Good morning, Hub readers!
Last week we asked you which YA book is the best inspiration for cosplay. It looks like a lot of you are fans of bright blue hair, because Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor came in first with 30% of the vote. In second place, we had The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins with 23% of the vote, followed closely by the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O’Malley with 20%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!
The first day of school is just around the corner, and although we know you students out there would never miss an assignment, we thought we’d try out some inventive excuses our favorite YA lit characters might use. What’s the best YA-inspired excuse for not turning in your homework? Vote in the poll below or suggest your own YA-inspired excuse in the comments!Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
You know, I never really thought the ongoing debate on whether or not authorial intent is important in the interpretation of a piece of literature would ever affect my daily life. I mean, I thought it was an interesting topic that I could discuss with some friends on a misty October morning over a cup of tea, but I wasn’t expecting it to come right up and slap me in the face. What kind of theoretical question does that? Just three weeks ago, however, I found out.
I was out of my element, first of all, greatly increasing my susceptibility to metaphysical confusion. More precisely, I was on foreign exchange in Melbourne, Australia riding a train with my host family on the way to see The Crucible at the Performing Arts Center when the first sign that something was amok appeared:
“So the reviews said it was just hilarious,” one of the women in our group told me, knowing that I was a Miller fan. “The way you girls made it sound, I didn’t even know it was a comedy!”
I exchanged a befuddled glance with one of my fellow American exchange students and tried to be polite. “It’s… not.”
And we weren’t lying; we were probably 99% certain that the Crucible was not a comedy. I’m going to assume that most everyone reading this has read this Arthur Miller play at some point in their high school English career, but if you haven’t and don’t care about spoilers, here’s what you need to know: a bunch of young women try to cope with their stringent seventeenth century Puritan society by dancing around in the woods, sacrificing chickens, and summoning spirits. They get caught, realize they can only escape severe punishment by accusing the adults around them of compacting with the devil, and bada-boom, Salem Witch Trials! No matter how well they can argue that the girls are lying, most characters end up dead by public hanging, highlighting the danger of humans’ tendency towards hysteria and scapegoat-blaming. Oh, the laughs are abundant in this one!
Still, I was surprised to find myself laughing along with the rest of the audience all throughout the play at the same lines that would only incite horror in me when read aloud in my English class at home. At first I thought it was just that I hadn’t accounted for the differences between reading the play and seeing it performed; I mean, this production’s John Proctor was sassy, as opposed to just resentful like his paper counterpart. However, once Judge Danforth arrived and the court proceedings got intense, the humor shifted away from the arguably comical characters and to the logical fallacies of the court. The audience laughed when it was revealed that the only way to avoid punishment for a crime was to confess to it. They laughed when Abigail turned on Mary Warren. Well, even I had to admit that the proceedings were extremely farcical, but I had always assumed that it was supposed to be scary satire, not funny satire.
Although I had definitely enjoyed the play, it wasn’t until the train ride home that the girl I was staying with said something that cleared up my confusion: “It’s just so stupid, you know?” she grinned. “How could anyone think witches are real?”
Oh, wait. “You know it’s not really about witches, right?” I asked carefully, trying not to sound rude. “It’s about the McCarthy trials, you know? Communists, Red Scare?” Well, of course she knew, actually. She was an intelligent young woman and I had probably offended her. Still, she seemed to shrug this fact off as if she didn’t see its implications as they appeared to me. To me, and to the other American exchange students that were at the show that night, The Crucible wasn’t a story of how laughably terrible the legal system was in theocratic Massachusetts; it was a reminder that it was possible for equivalent injustices to arise in the 1950s and probably even today– an idea that’s a little too real for us to be laugh-out-loud hilarious.
It all reminded me of when we read Oedipus Rex in a theology class last semester; no matter how well we students thought we understood and enjoyed it, our teacher kept trying to convince us that he had inside information that he used to glean more meaning from the text. Apparently, the play was written to criticize the way that the Athenian military would just go around invading tiny Greek islands that wouldn’t support them in the Pelopponesian War, which seemed very plausible the way he explained it, but was ultimately shrugged off by the class. I mean, we weren’t voting Athenian citizens; we had no responsibility to understand Ancient Greek political issues and were perfectly capable of enjoying a good play about a guy who could have really benefited from some DNA testing technology and drawing our own thematic conclusions from it. Dare I say, we even laughed at the poor guy. He didn’t even see it coming!
So I came to the conclusion that you can’t just expect people to interpret any piece of literature the same way you do, because it’s a ridiculous expectation. The truth is that whenever someone tries to extract any meaning at all from a book, or play, or poem, chances are they’re not just using the words in front of them, but all the context available, including not only the historical setting and words of the author, but current events, the reader’s personal experience, etc. And news flash! Those things will vary from person to person.
So, I encourage everyone here to try and look at their favorite piece of literature from another point of view. You never know what you might discover. I, for one, learned that The Crucible is a can be a phenomenal comedy if you stop worrying about human nature long enough to laugh at some old farmers who had no idea what they were talking about.
P.S. Related story with a YA lit tie-in: I never really liked the Divergent series by Veronica Roth until I managed to convince myself it was about the modern college admissions process. Just think about it; they tell you that your life is plain over if you don’t decide what you want to do with it when you’re a mere adolescent, then you spend an entire book taking a gigantic test that’s pretty much rigged against you (SAT/ACT) that decides your career. I’m pretty sure that was not the intended meaning of the book, but I’m totally entitled to my opinion.
- Cory C, 12th grade, currently reading Inferno by Dan Brown because it sounded better than actually doing her European History homework.
Brilliant, tragic Victor Frankenstein! He dared to usurp the role of God, galvanizing a haphazard assortment of body parts into a creation of his own. Obviously, he did not think this through very carefully. Frankenstein paid dearly for his hubris, not only during the course of Mary Shelley’s novel, but forever after. His terrible creation, in the end, stole his very identity.
Shelley gives the monster no name at all, which allows the reader to envision any sort of private horror. But after the 1931 release of Universal Picture’s Frankenstein, the image of Boris Karloff with his flat head, bolted neck and miniature clothing became the prototype for the monster. The movies also contributed to name confusion that persists to this day. For example, in the 1935 movie, Bride of Frankenstein, a diabolical doctor creates a woman for the monster, whom he introduces as, “The Bride of Frankenstein!”
Certainly, then, it’s hard to blame subsequent generations of Frankensteins for adopting the misnomer. From Abbott & Costello to Scooby-Doo, the term “Frankenstein” generally refers to the monster, not the doctor. Nevertheless, the story of the scientist who used electricity to animate inert matter, is still fascinating. As part of the Frankenstein Day celebration, here are a few books that build upon Mary Shelley’s imaginative story.
Young Adult Books
The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Series by Kenneth Oppel
Welcome to the youthful mind of Victor Frankenstein. It’s a turbulent place, with greed and fury wrestling against the finer elements of loyalty, valor, and love. Unlike Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this Victor has a twin brother, Konrad. He is still in love with Elizabeth, who is his cousin in Oppel’s version. Victor is quickly established in the first book, This Dark Endeavor (a 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection) as the evil twin. But it is Victor, who, in a harrowing scene, makes a tremendous sacrifice for Konrad’s life. The second book, Such Wicked Intent, further illustrates Victor’s efforts to free himself from his dark obsessions. Nevertheless, he is drawn closer to forbidden knowledge, as if destiny offers him no other path.
Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
Victor Frankenstein fathered twin daughters, Giselle and Ingrid, and abandoned them immediately after their birth. In his mind this was a kindness, for he was still pursued by his monster, and wanted to protect his daughters from that horror. The girls did not learn the identity of their father until his frozen body was retrieved from the Arctic. As his heirs, they became owners of Castle Frankenstein, with its laboratories and hidden passages. The apples, however, don’t fall too far from the tree. Giselle and Ingrid soon find their own dark obsessions sheltered within the walls of the castle.
This twenty-first century adaptation of the Frankenstein story casts Victor Frankenstein as a teen-aged computer wizard. His goal is to create a chatbot, forming its intelligence from the Internet itself. Inevitably, Victor’s bot starts demonstrating an evil persona of its own. This is Black’s second book in the iMonsters series, following iDracula. As with the Dracula story, iFrankenstein is told completely through virtual communication: texts, emails, chats, blogs, and web images — a clever treatment that should appeal to tech-savvy readers.
Thin and sickly, fifteen-year-old Billy barely survives by picking pockets on the grimy streets of nineteenth century London. One foggy January night, he encounters a giant with a violent temper. Overhearing men refer to the giant as the “creature,” Billy begins calling the giant, “Mr. Creecher.” Turns out Mr. Creecher is on a vendetta. He’s tracking down one Victor Frankenstein, who owes Mr. Creecher a bride. A darkly humorous, quick read.
Angelmonster by Veronica Bennett
The romance of Mary Godwin and Percy Shelley was scandalous from the start. Shelley, a married man expecting a second child, became wildly infatuated with sixteen-year-old Mary, an intelligent girl raised by her liberal-thinking father. The story follows Mary from the thrill of first love to the recurrent nightmares that inspired Mary’s literary masterpiece, Frankenstein. While this is a fictional account with no claims to biography, the truth of Mary Shelley’s life reveals tragedy beyond imagining.
Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock
More scholarly than its colorful cover indicates, veteran author and collector of Frankenstenia Hitchcock crafts a careful history of the story and the monster we have come to call Frankenstein. Beginning with a comprehensive analysis of Shelley’s life and the original story, Hitchcock traces the introduction of elements that have become standard, such as Boris Karloff’s definitive portrayal and the insertion of the child accidentally killed by the monster. The degree of humanity in the monster, and the degree of evil in Frankenstein, are also interesting variations. A must-read for devoted fans.
Here’s a twist: Victor Frankenstein relates episodes of his friendship with Percy Bysshe Shelley. They meet in college. Shelley is credited with stirring the imagination of the relegious Frankenstein, challenging him with the lack of scientific proof that God is necessary for the creation of life. In a neat tour-de-force, real people in Percy Shelley’s life, including Lord Byron and Mary Shelley herself, intermingle with Mary’s invented Frankenstein characters.
In this case, the “father” is James Whale, the real-life movie director of the films Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Bram fictionalizes Whale’s glamorous life that included movie stars, wealth, and, inevitably, a tragic death. The 1998 movie Gods & Monsters, which won Ian McKellen a Best Actor Oscar, is based on this book.
What happens to the monster after the creator has died? This is the novel that tackles the question. Basically a sequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, O’Keefe, a masterful writer, creates a novel that stands alone, although knowledge of the original work certainly enhances the reading.
Few characters beg illustration as much as Frankenstein’s monster. There are a number of excellent versions to choose from, most of them with an abridgment of the original text. A few of the many choices are shown below. Click on the covers for more information.
Have I missed your favorite? Please share these in the comment fields below!
- Diane Colson, currently reading Night Film by Marisha Pessl and listening to Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal, narrated by W. Morgan Sheppard
Inspired by the list of books featuring transgender teens published in the Summer 2013 issue of YALSA’s Young Adult Library Services Journal, I thought it would be an interesting connection to put together a similar list of movies for teens with transgender characters. Two of my favorite things are film and books, and I’m a pretty big movie nerd so it seemed like a good fit. Then I started to do some research and was having a really hard time finding any movies- let alone teen movies- with a transgender character.
The best I could do were two independent movies, Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Transamerica (2005), which are probably more adult, released years ago and pretty heavy thematically. Both movies are fabulous, don’t get me wrong– but I watched both when I was a teenager. It seemed important to find something slightly more current and with a positive perspective. This led me to expand my search to include television and/or film characters.
There are slightly more characters in television then film, although a good number of them come from Law and Order: SVU episodes. Rebecca Romijn played a man who became a woman on Ugly Betty back in 2006-2008. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it does remind me of the Will & Grace problem. Does playing into stereotypes for laughter trivialize the issue, or is it just a good thing that transgender characters are getting exposure to a mainstream audience?
I’m not sure about the above question, but I do know a show that toes this line a lot better: Glee. Thank goodness for Ryan Murphy’s Glee. While some of the story lines may have gone overboard recently, it is one of the few shows that really emphasize all kinds of diversity, and it gave us Unique! Who didn’t want to root for this character after her rendition of Boogie Shoes?
The last character and show that should get some recognition is Jude from The Fosters. Jude is a middle school aged character exhibiting gender ambiguity. The Fosters is a great show on a channel that is chock full of YA programming. If you haven’t started this show yet, then I’m strongly recommending it to you. The show has lots of that soapy teen drama but it’s filled with heart. Here is one of my favorite scenes with Jude who went to school wearing nail polish and his new mom, Lena:
Trans* characters have the smallest representation in a group with a small representation to begin with in literature, film and television. It would appear YA lit and television are at least dipping their toe in the pool, while film seems to shy away from trans* characters completely. But is dipping a toe in the pool enough? I want to see more trans* characters in books, movies and TV. When people have someone, whether that someone is an actual person in their life or a fictional character, in which to identify, acceptance and understanding is easier. For most people, transgender persons are still largely a mystery to them and the embedded gendered stereotypes in our society don’t make understanding any easier. We need art to help us bridge that gap.
What do you think, readers? Are there any trans* characters in YA film and television that you can’t believe I missed?
-Katie Shanahan, currently reading The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
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 anything…
Contests and Giveaways
- Please RT –> Back-to-school giveaway for educators! Win a copy of TAKEN for your school/classroom/library: http://www.embowman.com/2013/back-to-school-giveaway/ …-@erin_bowman
- Read 7 chapters of Unbreakable FREE! http://www.amazon.com/Unbreakable-PREVIEW-Chapters-Legion-ebook/dp/B00ENTAT96/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1377617693 … #thelegionseries <– So nervous! Don’t want to disappoint u guys!-@kamigarcia
- Finish “Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without _” in any way u choose & enter to win 3 GREAT books http://ow.ly/ok355 -@Teenreads
- You can also win @BrandSanderson‘s STEELHEART w 20 other books & tote in our #BackToSchool #giveaway http://ow.ly/ok40o @randomhousekids-@Teenreads
- Enter for a chance to win a *signed* copy of THE BITTER KINGDOM by @RaeCarson! ––> http://ow.ly/olHZt -@PitchDarkBooks
- Have you entered my Goodreads giveaway for an ARC of INHERITANCE? It ends this Saturday! US/Can addresses only http://bit.ly/13nt6OB -@malindalo
- There are advanced copies of Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales up for grabs on Goodreads. Go here to enter: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17416083-desert-tales …-@melissa_marr
- Everyone has secrets. Enter to win a galley of FIND ME by @RomilyBernard. http://shrd.by/BAsdGR -@harperteen
- Happy Book Birthday to Renee Collins and RELIC!!!! Come check out the post here!! @reneecollins_ http://tmblr.co/ZgiF4utQa7qv -@elloecho
- I’m both wildly ecstatic and deeply depressed that the Bitter Kingdom is out! @raecarson I’ve never bought a book so fast before.-@elloecho
- Congrats to @kellyannfiore bc her awesome book TASTE TEST is out today!!!! And I’m getting a signed copy tonight at Bethesda library!!-@elloecho
- Happy book birthday to @SonyaSones, whose newest TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST is out TODAY! It’s next on my To Read pile. Can’t wait!-@sarahdessen
- another must buy for me today? THE LIBERATOR by @VictoriaScottYA-@rossibooks
- couldn’t have said it better myself MT @LBardugo And last but hells no not least, ORIGIN by @JLArmentrout is out today… hotchacha!-@rossibooks
- *on sale now* THE FALL OF FIVE by Pittacus Lore http://ow.ly/ojloK -@HarperCollins
- Happy book birthday, David! RT @loversdiction $2 for every TWO BOYS KISSING sold for the first two weeks will go to The Trevor Project…-@sarahbethdurst
- Happy Book Birthday to DECEPTION by @cjredwine! Check out this celebrity we caught reading an ARC: http://tmblr.co/ZKa3MttRB23o -@yabookscentral
News and Events
- ‘The Book Thief’ trailer gets emotional first look http://huff.to/1f3HhYW -@HuffPostBooks
- Star from ‘Game of Thrones’ joins ‘Hunger Games’ cast http://huff.to/1f7cD0V -@HuffPostBooks
- New ‘Divergent’ teaser!!! http://huff.to/1f5F9jA -@HuffPostBooks
- Stop what you’re doing & watch this video @realjohngreen made on the #TFIOS movie set: http://bit.ly/17jKpiC -@PenguinTeen
Just For Fun
- JK Rowling misses this character the most (Hint: It’s not Harry!) http://huff.to/1fgkBVz -@HuffPostBooks
– Whitney Etchison, currently reading Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
Check out previous interviews in the One Thing Leads to Another series here.
I’m pretty sure the first book I read that was written by David Levithan was Boy Meets Boy, though it might have been The Realm of Possibility since I was, as is often the case, late to the party. I say “written by” because of course I’d been reading books published and edited by him for years. (He’s the founding editor of Scholastic’s PUSH imprint, and edits and publishes authors like Suzanne Collins, Maggie Stiefvater, Garth Nix, Alice Hoffman, M. T. Anderson, and Cecil Castellucci.) I know I quickly rounded up at least four or five “written by” novels as soon as I finished Boy Meets Boy and spent a wonderful couple of weeks catching up, and and afterwards I made sure that I kept up with each new book that came out, which, honestly, is no small feat when you’re talking about David Levithan. I mean, in the last year (almost to the day) he’s given us Every Day, which comes out in paperback on September 10th, and its digital-only companion, Six Earlier Days; Invisibility, a collaboration with Andrea Cremer; and Two Boys Kissing (out this very week) about which David says, “In honor of its release, and tying very much to its themes, I will be giving two dollars for each copy sold in the first three weeks to The Trevor Project, an amazing organization that supports queer youth. So buy early and buy often – and help me support an amazing cause.”
Thank you, David, for taking the time to talk with me about your teen years, your work as an editor, and your fantastic books.Always Something There to Remind Me
Please describe your teenage self.
Bookish, happy, well adjusted. Not a large leap from my current self.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I knew words would be involved in some way, but had to figure out which way. (In the end, I feel like I chose them all, or at least a few variations.) If you’d asked me in high school, I probably would have guessed I would have become a journalist or an editor. I wouldn’t have been surprised at being a novelist… but I definitely would have been impressed that I’d managed to finish something.
What were your high school years like?
I was at Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ, and I liked it. There was a lot of pressure to get into a good college, but at some point I came to peace with the fact that I was never going to be in the top ten in my class (amusingly, I ended up at #11), so I didn’t devote my life to my homework. I did, however, devote much of my life to my friends – for most of high school, it was a core group of about seven girls and me, and then senior year it was my two closest best friends (who were sophomores) – we called ourselves Siberia, which is really all you need to know. Only in this case, Siberia was located very close to the mall, and everyone else. Oh, and I was reading all the time. I wrote authors’ names on my jeans. I was that cool.
What were some of your passions during that time?
Among the authors whose names were on my jeans: Margaret Atwood, Alice Hoffman, Anne Tyler, Philip Roth, John Irving, Cynthia Voigt, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, Fay Weldon… And music! So many mix tapes. Erasure and Depeche Mode from Lynda. Everything But the Girl and The Smiths from Cary. Joni Mitchell and Indigo Girls from Jen. And so on.
Would you be willing to share a difficult teen experience or challenge that you feel shaped the adult you became?
I think the fact that I didn’t have a difficult teen experience or challenge certainly shaped the adult I became. I owe my parents everything and then some. I won the parent lottery, no question. And then I went and won the friend lottery.
What about a positive experience or accomplishment that had an impact on your adult self?
It was really thrilling to have my first book published. But, truth be told, the first time one of my stories was accepted to the high school literary magazine was pretty thrilling, too. All variations of the same theme. But honestly? It’s all those moments with my friends. Dancing in parks or goofing around at a multiplex or crowding into someone’s house for a deadline meeting for the newspaper – those fuel my writing more than anything academic.
What advice, if any, would you give your teen self? Would your teen self have listened?
This is an author questionnaire, right? Not a psych exam? Just checking. Since I only have limited space here, I will defer to the letter I wrote to my thirteen-year-old self in Sarah Moon and James Lecesne’s awesome anthology The Letter Q. That will answer this question.
Do you have any regrets about your teen years? Anything left undone or anything that might have been better left undone?
Well, were I a teen now, I would have clued into the whole gay thing much, much sooner. But the truth is that I can’t even regret that. I wasn’t closeted, just astonishingly oblivious. And in the meantime, I had a pretty good time.
What, if anything, do you miss most about that time?
The frequency with which I got to see my friends. And passing notes. I loved to pass notes.Every Day I Write the Book
As a publisher and the editorial director at Scholastic you’ve worked as an editor with a wide variety of authors, and have published/edited a large number of popular and acclaimed books; as an author, you’ve written a number of critically-acclaimed bestsellers. How does your work as an editor inform or influence your work as an author? Do you think being a writer yourself changes how your authors relate to you as an editor? Does being an editor change the way you work with an editor on your own books?
My work as an editor exposes me to a lot of writers and writing that I never would have had a chance to read otherwise, and that certainly inspires me as a writer. And my work as a publisher certainly gives me a context for my book’s existence that not many writers have. Also, my apprenticeship as an editor offered many lessons about writing – how to plot, for example. But for all that, I am still entirely dependent on my editor to see my own work through the readers’ eyes. I am not capable of that. Editing yourself is like a doctor performing surgery on himself or herself – not advisable.
As for how my authors relate to me – you would have to ask them. Certainly, it feels like we speak the same language – but that’s true with editors who aren’t authors, too.
You’ve said “I write because I am in love with life. Or I write because I want to be in love with life. I think it’s always one of the two,” and in the same piece you explained that you often write “conventional love stories…because loving another person is a manifestation of loving life, or being in love with life.” In your essay “A Similar Kind of Love Song,” you also write that some of your most interesting correspondence comes from surprised readers who found themselves deeply invested in love stories that didn’t reflect their own orientation or gender. “Love is love, more than one reader wrote…And I thought, yes, that’s it exactly.” It sounds like you’re saying that creating something–whether you’re creating a book or a relationship or a life–is an act of love. Is that a fair interpretation? Could you talk a little bit about that theme, “love is love,” and how it’s reflected in your work?
I’m not sure I’d say that writing is always an act of love, but certainly it can be fueled by love, insofar as so many other emotions (joy, alarm, fear, astonishment) are also fueled by some form of love. I would find it very, very hard to write about something I didn’t care about, or characters I didn’t care about. I’m not that kind of novelist, nor, truth be told, do I particularly want to be.
As for love is love and how it’s reflected in my work – I don’t want it to sound like I believe all loves are the same. I think every love brings its own complications and concerns, because it intersects with so many other pieces of who we are, and where we are. But the core longings resist any demographic pigeonhole.
You’ve explored a really impressive number of different formats including novels, short stories, and novels in verse, and you’ve also written for and edited anthologies, collaborated with a wide variety of authors, and drawn inspiration from photographs, classic literature, and dictionary entries. You’ve written realistic contemporary fiction, a psychological thriller, speculative fiction, and romance. Where do you go next?
The amazing thing about writing YA right now is that all the doors are open, and none of the possibilities have been crossed out. I’d love to write a mystery. I’d love to write middle-grade. I’ll certainly write another book about adults. And I refuse to leave this earth before I write a book with Libba Bray. But I never know where I’m going to be, storywise, until I am there. That’s part of the fun of it for me.
Your next book, Two Boys Kissing (August 2013), is described as “a perfect thematic bookend to…Boy Meets Boy, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013” and you’ve also described your 2008 novel Wide Awake, which begins with the election of the first gay Jewish president, as being a “sequel in spirit” to Boy Meets Boy. The starred Publisher’s Weekly review of Two Boys Kissing calls the book a “landmark achievement” and says “it’s a different world for teenagers coming of age and coming out now, compared to when…Boy Meets Boy was published 10 years ago.” Could you talk a little about the connections between these three books, about the societal changes they reflect, and about where “the canon of gay literature,” as PW calls it, goes from here?
If Boy Meets Boy is about creating an ideal town (situated next to a less than ideal town), then Wide Awake was about creating an ideal America. Some books were made to reflect reality, but those books are more about creating reality, and showing where it can go. The incredible gratifying and sometimes outright extraordinary thing is that many of the things that I wrote as fantasy ten years ago are reality now, and we are closer to that ideal town and that ideal American that I would’ve thought. Two Boys Kissing is about that shift, for sure, but it’s also about the price that was paid for it, and is about the gay generation that came before mine (which was marked so devastatingly by AIDS) looking at the generation that came after mine (which is defined, at least right now, by the Internet and the possibilities, both good and bad, it opens). As for the canon – I feel as things keep changing so fast, mostly for the better but not always, literature has to keep pace, and has to capture all of these moments of change so we don’t forget them once we have changed even farther. I wrote Love is the Higher Law, which takes place in New York on 9/11 and in the immediate space after, and even though I was writing it within a decade of the events, it was already historical fiction. I think writing about gay lives now is like that. Not that things get banished easily to history, but that the here and now moves too fast to be photographed easily. We novelists must try to pin down the blur, and show what’s happening right now both for the right now, and for whatever comes next.Just Can’t Get Enough
Question from Elizabeth Knox: Every Day is an extraordinarily empathic and inclusive book. Did your plan for who A might inhabit evolve as you got to know his character better? It is actually a kind of chicken and egg question.
There was no plan! Or, I guess, the plan was not to have a plan. A wakes up every day in a different life. And because of that, I didn’t want to know whose body A was waking up into until A did, which meant that I was having to figure that out at every chapter break. I think the novel works because of that – there isn’t foreshadowing because I myself had no idea what was coming next.
David has contributed a question for the next author in the series, Charles de Lint. Watch for an interview with him in September.
David Levithan is a children’s book editor in New York City, and the author of several books for young adults, including the New York Times bestseller, Every Day, and the most recent Two Boys Kissing (2013). He is also the author of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (co-authored with Rachel Cohn); Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-authored with John Green); and Every You, Every Me (with photographs from Jonathan Farmer). He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. You can find him at his website or on Twitter or visit him on Facebook.
–Julie Bartel, currently reading the Among the Mad (Maisie Dobbs #6) and A.S. King’s amazing Reality Boy
Today we will finish up our class schedule with books on math, history and art!
Period 6: Math – Gretchen Kolderup
Nothing But the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen
Patty Ho is half-Taiwanese and half-white, a math genius, and in trouble with her mother after a fortune teller sees a white boy in her future. When her mom ships her off to math camp for the summer, she thinks she’s in for months of boredom surrounded by Asian math nerds.
But things might not be as desperate as they seem (she does meet a cute boy!), and Patty might just learn something about her family and herself. Well-developed characters and a relatable story of discovering who people are beneath the surface.
Numbed! by David Lubar
While Logan and Benedict are on a school field trip to a math museum, they have an encounter with a mathematic robot who “numbs” them, rendering them incapable of performing the simplest of math problems — even being able to tell what time it’ll be one hour later. Through multiple visits back to the museum where they’re forced to do quick calculations and solve some dastardly problems, the boys regain their powers — and develop a deeper, more intuitive understanding of math (and even an appreciation for the subject!). This middle grade title is full of Lubar’s characteristic puns and silly one-liners, is perfectly paced, and manages to sneak in a little learning with all the fun.
A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan
Farrah “Digit” Higgins has an incredible talent for detecting patterns in numbers. She’s managed to keep it hidden from her friends and while she’s MIT-bound next fall, she’s determined to make her senior year fun. However, after unknowingly cracking a terrorist group’s number sequence, she’s suddenly investigating the case, evading terrorists, trying to get the FBI to take her seriously, and even faking her own kidnapping. A romance, a coming-of-age story, and a thriller all wrapped up in one.
The Rithmatist by Brian Sanderson
Rithmatists can bring life to two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings, making them humanity’s only defense against the murderous Wild Chalklings. Joel desperately wants to be a Rithmatist, but because of his lowly parentage, he can only watch as students study the magical art. But when students start disappearing, Joel and his friend Melody are driven to investigate and discover more than they — or anyone else — expected. Sanderson, who writes fantasy for grown-ups, blends mathematical concepts into a high-fantasy setting in his first YA title. Think Harry Potter plus math, and the start of an exciting series.
Also worth checking out:
- After Math by Denise Grover Swank (new adult!)
- Digital Fortress by Dan Brown (adult with teen appeal!)
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (a classic!)
- The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, translated by Michael Henry Heim (even more math-tastic than the rest!)
- The books on this list previously published on The Hub
Period 7: History – Carla Land
Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer
Princess Cleopatra, one of the most famous queens of all time, shares her story as she grows up and gains power in ancient Egypt. Even though she’s a favorite of her father, life isn’t easy with all of the intrigue in Egypt. Powerful men like Julius Caesar fall in love with her because she is beautiful, but Cleopatra has many enemies she must defend herself from- including her own family.
Extra credit: The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford.
Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Catherine, the thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight, is snarky and independent during a time when women were not supposed to be either of those things. She keeps a journal at her brother’s urging, keeping track of her daily life- including the flea count- and her dreams of not being married off to the old men her father brings home as suitors. Will her wits save her, or will she be stuck with Shaggy Beard for the rest of her life? (a 1998 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection)
Extra credit: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman.
The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli
Who was the woman we call Mona Lisa? Life in Florence isn’t easy for women during the Renaissance. Elisabetta, Lisa for short, longs for more than just being a wife to someone chosen for her, but romance isn’t for most young girls of her class. Then family friend Leonardo da Vinci introduces her to Guiliano de Medici. Guiliano’s family rules Florence (with an iron fist, some say), but things are about to change for both the Medici’s and for Lisa- and not necessarily for the better.
Extra credit: Cantarella series by You Higuri.
Colonial/Revolutionary America (1620-1800)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, traitor to the nation: Volume 1 The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
In this 2007 Printz Honor book, Octavian has led a different kind of life than most young African Americans in pre-revolutionary times. Classically trained and educated from birth, he has lived his life not know that he has been brought up as part of a science experiment, not knowing that he is in fact, a slave, and that the world outside the front door he is not permitted to exit is very different than the one he thought he was living in.
Extra credit: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Victorian Era America (1837-1901)
Ripper by Steffan Pretrucha
Fourteen-year-old Carver Young is an orphan who hopes to someday find his birth father. When he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the famous Pinkerton Agency he thinks he is on his way to doing this… but then he becomes involved in the investiagtion of a New York City serial killer- who may be the notorious killer Jack the Ripper- and Carver discovers that learning the truth about his past may be worse than not knowing it.
Extra Credit: The King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli.
World War II (1939-1945)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Bruno is bored- and lonely. There’s a war going on and his father has been transferred from Berlin to a place called “Out-With” where he is the Nazi commander. This would be fine, but there are no children to play with… except for the boy on the other side of the wire fence who wears striped pajamas. Becoming friends with this boy will be far more tragic than Bruno could ever realize.
Extra credit: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.
Period 8: Art – Colleen Seisser
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
A lot can happen in one night. In this 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, Lucy and her friends Jazz and Daisy want to spend the whole night after high school graduation in search of Shadow and Poet, a couple of graffiti artists that are making their mark in their Australian city. Shadow creates incredible images that Poet puts words to. Lucy, who spends her free time as an apprentice to a glass blower, is obsessed with Shadow’s artwork and knows that he is the guy for her. All she has to do is find him, which she has been trying to do for months now. Her friends Jazz and Daisy assure Lucy that before the night is over they will find Shadow.
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
In a new town and a new high school, Jane is not only alone, she is also bored by suburban life. So, on her first day of school, Jane is surprised to find three other Janes who are all friends and eat lunch together. Jane asks to join them and instantly finds friendship. Each of the Janes has their own unique personalities and together, they all just fit. To fight the boredom of suburban life, Jane rallies the other Janes to form P.L.A.I.N., or People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. They create art installations all over their suburban town to challenge people’s everyday notions of what art can be. Some residents like the art, however, there are those who are outraged and frightened of it and start calling the installations “art attacks.” What does this mean for the Janes? Do they continue their installations, risking arrest? Or worse? (a 2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection)
Heist Society by Ally Carter
In this 2010 Teens’ Top Ten winning title, Kat just wants a normal life, but when you are raised by one of the world’s foremost art thieves, your life is never going to be normal. Attempting to escape the life that her father has trained her to live, Kat enrolls in a New England boarding school. After only a couple of months, though, Kat learns that her father is accused of stealing five works of art from and infamous mobster. Knowing that her father’s life is at stake, Kat embraces the art thievery skills that her father taught her to find the five artworks and clear her father’s name.
Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell
Cora discovers that art can truly help you heal. As she enters ninth grade, Cora can’t help but being consumed by grief from the recent death of her older brother in a car accident. Cora has always loved drawing maps and imagining herself in the places she creates. It is through this art that Cora is really able to escape her small town and her life that now feels like it is suffocating her. Art class is where Cora finds not only encouragement from a teacher to pursue her passion, but she also starts a friendship with Damien who was in the car with her brother the night he died and who her parent’s blame for their son’s death. As Damien and Cora grow closer, she learns the truth about her brother and who he really was, including his own secret artistic talents.
Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
In this 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection, Paige has just moved from a rural town in Virginia to Brooklyn. Needless to say, her life is now very different. Feeling isolated and confused about her sense of self, Paige turns to art. Her sketchbook becomes her constant companion and she has committed to creating art to document her new life and try to figure out who she really is. Through eight months of work, Paige chronicles new friendships, insights to herself, thoughts about her mother, and even a possible romance.
A final thanks to all of the contributors who helped to make this great list. Hopefully it will help you find the perfect read for the beginning of the new school year! Let us know what subjects you love and which books we missed in the comments!
- Carli Spina, currently reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Tessa is a sixteen year-old girl dying of leukemia in Before I Die, a raw, heart-wrenching novel by Jenny Downham. Readers meet Tessa as she imagines something she has never had and is afraid she never will: a boyfriend. Having sex is just one of the items on her bucket list. With a light brush of humor, Downham avoids cliche and melodrama as Tessa makes the most of the life left to her. Readers looking for an uplifting tearjerker will find one of the best in this 2008 Teens’ Top Ten winner.
If I Die Young by The Band Perry is a melodic eulogy for the “sharp knife of a short life.” At first, the song struck me as the opposite of the book, because it romanticizes the aftermath of an early death. But songwriter Kimberley Perry’s comments on the song are more life-affirming:
We really have gotten to live and love at our young ages. ‘If I Die Young,’ for us, is about if it all ends at this moment, look at what we’ve gotten to do. Whatever time we’re given will be absolutely enough as long as we make the most of it.
Below is the music video featuring the talented Perry siblings.
Diane Colson, currently reading an advanced reader’s copy of Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, and listening to The Cukoo’s Calling written by Robert Galbraith and read by Robert Glenister
So, you’ve heard the news by now: Bunheads was cancelled.
Let’s take a moment.
Take a deep, cleansing breath.
Are we ready to move on?
For those of you who join me in mourning ABC Family’s thoughtfully-produced television show about teen ballet dancers, I have an alternative: Dance Academy. This TV show hails from down under, now airing its third and final season on Australia’s ABC3 channel. American fans can catch up with the first two seasons on Teen Nick , download it on iTunes, or stream it via Netflix.
Dance Academy is essentially a YA novel in TV form. It centers around Tara Webster, a naive but talented girl from the country who is accepted to the illustrious National Academy of Dance in Sydney and finds herself navigating a complicated whirlwind of intense competition, new responsibilities, friendships, and romance. Like many YA books, this show is a roller coaster of a journey to self-discovery, and you’ll find yourself rooting for Tara and her friends through their victories and disappointments.
I’ve got five reasons YA lit readers will love Dance Academy:
A strong sense of setting
As Anna Tschetter wrote in a recent post here on The Hub, setting is an important factor in a memorable YA read– and the same goes for a good TV series. Dance Academy showcases the beauty of Sydney in a way that will make you want to hop a plane to Australia as soon as possible. If Australian accents are your thing, the actors will make you swoon, and yes, kangaroos make an appearance. Not only does this series highlight the allure of Australia, the boarding school setting is another draw. A boarding school is practically every teen’s dream, right? Being independent, fending for yourself, having a curfew– which, of course, means breaking it now and then…
This series has a fantastically diverse cast. For example, one of the main characters happens to be Asian, and he’s not the meek, math-nerd stereotype so often depicted in American media; he’s a tough, street-smart kid with a tormented past who happens to be an amazing dancer, and he’s a romantic interest for more than one girl. White girls, I should note– because interracial relationships are simply no big deal on this show. The series also features a Jewish character whose cultural practices are depicted on screen, as well as an interracial gay couple. Thank you, Australia!
Teens with goals
To me, one of YA lit’s major appeal factors is that it takes teens seriously. A good YA book depicts teens as multi-dimensional, relatable people with real interests and goals. I love it when characters have a true passion for something, and Dance Academy excels in this regard. Each character on the show is intensely dedicated to dance. They work incredibly hard, they make sacrifices– all while dealing with the concerns shared by all young adults– fitting in, making friends, dealing with parents, finding a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Move over, Blair Waldorf. Meet Abigail Armstrong. She’s terrifying. This girl can rock a headband, doesn’t need minions, and will dance circles around you. Ballet is her life. She’s determined to be the best dancer at the academy, and she’s going to get there at any cost… maybe. Okay, the truth? Abigail can be a total mean girl– but her personality is layered with sympathetic motivations, and her complexity is what makes her so endearing as a character. (Oh, and just wait till an even meaner girl shows up in season 2!)
Author Melina Marchetta wrote the script for an episode in the TV show’s second season– and the props department included a clever cameo of her 2009 Printz Award winning novel, Jellicoe Road in the hands of the main character. Definitely a squee-worthy moment for any YA lit fan in the know.
And now I’m off to practice my pirouettes and my Australian accent.
-Allison Tran, currently reading The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater
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.