The Forest of Reading was founded and is currently spearheaded by the Ontario Library Association. The goal of the program was to get kids of all ages excited about recently released books by Canadian authors. Each division of the Forest of Reading covers several grade levels and is named for a different tree (Red Maple, Silver Birch, etc.).
The White Pine division is for high school students (grades 9 - 12). Basically, the committee scours through newer Y.A. books written by Canadians to find the best 10 picks of the year.
I'm going to be completely honest here...
This year's White Pine list really left me wanting. There are a couple of STAND OUT, FANTASTIC books, but the others really fall short -- either by not being engaging or by being too much (in terms of reading level for the most part) for the average teen reader. In fact, one of my most ardent teen readers who basically breaks down the door when it is time for our Y.A. Lit Overlords Book Club said "I started reading one of them, but it was too hard. I didn't bother to finish it."
These issues are on top of the fact that there was not a SINGLE fantasy or sci-fi selection in the list of 10 this year. While most years they try very hard to offer "something for everyone," the list this year just really fell short with an overload of what I tend to call "misery porn."
WITH ALL THIS BEING SAID...
I still feel the program is VERY important in supporting Canadian authors. I decided to go all out in the display this year -- with actual pine branches, quick pitch blurbs attached to the books, and fun little signs. Hopefully, a couple of teens will give some of them a try this year. At least my favourite two, please!
NOW, WHO IS GOING TO WIN?
*please note this is just my opinion*
It'll definitely be between A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bathena or 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant.
Quick pitch --> A girl in Saudi Arabia is considered to be the bad girl of the community with plenty of gossip to follow her. However, after she dies in a car wreck with a young boy, people begin to actually look into the truth of her life. Surprise, surprise -- she might not have *actually* been "a girl like that."
Quick pitch --> A girl and a boy decide to take part in a psychological study that says love can be "engineered" based on the two participants asking each other 36 precise questions. By the time they get to the end things have been thrown around, lots of laughter has ensued, and hidden secrets have been revealed. But...did it work? Are they actually in love by the end?
Now, out of the two, I personally prefer 36 Questions. Seriously, it was amazing and so fun. While I'm more a fantasy/sci-fi girl, the story and writing style of this book was so amazing and entertaining that I didn't mind the lack of magic or aliens.
HOWEVER --> I think the winner will ultimately be A Girl Like That. White Pine winners tend to be "more" than a good book (like 2017's Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw that looked into the sex trade of Mumbai). A Girl Like That is a really solid book overall but the way it pulls back the veil on some serious gender issues will most likely make it come out on top.
We'll know for sure at the beginning of May though! Let the countdown begin.
And if there is one of the 10 selections that you prefer over my picks -- just let me know in the comments!
Originally wanting to be the love-child of Kathy Reichs and Indiana Jones, Brooke was pulled into the magical world of library service over 12 years ago. Finding that her ultimate passion was in teen services, she did what she normally does in a heart-fueled endeavor -- ran in head-first and never looked back! Cosplayer, movie fanatic, binge watcher, Disney Worlder. Proud cat mom of Evelyn (named after the librarian character in The Mummy ).