Several first novels stood out this year, many with appeal to young readers. Many of them have already been reviewed here: Girl in Translation, The Girl who Fell from the Sky, The House of Tomorrow, Matterhorn, The Outside Boy, and The Vanishing of Katharina Linden.
Let’s add one more. A paperback original, Finny is a coming-of-age novel concerned with family and romantic love.
Adult/High School–Finny is a spunky kid, a red-headed firebrand fond of shocking her mother and challenging her father. After a typically heated argument, the 14-year-old slips out the sliding glass doors of her house, determined to leave her family behind forever. Her escape route soon leads her to a part of the Maryland countryside that is unfamiliar. As she climbs a rickety fence, a board breaks and Finny falls…into the arms of a boy. It doesn’t take long for her to fall hopelessly in love with Earl Henkel, a gentle soul who lives in a nearby shack with his father, a virtuoso pianist suffering from narcolepsy. When Finny’s parents discover that she is sneaking off to spend time with Earl, they send her to a boarding school where she rooms with gorgeous yet manipulative Judith. The subsequent unfolding of Finny’s story continually returns to her love affair with Earl and her unlikely friendship with Judith. Kramon creates characters that are quirky and lovable, weaving their tales of love and betrayal through the keen perspective of irrepressible Finny. This is an excellent crossover book for teens. Finny and Earl spend much of the novel apart, so most of their romance is comprised of waiting and yearning–something that many teens can relate to easily. YAs who enjoy books by John Green, who also writes of quiet, steady love, or David Levithan, with his exaggerated yet deeply human characters, should love Finny’s smart, saucy, and affecting story.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL