Graffiti, sex and bagels
A DRAMATICALLY graffiti-ed door is the cover image for Illegal, by Miriam
(Meadowside, £6.99). Behind it, we find Lindy, trapped in a dysfunctional family and a terrifying job watering plants on a cannabis farm. Lindy is soon “promoted” to more sinister duties but, if anyone can save her, it will be Karl. At school, he is considered a “retard”, because he doesn’t speak. But Karl has unexpected depths. And when he arrives on his motorbike, like Lindy, we are swept off our feet. Age 11 upwards. It has bagels — and sex. Sometimes in the same paragraph, noch. And
The Odyssey of Samuel Glass (David Paul, £14.99) is set in Muswell Hill and Hoop Lane, as well as in 19th-century Russia, with a rabbinical guide and the ghost of Anne Frank. If that’s not the recipe for a perfect Jewish coming-of-age novel, what is? (Yes, of course there is chicken soup as well.)
Samuel Glass is 17 and can hardly open his mouth without uttering a literary quotation, much like the polyglot hero of Jack Rosenthal’s Barmitzvah Boy and just as engaging. Unable to get over his father’s death, Samuel travels back in time to search for the meaning of life, as you do. For all ages, teen to grandparents.
Video-game fans will go berserk for BZRK, by Michael Grant (Egmont, £12.99). Noah and Sadie are recruited by the BZRK organisation to fight for humans’ right to retain their individuality. The war is fought with minuscule robots; the battlefield is the human body. These tiny technoterrorists are an ingenious take on real-life devices already used for some hospital procedures. Amid the gore, there is a little romance and many engaging quirks — for instance, BZRK members all adopt the names of famous insane people Noah becomes Keats; Sadie is Plath. Age 12 upwards. Look out too for Fear, the latest in Grant’s Gone series. The title and the eerie glow of the purple page-edges say it all.
In Strings Attached, by Judy Blundell (Scholastic, £7.99), Kit Corrigan longs for Broadway stardom, but first she must repay a favour to a mobster. Blundell’s prose is as soignée as the young women in her immaculate 1950s backdrop. Age 12 upwards.
Caressing communism: a Czech woman kisses a soldier from the liberating Russian army, Prague, May 5 1945