is now considered a half-soul. Touissaint L’ouverture, the Haitian rebel who led a slave revolt two hundreds years ago was born a twin as well, but his other half died as a child. From the confines of his underground prison cell in France to the rubble of modern day Haiti, the two half souls converge for an ethereal conversation about the future of Haiti, and their own purposes in life.
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Simon & Schuster, Feb. 2012) Aristotle depends on the summers to help define himself in 1987 El Paso. The youngest child in a family of much older siblings, Ari is constantly reminded that he cannot become what his older brother is – a jailbird. The summer after his fifteenth birthday he meets Dante at the pool, who offers to teach him how to swim. Dante’s open and easy going manner immediately attracts Ari, who keep his own emotions as closed off as his father, a Vietnam war veteran. Dante’s love of everything spills over into animals, and he is nearly killed in the street while attempting to save an injured bird. The only reason he lives is because Ari shoves him out of the way, breaking both his legs in the process. Dante’s family goes to Chicago during the school year, following a job lead for his professor father. Though Ari is reluctant to open himself up in the letters they exchange, Dante has no problem confessing his sexuality, and his feelings for Ari. As the next summer approaches, along with the return of Dante and his family, Ari is left to question if he can continue being Dante’s friend, and if there was more than just friendship in his own feelings as well.