Tõde või tegu I: Stella by Kristi Piiper (available in Estonian from rahvaraamat.ee)
Truth or dare? After a difficult year trying to process the disappearance of her mother, 15 year old Stella is forced to take a daring move with her friend Kärt and unravel the truth about her missing mother and father. All these two friends have to help them are the visions of a psychic and the mysterious behaviour of their classmates Gerd and Johannes, who have secrets of their own.
This is the first book in a series by Kristi Piiper, which covers mystery, mental health, uprooted family life, and the precious friendships that keep it all held together. The author isn’t afraid to place teens in situations where they must use their wit and strength to survive.
Pobeda 1946: A Car Called Victory by Ilmar Taska (available in English from amazon.ca)
Ilmar Taska is most known for his work as a movie producer, which has influenced the mystery, adventure, and nerves of this novel. The story begins in Tallinn after the end of the Second World War, as the appearance of a Pobeda car changes the life of an Estonian boy. When the boy agrees to take a ride with the driver of this car, referred to as “the man”, the simple and clear world he saw takes a sinister turn.
This book also deals with the theme of sudden disappearances. Despite the disappearance of the boy’s father and the increased risk of social interactions in the boy’s environment, the book doesn’t have an overly dramatic or simplistic overview of the story’s time period. Rather, there’s a focus on individual characters and the motivations for their actions.
As a story, this is significant because it reflects the path of teens, who are trying to understand why things are the way they are in the world. Why are we placed in a confusing world where “that’s the way it is” is so often the answer? Can we trust just anyone to be on our side?
The Darkest Corner of the World by Urve Tamberg (available in English from amazon.ca)
A third YA book that deals with the theme of disappearances is Estonian-Canadian author Urve Tamberg’s novel The Darkest Corner of the World. This story is from the perspective of Madli, who must find her place in the polarization and violence of the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Even when people in her community disappear, she still has hope and holds onto normal life, including the feelings she has for a boy she likes.
While crafted as a historical book, it doesn’t stray far from timeless desires and dreams. When normal life is taken away, we have to stand with what we believe in and also strive for whatever meaning and happiness that we can find.
You can find books like these in the ground floor library of Tartu College (310 Bloor Street West, near Spadina station). New books come in every year, including English translations of Estonian literature. You can also rent DVDs from the library. It’s a convenient resource for finding entertaining books, so go ahead and check it out!