Book reviews and recommendations, Young Adult 12-15, Young Adult 16+

Orla’s YA Book of the Month

Title: Back on Track

Author: Michael Burton

Genre: Young Adult Non-Fiction.

Review by: Orla (Kildare Town Library)

Covid-19 has turned society on its head. It is especially difficult for young people attending secondary school. The disruptions of lockdowns and home-schooling has made learning the curriculum chaotic. Uncertain turbulent times have disrupted routines and structures. Throwing in the elements of being a typical teenager, dealing with adolescence and puberty, adds pressure to boiling point.

This refreshing book deals with all the trials and tribulations teenagers face. It is laid out in a manner that is not condescending or patronising. It is written and composed by a head teacher who still remembers what it is like to be on the cusp of adulthood. The information is presented in bite size segments that are accessible and relatable. You don’t have to read it cover to cover. You can select the sections that interest you. It covers a broad range of topics such as managing stress, bullying, friendship, nutrition, and being ambitious.

This book encourages teenagers to be their own person, instead of being a lemming that follows the crowd. School is also noted as a place for personal growth. There will be days when students will feel top of the world and other days dragging their heels. It can be hard to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions. This book is here to help you process your emotions and manage your stresses. Not everyone is going to like you or agree with you. Opinions are bound to clash from time to time, but there is no need to be nasty or aggressive about it.

The author compares preparing for exams, at the end of secondary school, to a marathon. The key to success is preparation. He points out that you are unlikely to finish a marathon if you don’t train your mind and body to be in top shape. Likewise, if want to succeed in exams, the training starts by showing up to school. You will go far if you have a good attitude towards school policies and being respectful of teachers and peers. This book encourages students to listen to their teachers and ask them for help if they are struggling. Also be kind to yourself and remember no one is perfect.

This book offers teenagers tools which give them a fair chance in this race we call life.

Would you like to borrow a physical copy of this title? Feel free to request it online for collection at your local library.


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