At the start of the summer, I shared a group of videos made by The Hub bloggers showcasing our most anticipated reads over the summer. We had so much fun creating that post and sharing our “must-read” lists that we’ve decided to do the same thing seasonally! I am going to coordinate quarterly posts sharing videos with all of you highlighting our most highly anticipated titles for the publishing season and hope that you will share in the comments some of the titles you are itching to read, as well!
Here are videos from our bloggers showing you exactly which titles we’re dying to get our hands on before December. Enjoy!
As you can see, we always have a mix of genres, some adult crossovers, and even some middle grade titles in the mix.
Fall is a great time to cozy up with a book and breathe in the crisp, clean air, so we hope you’re planning some great reading, too! Let us know what your must-read titles are this fall.
– Jessica Miller, currently reading The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges and The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence
Welcome back for the second post in our back-to-school schedule series!
Period 3: English – Laura Perenic
Today’s curriculum theme is “Humanity Through Diversity.”
Historical Fiction: Brotherhood by A.B. Westrick
In reconstruction Richmond, Virginia, brothers Shad and Jeremiah learn different lessons from attending KKK rallies.
Realistic: Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
Laurel Daneau hides from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina by immersing herself in drugs. Estranged from her family and her own emotions, Laurel meets street artist Moses who has a more effective way to dealing with pain. (a 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults and 2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers selection)
Science Fiction: Unwind by Neal Shusterman
How much is your life worth to you? How much is your life worth to someone else? Characters trapped in a futuristic world try to escape being ‘’unwound,’ and their body part sold high paying recipients. (a 2008 Best Books for Young Adults and 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Top Ten selection)
Novel in Verse/Poetry: October Mourning : a song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman
A collection of 68 poems written in response to the murder of Matthew Shepard, October 6, 1998. (a 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection)
Non-Fiction: Dear Teen Me edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally (selections)
Looking back on their own teen years, 70 authors of novels for teens write letters to their younger selves with advice about being a teen and becoming an adult.
Extra Credit – Read approved teen novel and watch its film version. Prepare comparison of similarities and differences with explanation of how changes affect the work’s major themes.
Period 4: Gym – Jennifer Rummel
I loved gym in high school – it was the perfect time to relax and play a game. I was sporty, so I enjoyed being one of the best in the class. Most of the time, we were separated by gender. My favorite unit was basketball, followed by volleyball, and softball. I was useless at archery and orienteering. Here are a few good books that capture that same feeling.
Let Me Play: the story of Title IX : the law that changed the future of girls in America by Karen Blumenthal
An insightful and important look at how Title IX changed sports for girls – from the girls who came before and helped pave the way to the girls who now never had to think about equality and sports in high school and college.
Playing with the Boys: a pretty tough novel by Nicole Leigh Shepherd
Lucy’s mother died; she and her father moved across country to get a fresh start. She tries out for the soccer team but fails. Unsure what to do next, the soccer coach suggests she try out for the football team. They need a kicker. Should Lucy try out for a boy’s team?
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
Felton grew up late – but his growth spurt makes him super fast. He’s invited to the summer workouts by the football coach. Felton doesn’t think he’s an athlete, but he wouldn’t mind escaping his home life for a while. (a 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection)
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Not only is Jordan the quarterback of her high school team, she’s also the captain. She loves being one of the guys, but when a new boy appears on the team, she begins to see one of the players as dating material. Can she keep her head on the things that matter the most – like winning a scholarship to a top college?
Travel Ball by Mike Lupica
When Danny’s cut from the travel team; his father (an ex-NBA player) agrees to coach a second team.
Rucker Park Setup by Paul Volponi
Best friends have waited their whole life for this chance – the tournament at Rucker Park. It’s the biggest tournament in street ball and would be their crowning achievement. But the best day of their life turns into a tragedy. (a 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers selection)
Baseball Great by Tim Green
Josh’s father wanted to make it to the big leagues, but never did. Now he’s putting pressure on Josh to be the best ball player. Soon the coach for a travel team pushes him to take protein shakes and other supplements. Josh isn’t sure what the coach is giving him or if he wants to take them.
Throwing Like a Girl by Weezie Kerr Mackey
Ella and her family moved to Texas. Not sure where she belongs, she tries out for the school softball team. Shocked to discover she made the team, Ella finds herself enjoying the work and the rewards come with playing on a team.
Oh My Gods by Tera Lynn Childs
Phoebe’s mother shocks her with the news that she’s engaged to a man she met on vacation. Phoebe’s forced to move to an island off Greece during her senior year of high school. There go her plans for a cross- country college scholarship.
Lunch – Hannah Gomez
Lunchtime’s for the foodie!
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
Younger teens will be all over Joan Bauer’s Close to Famous, about a girl who wants to be a TV chef but first starts a cupcake business while trying to keep her mom away from her abusive boyfriend. (a 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection)
Naples! by Giada de Laurentiis
For those who love actual TV chefs, even if they think they’re too old for middle grade, they might be persuaded to pick up Naples! because of its author: Giada de Laurentiis. The new Recipe for Adventure series will follow a brother and sister whose zany aunt comes to visit.
Cupcake by Rachel Cohn
If your teens aren’t so into celebrities but want to work in the culinary world, they might like Cupcake by Rachel Cohn, which concludes the Cyd Charisse trilogy and has the heroine heading to New York to work at her brother’s bakery. They should also try Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever for some catering adventures and Carolyn Mackler’s Vegan Virgin Valentine for café adventures.
Period 5: Physics – Jessica Lind
Today’s physics lesson focus on the concept of the multiverse. Merriam-Webster defines multiverse as a theoretical reality that includes a possibly infinite number of parallel universes. Therefore, the following titles are based on ideas that we would normally consider to defy the laws of physics by bending the rules of time and space.
The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna
Sophie Sophia is more than happy to have inherited her love of 80s mixtapes from her father, but she is not so crazy about the “episodes” that reveal panda marching bands or turn her lunch ladies into Ramones-singing rock stars. With the help of her shaman panda, Walt, and new best friend, Finny, Sophie sets out to find her physicist father in order to learn about her episodes and get her life under control.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
One dark and stormy night, Meg and Charles Murry find themselves up late at night with their mother when their mysterious neighbor stops by and tells them that “there is such a thing as a tesseract.” The children soon learn that their father’s disappearance occurred while he was working on a government project related to the idea of a tesseract, or a wrinkle in time. Along with classmate Calvin O’Keefe, the siblings set out on an adventure that breaks all of the rules they thought they knew about time and space.
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Anna and Bennett’s relationship is not the typical boy-meets-girl story. Anna lives in 1995 Chicago while Bennett lives in San Francisco in 2012. Thanks to his ability to travel through time and space this couple has the chance to meet, but each moment is lived with the concern that Bennett could be thrown back to his own time. What are they willing to risk in order to stay together?
Tandem by Anna Jarzab (Release date: October 8, 2013)
You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds, many lives–infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.
Sasha’s ordinary life is torn apart when she learns that the stories her grandfather told of parallel universes are actually true. Suddenly, she finds herself in another life struggling to prevent a war while maintaining two lives.
Once again, thanks to all of our contributors! Check back tomorrow for the final post in this series. While you wait, let us know if you have read any of these in the comments!
- Carli Spina, currently reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week we asked you to choose your favorite YA book title that riffs a song. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride dominated the results with 65% of the vote. Lisi Harrison’s These Boots are Made for Stalking pulled in 16% of the vote to take second place. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted! (And our apologies if you now have a song stuck in your head.)
Have you been watching “Heroes of Cosplay” on Syfy? We’d like to know your top picks for the YA books that inspire the best cosplay ideas. There are so many great possibilities to choose from! Would you draw your inspiration from futuristic sci fi, opulent historical fiction, or an iconic contemporary character? Vote in the poll below or leave a comment if we missed your favorite!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Welcome back to school! As you get ready to embark on the new year, check out this class schedule, designed just for you by The Hub bloggers. You just might find some new books in your favorite subject areas or the inspiration you need to branch out to topics you haven’t read about before. Today we’ll be delving into the first part of your day, with the rest of the schedule released tomorrow and Wednesday.
Home Room – Carli Spina
As you begin your first day back in your new home room, take some time to read books about students for whom school is home and home is school – boarding school!
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Start off with this 2009 Michael L. Printz Award Honoree, which details a series of pranks and a secret society at a prominent boarding school. Readers will enjoy Frankie’s increasingly elaborate pranks and the lessons she learns over the course of the book.
Escape Theory by Margaux Froley
For mystery fans, this story of a mysterious death at a boarding school will be perfect! It follows Devon as she investigates the death of Hutch, a boy that she first met during her first week on campus. Interspersed throughout the story are flashbacks to their initial meeting, leaving readers to piece together not only the facts surrounding Hutch’s death but also the nature of their relationship.
When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudes
This novel, based on the author’s film Up With Me, follows Francisco as he leaves Spanish Harlem to attend an elite boarding school on a scholarship. The story focuses on the way that Francisco is caught between his family, his friends and his new school. It is a book about tough decisions and the repercussions that flow from them.
Period 1: Biology – Sharon Rawlins
Today we’re going to study botany, a part of biology. Why? Several reasons. September is National Preparedness Month and this encompasses how to survive both natural and man-made disasters. The other reason is to see if you can identify poisonous plants from nonpoisonous ones.
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Cia and other students in Joelle Charbonneau’s book The Testing have to identify whether plants are edible or poisonous and sample the ones they think are okay to eat. Guess wrong and they might die. In the sequel, Independent Study, they have to identify plants by touch, feel or by genetic code. If they give a wrong answer, they have to face a physical challenge such as navigate a path filled with hazardous plants like poison ivy or deadly pink ivy.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Celaena in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (a 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection) has to compete against other assassins to see which of them will advance to become the King’s Champion by identifying the plant poisons in a number of goblets. They must arrange them in order of the most benign to the deadliest and then drink from the one they think is most harmless.
The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood
Jessamine is fascinated by her father’s poison garden and determines to became an expert on poisonous plants in Maryrose Wood’s The Poison Diaries, and in the sequel Nightshade, she becomes a poisoner-for-hire (much like assassin nun Ismae in Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers).
Period 2: Language Class – Hannah Gómez
Time for language class!
Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag
For those teens already looking forward to studying abroad sometime, hand them the Beautiful Americans trilogy by Lucy Silag, which follows a group of American teens studying in Paris. There’s mystery, romance, and lots of secrets, which should make the book a hit with anyone who loved the Gossip Girl TV series.
Students Across the Seven Seas by Micol Ostow
Another quick pick is the Students Across the Seven Seas series by Micol Ostow, which comprises thirteen titles about girls and their adventures abroad, with the usual suspects, like cute boys, misunderstandings, and shopping all represented.
French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Older teens with the travel bug might love Lucy Knisley’s graphic memoir French Milk.
Persiguiendo el sol by Juanes
Those teens in Spanish class may like reading Colombian rock star Juanes’ new memoir, Persiguiendo el sol (Chasing the Sun), available in both English and Spanish.
El Illuminado: A Graphic Novel by Ilan Stavans and Steve Sheinkin
For a taste of Spanglish and a history of the Jews who were expelled from Europe during the Inquisition, turn to Ilan Stavans and Steve Sheinkin’s collaboration, El Iluminado: A Graphic Novel.
A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson
And to convey what it’s like to be somewhere where you lack a full understanding of culture or language, try A Year in Japan, a mostly visual book by Kate T. Williamson.
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to this post! Stay tuned for the rest of our posts in this series and, in the meantime, what books would your recommend for these subjects? Let us know in the comments!
- Carli Spina, currently reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series has quite the following- see YALSA’s Teens Top Ten lists from 2007-2011 to get an idea- so it wasn’t that big of a surprise that someone decided to turn the series into a movie. The new “it” thing to do in Hollywood these days is to search for the next big YA movie franchise now that Twilight and Harry Potter are completely done. We still have The Hunger Games and now the much-anticipated adaptation of Divergent that just wrapped filming, but for every one of those, we have several more Percy Jackson or Beautiful Creatures flicks to suffer through. So where in all of that does City of Bones fit?
Well, there does not seem to be much of a consensus on the first film in the Mortal Instruments series. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the critics believe that the film is 16% rotten while the audience believes it is 82% fresh. Talk about a huge gap. Personally, I would probably rate the film somewhere in the middle of that– an “A” for effort with a “C” for execution. The actors for the film are exactly who, as a fan, you would want. Lily Collins fits perfectly with how one could imagine Clary. Lena Headey reminds us how awesome she is, if we somehow forgot her roles in the Sarah Connor Chronicles, 300 or Game of Thrones, as Clary’s kick-butt -and-take-names-later mom. She really is the definition of a fanboy/fangirl dream. Jamie Campbell Bower pretty much looks exactly how I would have imagined Jace, and embodies that iciness with cracks of vulnerability well. They had the actors right for me, so what happened?
Now, I am not the type of fan that believes a film adaptation has to duplicate word-for-word or scene-for-scene everything that happens in the book. That’s just not possible and not everything that works in the written word translates to the visual really well or vice versa. With this in mind, I feel like I can be fairly flexible in terms of adaptations. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban directed by Alfonso Cuarón is probably my favorite in the film series, and it took the most liberties with the book while managing to visually create everything I felt as a reader in that book. Harald Zwary who directed City of Bones failed to do the same, and the screenwriters adapting the text played around way too much with the mythology of the series in this first installment.
My first small gripe is that the Silent Brothers were not nearly as creepy in the film as they were in my imagination. That whole scene kind of made me giggle when I should have had an ominous creepy feeling.
One big gripe I had is that the book series is an urban fantasy that takes place in New York City. Watching the movie, you would have no idea these kids were in the Big Apple except for the fact that Simon is wearing a “Made in Brooklyn” t-shirt for the second half of the film. I mean, could they really not afford some stock footage of NYC? Clare always creates this great sense of place in these books, and I felt like that was lost in translation here. It was disappointing.
My second big issue with the movie is that they changed the location of the latter half of the story to a place that completely messes up the entire mythology of the series, which the uninitiated audience member would have no idea about to begin with because they spend zero time on any of that. They also completely changed the ending. It was so convoluted that I have no idea where they are going to take that storyline, other than far, far away from Cassandra Clare’s land. The reason that I found these two changes so inexcusable was that the filmmakers went out of their way to incorporate the whole brother-sister storyline. I would have gladly given up that plot device from the original source for unrequited romance in exchange for keeping the Shadowhunter mythology and Mortal Cup storyline intact.
Overall, the movie shows promise. The fight scenes were terrific, the romance was delectable and the actors were just what they needed to be. I think they can- and hopefully will- do better with the next one. And I do hope there will be another one. I would love to see more of the guy playing Magnus Bane, Godfrey Gao. He was a total scene-stealer. They should make the sequel for him alone.
My recommendation if you are a fan of the series, you might leave the theater a little perturbed about some things– but overall, you will enjoy it. There were several passionate arguments about what was discussed above but everyone still seemed to enjoy City of Bones, as did I. If you haven’t read the series yet, though… start with the books.
~Katie Shanahan, currently reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Industrious, methodical, practical Virgos, what a busy and exhausting summer. Between your hard work and helping others, I am sure it has seemed all the sunshine and warm weather fun has flown by without you. But there is still time left, Virgos, to relax, lay back and enjoy a book that is in perfect harmony with your generous and giving spirit.
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Josie Moraine is seventeen, smart, hard-working, and ready to get out of New Orleans. The Big Easy in 1950 is not the easiest place for a girl like Josie to make her own way, let alone get into a fancy East Coast college, especially when her mother is a no-account prostitute and occasional thief. That doesn’t stop Josie from applying and working two jobs to save enough for room and board. Above all, Josie does not want to end up like her lying user of a mother who has been making Josie’s life hard for years. Even with help from friends like the son of bookstore owner she works for, Willie Woodley, the madam she also works for, and Jesse, the mechanic with a fast motorcycle who tries to catch her eye, Josie is determined to find her own way to make her dreams come true. A gripping historical novel rich with details, lies, scandals and maybe even love, Out of the Easy will delight the most exacting of Virgos.
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Ellie O’Neill didn’t mean to start an online friendship with mega movie star Graham Larkin, but when a stray email meant for a pig walker makes its way to Ellie’s inbox that is exactly what she gets, even if she doesn’t know it yet. Graham Larkin didn’t plan to meet his new confidant with whom he has been sharing secret hopes and desires with for weeks, but the opportunity to film in Ellie’s hometown comes up and he can’t resist the chance to meet his pen pal. What neither of them expect is the drama and fireworks that follow them through the summer as their attraction grows and their personal secrets become exposed. Virgos will identify with the devoted and hard-working Ellie and the loyal and selfless Graham in this perfect summertime romance.
Summer isn’t over yet, Virgos! There will still be lots of time to finish that to-do list in the fall. For now, enjoy the sun, a cool beverage, and the good company of a great book.
- Amanda Margis, reading Street Dreams by Tama Wise and listening to How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Here some news you might have missed this week via Twitter
- @PWKidsBookshelf: New novel by Ann Brashares, ‘The Here and Now,’ due out in April 2014 http://pwne.ws/14fVFfA
- @teralynnchilds: Read a juicy mini-teaser from SWEET LEGACY… https://www.facebook.com/authortlc/posts/10151812244779110 …
- @PenguinTeen: Have a burning question for @harlancoben about his #MickeyBolitar series? Head on over to FB to submit it! https://www.facebook.com/mickeybolitar
- @PublishersWkly: S&S, Barnes & Noble Finally Settle Terms Dispute http://pwne.ws/17EWkWm
- @hollywoodcrush: Want to read the second chapter of @richellemead‘s ‘The Fiery Heart’? OKAY: http://ow.ly/o4345 @EWein2412: Still more about #CodeNameVerity – a podcast interview with Stefan Friedli. We recorded it in a corner at #LeakyCon! http://www.uncanny.ch/2013/08/19/the-uncanny-podcast-special-1-chatting-with-elizabeth-wein/ …
- @PenguinTeen: .@nytimesbooks goes “Inside the List” with @realjohngreen on the importance of valuing education: http://nyti.ms/17EcWgX
- @FierceReads: Did you love the cover of THE WINNER’S CURSE by @MarieRutkoski? Now you can read the first chapter! http://ow.ly/o8PZ9 @PenguinTeen: Love fantasy novels & the environment? Get your free first chapter of @TABarronAuthor‘s #Atlantis Rising http://ow.ly/nZUGJ
- @Hypable: John Green confirms he’ll make a cameo in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ movie http://www.hypable.com/2013/08/19/fault-in-our-stars-movie-john-green-cameo/ …
- @earlyword: FALLEN For the Movies: Jeremy Irvine, who played the lead in 2011′s War Horse, is set to star in an adaptation… http://bit.ly/152Hx95
- @HEAusatoday: RT @USATODAYBooks: Book Buzz! Lauren Graham’s novel is being adapted for TV http://usat.ly/161qX5K
- @Hypable: ’The Fault in Our Stars’ movie begins filming, producer shares photo of church where leads meet http://www.hypable.com/2013/08/21/the-fault-in-our-stars-movie-begins-filming-producer-shares-photo-of-church-where-leads-meet/ …
- @lisa_schroeder: Whoa: The Book Thief movie trailer: Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson star in World War II drama http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2013/08/the_book_thief_movie_trailer.html …
- @LymePL: CBS This Morning interview with Cassandra Clare, author the The Mortal Instruments series for YAs. http://tinyurl.com/ktbfov6
- @hollywoodcrush: Matthew Quick’s YA debut, ‘Sorta Like a Rock Star,’ is headed for Hollywood! http://ow.ly/o6IKU
- @Scholastic: Dr Seuss! Pooh! Alice! Love these #kidlit-inspired postal stamps from around the world: http://bookriot.com/2013/08/13/mail-call-kid-lit-stamps-from-around-the-world/?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=72d599d1af-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-72d599d1af-304466669 … via @bookriot
- @HMHKids: History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut. Enter to win a copy of PALACE OF SPIES by Sarah Zettel http://ow.ly/o5IHK
- @SimonPulseCA: Want to win an ARC of @LaurenDeStefano‘s PERFECT RUIN? Our @Goodreads give away ends Friday! http://ow.ly/o8ywa
- @teralynnchilds: Guys! @harperteen is giving away 10 (TEN!) Sweet Legacy ARCs on GoodReads!!! US only. Open until 8/27. http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/62552-sweet-legacy …
- @GridJumper: Think you know how kids use social media? Think again. [INFOGRAPHIC] http://sarahsfav.es/2013/08/01/think-you-know-how-kids-use-social-media-think-again-infographic/ … via @prsarahevans
- @sljournal: Maker Summer: A global project offers DIY opportunities for creativity and sharing http://ow.ly/o6nT9 #makerspaces
Just for Fun:
- @TheLegionSeries: the Unbreakable tumblr has launched make sure you follow to learn more about #theleagionserieshttp://thelegionseries.tumblr.com/ @kamigarcia@lbteens<
- @harperteen: RT @EpicReads: What’s in Your #YAlit Starter Kit? http://shrd.by/BxFbls
- @TLT16: This man proposes with a picture book in the library, everyone says “awww”. viz Buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-awesome-guy-proposed-to-his-girlfriend-with-a-super-cut …
- @annareadsbooks: Love today’s fun challenge via @brokeandbookish: Fill out this survey using YA titles as answers! http://www.annareads.com/2013/08/my-ya-life-in-book-titles.html …
- @EpicReads: What if book covers were animated GIFs? Oh wait. . . THEY ARE. http://bit.ly/18sEozp
- @lbschool: That Librarians Are Genius is a #knownfact, it is only the amount of genius that is in question. This is FULL OF… http://fb.me/2D2dsx98B
~ Jennifer Rummel currently reading Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Over the past six months, there have been two posts here on The Hub that caught my attention regarding the trend towards series and sequels. Carla Land (The Sequel Predicament) and Hannah Gómez (Too Many Trilogies) bring to light a number of issues that can make a reader frustrated with these types of stories. I am a fan of many sequels and series, but I often find myself happy to enjoy a great book that is a stand-alone novel. There are times, though, when I am not ready to let a universe go or I think I will miss the author’s writing style for a particular storyline even though I don’t feel like I need more of the story. Carla mentions in her post that she will often reread a title immediately for this reason and I have certainly been there myself.
I have found something of a balance between my desire for stand-alone books and the fact that I don’t always want to let go in companion novels. These are independent stories that exist in a single world built by the author and often feature the main character in one story as a background character in another. The specific voice will change with the main character, but I find that the author’s style often remains with companion novels. I like the experience of characters that I know well popping up here and there. It makes me feel like they are continuing to live their lives off the pages.
Companion novels can often be read out of order as the main story changes. Due to availability, I read Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins before her debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss. The only real spoiler for Anna wasn’t much of a spoiler if you happen to be a fan of this genre and know how these things tend to end. If you are set on not having a single spoiler, though, it is probably be best to read them in the order they are released.
The following are a few companion sets that have been noteworthy in the YA community recently. I have listed them in release order in case you want to keep spoiler-free. Please feel free to share your favorite companion sets in the comments below!
- Anna and the French Kiss (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2012 Readers’ Choice List)
- Lola and the Boy Next Door (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
- Isla and the Happily Ever After (release date not yet set)
- Code Name Verity (2013 Printz Honor Book, 2013 Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults Top Ten)
- Rose Under Fire (September 10, 2013)
- Catching Jordan
- Stealing Parker
- Things I Can’t Forget
- Racing Savannah (December 3, 2013)
- Jessica Lind, currently reading Falling Hard by Megan Sparks (first book in another series!)
Sutter Keely, the irrepressible party boy who narrates author Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, is one of YA lit’s most poignant characters. He’s good-hearted and funny- as long as he has his flask of whiskey near at hand. Sutter’s happy with his life in the moment. He prefers not to dwell on the past or the future, a strategy that threatens to implode as Sutter nears the end of high school. A movie of The Spectacular Now was released early in August 2013.
Sutter is a great fan of Dean Martin, a singer/comedian/variety show host from the mid-twentieth century. Martin had a reputation as a drinker; he once had a vanity license plate “DRUNKY.” He was the epitome of Rat Pack cool, with a cocktail glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other. As Sutter says, “The Rat Pack consisted of these ultra-suave playboy singers from back in the days before hippie bands changed everything - Dean, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. These guys knew how to party. They tore Las Vegas to pieces.” (p. 115-116)
So here on Jukebooks we’re featuring the Dean Martin song that Sutter calls his theme song, Ain’t That a Kick in the Head, music by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn.
The song most associated with Dean Martin is Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime, written in 1947 by by Sam Coslow, Irving Taylor and Ken Lane. Here is a playful rendition of that song, to get a taste of Dino’s legendary charisma.
It’s a time of year that just brings me down, and not because it is the end of summer, but because it is time to go back to school. Growing up, I would be filled with dread as the weeks passed in August. I tried to fake it and get into new school supplies and a new wardrobe, but in the end, no shiny folders or awesome sneakers could quell the anxiety inside of me for the first day of school. As years passed, I thought I would grow out of being grumpy at the end of August, but to this day I still get down this time of year even though I no longer attend school.
This got me thinking, perhaps if I had attended some of the schools I have read about in teen literature–those that have a supernatural twist–then maybe I would have liked back to school time just a little bit more… and maybe I would have even looked forward to starting a new school year. If you are like me and feeling like a big bummer right now because it is back to school time, then check out some of the books I have listed below. These novels feature schools that are ten times cooler than your ordinary school, and might even help you get into the back to school spirit.
Mia wants to ensure that she will be going to prom with the high school quarterback so she purchases a love spell, but it backfires and turns her classmates into zombies. A school filled with zombies would definitely make life more exciting! Every day would be a battle for your life. Mia, however, has help from new student Chase, who just happens to work for the Department of Paranormal Containment.
Gemma Doyle has special powers that she does not know about, until she attends the Spence School in London. It is there that Gemma and her new friends discover a diary that allows Gemma to contact the Realms, a spirit world where they all travel to. Talk about a great escape from the mundane school day! In the Realms they seem to have vast power and find much happiness, until the truth about the Realms and the Order that maintains this spirit world become known to the girls.
It is her junior year in high school and Elaine has moved from Minnesota to Annapolis, MD. As if starting a new school in the middle of high school is not hard enough, Elaine is experiencing some weird coincidences. Her new life and high school have turned into the modern-day Camelot, which in my opinion is way better than your normal high school. Elaine, named by her medieval scholar parents after the Lady of Shalott, meets the modern-day Arthur in star quarterback Will while running in the park. The attraction between the two of them is instant, and Elaine quickly becomes entangled in his family drama and girlfriend problems.
Set in an alternate steampunk England in 1851, Sophronia’s finishing school is like no other. It teaches the art of poisoning, eye lash fluttering, self defense, and other skills to make one an expert in espionage. Being no ordinary girl, Sophronia is thriving at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy, and she tests the limits of her new training as she tries to solve the mystery of the missing prototype. This is my kind of school, even if it is a finishing school! Not only does Sophronia learn the fine art of espionage, but her school is filled with mechanicals and it has a werewolf and a vampire teaching classes.
Marked by P.C. and Kirstin Cast (2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
Zoey lives in a world where vampires are accepted and mix with humans. If a young person is marked, then it means that they have been recognized as someone who will become a vampire. Once marked, teens are sent to attend the House of Night school, where they will turn and become vampires or there will be complications and their body will reject the change and they will die. This school sounds a bit serious, but it is there that Zoey finds true friendship and even some romance despite being given one of the more powerful marks.
Phoebe’s mom has remarried and has moved Phoebe to the small island of Aegean off the coast of Greece. Phoebe is miserable because she has to leave her friends behind, as well as a promising college career as a track star, all to attend an uber-exclusive boarding school on the island. In fact the school is so exclusive you can’t enroll unless you are descended from a Greek god. That’s right! Phoebe is attending a school filled with students that have powers from their godly ancestors. It might be a hard school to attend if you aren’t gifted, but luckily for Phoebe, there may be something in her family tree that will help her out.
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (2011 Teens’ Top Ten Nominee)
Sophie knows she’s a witch. She doesn’t know much magic, but she knows she has the natural ability. However, when you’ve had no formal training in witchcraft, you’re bound to make mistakes. Sophie makes a big one: turning a potential prom date into a love crazed maniac. As punishment for her reckless spell casting, Sophie is sent to Hecate Hall, a.k.a. Hex Hall. Hex Hall is a reform school for Prodigium (witches, fairies, and shape shifters). While everyone else at Hex Hall knows all about the Prodigium life, Sophie is clueless since she was raised by a mortal. I don’t know about you, but if I got to attend a reform school filled with witches, fairies, and shape shifters, I would be super excited to start my first day!
Alex Van Helsing’s parents have sent him to Switzerland to attend Glenarvon Academy. Knowing that he has a pretty recognizable last name, he thinks nothing of it until he arrives at Glenarvon. After only two days there, Alex slays a vampire. It is his English teacher that reveals to Alex that he is in fact descended from a line of famous vampire hunters that are part of the Polidorium, which is currently trying to track down a vampire clan led by the infamous Icemaker. Alex’s school is pretty much the same as any other Swiss boarding school (which is awesome!), but when two of his new friends get taken by vampires, Alex has to embrace his birthright and set out to rescue his friends.
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Seventeen-year-old Luce, is starting reform school after she survives a suspicious fire that kills her boyfriend. Immediately she is drawn to another student, Daniel, because Luce can’t shake the feeling that she has known him all her life. However, his mysterious nature makes it almost impossible for her to learn the truth about their connection. Spoiler Alert!: Luce’s reform school is filled with fallen angels and supernatural occurrences at every turn. If you have to go to reform school, then I would think that Luce’s school, Sword & Cross, would definitely be the one to attend.
Spirit is orphaned when her family dies in a car accident, but her parents have trusted her to the Oakhurst Boarding School for Magicians. It is a school where only those with the gift of magic attend. Though Spirit’s gifts have not yet manifested, she quickly makes friends, and together they uncover a mystery surrounding a high number of missing students in the recent years. Oakhurst sounds like an awesome school: it is set in rural Montana, it is an orphanage as well as a boarding school, and it teaches you how to develop and enhance your magical powers. Where do I sign up!?
Rose Hathaway is a dhampir, half human–half vampire. She is supposed to be attending St. Vladimir’s academy where she will be trained to protect the Moroi, vampires who are born as such. However, there is only one Moroi that Rose is determined to protect: her best friend Lissa. Lissa and Rose have had a special bond since they were children, and they have been on the run from St. Vladimir’s for two years. They are eventually caught and forced to return to St. Vladimir’s where they are watched over closely. Lissa’s return puts her in danger, though, because she has the rare Moroi gift of healing. Someone sinister knows what Lissa’s power can really be used for, and they will stop at nothing to get to her to use her magic for their own evil plans. I would love to attend St. Vladimir’s! You are either trained to fight and kick butt as a dhampir, or you are taught to enhance your natural vampiric gifts. No matter what, classes would be very interesting and way better than your average class!
Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez (2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers)
Everyone in Daisy’s family has psychic powers– except for Daisy. She is used to being the “norm.” All she needs is her best friend, Ryan, who she also happens to have a huge crush on. However, when head cheerleader Samantha shows up at the start of the new school year clad in black and carrying a coffin around, strange things begin to happen at Nightshade High School. Teenage girls are attacked and killed and Daisy’s family joins forces with the local police to help solve the murders, using their psychic gifts. Daisy is determined to find the killer on her own, but trying to track down this killer will put her in danger and have scary consequences– like having to join the cheer leading squad! OK, so head cheerleaders that randomly become goth! I would love to attend Nightshade Academy, if anything to see the goth cheerleading squad!
If only popularity was so easy as wearing a second skin! I would attend that school in a minute. Kylie is the most popular student of Woodland High. Sam discovers the secret to Kylie’s popularity: Kylie has a second skin. Though Kylie has expensive clothes and perfect skin and hair, it is the skin that makes her uber-popular because it magically enhances her personality and gives her the confidence to be popular. When Sam steals and dons the second skin she skyrockets in popularity and leaves her old friends behind. What Sam could not have known, though, was that popularity comes at a price.
-Colleen Seisser, currently reading The Poison Eaters by Holly Black.
I watched The Lone Ranger when I was a kid, and for me it was always about Tonto. Ditto for the Lone Ranger movie. (Not the world’s greatest movie, but it helped that Tonto was played by Johnny Depp.) Native Americans have been everything from sidekicks to villains in American literature. This month I am going to highlight some Native American heroes and heroines in YA paranormal, dystopian, paranormal, science fiction, and contemporary fiction.
Wolf Mark, by Joseph Bruchac, was published by Tu books in 2011. The author draws from his Abenaki ancestry in creating Luke, a seventeen-year-old Abenaki boy who discovers he is also a Skinwalker. He was born with a second. When he puts it on, he becomes a wolf. Luke comes from a long line of skinwalkerswho have served their leaders with honor. His father recently retired from the special services, only to become the town drunk. Luke finds that was all deep cover after his father is kidnapped. Luke has to pull on his wolf skin before his training is complete. That leaves him struggling to retain his humanity while he fights to save his family from industrialists ready to kill them for their secret abilities.
Bruchac’s newest YA is a dystopian called Killer of Enemies coming from Tu Books in September 2013. Lozen, the Apache teen heroine named after her ancestor, a 19th century warrior woman who battled alongside Geronimo, is skilled at hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, and wilderness survival, and blessed with superior strength. In a future Earth stripped of electricity and technology, her growing psychic abilities open her mind to strange thoughts, including an unknown who stalks her and considers her “Little Food.” A group of four less-than-sane warlords kill her father and take her mother and younger siblings hostage. To keep her family safe, Lozen is forced to hunt and destroy monsters for them. These include creatures straight out of some of mankind’s oldest legends, genetically engineered creatures released to hunt their former masters when technology was lost, and vampire-like beings with hypnotic powers and a desire for her blood.
The use of Apache culture and legends bring a new layer to the otherwise ordinary dystopian story-world. Lozen’s abilities, strength, courage and determination to save her family will appeal to action lovers of any gender, from teen to adult. The book provokes tantalizing thoughts about what the ever-accelerating demand for technology might have cost the human race, and about the price to be paid for the pursuit of perfection and longevity.
Time Trap by Micah Caida, published by Silver Hawk Press in 2013, is the first of a new series about a Native American girl who wakes up in the desert with amnesia. All she sees is the ghostly spirit of an elder who tells her a few facts before he disappears: her name is Rayen, she is seventeen, she will die if she eats peanuts, and she needs to run. Readers may need a little patience in the beginning of Time Trap. Rayen constantly tells us what she doesn’t know, leaving a reader confused by her and what to expect when she is temporarily placed in a special school while authorities try to identify her. Then she and two other students fall into a computer, the way Alice fell down a rabbit hole, and a non-stop battle for survival begins. After that the book is non-stop action in a battle between science and mysticism, with love, friendship and the future of the human race in the balance.
Micah Caida is a pseudonym for two authors who chose a Native American protagonist to add a new dimension to the protagonist. One of the authors has Blackfoot Indian in her ancestry; the other’s father was an honorary Kwakiutl tribal member. Their research included visits to Southwest area pueblos, and traveling through Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Colorado and Utah.
Eric Gansworth‘s 2013 book, If I Ever Get Out of Here, published in 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books, takes us back to the world-changing 1970s. Lewis is the only Native American in the advanced track at his school, which means he goes through the day friendless. He cuts off his braid in an effort to get kids to see him differently. The only result of that is his own feeling of loss. But he does get a friend: George, a new transfer from the nearly army base. The two outsiders become best friends through music, and the music of the 70s fills the book. The Beatles and Wings, Clapton, Queen, and Bowie are only some of the sounds that prove important during the two years the book covers. These were the days when vinyl was king, and 8-tracks an experiment, when there were no cell phones or social media, and “friending” someone meant spending actual face-to-face time with them. And bullies had to use real weapons. Lewis suffers bullying under the blind eyes of both teachers and students who blame the Indian. Those of us who remember the 70s understand his decision to use a non-violent protest, even though he hurts himself in the process, to let the world know that he deserves to be safe inside school. The book doesn’t try to beat a history lesson but watching Lewis and George explore their history may help today’s teens better understand their own parents and grandparents. It’s for anyone who loves music from the seventies, the best music decade ever. Eric Gansworth is a member of the Onendaga Nation. He gives us a fun book, and an honest look at cultural differences; how different people can clash and still come together.
No list of books featuring Native American protagonists would be complete without The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, published in 2007 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and named a 2008 Best Books for Young Adults Top Ten selection. Both funny and heart-wrenching, the story of Junior’s journey from the rez school to the local all-white high school is unforgettable. The author is a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, and a comedian, and puts much of his own life on the reservation into this book. It is wonderful coming-of-age story full of hope.
-B. A. Binns, currently reading The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth Stewart, and listening to Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.
Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week we took a look at YA updates of classic novels and asked you to consider which update might be even better than its classic inspiration. The votes are in!
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (based on Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass) took the lead with 28% of the vote, and Dodger, by Terry Pratchett (based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist), followed closely behind, capturing 26% of the vote. Avalon High by Meg Cabot (based on Arthurian legends) was in third place with 20% of the vote. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
This week, we have a music-inspired question for you. As you’re turning up the volume on your favorite summer tunes, we want to know about your favorite YA book title that makes reference to a popular song. Vote in the poll below or leave a comment if we missed a title you love.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
I think to some degree, defining your identity and constructing your self is a part of any adolescent experience, and makes stories about transgender characters relatable. How did you think about the process of constructing a gender identity for Grady in Parrotfish? In general, how do you as a writer signify gender identities in your characters? How does the gender identity of a character affect the way you think about them as you are creating them?
I’m going to answer your first two questions together because my answer is pretty much the same for both. How does the gender identity of a character affect the way I think about them? It doesn’t necessarily. The way I begin to think about a character is to imagine who they are at their core, their center. I think everyone is pretty similar deep down, no matter what their gender, race, religion, or ethnicity happens to be. I look for the place in which we’re all human–that’s where to begin building the character. In other words, I don’t begin with the differences, but with the similarities we all share, things like, our hope for a good life, our fear of death, our need for love. The big things.
Next, I begin to layer on the features that make this character different from others. For some characters race, for example, may be a more defining aspect of who they are, while for others gender is more important to their self-definition. For some characters gender may not be particularly defining at all. But in any case, I’ve now only reached some mid-level of definition. The outer layers are where the character really becomes unique. If you stop with those mid-levels of definition, you’ll be writing stereotypes. You need to go farther, even with secondary characters. The outer layers are where the character comes alive. At this level, I begin to understand their fears, their worries, their desires, their dreams. The family and the environment they were born into also affects who they are. Everything about the world they live in carries the possibility of changing who that character is. And these outer influences affect every character somewhat differently too, because of the unique personality of that particular character, and the difference does not depend on their gender.
So, while I might write a character for whom gender is of the utmost importance—a boy who defines himself by his (perhaps stereotypical) masculinity or a girl who sees herself as uber-feminine, those would certainly not be the only defining qualities of their characters. And, in truth, my main characters are almost never those kids. I prefer to write about teenagers who think about themselves in a somewhat more complex way. Not that they necessarily think their gender is fluid (though some may) but they probably don’t see gender as the frontline definition of who they are either.
To get a little more specific about Grady in Parrotfish, I should say that I worked closely with a friend who is female-to-male transgender in order to understand as much as possible the feeling of having your gender misunderstood in this way. As I constructed Grady’s gender identity I was aware of basing it very closely on what my friend was describing to me. I don’t think I’d ever before written about something I had so little personal experience with, and I wanted to make sure I got it right. Therefore, Grady’s character and his emotional journey (although not his story) is pretty close to that of my friend.
How do you incorporate humor in a story like Grady’s without trivializing the subject matter?Humor is not something that stands outside the story—any story—but a part of every life, every day. Even if the most terrible things are happening, we look for a way to laugh. How many times have you been at a funeral and suddenly laughter explodes through your tears? We need it; we search for it, maybe especially at the most difficult times. Humor will only trivialize the story if it isn’t an integral part of it, if it’s a kind of joke laid over the top. In the case of Parrotfish, I saw the subplot of the Dad’s over-the-top obsession with Christmas, and particularly the play they put on annually for the neighborhood, as an echo of the rest of their lives. Dad wants them to put on costumes and enact a show in which they appear to be the simple, but loving Cratchit family. But the kids have outgrown both the costumes and the childishness of it (as Grady has outgrown his mask and no longer wants to pretend to be who he isn’t.) Once they can fully accept each other, they don’t need to pretend to be a perfect family because they pretty much are one. It seemed to me that Dad’s crazy ideas were organically funny to the story. The best comedy always has a dark side, and the best poignant story makes you laugh through your tears.
Can you think of any other depictions of transgender characters in the media that might have teen appeal? I remember being really into the musical Hedwig and Angry Inch and am excited to see it returning to Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris.The recent cartoon SheZow features a boy whose super-hero alter ego is a girl– but the character does not transition or express any wish to.
One transgender character I’m really enjoying right now is on the Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black.” She’s one of the inmates in the prison. The characterization is nicely complex and doesn’t depend on stereotypes. Not sure if this is exactly a show for teens though. And yeah, I can’t wait to see NPH in Hedwig, too!
Thank you for allowing us inside your writing process, Ellen! And for sharing thoughtful insight on the subject of transgender teens in fiction.Transgender teens are also recently the subject of a new law in California, stating that this coming school year students will be able to compete on sports teams and use facilities such as bathrooms based on their gender identities rather than their sex. (Readers can learn a bit more about the law here). How would a character like Grady be affected by such a law? How will students react to this change? I believe that the need for fiction that reflects the experiences and struggles of trans teens and their peers will become more important than ever in deepening understanding and respect among teens– and adults. Find many examples to dig into on the list compiled by Talya Sokoll for YALS.
-Mia Cabana, currently reading The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
As usual, Twitter has been busy this week with YA related news, events, giveaways and more. Here are some of the highlights, in case you missed
Contests and Giveaways
- Enter to win CONSUME, the exciting conclusion to Melissa Darnell’s The Clann Series, on @Goodreads: http://bit.ly/16zNDw8 @HarlequinTEEN -@HarlequinBooks
- Giveaway & interview of @AprilynnePike http://dld.bz/cMpE6 #books #yalit #Giveaway #hopeiwin @AprilynnePike -@isabella3730
- Enter our HOW DO YOU SUMMER READ? Giveaway details here http://girlsinthestacks.com/giveaway/2013/08/how-do-you-summer-read/ … #summerreadingpic -@girlsinthestack
- Enter to win @Authoroux‘s ASYLUM in our #BackToSchool Book Bag #Giveaway + TWENTY more books in a Teenreads tote! http://ow.ly/nQRFx -@Teenreads
- Download CHRONICLE and enter the Relic Revealed Sweepstakes (tablet of your choice) from @<soho_teen!! http://shar.es/yDpjB -@girlsinthestack
- Giveaway alert! Win a paperback copy o/@gayleforman‘s Just One Day & read it before Just One Year comes out! http://bit.ly/JustOneDayGiveaway …-@PenguinTeen
- Pre-Order The Maze Runner Files http://www.themazerunner.net/2013/08/pre-order-maze-runner-files/ … #MazeRunner -@MazeRunnerNet
- happy FIRE WITH FIRE release day!!! tonight, i’ll be in PGH at Mystery Lovers and TOMORROW Jenny will hit Bethesda Library in Bethesda, MD! -@siobhanvivian
- Fire & Ash -final book of the Rot & Ruin -Now Available! The world is not big enough for the living and the dead! http://fb.me/2RdGtdk3f -@JonathanMayberry
- Ooh, today is the day that @MatthewQuick21‘s FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK drops! Glimpse the 1st chapter & you won’t put it down. SO GOOD. -@melissacwalker
News and Events
- Cover reveal for the The Spook’s 13 by Joseph Delaney on August 14! And there’s more: http://ow.ly/nR2uE #spooks13 -@goodreads
- See the cover & get your 1st sneak peek of @halseanderson‘s #TheImpossibleKnifeofMemory exclusively @USAToday! http://usat.ly/17jT96d -@PenguinTeen
- WATCH: New ‘Catching Fire’ trailer! http://huff.to/1cI0Vgv -@HuffPostBooks
Just For Fun
- In which Raina Telgemeier describes how she makes a graphic novel, from initial idea to published book: http://goraina.com/?p=1631 -@dylanhorrocks
– Whitney Etchison, currently reading The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier
For some reason, the end of the summer always has me thinking about “place.” Some of us got to visit new places on a vacation or traveled home or others of us, like me, spent most of the summer in the same place dreaming of where I could go. The back to school season evokes a sense of place, too. Who among us doesn’t have vivid memories of that one place in school that stands out in our memories? For me, it is the “Senior” hallway in my high school where all the seniors’ lockers were located. It had about ten dangerously slippery stairs leading down to it and every year – without fail – some unfortunate freshman running late for class fell up the stairs. The seniors always laughed mercilessly at the “Stair Fresh” for a week or two. Needless to say, it took me until my junior year until I could confidentially walk up or down those stairs.
That is a vivid and not particularly pleasant example of a place. I find that really developed sense of place is really important for readers. It allows you to feel comfortable or to be intrigued. Place for me is more than just the setting, it’s the culmination of the setting and the plot, as well the memories that that creates in a reader. That was a long way to say that place, and the memories that places make, matter. The same goes for books and I’ve found that YA in particular has some really great examples of place. Take The Hunger Games series for example- the horror of the arena, especially the terrifying clock of the Quarter Quell in Catching Fire makes a particularly vivid memory for me. Or how many of us wouldn’t want to live in Middle Earth, even if just for a day? Or Karou’s Prague, from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone?
It’s not just fantastical worlds that many YA books do a great job of creating a sense of place, but there are some real life ones that while some I may not want to live in, I can certainly feel the realness of the place. For example, in The White Darkness (2008 Printz winner), Geraldine McCaughrean paints such a vivid and frightening picture of Antarctica, the book is very memorable to me. While reading it and imagining the oppressive whiteness and bleakness of the landscape you almost can feel yourself descending into the same madness of the characters. Trekking through inhospitable terrain with threatening people just might make me talk to long dead explorers in my head, too!
Take Tupelo Hassman’s 2013 Alex Award winning Girlchild: Rory Dawn’s life in the ‘Calle’ trailer park is less than idyllic for many reasons but the hardships of the book are so authentic and Rory’s attempts so earnest, they break your heart. I don’t think I’ll look at Reno, Nevada the same way ever again.
All of these books are are imbued with a strong, authentic sense of place. Why does this matter to YA? As much as YA books can be characterized as plot- or dialogue-driven, I think teen (and adult) readers still want to be transported to a new place. Many of us want to be able to explore new worlds and learn about new places. Readers of YA need those, too. A well-developed sense of place is making a many a classic YA book. What’s your favorite or in what fictional world would you like to inhabit?
-Anna Tschetter, currently reading Who is AC? by Hope Larsen
Today marks the sixty-seventh anniversary of India’s declaration of freedom from British colonial rule. It’s a time to remember the remarkable achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, each of whom fought for independence using different tactics. It’s also the anniversary of the partitioning of India into two countries (later three) — areas in eastern and western India were appropriated to create Muslim-dominated Pakistan. Nevertheless, these recent developments in India’s history, however significant, are but the thinnest layer of India’s history, which stretches back to the Stone Age.
There is an apt fable [.doc] that we can use to illustrate how difficult it is to fully grasp the essence of India. Six blind men hear that an elephant has come to their town. Since none of them have any knowledge of elephants, they rush to discover what it is like. Using their hands, they each touched a different part of the elephant, thus:
“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
“Oh,no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.
“Oh,no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
“It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
When they begin to argue, a wise man stopped to explain how they had all been partially right. The elephant is much like India. Some find it sprawling and messy, some find it highly spiritual, some see economic opportunity, some see disgraceful abuse of women. All of those things are true, but none of them are the whole truth.
Children of Indian Immigrants
Most of today’s YA books featuring East Indian teens focus on those children whose parents immigrated to the United States or Canada. Indian culture continues to play a role in the lives of the parents, which is reflected in their home life to varying degrees. The teens metaphorically live between two continents: the traditions of Mother India and the free-wheeling predominance of Western culture grapple to influence virtually all aspects of their lives.
While many children of immigrants experience a dissonance between old world expectations and new world reality, Indian teens have an especially awkward adjustment. In India, arranged marriages are still common. The girl is expected not only to remain chaste but to marry well, preferably to someone of her own social group or higher. In the same way, boys are taught to marry a respectable girl. Non-Indians, or Indians of a different religious background or a different status in society, can bring disgrace to a family steeped in traditional Indian values.
It’s no surprise, then, that many of the YA books with Indian characters address the issue of romance. This often includes the search for identity and inclusion, played out against a comic background of cultural misunderstanding. The books listed below fall roughly into that category.
Tanuja Desai Hidier captured the in-between sensation in her 2002 novel, Born Confused. At seventeen, Dimple Lala has reached the age when her parents decide she should be paired with a “suitable” boy. Dimple, raised in New Jersey, has little interest in this project. Hidier explores Dimple’s conflict between her willingness to embrace Indian culture and the American concept of romantic love is one of the key issues in East Indian immigrant families.
Keshni Kashyap’s graphic novel, Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary, is indeed laugh-aloud funny, but it also focuses on the real questions facing fifteen-year-old Tina. The existential diary is an assignment for her Honors English class. Tina addresses her thoughts to Jean-Paul Sartre as if he is a well-wishing uncle. Mari Araki’s illustrations capture more than one eye-roll from this indulgent version of Sartre. During the course of the school year, Tina loses her best friend, struggles to understand the mixed messages from her crush, skater boy Neil, and gets a very memorable first kiss.
What I Meant… by Marie Lamba is the humorous account of fifteen year-old Sangeet. Her totally unreasonable aunt has moved in with Sangeet’s family, making life a torment. Not only that, but Sangeet’s crush, Jason, seems interested. But Sangeet is forbidden to date until she is sixteen, which is nine months away. And her best friend is sick of hearing Sangeet’s problems. It all adds up to nonstop drama and an opportunity for Sangeet to speak for herself.
Of special note is a short story by Terry Davis entitled “Mouths of the Ganges,” which is included in a collection of stories, Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story, edited by Kelly Milner Halls. Rafi is having a tough time with the Muslim injunction against pre-marital sex. In fact, when he’s with his beautiful American girlfriend, Kerry, sexual desire obliterates the teachings of his faith. Rafi is well aware this makes him a hypocrite, as he says: “After two years I’m still telling them that Kerry and I go to the library to study. Can they possibly believe me?”
“Mouths of the Ganges” is set just after 9/11, when dark-skinned Middle Eastern-looking men were seen as possible terrorists. While Davis includes this in his short story, it is the focal point of Neesha Meminger’s novel, Shine, Coconut Moon. Seventeen year-old Samar is astonished when her estranged Uncle Sandeep shows up at her doorstep. Uncle Sandeep is a Sikh and wears a traditional turban. In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, Uncle Sandeep is now seen as a potential terrorist. With his dark skin and turban, he’s heard it said that he resembles Osama Bin Laden. Although Samar considers herself thoroughly American, she realizes that she nonetheless has a strong connection to Mother India.
Young Adult Books in India
Publishing houses in India have been producing “young adult” books with great success over the past decade. However, they tend to classify young adults as 13-21 years, sometimes extending as far as 30 years old. One way to interpret this is that true teenagers are still very much controlled by their families. Indeed, many of these Indian YA stories are closer to in tone to our “new adult” category.
Therefore, it seems fair to include novels written in English that focus on the conflicts of assimilation. These books are marketed for adults, but are excellent studies of families forced to meld old and new cultures.
Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee is a tongue-in-cheek chronicle of ambitious Anjali Bose’s rise to national prominence. Set in India, Anjali is born into a family with few resources. However, she has always known that she was special. So Anjali goes after her dream, moving to Bangalore and securing a coveted job at a call center. Then, well, things really take off.
Bestselling novelist Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s most recent book, Oleander Girl, was released earlier this year. Since the early deaths of her parents, eighteen-year-old Korobi has grown up in Kolkata, raised by her grandparents. She attends college and is engaged to be married to Rajat, whom she loves very much. Things change, however, when she learns that everything she has been told about her father is a lie. In class-conscious India, Korobi fears that Rajat will not marry her if her bloodline is tainted. So she sets off on a journey to the United States to discover the truth.
For a taste of India’s young adult novels, check out the Best Young Adults Fiction in India list on Goodreads.
– Diane Colson, currently reading Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten is all about teen choice! Teen readers between the ages of 12 and 18 can vote online for their favorites from this year’s list of nominated titles from now through October 19th. The resulting Teens Top Ten will be announced during Teen Read Week, the third week in October. You can find an annotated list and a book trailer of the nominees as well as tips for promoting the Teens’ Top Ten to teen readers on ALA’s website. And be sure to check out the fantastic TTT Tumblr! Help us get the word out, and use #TTT13 on Twitter and Tumblr when promoting the Teens’ Top Ten!
The Teens’ Top Ten is part of an ongoing project that connects teen book groups with publishers of young adult books. The publishers provide advance reading copies to selected teen book groups, and the teens evaluate the books and provide feedback to the publishers. These same teen book groups create the nominations list for the Teens’ Top Ten by nominating their favorite titles published in the previous year.
More information, including a list of these fabulous Teens Top Ten book groups, may be found on ALA’s website.
Are you a YALSA member interested in serving on one of the committees that chooses the books honored by YALSA’s awards and selected lists? Consider filling out a volunteer form! The following award and selected list committees have openings:
- Alex Award
- Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
- Best Fiction for Young Adults
- Great Graphic Novels for Teens
- Morris Award
- Odyssey Award
- Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults*
- Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
(For those of you more interested in the behind-the-scenes work of the organization, appointments will also be made this fall to the 2015 Midwinter Marketing & Local Arrangements Taskforce, 2015 Midwinter Trends in YA Presentation Planning Taskforce, Awards Nominating Committee, Governance Nominating Committee.)
Keep in mind that to be considered for an appointment, you must be a current personal member of YALSA and submit a volunteer form by 1 October. If you are appointed, service will begin on February 1, 2014. If you are currently serving on a selection or award committee and you are interested in serving for another term (and are eligible to do so), you must fill out a volunteer form for this round. Serving on a committee or taskforce is a significant commitment. Please review the resources on YALSA’s website before you submit a form to make sure that committee work is a good fit for you at this point in time.
Want more information? Email YALSA President-Elect Chris Shoemaker.
*Please note that the PPYA Committee is being piloted as an all-virtual committee for the coming year. YALSA members with book selection and evaluation experience and who are comfortable working in an online environment with tools like ALA Connect, Google Docs, Skype, etc. should put their names forward for consideration.
August 15 is Independence Day, a national holiday in India. It celebrates the day in 1947 when India gained its independence from British rule. (Pakistan was partitioned on that same day.) India is an enormous country, second only to China in population, and its culture is more than four thousand years old. It has inspired artists throughout history. It is no wonder that fiction set in India or with Indian protagonists is popular and plentiful.
While pulling together this list, I was surprised by how many titles immediately came to mind. The slightest amount of research provided a dozen more. If you are curious about India, and would like to explore it through fiction, there are plenty of options for you.
A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master is an appropriate title to begin with since it focuses on August 15, 1947. Bilal’s father is dying, and Bilal is determined not to let him know about the upcoming partition, feeling that it will break his heart and hasten his death. Bilal enlists the aid of his closest friends and they devise elaborate schemes to keep people from his father’s bedside. Of course this backfires as the lie grows. Seeing these events through the eyes of a young teen help readers who do not know about this part of history. We learn alongside the main character.
Anila’s Journey by Mary Finn
Many of the British and Irish men who found themselves in Colonial India either brought their families with them, or started families while there. Of course some men started families … inadvertently. Half-Irish, half-Indian Anila is on her own after her father disappeared and her mother died. Anila is a talented artist and, against the odds, secures a job as an illustrator for a gentleman scientist traveling up the Ganges River. Women were not allowed much freedom in Colonial India, so Anila’s job was unusual, to say the least. She travels with the naturalist, drawing the flora and fauna he discovers and seeking out her missing father. Readers not only get a glimpse of what life was like for a woman in late 18th century India, but also of the beauty of the landscape.
Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
Another look at girls’ lives in India, this time from the 1970s. Tomboy Asha, her beautiful sister Reet, and their mother must live with Asha’s uncle when their father travels to America looking for work. Asha loves to play sports, read books, and be free. But when she turns 16, her freedom is curtailed as she is expected by her uncle to become more ladylike. And when it appears her family will remain in their uncle’s home, she must abide by his strict rules. Asha is a feminist, even if she doesn’t call herself that, and Perkins beautifully captures the struggles of a young woman searching for her own center.
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)
Almost a companion piece to The Secret Keeper, this first novel also looks at an unconventional girl whose father allows her freedoms her fellow young women do not enjoy. When Vidya’s father is injured and can no longer care for their family, they move in with her traditional, conservative grandfather. Vidya fights against the constraints placed on her by society and by her family, all while World War II rages around them. Her father is a follower of Gandhi and his non-violent teachings seem to clash with everyday life in 1941 Bombay.
These titles are just a tiny sample of what is out there. I didn’t even get to mention Life of Pi, The God of Small Things, The Jungle Book, Interpreter of Maladies, Midnight’s Children, A Suitable Boy, Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet, Brick Lane…
– Geri Diorio, currently reading The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian