Family History Reading for the Young Ones

Auckland Libraries' holiday reading programme for the kids, Dare to Explore, is on again over the Kiwi summer, and it’s a great opportunity to spread your reading wings and try something a little different – like books for young people.

There are some fabulous family history-themed novels around for teens, so what better place to start my reading than with an excellent YA (Young Adult) New Zealand story – Finding Isabella.

Stacey Harper is a fourteen-year old girl living in a small North Island town with her brothers and mother. Her father has recently taken off to be with his new girlfriend, and Stacey’s supposed boyfriend Zac has taken up with Stacey’s supposed friend Lisa. So when our heroine has to do a family history project for school over the holidays, and her mother suggests she take a look at the impossible-to-read diary of a great-great-grandmother, Isabella, Stacey begrudgingly starts researching but is soon - family historians, you know this well! – totally hooked, as she sets about uncovering a story of love and scandal and family and society in 19th century England and New Zealand.

What’s to love about this story? So much. Apart from the family history angle, there’s snappy dialogue, Stacey is an extremely relatable teen (a lot of relatable teen stuff going on there, and let’s face it, not just teen-relatable). It’s a totally Kiwi read, from the vernacular language to the settings, to the culture, to scenes like the one where she visits her demented gran who accuses her of stealing. And as for the family history, there’s so much the family historian will smile at, as Stacey learns about BDMs, looking people up on microfiche, to the horror at the cost of Isabella’s birth certificate.
Yes, this is a teen book but honestly? I loved it. So if you want something to read while you're trying not to get burnt in the sun, give it a go.

Here's a random excerpt, from Stacey’s point of view:

“There’s a major flaw in growing up and growing old amongst the generations, I decided. The generation gap is too big. When old people have still got all their marbles and want to talk about their lives, the young aren’t interested – they’ve got too much happening right now. Then, by the time young people are interested, the oldies are even older and their minds are unhinged. There should be a better system.”

Well said, Stacey Harper.

There are several copies within the Auckland Libraries' system, so check it out here.

Joanne - Central Research

This entry was posted on Thursday, 10 December 2015. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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