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December 5, 2010 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Middle school/young adult novels set in Quebec?

My seventh-grader is going on a four-day school trip to Quebec with her French class. This trip is seven hours (one-way) on a bus, and I want to give her some good reading material. I thought she might enjoy some books that are actually set where she's going, but I don't know of any.

I'm looking for fiction for middle schoolers or young adults. My stepdaughter is a pretty sophisticated reader (right now, reading Lord of the Rings). She loves sci-fi/fantasy so it's fine if the books aren't exactly true-to-life, although good historical fiction would also be OK (major bonus points if you somehow manage to combine Quebec and time travel!). Books written in the past 20 years or so would probably be most welcome; she doesn't usually seem as into older books, LOTR notwithstanding.

(Just in case this isn't obvious--these books need to be in English! No way is her rudimentary school French up to otherwise.)
posted by dlugoczaj to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
I know that there's a chapter in The Lost Hero that takes place at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. The hero needs help from the God of the North Wind who lives there.
posted by saffry at 3:40 PM on December 5, 2010

There's not a lot of sci-fi/fantasy novels set in Quebec, even less available in English. I couldn't find any about time travel in English (then again, I could only think of 2 in French).

There's The Diabolicave which tells the story of 7 children that hide in a cave during a nuclear disaster, but you don't really get to see an of Quebec in it, and it's a bit old...

For good young adult historical fiction, there's The King's Daughter by Suzanne Martel. It's about an orphan sent to New France to get married in the 17th century. I enjoyed it a lot as a teenager and it's accurate historically. It was written in the 1960s, but it aged really well.
posted by domi_p at 4:28 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

A little old but very good:
posted by chrillsicka at 4:43 PM on December 5, 2010

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz as suggested above might be a little too mature for a seventh grader (sexual content and language).
posted by davey_darling at 6:37 PM on December 5, 2010

If she likes graphic fiction at all, I'll suggest the Paul series by Michel Rabagliati. He's a Montreal-based cartoonist, and from my memory, they take place in and around Montreal. I think they are suitable for young adult readers, but maybe give them a look through. Perhaps Paul Goes Fishing might be too mature (he depicts losing a baby, which is kinda gruesome) but Paul Moves Out or Paul Gets a Summer Job might be something to consider.
posted by to recite so charmingly at 7:00 PM on December 5, 2010

Two Solitudes, hands down.
posted by furtive at 11:13 PM on December 5, 2010

Apples Every Day.
posted by tangerine at 1:02 AM on December 6, 2010

I would recommend The Tin Flute (Bonheur d'occasion) by Gabrielle Roy. It is set in WWII-era Montréal and would be good for a young adult. It's appropriate for the age group and, although it was written in 1945, is still pretty relatable.

I don't know if I would recommend Mordecai Richler to a young girl. His novels are typically coming-of-age novels told from the perspective of young boys; I find them a bit difficult to relate to as an adult woman, so can't imagine that many of them would be that appealing to a teen-aged girl. If the point-of-view can be overlooked, they usually represent very interesting peeks into Montréal's (anglophone) culture. I would say, however, that they are in no way representative of most of the rest of Quebec, so might not be the best preparatory material for a visit.

Indeed, I would say that this will be a major barrier to finding good novels from Quebec - the ones written by francophone Quebecois authors are not frequently translated into English because there isn't a huge market for them outside of Quebec; those that are tend to be quite a bit older and tend to be more about major historical events than anything else. It's really too bad, as Quebec is endlessly interesting.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2010

furtive also makes a good suggestion; I haven't read Two Solitudes myself (it's on the to-read list!), but I have read Barometer Rising and really enjoyed it - Hugh MacLennan is an engaging writer and that novel, even though it comes from an anglophone point of view, might be a good setup for the visit too.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:21 AM on December 6, 2010

If you think she's ready for adult murder mysteries (not particularly graphic), you might get her Louise Penny's Still Life. It contains quite a bit about Quebecois culture and the conflicts, major and minor, between francophone and anglophone people. It's also set in a wonderful small town. I highly recommend it in general, but especially to anyone interested in Quebec.
posted by epj at 2:13 PM on December 6, 2010

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