The Shell House by Linda Newbery
Reading level: Young Adult
Connected through time by a once stately mansion, now a burned-out shell of its former grandeur, two young men struggle with the contradictions between body and soul in both contemporary England and the barbed-wire battlefields of WWI.
In 2002, Greg is a shy photographer who is elated to discover the ruins of Graveney Hall, a crumbling manor undergoing restoration. As he begins to photograph and explore the grounds, he mulls over the strange new feelings he's having for his classmate Jordan, an introspective boy on the school swim team.
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Meanwhile, he's also been befriended by Faith, an outgoing girl whose strong sense of spirituality draws Greg into several arguments about religion, causing him to wonder how his recent feelings for Jordan fit into the world of Faith's God. In 1917, Edmund is a young aristocratic soldier burdened by family expectations, the brutality of war, and a secret that could destroy his family. While he loves Graveney Hall, he knows that he will never produce the heir required for him to inherit it. Why? Because he is in love with Alex, his superior officer. Both Edmund and Greg strike bargains with God as each decides what he must to do to uncover his secret--or hide it forever.
Passionate and provoking, The Shell House will provide teens with food for thought on a number of compelling issues, including the search for identity, the question of spirituality, and how sexual ethics have changed over time. Fans of Aidan Chambers's similarly themed, Carnegie Award-winning novel, Postcards from No Man's Land, will also enjoy The Shell House.