I frequently read YA because I have a young niece (also a reader) and I like to be able to recommend books she would like, that are appropriate to her age and maturity level.

I found Lightmasters 13 to be a really fun romp from the perspective of a young girl who finds herself thrust into a situation far from her previous experience. Her grandparents, who take over her custody when her parents die, are great characters but Jessica is not familiar with them and their eccentricities or their small, insular town far different from her prior home. So Jessica has to learn to deal with her grandparents, a new school with schoolmates who, naturally, scorn this new, smart, unusual student, and the grief of her parents’ loss, all at the same time.

Jessica also discovers on her 13th birthday that she has been “blessed” with hereditary powers she was previously unaware of – that throw her for a huge loop.

This story of her receipt and acceptance of these powers, adaptation to their odd side effects, and the danger in which they place her is very fast-paced and highlights the slightly tongue-in-cheek angst and hyperactivity of a very young teenager whose journey to come to terms with just growing up is made even more difficult than normal by the additional complications of coming to terms with her powers.

I look forward to following Jessica’s journey as she explores her powers and the high-stress world of the much-anticipated high school “experience.”


BE NOW BUDDY WHAT by Dan Spencer


Using the premise of a man who fell to earth with no identity, no clothes and no injuries, Dan Spencer highlights the foibles of our society as the man’s story becomes well-known throughout the world. He is examined by “experts,” interrogated by the government, subjected to every medical test known to man, and everything shows he is a completely healthy, normal human male, with no brain injury to cause his amnesia, but he is finally allowed to go his own way, since no one can find any reason to hold him. Told through the initially skeptical, cynical view of a small-town reporter who befriends this strange person (who becomes known as “Buddy What” through a humorous set of misunderstandings), the story is the journey of an innocent trying to get a message across to the people of the world that life can be simpler and better than it is for most, if each person chooses to look at life as philosophers have been suggesting for untold ages: live in the now. Of course, that is an over-simplification, as Buddy What has any number of ideas on how to help people be happier and has a peculiar, almost “homespun” way of articulating his ideas. This causes no end of ludicrous groups (of the tin-foil-hat-wearing variety) to form around single, mostly misunderstood, aphorisms publicized by the relentless press presence surrounding Buddy.

Buddy What is not a preacher or a prophet; he is not trying to cash in on his notoriety or exploit his unique situation. Buddy is a man who has no idea where he came from, what his name is, how he ended up falling through the atmosphere to land in Minot, North Dakota, but he feels he has a message to share with the human race. Our intrepid reporter feels he must take Buddy under his wing to prevent the usual cast of characters from exploiting Buddy for their own personal gain — which, of course, many attempt. Buddy learns of the unique phenomenon called “a cult of personality” and assiduously tries to avoid becoming the subject of one, to no avail. He becomes an internet sensation immediately and the more he tries to get people to see him as he is, the more they see in him what they expect — expectations that are doomed to be unrealized. Typically, people hear what they want to hear, believe what they want to believe, expect miracles on demand, but Buddy refuses to be pigeon-holed. He and the reporter travel the country, meeting people in their homes who have invited Buddy to have conversations with them and their friends… as long as that is possible which, of course, is not long enough.

Even though written with a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek humor, there is a great deal of Valentine Michael Smith in Buddy and his story. “Be Now, Buddy What” is definitely worth reading since it manages to illuminate our more venal tendencies without demonizing any particular group, but also suggests we are all capable of being more than we realize if we pay attention to how we think and reflect on ourselves.