Marshmallows in the Library: Books for Veronica Mars and Friends*
*At least, they used to be friends.
Funded by an unprecedented Kickstarter campaign, the Veronica Mars movie, which opens in theaters today, continues the adventures of Veronica Mars, girl detective, and her circle of friends and enemies (who are sometimes one and the same.) The television show (which lasted three seasons) was originally imagined as a novel– not surprising since series creator Rob Thomas is the author of, among other things, Rats Saw God (it’s not just a VM episode, it’s a classic!) In addition to the movie, a two book series was announced last summer, beginning with The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham, which comes out at the end of March.
The Veronica Mars movie picks up ten years after the end of the original series. Veronica, Logan, Wallace, Mac, and the rest of the gang are headed to Neptune High for their high school reunion, and since it’s a day that ends in “y” that means Logan’s in trouble, Veronica’s conflicted, and fans might finally get to find out what happened next. In honor of this completely auspicious occasion I decided to share a fantasy with you. (I’m not the only one who does this, right?)
Here’s the scene: Amber light streams through sunburst windows of stained glass, softening the edges of the large desk, the book shelves, the arm chairs. Everything glows with that too-bright light that signifies a flashback, dream, or hallucination (and I’m not telling which one this is) but the librarian sitting at the desk is somehow shadowed. (You don’t know this, but that librarian is me, and I have a secret–it’s Neptune, after all.)
The scene changes. Close up on the librarian, a look of…terror? concern? joy? on her face. She folds a piece of paper into a small rectangle and slips it into the book she’s reading behind the reader’s advisory desk. Someone approaches, momentarily blocking the light from the high windows. The music asks a question (but you aren’t sure what it is) and then– a montage. One Neptune High student after another approaches the desk, has a short conversation, then walks away, book in hand. Inevitably these clandestine visits overlap and the day comes when the music swells, the surf crashes, and the whole lot of them collide on the broad front steps, a mass of excuses and averted eyes that eventually turns into confessions, acceptance, and a rousing book discussion. Or possibly someone dies and/or gets arrested and/or tragically breaks off an epic romance.
It could happen. Right now, in fact, as I write this before the Veronica Mars movie opens in theaters, anything could happen.
But back to my fantasy.
As the librarian at the Neptune library I’ve been recommending books to the teens of Neptune for years. I’ll share a few with you, and give you a head’s up on what I’m passing on when the gang comes back to visit me during reunion weekend.
Despite the rather disparaging comments she made about her library job at Hearst College, Veronica Mars actually loved the library in Neptune. She didn’t have a lot of time to read between school, working for her dad, and her job at Java the Hut, but she managed to squeeze in a couple of books here and there. Melina Marchetta’s Printz Award winning title, Jellicoe Road, was the first book we bonded over. I didn’t even know her mom was missing when I gave it to her, and I certainly didn’t realize how much she’d connect with Taylor and Jonah’s story. I knew she’d like Printz Honor book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart and she did. Veronica and Frankie have a lot in common.
I’m really looking forward to seeing Veronica again and I can’t wait to hand her Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs
Logan Echolls. He’s more of a reader than you might think. I gave him the first volume of Brian K. Vaughn’s Runaways, thinking he’d appreciate the witty teen heroes; who knew the whole “evil super villain parents” would end up hitting so close to home? Reality Boy by A.S. King was a successful recommendation from the most recent Best Fiction for Young Adults list and may have provided more than one “inspirational message of the day.” And while I can’t take credit for his Harry Potter fixation, I did offer up Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys. I’m not sure whether he identified most with Gansey, Ronan, or Adam, to be honest, but he was certainly in a hurry for the sequel.
I’m giving him Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay next, because a story about damage and healing and second chances seems apropos right about now, and Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples since an epic love story–one that spans galaxies and takes place in the middle of a bloody war–I think that might be right up his alley.
Wallace Fennell was always an on-again-off-again reader, especially during basketball season, but he appreciated a good story when he was in the mood. Basketball books were an obvious option, and Matt de le Pena’s Ball Don’t Lie was a hit, but Wallace was always up for something a little different too. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, with it’s unique blend of fantasy and soccer, was a favorite, and the short stories of Walter Dean Myers (145th Street and What they Found: Love on 145th Street) gave him something to dip in and out of when he was short on time.
These days Wallace reads a lot of nonfiction, but I’m going to ask him to give The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie a try. I just have a feeling it’s a good match.
I gave Eli “Weevil” Navarro Perfect Chemistry by Simon Elkeles (a Popular Paperbacks pick) and Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by both gritty stories of love and friendship and adversity that he hid from the PCHers but admitted he loved once Veronica caught him reading. Anthony Horowitz’s Gatekeepers’ series, beginning with Raven’s Gate, was a bit of a wild card recommendation, but I think Weevil appreciated Matt’s struggles (with the law, with well-meaning and nefarious adults, and with the Old Ones) as well as his integrity and perseverance.
I’m not sure Eli would actually attend the reunion, given that he was escorted out of the graduation ceremony in handcuffs in the most heartbreaking scene ever, but he’s a steady patron these days so I see him all the time anyway. Right now he’s reading I Am the Messenger by Edwards Award winner Markus Zusak, and thinking about responsibility, action, and choosing to care.
“Mac” (otherwise known as Cindy Mackenzie) is clearly the natural reader of this group, as evidenced by the stacks and stacks of books in her room. She’s a regular at the library and gives me almost as many recommendations as I give her. We like a lot of the same books. Some of my really successful suggestions have been changeling stories (Brenna Yovanoff’s The Replacement and The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue) which, I think, helped her come to terms with being switched at birth, and Jennifer Brown’s Hate List, which she read during the summer between high school graduation and college.
Like Eli, I see Mac pretty often, so I don’t have a big reunion recommendation, but I recently scored a direct hit with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, an Alex Award winner that appealed to her love of technology and her latent fascination with the ’80s (go with me here) and a more serious hit with Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. She’s still working through what happened with Beaver. I mean Cassidy.
I’ve also done reader’s advisory for a lot of the other kids over the years. I worry about Dick, despite his cheerfully offensive exterior, and I’ve given him Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork, and A.S. King’s Everybody Sees the Ants in an attempt to broaden his horizons and give him something to think about. I’m not sure he read them, but when he comes in next I’ll be handing him a copy of Leonard Peacock. Maybe he and Mac can discuss it over coffee. (Ok, probably not.)
I remember Meg really connecting with Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s A Stir of Bones, the haunting and haunted story of a girl struggling to escape from her abusive father, and I think Jackie fell for Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread and Imani All Mine by Connie Rose Porter. Duncan appreciated the varied explorations of teen fatherhood offered by Angela Johnson’s Printz Award winning title, The First Part Last, and Nick Hornby’s Slam. I doubt he’s coming back for the reunion since I’m pretty sure he’s still a fugitive, but if he did I’d ask him if he’d read Nation, by Terry Pratchett. I think he’d relate to the way Mau creates a new life for himself after his entire society is wiped out, and he might enjoy reading about Mau’s island while lounging on the beach with Lilly.
I didn’t meet Piz until his first year of college but we bonded over our love of music and talk radio. Poor Piz (I assume he doesn’t get the girl in the end, right? RIGHT?) loved Rainbow Rowell’s Printz Honor book, Eleanor and Park (he’s a really good guy, just like Park), and Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot. When he comes in next time I’ll be giving him The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan–I think he’ll relate to it after Veronica and Logan reconnect.
I’m not going to tell you my secret. But don’t forget to check out the movie. It’s going to be epic.
–Julie Bartel, currently reading Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor