Teen Stuff: First Light, by Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead has written two novels. Her second one, When You Reach Me, won the 2010 Newbery Medal, for the most distinguished children’s novel. First Light is her first novel, and goes down quite a different road.

Twelve year old Peter lives in New York City. His father studies global warming and is often off working, trekking around like “superman,” as Peter envisions him. The latest project will take his father to Greenland for six weeks, and this time Peter and his mother accompany him.

Concurrently, Thea is fourteen years old, has never seen the sun, and lives in Gracehope, which is a secret word inside the icecaps of Greenland. Her ancestors were hunted and accused of witchcraft generations ago, which lead them to form a secret underground society. Her own mother was one of the crusaders, looking for the tunnel to lead them out of the ice, hoping to expand their world above the ice. Food is rationed, births are limited, and many fear what’s on the other side of the ice wall.

Peter’s adventures lead him to a meeting with Thea. Confused by her and her world, troubled with headaches and visions, and worried about his ailing mother, Peter has a lot to handle in this science fiction/ mystery/ adventure story. After a while this book becomes quite the page turner! (For grades 5 and up.)