Have you heard? The Best Fiction for Young Adults list has been released! Check out the top ten below!
- Arnold, Elana. What Girls Are Made Of. Lerner/Carolrhoda Lab. 2017. Sixteen-year-old Nina experiences sex, betrayal, loss, and a dysfunctional home life, all while trying to understand what it means to be female in the world and whether love can ever be truly unconditional.
- Bardugo, Leigh. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic. Illus. by Sara Kipin. Macmillan/Imprint. 2017. Traditional fairy tales are refreshingly twisted, re-created, and wrapped in gorgeous illustrations in this stand-alone collection of six short stories. The world-building will be familiar to Bardugo’s fans, and readers new to her Grishaverse have the pleasure of knowing they can take further excursions into this world.
- Lee, Mackenzi. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 2017. Montague, the son of a British nobleman, embarks on a European tour with his best friend (and secret crush) Percy and his sister Felicity. Along the way, they encounter adventure and conflict that leads them to a very different destiny than the one awaiting their return to England.
- Moon, Sarah. Sparrow. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2017. Sparrow has a secret: her closest friends are birds. When she feels anxious, she goes to the roof and flies. One day, this practice lands her in the hospital, facing questions from the adults in her life. Slowly, she recovers, finds her voice, and makes new friends along the way.
- Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. 2017. Will’s brother has been shot. In this free-verse novel, Will steps into an elevator ready to head downstairs and to follow the rules he’s been taught and avenge his brother’s death, when he encounters the ghosts of victims of a chain reaction caused by a shooting.
- Taylor, Laini. Strange the Dreamer. Little, Brown. 2017. Lazlo Strange is an orphan raised by monks, and he’s dedicated his life to learning. His favorite story is of Weep, the lost fairytale city that was literally removed from memory. This is the story of his search for the magical city.
- Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. Balzer+Bray. 2017. Starr Carter is a black girl caught between two worlds: her poor, black neighborhood, and her suburban, mostly white high school. Occupying this liminal space becomes nearly impossible when Starr witnesses, and is forced to speak out about, the fatal shooting of her unarmed friend by a white cop.
- Watson, Renee. Piecing Me Together. Bloomsbury USA. 2017. Artist Jade has big dreams, but she recognizes that coming from a rough neighborhood creates barriers. She reluctantly joins Woman to Woman, a mentoring program that promises a scholarship. Her well-intentioned mentor, also black, doesn’t understand Jade has no desire to be “saved.” Each has things to learn from the other.
- Zappia, Francesca. Eliza and Her Monsters. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2017. Fellow students don’t know that, when she’s not at school, reclusive senior Eliza is LadyConstellation, creator of the wildly popular Monstrous Sea. New student Wallace is a huge fan of the webcomic, and hr slowly breaks through her shell. However, trying to keep her two lives separate may cost Eliza everything.
- Zentner, Jeff. Goodbye Days. Crown Books for Young Readers. 2017. Carver’s three best friends are killed in a car accident soon after he sends the driver a text message, and grief and guilt take their toll. When the grandmother of one of his deceased friends asks for a “goodbye day,” Carver agrees, hoping for closure.
Want to see the full list, which includes an extensive of titles? Head over to the BFYA homepage!
Also, don’t forget to check out the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers lists, which were released last month! And be sure to visit our Teen Book Finder Database, which was recently updated with diverse affiliate titles! There, you can create and print customizable reading lists for your teen patrons.
This is a guest post from Jeff Zentner, author of the 2017 Morris Award winner, The Serpent King.
Nic Stone and I are imprint siblings at Crown and best buds for about as long as either of us have been in the publishing world. She’s the only person on Earth who’s read everything I’ve ever written. We discuss everything from the virtues of kettle corn to the foibles of child-rearing to race relations in America to…story stuff that really requires more context than I have room for here. Point being: I couldn’t be more thrilled for Nic that she’s a Morris finalist and no one is more deserving. I got to talk with her.
Tell us the story of how Nic Stone became a writer.
Once upon a time, six-thousand-five-hundred-seventy-three years ago, a young, brown immortal was conceived under still-mysterious circumstances… #blackdontcrack.
Okay, sorry. Getting serious now.
So I’ve always been a reader—vividly remember hours spent in this treehouse-ish nook within the children’s section of the Kansas City, KS public library—but I didn’t think I could write fiction, so I never really thought to try. I think I wanted to write made-up stories like the ones I was so fond of, but because I didn’t see people like me writing the type of stuff I was into, I think I subconsciously internalized the message that writing stories wasn’t something people who looked like me could do. Then I moved to Israel. And in Israel, I discovered all these stories I felt needed to be told. Which opened my eyes to the fact that MY OWN stories weren’t being told. So when I came back to America, I decided to try and tell them. It worked! (Fun fact: I started writing in 2013. So I’m basically a writing kindergartner.)
The story of how you got your book deal is one of the more unusual I’ve heard. Tell us how you ended up at Crown with your editor.
Before I answer this, I want to issue a disclaimer: this is super atypical, and it’s not as *cool* as it sounds. Trust me.
The long and short of it is: my agent submitted a manuscript I’d written. The first editor to respond liked my style and my writing and my voice, but wasn’t sold on the story I was telling in said manuscript. So she asked if I was working on anything else. Cue twelve-hour scramble of me pulling together probably the roughest proposal I’ve ever written—a synopsis of a current-events-based story that’d been kicking around in my head for a few weeks at most. And by some miracle, Editor was super into the idea. After a couple weeks of rejection after rejection on the full manuscript we initially submitted, Editor came through with an offer.
And I took it. And from these humble beginnings sprang forth Dear Martin. Which is now a finalist for the Morris Award and the reason you’re asking me these questions.
I read a version of Dear Martin that was very different in some ways than the version that’s currently a Morris contender. Can you speak about the evolution of this book?
The initial drafts of this book were much more… complicated. It was twice as long (literally), there were eight points of view, it was nonlinear, the main character, Justyce, died on like page three, and the scope of the story was a lot broader. We decided to zoom in on Justyce’s experiences, shorten the book, and make it linear largely because… well because it’s a better book this way, I think. It’s harder hitting and more impactful because there’s less to keep up with. And I can’t even tell you how many messages I’ve gotten from kids who had never finished a book until they read Dear Martin. Doubt they would’ve gotten through it had we left it the other way. So I’m glad my editor put her foot down!
On the same day they announced you were a Morris finalist, there was an announcement of your new two-book deal. What can your readers expect from books two, three, and four?
That was probably the best day of my publishing career so far. First lemme say book TWO—wholly unrelated to Dear Martin, but there is a shoutout to Bras Prep—will be out October 2018. Title and summary coming soon, but in a nutshell, it’s a book that follows three teens as they attempt to navigate the intersections of friendship and romance and figure out who it’s okay to love. Excited and nervous and all the things about that one. After that, I’ll dive into mire that is relative poverty, and then book four will return us to the world of Dear Martin… but I’m not allowed to say more than that. #anticlimacticanswer
Do you feel like this is an exciting time to be writing YA books?
Hmm. Hadn’t really thought about this until now, but yeah. I’d say it is. For one, it’s a very dope category—both in regard to the stories themselves as well as the very particular stage of like, human development they focus on, which lends itself to a very specific type of immediacy that can’t be imitated. For another, as an author who LIVES for school visits (they are literally by far far far my favorite part of this job), I think there’s something super magical about kids having the opportunity to interact with the authors of the books they’re reading actually at/through school. No shade or disrespect to the dead white guys, but I mean come one: it’s gotta be lit to, yes: pick a book apart for theme and look for symbolism and yadda yadda #HighSchoolEnglish, and THEN have the author show up to your school where you can actually ask why that vase fell off the mantel at the exact moment Awesome Main Character was stepping out of the shower. (Spoiler alert: it was to highlight that the cat was evil. Or something. What am I even talking about?)
Who do you write for and why?
Nonreaders. Especially Nonreaders of Color. Which I didn’t even realize until so many of them started contacting me. I write for them because I think it’s important to read, and yet I also understand that when you’ve never really seen yourself if the type of stuff you’re assigned, reading seems kinda wack. So I wanna hook the reluctants and get them started reading for enjoyment.
At that moment when someone finishes Dear Martin, what do you hope is going through their head?
Everything. I want people to finish this book and think about everything. My goal for the book itself was to stimulate some critical thinking—which let’s be honest, is in short supply at present considering how quickly we’re expected/expect others to speak and act—about the world we live in and our individual places within it. It’s important if we intend to move forward in a way that benefits as many people as possible.
What’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve ever had with a reader?
Very recently, a teach tweeted at me about a student in her class who exclaimed “What the freak, bro?!” while reading Dear Martin in the classroom. That quote became a part of my Twitter name: Nic “What the freak, bro?!” Stone. I then had the opportunity to surprise that particular class over Skype, and that student literally jumped out of his chair and ran to the back of the classroom. The teacher told me he spent the rest of the day in a daze, so I decided to follow him on Instagram. The message I received from him was “No No No this can not be the real Nic Stone [shocked face emoji].”
Needless to say, this kid has done a lot for my self-esteem.
What would you write to Dr. King?
I’m literally trying to figure that out for an op-ed piece, LOL!
What are five books you think everyone should read and why?
I’ll give you the five I read while writing Dear Martin: 1. A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan, which is the book that helped me to see that I could play with various storytelling formats in one single novel, 2. WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST by Jason Reynolds, which helped me settle into my black boy character’s voice, 3. GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith, which loosened me up a bit and made it clear that irreverence is an okay thing in books written for teens, 4. WHERE THINGS COME BACK by John Corey Whaley, which was SO beautiful and lyrical and helped me find my prose rhythm and 5. GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray, which showed me the power of reaching into the heart of a story and keeping the plot from taking over.
Read all of these definitely.
Setting all modesty aside, what do you love most about Dear Martin?
The dialogue. I love writing dialogue and using that particular element of narrative to draw out the heart of a story because storytelling as a discipline really began with speech—stories orally passed down, generation to generation. Dialogue is just my most favorite thing. In all the stuff I’ve written actually.
The post 2018 Morris Award Finalists: An Interview with Nic Stone appeared first on The Hub.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this month is a good time to consider the comics and graphic novels that you have on your shelf that will appeal to to fans of romance and love in all its forms. These books are just a few options for these readers.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – Set in Paris in what seems to be La Belle Époque, Prince Sebastian is stuck between the wishes of his parents and his own wishes. His parents desperately want him to find a wife and have been setting him up on ever more pointless dates. He, on the other hand, wants to continue his life as it is, including his secret practice of periodically dressing in traditionally feminine clothes. When he meets Frances, who is an incredibly talented fashion designer and dressmaker, he quickly moves to employ her full time under the guise of having her serve as his personal tailor. Together they develop the fashion and persona necessary for him to take the city by storm as the daringly dressed Lady Crystallia. But, the pressure of his secret increasingly impacts both Sebastian and Frances and will test their friendship and their working relationship. Told with beautiful drawings and a fun-loving spirit, this is a great story about the pressures that society puts on people to conform and on the sorrow of having to hide your true talents and self.
Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky and art by Anissa Espinosa – Greg is used to his quirky life in his off-beat town. He may not have a shadow, but that doesn’t bother him nearly as much as his town’s continual attempts to find the perfect tourist trap. What he isn’t expecting is to find a mansion nestled in the woods just outside his little town where he meets and falls for a beautiful girl. But, it wouldn’t be Lancaster if things were that simple. She may be funny and sweet and cute, but she’s also very definitely dead. As their relationship grows, he’ll not only learn why he is the only person who can see her, but also resolve some of his personal issues along the way. This is a story not only of a budding new relationship, but also a story about the power of family, friendship, and remembering those who have died.
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin with art by Jenn St-Onge and Joy San – This new comic is a love story across the years. After meeting and falling in love in the 1960’s, Hazel and Mari are pulled apart by the demands of society. They marry men, have families, and find a certain type of happiness. But when they find themselves at a church bingo evening when they are grandmothers, they find that the spark has not extinguished even after all of these years. Now they have a second chance for love and the opportunity for the happiness they always wanted.
Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt with art by Isabelle Arsenault – This comic tackles a lot of tough topics, including divorce, alcoholism, being siblings, and first love, but it approaches them all with a deft hand. The story follows Louis as he moves back and forth between his parents’ homes. Louis is in the throes of his first serious crush on a girl in his class named Billie. As they move between his father’s house and his mother’s apartment, he and his brother, Truffle, must confront the realities of their father’s struggles with alcohol. Throughout it all, Louis is also consumed by his efforts to work up the courage to speak to Billie. The story is a relatable and heart wrenching one about both family love and first love that will keep readers rooting for Louis throughout.
I Love This Part by Tillie Walden – Told with spare language and illustrations in black, white and shades of greyish purple, this story shows moments in the lives of two girls as they bond over music, make their way through school, and develop a relationship that shakes both of them. Despite the limited use of text, Walden conveys powerful emotions and makes the reader empathize with both of these characters as they struggle to make sense of their emotions. By the end, readers will be invested in the journey of the two characters and wishing for more of their stories.
What are your favorite comics and graphic novels about love and romance? Let us know in the comments!
– Carli Spina, currently reading A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
What happened in YA this month? Here is a quick round up of featured posts on The Hub and other links to keep you up to date when collecting for your teens.At the Hub
- S. F. Henson – An Interview with a 2018 Morris Award Finalist
- Akemi Dawn Bowman on Starfish – An Interview with a 2018 Morris Award Finalist
- January 16th is the National Day of Racial Healing (#NDORH)
- Another Year, Another Mock Printz
- Women in Comics – Looking Ahead to 2018
- Some more best-of lists for 2017 from
- Anticipating the ALA Youth Media Awards, broadcast on February 12, 8am MT? Check out Someday my Printz will Come blog from SLJ
- A trailer for #NotYourPrincess
- A roundup of the 2018 Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers
- Books coming out in paperback soon
- Have you checked out free YA reads from Riveted? Up now is At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson, a title being whispered in Printz speculations
- 10 books to read after The Hate U Give
- A new Marvel series of the anti-heroes, written by Mackenzi Lee, author of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (whose sequel The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is coming out in October)
- 11 YA sequels coming out in 2018
- BookRiot put together a great list of YA Lit conferences around the country
- An interview with January Lavoy, the narrator of the stunning audiobook recordings of Libba Bray’s Diviners series
- Audiobooks from Google Play: “Hey Google, read me a book!”
- YALSA’s 2018 Amazing Audiobooks for YA
- First look photos from the upcoming movie of The Hate U Give
- The trailer for Every Day based on David Levithan’s book and the one for Love, Simon based on Becky Albertalli’s book
- Our new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jacqueline Woodson
- Jason Reynolds amazing interview on The Daily Show
- Matt de la Peña on Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children from Darkness
- Kwame Alexander launches a new imprint, Versify
— Cathy Outten, currently reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
S. F. Henson is a finalist for the 2018 William C. Morris Award for her novel Devils Within. After Nate Fuller kills his father in self-defense, he must find a way to redefine what’s right and wrong and learn to trust again. But when two followers of The Fort, his father’s white supremacist group, arrive in Nate’s new town, he knows blood is going to spill—he’s just not sure whose.
Congratulations on being a Morris Award finalist! Where were you when you heard the news and what was your reaction?
Thank you! I can still hardly believe it. I was at work at my day job when I found out I was a finalist. Funny story, I actually learned the news when everyone else did, through Twitter! I absent-mindedly clicked on a notification and saw a tweet about the Morris Finalists. I stared at it for a minute, unsure why that tweet had come up in my notifications. Then I saw my name. Then I stared harder, not quite believing what I was seeing. Then I cried. My editor called after that and told me she’d been sworn to secrecy and the news had gone public before she had the chance to call. I just kind of wandered around the office all day, stunned. I kept re-reading the press release to make sure it was real!
Devils Within focuses on the impact of white supremacy on contemporary society. What made you choose to tackle this topic in your first novel?
Devils Within was, sadly, inspired by real events. I read an article that I couldn’t shake and this character, Nate, popped in my head. I actually tried really hard to not write this story. I wanted to write an easy love story instead, but it didn’t work. Nate’s voice wouldn’t leave my head. Around that time, an incident happened at Ole Miss, where my brother was a student. Someone had hung a noose around the statue of James Meredith, the first African-American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Instead of being appalled, a large contingent of students “protested” in support of the noose. I watched all of this, and I heard Nate, and I knew that his story was more relevant than I wanted to admit. I realized that this story had the potential to effect people, to make them think, and maybe even change their perspective.
You were born and raised in the deep south. How did that impact the writing of Devils Within?
I was raised in a gap. When I was a kid, both sets of grandparents lived in the same predominantly African-American neighborhood, where one grandmother still lives. My mother’s first teaching job was at a predominantly African-American school, where my parents coached basketball and where I sang in a gospel choir. I grew up surrounded by diversity, but make no mistake, there’s still quite the racial divide in the south. I’m still white. My church was all white, my school was mostly white. On one side, I had other white people making racist comments in my presence. On the other, I saw the effects of those comments on people I cared about. The high school my brother attended didn’t see its first African-American student graduate until 2011, my brother’s year. That same area had a public pool where my family would swim in the summers. One summer in middle school a bus load of African-American children from the Boys & Girls Club came to swim. My family watched as all the other white families left after they were unable to keep those children out. The city drained the pool after that for cleaning. These experiences, and so many more like them, have never left me. They’ve simmered in the back of my mind, growing hotter and hotter as I’ve aged, as more experiences were added to the pot, until they finally boiled over, flowing out onto the page to help fill out Devils Within. They’ve helped me write more honestly, which was important for this book. They’re in the little details, conversations and turns of phrase, that I’ve had readers tell me they’ve related to the most because it made the book feel real.
What do you hope teen readers–particularly white readers–will take from your book?
My hope for teens is that Devils Within will make them think more critically and be more willing to challenge prejudice when they encounter it. Not just the overt prejudices, but the small, subtle ones too. The ones they might be more willing to overlook. I hope they learn from Nate that silence equals assent, and that their voice, no matter how small, matters. The main thing I want white readers to take from the book is the idea that they don’t have to believe something just because their parents believe it. They’re free to form their own opinions and belief systems. Too often we get in the pattern of rooting for a certain team or voting for a certain party or forming a view on a certain issue because that’s what we grew up hearing. It’s okay to question those things and break away from your parents’ views.
You have a background as a lawyer. What inspired you to write for teens, and how have your past experiences in law informed your writing?
When most people find out I’m an author and an attorney, they immediately assume that I write legal fiction, but honestly, writing is a means of escaping from my day job. That’s one reason I like writing for teens. I deal with cynical adults all day. Let’s be honest: most adults are jaded. They think they already have everything figured out. Teens are just beginning to expand their world views. They’re figuring out where they fit and how they can make a difference. They still have hope. I like being part of that, and, let’s face it, it’s just more fun to write.
My background does color my writing, just in ways most people don’t expect. 90% of practicing law is writing, and it’s all telling a story. At work, I have a limited amount of space to tell my client’s story. Writing a legal brief is almost like plotting a story. Honing my craft at my day job has bled into my writing life. I can’t keep law completely out of my writing, though. I used to practice criminal and family law, which absolutely helped when it came to telling Nate’s story.
What inspires you as a writer?
Everything. I know that’s a broad response, but it’s accurate. I draw inspiration from all over the place: life, music, art, nature. I keep an Evernote app on my phone, and a notebook in my purse. It drives my husband crazy because I’m constantly jotting down notes about something I saw, or an article I read, or conversation I overheard, or snapping a picture, even in the middle of conversation. I’m basically a giant sponge, absorbing everything I encounter and squeezing it onto the page later. Sometimes that inspiration takes over the story, like the article that birthed the idea for Devils Within. Other times it’s subtler, like the guy I saw bust his nose at a football game that wound up giving me the details for a fight Nate has in the book. A line from a song can give me a character’s motivation, or a single tree can end up forming the basis for an entire world. Basically, if you’re in my proximity, watch out because those quippy coffee cups sayings like “don’t offend the writer, or she might put you in a book and kill you” are a little truer with me.
What did you like to read as a teen? Looking back, are there any subjects you wish you’d had more to read about?
I liked darker stories. Stephen King and Thomas Harris. I read a lot of Agatha Christie and John Grisham too. I wish I’d read more YA. I loved Madeleine L’Engle and Paul Zindel, but I didn’t really have access to new books. My small town only had a used bookstore. They let you trade books, which was awesome because my family didn’t have a ton of money, but it also meant the selection was limited to what others had brought in. I would’ve loved to have had more YA books like we’re seeing in the market now. More books that spoke to me where I was. Doubling back to a previous question, I think that plays into why I write YA. I write the stories I wish I’d had as a teen.
Can you tell us anything about your next book or other upcoming projects?
It’s taken me a long time to move on from Devils Within. That book took so much out of me, and it’s taken a while for my creative well to fill back up. I’ve started and stopped half a dozen different projects since finishing Devils, but I’m finally working on a story that I think is going somewhere. It’s set in the most haunted forest in the world, in Romania, and is an allegory for my depression. I think of it like a YA Pan’s Labyrinth.
What books and other media are you loving right now?
I’m absolutely in love with Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down. I also made sure to read all of the other finalists’ books, which are gorgeous. In other media, I adore the show This is Us, even though I’m behind because I cry during basically every episode, and I recently discovered the singer Elliot Moss. I can’t listen to music while I write, but I make a playlist for each book. If you want to know what I’m listening to for my new story, you can find it at www.sfhenson.com/playlists.html.
–Stephen Ashley, currently reading Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
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