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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Vandal Love

This Canadian debut won Deni Y. Bechard the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for best first novel when it was published there in 2007. This year it finally makes its way to the United States, thanks to Milkweed Editions.

An extensive author interview is available online from The Adirondack Review, and you can give the novel a try on Scribd.

BÉCHARD, Deni Y. Vandal Love. 341p. Milkweed. 2012. pap. $16. ISBN 978-1-57131-091-0. LC 2001041008.

Vandal Love

Adult/High School–Like many mystical tales, this book tells the story of a family marked by a peculiar twist of genetics. All of the children are born as either large, healthy giants or tiny, sickly runts. Hervé Hervé, the current family patriarch, has raised his brood of 18 mixed runts and brutes in the mountainous wilderness of Quebec. Over the second half of the 20th century, the family dissolves as the grown children are killed in war or drift towards an easier life in les States. For each one, however, the journey is troubled by an awareness of their differentness, a need to know if they are the only one of their kind. This is complicated by the family tendency towards alcoholism, which leaves a trail of abandoned children spliced from their families. Teens will relate to the resultant quest for identity experienced by the youth of each generation. Béchard’s expressive prose easily lures readers into the successive stories. There is a sense of mystical destiny that evokes the novels of Alice Hoffman or Isabelle Allende. Characters find redemption with unlikely people in unusual settings, but never quite ease their loneliness until family bonds are reconnected. This is a good recommendation for readers who enjoy complex stories with dark undertones, such as Ursula Hegi’s Stones from the River (S & S, 1997).–Diane Colson, Palm Harbor Library, FL

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.