Mopey whining youth fiction got you down? Searching for books that don’t require young readers to stock up on anti-depressants, Jay Greene found Peak by Roland Smith and Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
There’s enough mopey whining to appeal to those feelings among adolescents, but there’s also action, politics, self-sacrifice, and triumph. That is, they’re good stories.
In Peak the protagonist is a 14 year-old child of famous mountain-climbers who gets into trouble for climbing sky-scrappers. He’s rescued from juvenile detention by being sent-abroad with his absentee dad who plans to get the 14 year-old to be the youngest person to summit Everest. But the plan is complicated by an intrusive reporter, Tibetan politics, and oppressive Chinese army officials — not to mention the harsh conditions of climbing the world’s highest peak. Along with the adventurous story of mountain-climbing, the book contains a fair dose of Tibetan-Chinese politics, and a strained father-son relationship.
Among the Hidden is the first of a 7 book series about a future dystopia in which the government has forbidden anyone from having more than two children to prevent famine and other overuse of resources. The protagonist is a third-child who was secretly born and raised on a remote farm.
In England, authors won’t be able to give school talks unless they register on a data base intended to screen out pedophiles. They’ll have to pay a fee of about $100. Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass (excellent!), is leading the protest.