Last summer, my eighth grade niece insisted I would LOVE a book she was required to read for her Language Arts class. The book was Unwind, by Neal Shusterman.
As it turns out, she was more than right. I did love it.
In fact, watching Shusterman talking about his inspiration for writing the book only made me more interested.
I have since gone on to read all the books in the series and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the final book (TODAY!). (Be warned: I may NOT get anything else done all week!)
(Link to interview with Neal Shusterman about the series.)
First, these books cover a topic that is critically important.
Dare I suggest these are some of the most insightful books I’ve ever read about our culture? I may have to hunt down and read everything Shusterman has ever written, but only after I’ve finished this series (which can’t happen until after I finish the last book).
There are topics going on right now that are taking over our politics, and I’ll bet I don’t even have to name them, do I? Imagine if abortion was illegal, but you could “unwind” your teenager between ages 13 and 17. Unwinding, according to these books, means that something like 99% of the body’s parts have to be used again, so the person is still technically (according to the people in favor of it) “living.”
Funny how there are a whole lotta teens who don’t WANT to be unwound, though.
By the third book, the discussion is, “Well, can’t we unwind criminals? And how about people who want extra money for their families?”
These books cover the topic of humanity in a way that, really, only fiction can. And they do it in a gripping, compelling way.
It’s not just a topic that’s important for YA readers.
Second, these books bear discussion.
And I can’t discuss them if I haven’t read them. I am SO GLAD that one of my niece’s teachers made Unwind, the first book in the series, required reading in her class. I would have loved to be there to hear the discussion…her and I have discussed it a few times as I’ve worked my way through the books.
I also can’t help but think what an important discussion this is for our teens to have.
I’ve heard it said that many young people are pro-life and against abortion in ways I just can’t comprehend, and I’m going to do the research to find those numbers. But even without that, they need to be having this discussion.
What is human life? What is dignity?
These are topics that are more important than the latest gadget, and we all know it. Yes, even the kids know it, though they might never admit it to you or me. 🙂 But when’s the last time you had that conversation without throwing your hands up in the air?
Third, these books make you think.
No matter what your stance is on life issues, you will be forced to look at things through another lens. Your brain will stretch.
And that, I think, is what our world needs more of. Especially now.
These difficult topics are rarely black and white. There are layers to everything, and what Shusterman does so expertly is craft a story that explores that…without seeming to do that at all.
What I most appreciate about these books is how Shusterman has hope woven in. Because there is hope.
I can’t help but wonder about Mr. Shusterman. I’ll admit: I did email him asking if I could interview him. His publicist told me to email some questions, which I did. What I would REALLY like is to talk to him on the phone, though, or to meet him in person. I’d like to have a cup of coffee and just talk about writing and let the conversation wend its way around. I get the feeling that Neal Shusterman is quite a guy.
Or maybe not. In any event, these are SOME BOOKS.
Now pardon me…I have to see if my Kindle’s preorder of UnDivided has shown up yet…
This was on recommended//required lists in my area too.. It’s so good to see modern authors take on controversial subjects for teens and college age students
Have you tried Double Helix by Nancy Werlin? A great look at the ethics of bioengineering. She also examines cults in Dark Mirror.
Why no, I haven’t, but I’m adding it to my list RIGHT NOW, Carol Ann! Thanks for the rec!!!