I read a lot. As in hundreds and hundreds of books a year. Many, yes, are picture books. But many are novels. 95% of these are middle grade and young adult novels. So, in some ways, I can say I “meet” a lot of young people. Some make me cry. Some leave me laughing. Some inspire. I have a myriad of emotions as I read about each of these young fictional lives: confusion, hope, worry, relief, upset, happiness . . .
These characters often stay with me. And because they do, I want to honour them here. These boys*, in the pages of the books where they live, impressed me in notable ways. I admire so many of them for their honesty, their growth, their vulnerability, their hard choices, their loyalty, their mistakes, their learning and their endurance.
In their own way, each is brave and real. Meeting them will enrich every reader.
Doug Swieteck in Okay for Now written by Gary D. Schmidt
Miguel in We Were Here written by Matt de la Peña
Nate Foster in Better Nate than Ever written by Tim Federle
Jack in Dead End in Norvelt written by Jack Gantos
Ben in Half Brother written by Kenneth Oppel
Travis in Blue Fish written by Pat Schmatz
Fadi in Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai
Matt in The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds
Moon in Alabama Moon written by Watt Key
Holling Hoodhood in The Wednesday Wars written by Gary D. Schmidt
Lucky Linderman in Everybody Sees the Ants written by A.S. King
Oscar in The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu
Moses in Crow written by Barbara Wright
Victor (a.k.a. “Little Man”) in Paperboy by Vince Vawter
Julian in Twerp written by Mark Goldblatt
Josh in Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles
Joey in Nest written by Esther Ehrlich
Ali in When I Was the Greatest written by Jason Reynolds
Albert in Fish in a Tree written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Albie in Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
Junior in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
Jack in Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Ryan Dean West in Winger written by Andrew Smith
Peter Stone in Wish Girl written by Nikki Loftin
Steven in Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie written by Jordan Sonnenblick
Which characters would make your list?
*Coming soon: In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out