Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Girl in the Broken Mirror Blog Tour: Savita Kalhan's Top Ten YA Books That Deal With Sensitive Topics

I am so absolutely thrilled to have the wonderful Savita Kalhan here with us today!  Her newest book, The Girl in the Broken Mirror, is a powerful and moving book about such a difficult but important topic.  I am so very excited to be helping get the word out there about this wonderful book and I really hope you all go and grab a copy!  But first, let me just say thank you so much to Savita for including me in the tour and for putting together this amazing list of books!

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Hi Megan! Thank so you much for inviting me on your blog today. 
The Girl in the Broken Mirror came out on May 1st, and it’s SO exciting seeing it out there and seeing people reading it! Yes, it’s a tough subject matter, so keep a box of tissues handy, but it’s necessary that books about rape and sexual assault are there for teens and young adults, for them to know that they are not alone, and that there is help and light at the end of the darkness.
So here’s my list of books that deal with sensitive issues for teens and young adults.
All the books below have left an impression on me. Each of them tackles a difficult or sensitive subject in teen/YA literature, subjects that need to be written about and read, and discussed, voices that need to be heard. All these books deserve a place on a bookshelf in a school library and a bookshop.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Subject: racism/class. Angie Thomas was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to write this story of Starr who witnesses her friend Khalil being shot at point blank range by a police officer. Khalil had committed no crime. This is such an important book for the times we live in, well-written, hard-hitting. Brilliant.

Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell – terminal illness/suicide. Set in Kyoto in Japan, the story follows seventeen year old Sora, confined to a wheelchair at home with a terminal illness ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease – he has months left to live. It is a devastatingly moving story about loneliness, friendship, and death. This book had me in tears!

No Virgin and No Shame by Anne Cassidy – Subject: rape/trial. Anne Cassidy gives voice to her teen victim, Stacey Woods, raped by a privileged middle class white man who thinks he did no wrong, much in the way that my own book explores this issue from the Asian perspective. It is a powerful uncompromising book.

(Un)arranged Marriage by Bali Rai – Subject: arranged marriage/culture clash. This was Bali Rai’s debut novel and it was based on a personal experience. It is set partly in the UK and partly in an area in Punjab, and explores what it is to be a British Asian who is expected to conform to his parent’s wishes – even when it comes to who he should marry.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Subject: war. This subject of this book is a little known but devastating tragedy of the Second World War – the German ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, was sunk in port in early 1945 and it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Told from the perspective of four different characters from four different backgrounds, it follows them as they make their way across Europe to where refugee ships await. It’s a heart-breaking story.

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence – Subject: drugs. This is more than a gripping urban thriller. It is about sixteen year old Marlon who finds himself embroiled in a murder. The book explores themes of family and loyalty and the lengths Marlon feels he has to go to in order to protect those he loves.

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelsen – Subject: extreme disability. Fourteen year old Jemma is a clever, engaging teenager with extreme cerebral palsy – she cannot communicate at all and is reliant on others for everything. When her carer goes missing, Jemma knows who has taken her, but she cannot voice her suspicions, until a new trial technology is developed which might allow her to finally find her voice. This is such a unique book. You will love Jemma and be rooting for her all the way!

I am Thunder by Muhammad Khan – Subject: grooming/terrorism. Fifteen year old Muzna has what she calls #BrownGirlProblems – her parents want her to be a doctor and she wants to be writer. With super strict Pakistani and feeling stifled by them and the traditional community, she falls for a boy in her class and ends up embroiled in a terrorist cell. The book was inspired by the author’s shock at the news that three Muslim girls had left the UK to join the Islamic State.

Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill and Hidden by Miriam Halahmy – Subject: refugees. Looking at the Stars is set mainly in a refugee camp where Amina has ended up sheltering in after her family were forced to leave their home. Their life is grim, the conditions harsh, yet Amina finds a way to give some comfort to the kids of the camp with her story-telling. It’s a story of keeping hope alive. In Hidden, a refugee is washed ashore on Hayling Island and rescued by fourteen year old Alix and Samir. The book explores the issues of illegal immigration, refugees, bullying and xenophobia. It is due to be republished soon – and is being produced as a play, too.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten – psychiatric disorders/OCD. Adam has extreme OCD, a condition which makes every day things like opening a door difficult. He joins a counselling group, who meet in Room 13b, and finds that other kids struggle with similar problems and other conditions. He also falls in love for the first time. I loved this book – it’s sad, it’s funny, and very poignant.

Thanks so much for inviting me here today, Megan. I hope your readers look up all the books I’ve mentioned – they are all really great reads.

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Previous Stop on The Girl in the Broken Mirror Blog Tour: Tales of Yesterday
Next Stop on The Girl in the Broken Mirror Blog Tour: The Teen Librarian

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Wow, thank you so much for this list, Savita!  I have a few new books to add to my TBR now!
And, everyone, do check out Savita’s website, follow her on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and add The Girl in the Broken Mirror to your Goodreads TBR list ASAP!

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About Savita Kalhan:
I was born in my grandparent’s home in a small village in the north of India. The family home has been transformed into an amazing charity hospital, which is pretty cool. I moved with my parents from that small village in India to a small town in Buckinghamshire when I was 11 months old. No, I’ve never got used to the cold or the damp or the rain
I went to uni in Aberystwyth, where the winters were colder and the seas stormy, and got happily stuck there for a few years before heading to London and life as an impoverished batik artist, before taking the plunge and getting married in Manila. Then I headed off to the desert heat of the Middle East where I lived and taught English for several years, read like a demon, and started writing.
I’ve never stopped writing. I hope I never do.

Now, I’m in North London, with a view of the woods, a stone’s throw from my allotment where I fight a daily battle against the onslaught of an army of slugs and wrestle with plotlines, and the tennis club where I slug a few balls, and my writing shed at the bottom of the garden where I write.

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The Rest of the Blog Tour: