In honour of my time in the US for both YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium and YALLFest, I have put together a book list covering the books that most piqued my interest. Some are yet to make their way onto shelves, some have been available for some time. But all have great stories to tell…
Gayle Forman (January 6, 2013)
When sheltered American good girl Allyson ‘LuLu’ Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left.
Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
Gayle Forman was a superstar at the YALLFest – I maintain she should have won the Golden Pie award. If I Stay and Where She Went are great favourites of mine and I cannot wait to be introduced to her new characters (who continue in the companion novel, Just One Year.)
Andrew Smith (2013)
Ryan Dean West’s life is complicated. He’s a fourteen year old junior at Pine Mountain, a boarding school for rich kids. He’s stuck rooming with the biggest jerk on the rugby team in the dorm for miscreants and troublemakers. And he’s totally in love with his best friend, Annie, who thinks of him as a little kid.
As Ryan Dean tries to get a handle on school, life and rugby, he finds himself muddling through a lotof decisions, and making some major mistakes along the way. But nothing can prepare him for what comes next. And when the unthinkable happens, Ryan Dean has to find a way to hold on to the important things – no matter what.
One of the best covers I’ve ever seen. Ever. Having heard Smith talk about this upcoming release I also know that Winger is an illustrated novel and at points has the narrative told through haiku. It sounds like really exciting step in cross-medium YA storytelling.
It’s the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a fifteen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, Dallas, escape the treatment, but must pretend to be “zombies” while they watch their freedoms and hopes decay. When Max’s family decides to take Dallas with them into the unknown world beyond New Middletown’s borders, Max’s creativity becomes an unexpected bonus rather than a liability.
This dystopian tale came highly recommended during the Dystopian panel I attended at the Symposium’s pre-conference. What sold me? A world with an inoculation for bad behaviour….need to read.
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Another strong recommendation from the librarians that surrounded me during the Dystopian panel. It was mentioned often enough, with significant fervour, that it’s zoomed up my TBR pile.
Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. Since then–much to his friends’ dismay–he has been depressed, pessimistic, and obsessed with this ex, Brenda.
But things start to look up for Logan when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Tall, unconventionally pretty, and a bit awkward, Sage Hendricks somehow appeals to Logan even at a time when he trusts no one. As Logan learns more about Sage, he realizes that she needs a friend as much as he does, if not more. She has been home schooled for several years, and her parents have forbidden her to date, but she won’t tell Logan why. The mystery of Sage’s past and the oddities of her personality intrigue Logan, and one day, he acts on his growing attraction and kisses her. Moments later, however, he wishes he hadn’t. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy.
Brian Katcher was the author panellist for the LGBTQ panel, The Invisible Minority. He spoke about the spark that ignited this title’s concept, the research he underwent, the award he won for it (2011 Stonewall Book Award) and how many students cannot find it as it is blocked on school servers…. I’ve ordered it and should be reading it very soon.
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.
As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.
Confession…I’ve never read King’s work. I have heard of her, of course. And yet, the situation never seemed to present itself. While I did not hear her speak at the Symposium, I am mad keen to read this Printz Honor title.
Greg Neri (illustrated by Randy DuBurke)
In August of 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer—nicknamed for his love of sweets—fired a gun at a group of rival gangmembers, accidentally killing a neighborhood girl, Shavon Dean. Police searched Chicago’s southside for three days before finding Yummy dead in a railway tunnel, killed by members of the drug gang he’d sought to impress. The story made such an impact that Yummy appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, drawing national attention to the problems of inner city youth in America.
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty relives the confusion of these traumatic days from the point of view of Roger, a neighborhood boy who struggles to understand the senseless violence swirling through the streets around him. Awakened by the tragedy, Roger seeks out answers to difficult questions—Was Yummy a killer or a victim? Was he responsible for his actions or are others to blame?
Graphic novel with gritty subject matter and yet aimed at teens? I am in! Yummy also won the 2011 Coretta Scott King Award (among MANY others) if you require further endorsement. Urban YA is not a genre that I am all that familiar with and my recent jaunt to the US has definitely provided a list of authors I need to read immediately.