Saturday 8 June 2013

YA from my Youth by Chiara Saunders

On YA from my Youth today, I’m really pleased to welcome Chiara Saunders from . I’ll pass you straight over to Chiara, so she can tell you all about herself and the books she loved while steering through the minefield of the teenage years.
I was born in Malta and grew up in Libya and Switzerland. At 16 I came to England to take my A levels and I went on to study Law and French Law at the LSE.  I have worked as a retail banker in London and Hong Kong, an investment banker, a primary school teacher and a school librarian; picking up a number of qualifications along the way. I have three teenage boys, two dogs, three cats and a house full of books. I love reading and I love sharing my ideas about books with other people. I now run a website called which reviews books and magazines for teenagers.
Little Women by Louise May Alcott
I can't remember how old I was when I read this book but I remember how much I loved it. I felt a particular attachment to Jo; I felt I understood they way she put on a front so as to hide her true feelings. There is a description of her in the book "You are like a chestnut burr, prickly outside, but silky-soft within, and a sweet kernel, if one can only get at it." and I remember my dad saying it was an appropriate description for me. Then Jo chose not to marry Laurie and I was so shocked and I remember crying for Laurie and thinking that Jo had made a big mistake. I think it was the first book that really made me think about characters, friendships, relationships and marriage. I read the book again recently for my studies and I was surprised at how relevant I still found it - even now I was married and with children of my own. I felt that many of the trials the March women faced still exist today. And, best of all, when I got to the part where Jo turned Laurie down I still had a good cry for Laurie. Nothing like a good, book-inspired, cry!
The Owl Service by Alan Garner
I didn't live in the UK as a teenager and so I didn't really understand the Welsh element to the story but I was so intrigued by the story. I remember thinking about how much was really true and what it meant and how powerful legends could be. Long after I had forgotten what the details of the story I could still remember the way feather flew about and owls appeared. I attended a talk by Catherine Fisher recently and she was talking about how local legends are inspiring and so I went back and re-read it. I found it just as enthralling.
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
This is old - I found it on my dad's shelves and I loved it. This magical Shangri-La and the description of this far away land. Its not the story I remember, its the fact that I was reading about a place, a country, that was so different and far away. After that I read so many books about travelling and travellers - some where fiction but many where travelogues. I devoured books by Gavin Young, Pico Iyer Freya Stark and I was determined to do my own travelling. And I did. So thank you Lost Horizon for inspiring me.
Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene
I loved these books - it was so good to be able to read about a girl detective. I think nowadays these books would be read by pre-teens but way back (and it was a while ago!) there wasn't much of a teen book market and these books were read by 13 year olds. I had read Enid Blyton when I was younger and the girls in The Famous Five annoyed me because I thought Anne was a wimp and George wanted to be a boy. I liked these books because Nancy was a girl and she solved things.

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