My Top 3 Picks from the Forest of Reading 2020 Teen Committee List

You’re probably familiar with the Forest of Reading by now. But did you know there’s a White Pine booklist just in time for summer? Unlike the school-year White Pine nominees, the Teen Committee List is curated by teens in Grades 9-12.

We have every book on the list in the collection! Search a title in our catalogue to place a hold for curbside pickup or find a digital copy on Hoopla or Overdrive/Libby.

While I’m definitely interested in all of the books on the list, I thought I would highlight the top 3 that I’m most excited to read.

3. Be My Love by Kit Pearson (Harper Trophy)

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For as long as she can remember, Maisie has spent her summers on Kingfisher Island. She and her beloved cousin Una run wild, and Maisie feels the warm embrace of her big, extended family. This summer Maisie needs that escape more than ever. But now everything on Kingfisher has changed: Una has returned from her mainland school a sophisticated young woman too mature for childish games, and even worse, she has an all-consuming infatuation with David Meyer, both an old friend and an older man. Soon Maisie finds herself playing second fiddle—jealous of Una and David’s closeness, and unsure of what those feelings mean. When Maisie’s greatest attempt to maintain the special magic of her friendship with Una goes up in smoke, it seems as though all is lost. But with an enormous revelation, and a heartrending intervention, Maisie may finally discover the strength she needs to find the same peace that the island has brought her within herself.

Why I’m excited to read it: Sometimes the reason for wanting to read a book is really simple. In this case, it’s the author! Kit Pearson wrote one of my all-time favourite books, Awake and Dreaming. I read it when I was in elementary school and it’s still on my bookshelf today. So a new book by Kit Pearson is cause for celebration!

2. My Story Starts Here: Voices of Young Offenders by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood Books)

My Story Starts Here: Voices of Young Offenders: Ellis, Deborah ...
Jamar found refuge in a gang after leaving an abusive home where his mother stole from him. Fred was arrested for assault with a weapon, public intoxication and attacking his mother while on drugs. Jeremy first went to court at age fourteen (“Court gives you the feeling that you can never make up for what you did, that you’re just bad forever”) but now wears a Native Rights hat to remind him of his strong Métis heritage. Kate, charged with petty theft and assault, finally found a counselor who treated her like a person for the first time. The kids in this book represent a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations and ethnicities. Every story is different, but there are common threads — loss of parenting, dislocation, poverty, truancy, addiction, discrimination. Most of all, this book leaves readers asking the most pressing questions of all. Does it make sense to put kids in jail? Can’t we do better? Have we forgotten that we were once teens ourselves, feeling powerless to change our lives, confused about who we were and what we wanted, and quick to make a dumb move without a thought for the consequences?

Why I’m excited to read it: So much of the conversation around young offenders seems to be led by adults or other people who have never been affected by the factors and environments that can lead to young people committing crimes. I’m very interested in hearing directly from young offenders in their own words. I think this book has the potential to broaden perspectives and force readers to confront their biases. I think it’s an important read for both teens and those who work with them.

1. This Place: 150 Years Retold by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, Chelsea Vowel; illustrated by Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, Jen Storm; colour by Scott A. Ford, Donovan Yaciuk (HighWater Press)

This Place: 150 Years Retold: Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri ...
Explore the last 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in the graphic novel anthology, This Place: 150 Years Retold. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

Why I’m excited to read it: I’ve never really been very interested in reading graphic novels, for reasons I’m not even sure of. Looking at the sheer number of volumes so many series are made up of, it was daunting and I didn’t know where to start. This Place: 150 Years Retold is an anthology, meaning it is made up of shorter stories that can be read individually one at a time.

Also, I need to read more content both about and created by Indigenous Peoples. June just finished, and it was National Indigenous History month. In looking through different suggested booklists, I realized just how little Indigenous Canadian content I’ve read! It was pretty embarrassing. Also, Canada Day was celebrated just last week. It seems like a very appropriate time to educate myself on Indigenous history in Canada and reflect on Canada’s past, current and future relationships with the Indigenous Peoples and their land.


So, those are my top three picks I want to read ASAP. Have a look at the full list and see which books interest you!