The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is a book that enthralled me as a tween. Its page count was not intimidating; I loved to read. Its plot and complex roster of characters were based on a theme I related to: revenge and redemption.
I was the third child, sister to three brothers, who (IMO) bullied me. I have a few scars to back up this assertion, though it could be argues that they were the result of normal kid play. But I digress.
I read to escape--because I am inherently a couch potato and because I love words. My parents encouraged reading (we didn't have a television), so I was allowed free rein to pick from the classics--no censorship of age-appropriate-ness.
Dumas' popular adventure is set in history. (What a great way to learn about Napoleon and the 1815 era.) His main character is an illiterate, trusting, worthy young man who is betrayed by his "friends" and condemned to prison. An older inmate takes him under his wing, educates him, and through his death, helps him to escape.
The man has nursed his revenge on his friends and on his former lover, whom he thinks rejected him.
Following the secrets shared by the old mentor, he finds a vast treasure, returns to his hometown, and proceeds to exact revenge. He realizes his former lover's son could be his flesh and blood.
The rest of the story shows how he comes to forgive his lover, embrace his child, and heal his emotional wounds.
A plot I related to, being a heroic child suffering in harsh conditions.