What Would Jude Read?

I was sold on the television show The Fosters from the moment I saw the previews. A lesbian couple who has also adopted kids and is also a foster family? And their last name is Foster? Shut up and take my money.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to raise five teenagers, especially since each character on this show comes with a truck-load of drama and issues and trauma to boot. One thing is certain: living with five teens would never, ever be boring.

All that being said, Jude is my favorite character.  He’s in junior high, which is the age group I spent six years teaching, and he’s the youngest. In fact, there are several episodes where he doesn’t appear at all, and I find myself looking at my wife and saying, “Did they forget about Jude? Like, did they leave him at home or not pick him up from school or something? Where is that kid?”

Jude has had a rough past, but he is adopted now and has a supportive family that loves him. He’s also slowly coming to the realization that he is gay. With two moms, one would think things would be easy for Jude.  His family is fine with his orientation, but the father of his potential boyfriend most definitely is not. Jude is also quite definitely the youngest child in the family and often seems frustrated when others treat him like a child when he, like his siblings, is already a teenager.

With that in mind, here are the books I would offer to Jude if he was looking for something new to read:

eye of mindsThe Eye of Minds by James Dashner (2014 Teens’ Top Ten winner)

Jude’s love of gaming has already been demonstrated on several episodes. He might not be as much of a gamer as the main characters in James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds , but I think he’d still enjoy escaping into their world for a while.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Bill Konigsberg’s Openly Straight is about a character who is out and has a supportive family, but chooses to closet himself when he goes to an all-boys boarding school.  He is trying to see what it would be like not to constantly wave a rainbow flag, but he is finding it more difficult than he imagined. 

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

I think Jude would relate to Alek in Michael Barakiva’s One Man Guy. Alek meets a boy who is about as different from him as is possible, yet he finds himself falling for Ethan. This is an adorable story about a pair of boys who fall for each other and have to work out their cultural differences.

proxyProxy by Alex London (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Syd is an orphan who has been forced into indentured servitude because of his poverty. He is playing the whipping boy to the spoiled brat Knox, and is even sent to prison because Knox made a foolish decision and accidentally killed someone.  Syd is dealing with the unfairness of his life and manages to escape, only to discover that his fellow runaway is none other than Knox himself, his patron. I think Jude would relate to Syd and the rough things he’s had to deal with.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (2014 Teens’ Top Ten winner)

I really enjoyed the audio version of Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, and I would love to show Jude how to download the book onto his phone so he could listen to it. David watched as Steelheart, one of the epic supervillains who have taken over the planet, killed his father during a bank robbery. Since then, David has studied the Epics, and he has vowed that he will avenge his father’s death. I think Jude would be drawn to David’s loyalty to his family and would, again, understand how alone David feels at times.

Jude is a pretty quiet character, so it might be hard to judge what he’d want to read without spending more time with him. And knowing my propensity for recommending ALL THE BOOKS, I’d probably give him another two or three (or five or ten) books to choose from, and hopefully he’d find something good to read in the stack.

-Jenni Frencham, currently reading Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson