April brings warmer weather, blooming flowers, and a wealth of debut authors worth checking out. There’s something for all readers this month, and what better way to prepare for your classroom visits and book talks in the time before summer reading programs hit full swing than to learn about new authors? And remember, if you read something by a debut author you think is excellent, don’t forget to nominate it for YALSA’s William C Morris award.
The apocalypse is upon the characters in Ann Aguirre’s Enclave (Feiwel & Friends, 9780312650087). In this dystopian world, people earn their place and name in society if they survive their first fifteen years on earth — this is the age when they’ll be taken in by one of three groups (the Breeders, the Builders, or the Hunters) and trained to survive. Deuce, the main character, has worked hard to become a Huntress, whose job is to help provide food to her fellow citizens. Of course, it’s not an easy job, as Hunters must avoid the dangerous Freaks who reside in the path between this society and the society’s food source. But as much as Deuce has worked toward this role for her entire life, it might all come crashing down when she meets Fade, a boy unlike any other she’s ever met before. There’s danger, death, and fear around every corner in this first book of a trilogy. You may be familiar with Aguirre’s name, as she’s the author of a few adult titles, but this is her first ya offering. Though not eligible for the Morris Award, this is a title worth knowing, as it may appeal to your fans of titles like The Hunger Games. Aguirre’s website is here, and blogger reviews of Enclave can be found here and here.
Angela Cerrito offers up a compelling story about life in solitary confinement with her debut The End of the Line (Holiday House, 9780823422876). Robbie, 13, is locked in a room with little more than a pencil, desk, chair, and piece of paper; he has to earn the privilege to do anything, even simple things like using the bathroom. Readers are thrown into the story head first, and it’s through Robbie’s narration we learn the horrific thing he did to end up here, in the prison for those who have reached “the end of the line.” Can he learn to forgive himself and live with the consequences of his actions? Cerrito’s website is here, and a librarian blogger review of this title can be read here. You can also check out an interesting interview between Cerrito and a class of high school students here.
Based on the true events of the author’s great grandmother and great aunt, Carole Estby Dagg’s historical adventure The Year We Were Famous (Clarion, 97806189998350) has already garnered a nomination from the Amelia Bloomer Project as recommended feminist reading for young people. Clara Estby and her mother are losing their home to foreclosure; they need to find money and they need to find it fast. But this is 1896, and women can’t make money quickly or easily. These women aren’t weak nor are they afraid to work, and by putting their creative and negotiation skills to the test, they strike a deal with a publisher: if they can walk the over 4600 miles from their small Washington town to New York City, they will earn $10,000 — enough to keep their home for sure. This story is not only an adventure and a historical “road trip,” but it’s also flush within one of the most important times for women’s history in America. You can read blogger reviews of this title here and here, and you can connect with the author at her website here (hers is one worth reading for more background into this story, too).
A few other titles worth looking into this coming month by debut authors include Diana Greenwood’s Insight, Tessa Gratton’s Blood Magic, K. Ryer Breese’s Future Imperfect, and Angie Smibert’s Memento Nora. There’s a little something for every type of reader this month.
– Kelly Jensen, who is currently reading Stay by Deb Caletti