The Youth Speak News team have put together a list of faith-based youth titles that we think young booklovers might enjoy for summer reading. Graphic by David Chen

YSN Reads: 2017 Summer Reading List (Part 1)

  • June 29, 2017

Summer is here which means the busyness of the school year is gone. It’s the perfect time to unplug from the real world and curl up with a good book. That’s why The Catholic Register and the Youth Speak News team have put together a list of faith-based youth titles that we think young book lovers might enjoy for summer reading. Check back next issue for more recommendations.

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Wreck My Life: Journeying from Broken to Bold by Mo Isom (Baker Books, 180 pages, $14.99)

By Mae Fernandes

High-level soccer, modelling, struggles with an eating disorder and family tragedy are all part of Mo Isom’s spiritual testimony. Although her story is definitely unique, there’s a lot about her that relates to any young person.

Even though her life has had some pretty extreme highs and lows, the book is, in the end, about a young woman growing up, leaving home and struggling in her faith.

Isom writes about her life as a pattern of outward success and inward brokenness. While she makes the U.S. women’s national soccer program and then gets into the glamorous life of modelling, she is struggling with an eating disorder. As she excels in the Louisiana State Tigers women’s soccer program, she is hiding the impact of her father’s suicide on her crumbling faith.

A dramatic car accident and a spiritual epiphany change her life forever. She is forced to confront a painful question: Why does God allow us to suffer?

The message of this young woman’s amazing story is that suffering is part of any meaningful, blessed life. It’s a hard answer to a painful question, but I believe that it’s a message that we, as youth, need to hear today. This book will challenge anyone who is starting to tackle the big questions of life.

(Fernandes, 17, is a Grade 12 homeschool student in Dundalk, Ont.)

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How I stayed Catholic at Harvard: 40 Tips for Faithful College Students by Aurora Griffin(Ignatius Press, 184 pages, $15.95)

By Vanessa Chan

Are you preparing to head off to university this fall? Already there and facing the challenges of a secular campus? Not sure where to even start?

Rhodes Scholar Aurora Griffin chronicles her journey of faith at Harvard University through a series of tips for students in university on how to “stay Catholic” — or, as she acknowledges — how to grow in your Catholic life while at university.

These are gathered into four sections: community, prayer, academics and living it out. Each section contains suggestions on things to do, places to go or people to seek, all of which can help a student towards a richer life united with Christ.

Griffin pulls no punches in laying out challenges she experienced throughout her student life, but she also writes with a positivity that inspires hope. She shares how her Catholic faith made her student experience all the more fulfilling.

The tips are practical, grounded in Church teaching and tradition, and Griffin’s frankness is refreshing.

As someone who has lived and continues to live the university student life, this book contains many things that resonate with my experience. Whether you’re entering first year or about to graduate, there’s a nugget of wisdom in this book for you.

(Chan, 25, is a second-year PhD student in psychology at University of Toronto.)

holy rule web

Holy Rule by Mary Frances Coady(Inanna Publications, 188 pages, $22.95)

By Alessia Loduca

Mary Frances Coady’s Holy Rule is not for the faint of heart.

Obsessive smoking, uncontrollable menstruation, incessant gossiping, grim images of death and pregnancy scares — after considering the title, these were definitely not the topics about which I expected to find in the book.

Despite the initial shock of the story’s contents, this work of fiction tackles many real life issues surrounding the difficulties of living a truly Catholic life.

Readers of all ages can empathize with characters who find themselves trapped between their perceived expectations of the Church and their individual values and desires.

As these characters struggle to achieve personal happiness while also pleasing God, they find themselves learning more about each other and their personal faiths.

One such character is the unreasonably strict Reverend Mother. Although seemingly uncomplicated in her harsh and authoritarian demeanour, the Reverend Mother proves to be anything but straightforward.

A didactic piece that effortlessly includes doctrine and interesting facts in its characters’ daily struggles, Holy Rule combines the mundane and the extraordinary in life in order to exhibit that very little in life, even in Catholic life, can be reduced to binary good and evil without communication, prayer and empathy.

(Loduca, 20, is a third-year education student with a major/minor in English and French at York University in Toronto.)

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Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt (Bethany House, 352 pages, $14.99)

By Elizabeth Chelmecki

Delilah: Treacherous Beauty is an historical retelling of the story of Delilah and Samson. Written by Angela Hunt, the story is told interchangeably from both Delilah and Samson’s perspective before they meet.

It is a very interesting take on the famous legend because the Bible tells little of their back story and why they acted the way they did.

The story begins when Delilah’s stepfather dies and she is forced to leave her home in order to escape the cruel abuse of her stepbrother. She ends up living with a widow and meeting the legendary Samson. They fall madly in love, but eventually Delilah has to choose between Samson or her dreams of revenge.

Hunt’s writing is very vivid and she is a great story teller. Although Delilah’s name is often associated with betrayal and sin, Hunt manages to give her a human quality and a story that explains the decisions she made.

The book has many fictional elements, but I think it stays true to the bones of the biblical story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys biblical or historical fiction. Although the story of Delilah and Samson is heavy, the author added many lighthearted moments, so the book is a great summer read, especially for teenagers that love an epic romance.

(Chelmecki, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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God's Smuggler (expanded edition) by Brothers Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill(Chosen, 288 pages, $14.99)

By Patrick Grant

God’s Smuggler, written by Brother Andrew and John and Elizabeth Sherrill, tells the story of Brother Andrew from early childhood to the present.

Andrew van der Bijl was born May 11, 1928 in Holland. The book begins with him in his early childhood. He explains what it was like when he saw the Nazis rolling into his town and how he felt the need to retaliate.

After World War II he joined the army and fought against the rebellion that would form Indonesia. During this time he wounded his ankle and began reading the Bible which led to his conversion to Christianity.

When he returned home he felt God calling him to live the life of a missionary, bringing the faith to the people behind the Iron Curtain. He did this by smuggling Bibles into communist countries and speaking at services letting the Christian people know they were not alone.

Brother Andrew is an incredible example of how we should live our lives.

Not all of us are necessarily called to be missionaries, but the faith in God that this man has, is one every Christian should strive for. He shows us that if we ask God we shall receive everything we need and that through Him, all things are possible.

(Grant, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Colonel Gray Sr. High School in Charlottetown, P.E.I.)

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