Historical fiction for teens. We don’t often search for books of this genre, but with Advanced Placement U.S. History came a requirement to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter. We bought the book, peeked inside at the style of writing, took a deep breath, and went outside for a hike.
But we promised our son that we would read it with him. Generally, we like historical fiction for teens. And a promise is a promise.
We found the book very tough to read at first. Most books we read are full of action, true page-turners. Hawthorne’s prose paints such a detailed picture of the scene that we are immersed in it. Which, we think, is his purpose. But it was not a page-turner. It was a coffee-cup-lifter.
The first chapter was a tough slog, there’s nothing else to say. We read it, talked about it with our son, and prepared for the second chapter. And the third. We prepared to push and push our son to read it.
A surprising change along the way
And we were surprised. Inside the pages of description is a psychological thriller that we frankly missed when we read the book as teens. Our son didn’t miss it. He finished the book before we did, and said “actually, it was really good.” We talked about the characters and the decisions they faced and the choices they made.
Hawthorne wins this one. Surprising us completely, we are fans of this book.
For teens who like relationships and psychology and can handle the prose, we recommend this book.
You might just want to read it with them. Historical fiction for teens, yes. Historical fiction for all of us.