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Tag: rebecca stead

Put Your Trust in an Unreliable Narrator

photo attributed to Flickr user w00kie
photo attributed to Flickr user w00kie

Some of my favorite novels are those where the narrator is unreliable.  This is usually  due to an impaired mental state like schizophrenia or amnesia.  Whatever the case, unreliable narrators don’t usually present themselves right away, but when they do they seem to turn the novel you are reading upside down–and I love it when that happens!  Reading becomes exciting, because you realize that you don’t know where the story is going and you have to decide: are you going to risk it and put your trust in your narrator or are you going to be suspicious of him or her all the way to the last page?

There has been a bit of buzz about unreliable narrators recently.  Teen Librarian Toolbox recently posted about unreliable narrators, inspired by reading Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead.  Beth Revis posted a cool look at why she thinks unreliable narrators are so popular right now and why she chose to make her main character in Across the Universe unreliable.  Finally, check out this post on Stacked that talks about the mini-trend of amnesia fiction.  Generally if your main character has amnesia, there is something unreliable about them; they are missing some key parts of their memory that would definitely make the mystery easier to solve.

If you’re interested in taking a chance with an unreliable narrator, then check out the list of titles I compiled below.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you!


Time After Time: Time Travel

Ever feel like you don’t have enough time in the day? Or maybe like time is just slipping away from you? Well, maybe it is! After all, less than two weeks ago we had Leap Day–that magical “extra” day that comes but once every four years. And today people are going on and on about lost hours of sleep due to “springing ahead” for Daylight Saving Time. It’s kind of crazy when you think about how daylight really only has to due with the Earth’s rotation, but man and civilization can mess with time as much as they want. Of course, we can never really mess with it in the most fantastically imaginative way so many authors have dreamed of: time travel. I love the concept of time travel and have pretty much never met a time travel book I haven’t liked. So, in the spirit of this Leap Year and Daylight Savings, I present to you a few titles that explore time.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: This winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal is a wonderfully constructed novel. Sal and Miranda were friends; now they’re not. Then Miranda finds little notes that seem to come out of nowhere, but whoever is writing them knows and awful lot about her and things that haven’t yet happened. It all comes together in a beautiful story that relies on time to bring together all the pieces.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: Two teens turn on a computer and find their Facebook profiles. The thing is, it’s 1996, Facebook hasn’t been invented yet, and they are seeing their future selves. They also discover that little changes in their actions today affect the status updates and profiles of their adult selves. Asher (2008 Best Books for Young Adults honoree) and Mackler (a 2004 Printz honoree) tell the story in alternating chapters.