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Updated: 13 hours 57 min ago

Tweets of the Week: May 30

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 07:00

Here are the tweets from this week. Don’t forget to checkout the #bea14 tweets for more bookish news.




Just for Fun:

~ Jennifer Rummel, Currently Reading Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele

Adoption in YA Lit

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 07:00

I’ve been thinking about the books I’ve read over the years about adoption.

I was adopted (domestic, transracial, closed, as an infant – just because you  may have questions, and just because there are so many ways to be adopted and I want to explain that I can in no way speak competently about all types of experiences). I read books about adoption growing up when I could find them, but that was not often, especially as I grew out of picture books and early readers.

I was always surprised there were not more books that dealt with adoption, since people like to think that it’s something that is fraught with drama (people like to exaggerate what they don’t understand), and nothing works better in a book than drama. Another reason there should be books about adoption is because adoption customs and laws have changed SO MUCH in the two and a half decades since I was adopted. More domestic adoptions are open now than were in the 1970s, 1980s, or even the 1990s. Laws about who can search for whom and when change every five minutes and vary from state to state. Record keeping changes. Cultural taboos change.

And that’s to say nothing about people whose lives are touched by adoption, whether it is as adoptees, adoptive parents, siblings, or birthparents. Some adoptees have zero interest in seeking out their birthparents. Others want a relationship with their birthparents. Still others are more interested in a “Hi, now we both know the other exists” type of interaction. Some children are adopted as babies, others when they are older. Others stay in the foster care system a long time. From the 1960s to the 1970s, giving up a baby for adoption was probably something you did quietly or because you were forced to. Now it is more likely that a birthparent might meet with prospective parents and involve them in the baby’s life before it is born. Even as I try to think of different types of situations, it hits me that there are probably a lot more books than I think there are. Here are some books, old and new, that might be interesting to look at in duos.

Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook
In this one, published earlier this year, high school senior Avery decides to seek out her birthmother when her childhood friend no longer can seek out hers. Dealing with grief and guilt about lost friendships, new romantic interests, and lying to her parents, Avery tries to get around legal obstacles (she is still 17) and goes on some TV movie-esque adventures to try and track down the young woman who gave her up as an infant.

Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye by Lois Lowry
A similar story but from a much earlier time (1978), this book is also about a 17-year-old who, like Avery, seemingly has it all. Natalie shocks her parents when she says she wants to search for her birthmother, but they ultimately give her a car, money, and time to go on her own journey, leaving her to decide whether she’ll be able to handle the results.

Both of these books are great for the way they allow a mature, well adjusted teen to decide for herself whether or not she’s ready (or even interested) in searching for her birthmother, without significant impediments or particular encouragement from the families that have raised them. They might both be limited by their white, upper middle class perspective, which makes the resources they have easier to come by, but they’re interesting in how similar they are, even when laws and technology have changed so much in the 30+ years they span.

Wait…I’m Adopted?
Heaven by Angela Johnson (2003 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)
Marley doesn’t learn she’s adopted until she is 14 years old, and she must reevaluate what family means to her when it turns out that her parents are her aunt and uncle.

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay
Similarly, in this Saffy learns she is actually a cousin, not a sibling, when she puts together that her siblings’ names all appear on the color wheel and hers does not.

Both of these books straddle the middle grade/YA line and deal with having a big blow dealt to you at an already sensitive time – early adolescence. The main contrast here is that Johnson tends for the lyrical and literary, while McKay has a bit more quirk and humor. These books would be very important to have for a reader going through a life changing discovery and dealing with betrayal.

Cultural Clashes
When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright
Lahni is the only black girl at her school, and even though her white parents are loving and sensitive as they can be to her needs, she feels out of place. Then she discovers gospel music and finds something of herself in it.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt (2007 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults)
Simone’s parents are the ones who make her forge a relationship with Rivka, her biological mother, who is dying from cancer. Simone is an atheist, and Rivka was raised a Chassidic Jew.

The takeaway here, I think, is how adoptees need parents who are willing to support their adoptive children both when they are their children and when they need to find out who and what they are that their adoptive parents are not. Transracial and transcultural adoptions are wonderful and necessary, but they are also complicated, as it’s the responsibility of the parents and the right of the child to be fully a part of their new family and yet fully able and welcome to learn about and identify with their birthfamily’s ethnic or racial background.

International Adoption
Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez
Milly is prompted to think about her birthparents when a new boy at school suggests that she looks like she comes from his same village in Central America.

Throwaway Daughter by Ting-xing Ye
When Grace hears about the Tiananmen massacre, it hits home, and she begins to learn about her Chinese heritage. She wants to go to China to seek out her birthmother, but she knows she will have trouble finding her, since she was one of the many baby girls abandoned to an orphanage.

Novels such as these bring up the questions of whether one can be more American than whatever nationality they would have had from birth; whether parents do enough to teach their children about the countries they come from; and what it means to have been born one thing but raised another.

More To Read
Meg Kearney’s novels in verse, The Secret of Me and The Girl in the Mirror, are sensitive reads about a character is perfectly comfortable being adopted but less comfortable speaking about it with others.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios is about a girl who has 11 adopted siblings, all of whom appeared on a reality show with her as a bit of a spectacle.

Remember that rash of very public adoptions by celebrities? Exclusively Chloe by J.A. Yang is told from the perspective of one of a girl whose parents are superstars. Trophy Kid, or How I Was Adopted by the Rich and Famous by Steve Atinsky seems similar.

Separated at birth your thing? Robyn Bavati’s Pirouette deals with twins who meet, Parent Trap-style, when they end up at the same dance camp.

For more intercultural issues, try Janet Taylor Lisle’s The Crying Rocks.

What books about adoption have you read? And why do you think it is that these books are about girls? In all my searching, I found it very difficult to find anything about boys who had been adopted, but I did find more books than I expected that I had not yet read. Here’s to more books on your TBR list!

–Hannah Gómez, currently reading Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

For Fans of The Fault In Our Stars: What to Read Next

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 07:00

Next week, the highly anticipated movie based on John Green’s 2012 Teens’  Top Ten winning title The Fault In Our Stars will be released. The first post I ever wrote for The Hub offered a list of books that fans of The Fault in Our Stars would enjoy and with the movie coming out so soon, now seems like a good time to add to this list.

Since my last post, I have discovered even more books that will appeal to fans of TFiOS, so whether you are looking for a book to occupy you until you see the movie or a list of books to fill your summer, hopefully you will find what you are looking for here.

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy: Alternating between points of view and points in time, this story slowly reveals glimpses of Alice’s battle against cancer, but at its heart it is really the story of the relationship between Alice and her best friend Harvey, who she enlists to help her complete her bucket list. This is a book about what happens when you don’t die, and how difficult it can be to decide to grow as a person.

The F-It List by Julie Halpern: Another book about a bucket list, in this case, Alex is left to complete her best friend Becca’s bucket list when Becca is too sick to do most of the activities herself. After months of not talking due to Becca’s inexcusable actions on the day of Alex’s father’s funeral, the list helps to bring the two back together and allows Alex to work through her grief after her father’s death. Halpern creates characters who are real in both their strength and their flaws. 

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick: Rather than focusing on the battle against cancer, Sonnenblick opts to look at the aftermath of the disease. Jeffrey had cancer as a young boy, but now that he is in remission, he still has to deal with what happens next, which for him means contending with permanent nerve damage and the after effects of his medication which leave him struggling in school and often losing focus. The book also tackles the impact that his cancer has had on his family members and is a great picture of what happens after “getting better.” (2012 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic: Knowing that he will die soon, Austin Parker has decided that he wants to leave his mark on the world. While some of the things he hopes to do are simply experiences he has not yet had, his greater goal is to reach out to those in his life that he sees struggling in an attempt to help them to find a way to improve their own lives. Over the course of one action-packed weekend, Austin attempts to experience everything and save everyone he knows, taking the reader along for the ride.

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon: Set on the hospice floor of a hospital, this is not necessarily a book focused on making cancer an uplifting topic. Instead, Seamon tells the story of real teens who happen to be living the rest of their lives in hospice. She offers an unflinching view of their experience and, at the same time, creates a very believable and funny protagonist. (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: This book is much different from any other book on the list. It includes elements of the paranormal, fables, and illustrations by Jim Kay, all of which contribute to a dark and creepy environment. But at its heart, this story is the very real story of a teen struggling to deal with the fact that his mother has cancer. According to the cover of the book, the concept was “inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd,” an author who herself died of cancer, and it proves to be a powerful approach to a difficult topic, one that enhances the emotion of the story rather than detracting from it. (2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl: Fans of TFiOS may recall that it was dedicated to Esther Earl, a teen who died of thyroid cancer in 2010. This book tells her story through her writing, her artwork, pictures of her throughout her life, and passages written by her family and friends. It captures the experience of one girl who had cancer and offers a very personal view of a disease that many readers may not have encountered.

With so many great and very different books available, I hope every TFiOS fan will be able to find something to read on this post or my initial one. Let me know how you feel about these books or any others I may have missed in the comments. And, be sure to watch The Hub for a post on the movie once it is out!

-Carli Spina, currently reading The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett