New books for young adults Searching

New youth novels include an unusual love story and a girl with aggression issues. Two youth non-fiction books are about friendship and the difficulty of finding the right job.

By Holger Moos

Mohl: Henny & Ponger © Mixtvision A boy is sitting in a Hamburg commuter train. He’s so fascinated by a girl that he doesn’t even notice that he’s going in the wrong direction. They’re both reading the same book. Is it a coincidence? Fate? The girl slips him a mobile phone, pulls the emergency brake and disappears – for the time being. This is how Nils Mohl’s new novel for young people, Henny & Ponger, begins. An adventure full of riddles and uncertainties develops, a mixture of road trip and love story. “Mohl is a poetic writer, never sentimental, always clear and often unexpected in his imagery. This is beautiful to read: a story that is fantastic in two respects and that one would like to believe,” was the enthusiastic verdict of Andrea Wanner at NDR Kultur.

Like Erich Kästner

Delaney & Lüthen: Ela © Kunstanstifter In Ela, Alexandra Lüthen tells the story of two young people with Down’s syndrome fighting for their love. The straightforward, realistic and touching love story of Fatih and Ela is written in simple language. The young people’s sense of life and the reactions of those around them change the reader’s knowledge and thinking about disability. Mary Delaney has contributed the loving and imaginative illustrations to this well-written story.

Jäger: Schnabeltier Deluxe © Rowohlt Fifteen-year-old Kim is at the mercy of her tantrums and aggression, which she acts out with wanton destruction. After her last fit – she throws a teacher’s coffee machine out the window of the staff room – she is expelled from school for good. She gets another chance by transferring to a backwoods comprehensive school. Now she suddenly has to live in a village with her mother’s ex-boyfriend and his cranky and dismissive aunt. In the three weeks or so that make up the storyline of Sarah Jäger’s Schnabeltier Deluxe (Platypus Deluxe) Kim gets to know two teenagers who work in the village hair salon. She begins to open herself to others and to understand herself better. Uniquely, the plot develops from the feelings of all the characters and becomes an emotional adventure with unusual events and imagery. Fritz Göttler praises the novel for young people in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, writing, “Sarah Jäger takes young people as seriously as Erich Kästner once did.”

Friends and making good career choices

Bernardy & Krusche: Ohne euch wär's echt Scheiße © Beltz & Gelberg Jörg Bernardy has written a philosophical examination of friendship. His youth non-fiction book Ohne euch wär´s echt Scheiße. Von Freundschaften, Netzwerken und politischen Bewegungen (Without You It Would Really Suck: On Friendships, Networks and Political Movements) focuses on many questions such as: Where would we be without our friends? Does our network determine how popular and successful we are? Who benefits from our friendships? Do we have ever fewer friends over time? Where can we move and share freely? Friendship stories are interspersed between these theoretical but easy-to-understand explanations.

Flachsenberg: Mach´s zu deinem Job © Gabriel The point comes when young people are faced with the question of what to do after school. In the latest Shell Youth Study from 2019, 59 percent of 12- to 25-year-olds said it was “very important” to them to do something meaningful at work. Central aspects for young people were the opportunities to care for others and to do something useful for society. This is exactly where Helene Flachsenberg comes in with Mach´s zu deinem Job. Berufe für eine nachhaltige Zukunft (Make It Your Job: Careers for a Sustainable Future). Before presenting professions and people with sustainable jobs, the author offers tips on how to find out for yourself what type of person you are, what really interests you, where your strengths and weaknesses lie. And she criticises advice books and social media that propagate slogans like “Follow your passion” or “Find a job you love and you won’t work a day in your life.” Of course, it’s not that simple. Flachsenberg explains the various careers with their positive and negative aspects. She wants to help her young readers find jobs that are important and valuable for themselves as well as for society. In her handy book, she names the necessary skills for each field of work, possible positions, jobs and courses of study, as well as the sustainability goals covered, and vividly presents individual professions in job interviews.

Logo Rosinenpicker © Goethe-Institut / Illustration: Tobias Schrank Jörg Bernardy & Lisa Krusche (Illustrationen): Ohne euch wär´s echt Scheiße. Von Freundschaften, Netzwerken und politischen Bewegungen
Weinheim: Beltz & Gelberg, 2022. 150 p.
ISBN: 978-3-407-75696-1

Mary Delaney (Illustrationen) & Alexandra Lüthen: Ela
Mannheim: Kunstanstifter, 2022. 190 p.
ISBN: 978-3-948743-19-2

Helene Flachsenberg: Mach´s zu deinem Job. Berufe für eine nachhaltige Zukunft
Stuttgart: Gabriel, 2022. 190 p.         
ISBN: 978-3-522-30601-0

Sarah Jäger: Schnabeltier Deluxe
Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2022. 203 p.
ISBN: 978-3-499-00911-2

Nils Mohl: Henny & Ponger
München: Mixtvision, 2022. 320 p .
ISBN: 978-3-95854-182-5