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December Debuts

The last month of the year offers up not only a few more debut novels to enjoy, but it also showcases those debut titles the YALSA Morris Award committee found to be exceptional titles. While it’s too late to nominate a title for consideration for this year, it’s not too late to check out one (or many) of the debuts out this month.

I’ve never watched Friday Night Lights, but I’ve been told that those who have would love Miranda Kenneally’s Catching Jordan (Sourcebooks, 9781402262272). Jordan Woods gets to spend a lot of time around all the hot boys at school. But not because she’s one of the popular girls in school or anything. She gets to spend time with the boys because she’s quarterback and captain of the football team. Not only is she good, this is her ticket to a scholarship. That is, it was until Ty Green shows up at school and suddenly, she’s not only competing to keep her quarterback position, but she’s fighting to keep her head in the game when her heart wants to fall for him.

Wendy Wunder’s The Probability of Miracles (Penguin Razorbill, 9781595143686) follows Cam Cooper, whose life has been anything but easy. She’s 16, and she’s been in and out of hospitals for almost half her life. She doesn’t want to move to Promise, Maine, a place known for weird and strange events to happen, but she does reluctantly. And it’s a good thing she goes, too, because her life changes in ways she could never imagine. The once sarcastic girl is finding it easier to believe in the idea of miracles, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll find out more than that, too. I haven’t read this one, but it sounds like the perfect book to hand over to fans of Gayle Foreman’s If I Stay.

Fun fact about Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls (Penguin Philomel, 9780399256226): she has a collection of Madagascar hissing cockroaches for pets. But that’s not what the book’s about. In this story, we meet Lenzi, who can hear voices and has visions. They’re annoying and loud, and they keep getting worse. She sees and hears graveyards, floods, and the boy with steel gray eyes. Lenzi’s boyfriend Zak can’t help her either. But then Lenzi meets the boy from her visions, the one with the steel gray eyes, and she learns he’s her protector. She’s a reincarnated Speaker and can communicate with lost souls. Now Lenzi must choose whether to continue dealing with the chaos and her life with Zak or embrace her role as a Speaker and follow her destiny. This sounds like the kind of book supernatural romance fans will want to get their hands on.

While not true “debut” novels, a few authors are making their first young adult appearances this month, including Sarah Tregay’s Love and Leftovers (Katherine Tegan/Harper Collins, 9780062023582), Emma Carlson Berne’s Still Waters (Simon and Schuster/Simon Pulse, 9781442421141), and Helen Landalf’s Flyaway (Harcourt, 9780547519739).

It’s been a fun year for debut authors. I know I’ve found new favorites among them, and I’m eager to see what 2012 offers up in terms of new voices in the field, as well.

— Kelly Jensen, currently reading I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler (her debut novel from earlier this year)