I am reading "The Silent Years" by Alan Green and it's perfect for this time of year. I would love to see our youth and middle school youth read it just because it would set them on a good path for understanding Jesus' life. Green writes about the unknown early years of Jesus' days. He takes what we do know and instead of trying to combine gospel stories, he takes a single point of view and explores what might have been.
While some of his detailed descriptions seem like he's trying too hard to cover all the exegetical work behind a certain time, in other places I appreciate the detail and the reminder of the time in which Jesus lived. Green uses conversations between Jesus and his uncle to explore Jesus' growing awareness and sensitivity to God's ways. I especially enjoy the places where Jesus' calls into question the way 'it has always been done' or interpreted.
It is a short book and most of the time I just keep turning pages. Once in a while I hit a slow spot and am learning to skim more quickly through those sections.
It would make a great stocking stuffer for someone who enjoys fiction and wonders about what's missing from Bible stories. Just don't try to read it after a page-turner mystery. It's not that kind of book.