A Spell is Cast by Elizabeth Cameron -- 12 year old Corey Winterslow comes to the great mansion, Tarnhelm, to live with her grandmother and her uncle, Dirk. The house is huge and empty and the people distant and filled with secrets. There is a hidden room, a secret diary, a catastrophic love affair, years past, which has reduced her uncle to a shadow of the man Corey realizes he once was. A mysterious chess set seems to hold the key to everything.....
I was overpowered by this pervading sense of gloom, huge spaces, and secrets. I've always wanted to live in a house with secret rooms and also, Corey's bit-by-bit discovery of a family that doesn't tell secrets I found a tantalizing mystery. I came across it in 7th or 8th grade and it helped fuel my fascination with chess. I almost forgot, there's a cave in it as well. What more could you ask for?
The Towers of February: A Diary by an Anonymous (For the Time Being Author With Added Punctuation and Footnotes) by Tonke Dragt -- The diary of a young boy who wakes up with no memory in a strange place, a world of grim architecture and grey people. Slowly he begins to realize that the strange old man who lives down the street is a great scientist and that together, they traveled from one dimension to another -- their memories erased and the secret of how to return home lost in those memories. Together they begin to piece together who they were. As the dire world begins to encircle around them the two begin a dangerous search for the secrets that will allow them to return home. Whatever that secret is though, it can only be used on the 29th of February, and time is running out.
There's so much atmosphere in this book -- I found it in middle school and it's since gone out of print, which is sad. (It's also translated -- the original was written in Dutch) I recently went out and got a copy which I paid through the nose for, but I see that there are a few on amazon.com's new and used for $15. The strange date of Feb 29 always appealed to me, and the idea that it's somehow magic seems apropos. I
Pilot Down, Presumed Dead by Marjorie Phleger -- Steve Ferris is a young Cessna pilot, flying across southern California when gale force winds cause him to crash land on a small island. As the days pass he realizes that he has been blown far off course and rescuers, if there are any still looking, are looking miles and miles from where he went down. Thus begins a tact of survival in the wilderness -- where to get fresh water? where to get food? How to keep from losing his mind. Kept company by a wild coyote with whom he develops an ever deepening bond Steve decides to embark on a very risky course of action.
I like this for the same reason i liked Heinline's Tunnel in the sky -- wondering if I could survive if left to my own devices. How would I gather water? What can you eat? How do you prepare for a rescue that may never come? I've gotten this for most of my nephews.
So ... What are your favorite young adult novels? What meant the most to you while you were growing up. Please give us a brief synopsis and let us know what affected you and why. If you want to post a photo of the cover, or where it is on your shelves, that's just an added bonus.