Think DC is just the home of the federal government and not a place where real people live, work and play? Think again! Before you head to DC this June for ALA Annual, be sure to read some YA set in and around DC and you’ll come away with a better sense for the culture and communities in and around our nation’s capital.
Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
16-year-old Saaket’s (“Scott”) parents are away visiting family in Iran, so he decides to take a one-day trip from Philadelphia to D.C. His intention is to meet and talk with a professor who writes about grit, in hopes of figuring out why he’s such a failure. Following a meet-cute with crossword enthusiast Fiora, things go awry and his quick escape turns into a month-long adventure with various mis-steps, a cast of characters and a bunch of life lessons learned along the way.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Takoma Park, MD)
While her cynical twin sister Cassie falls in and out of love, sincere Molly has sat on the sidelines. She’s had 26 crushes and not a single kiss to show for it. When Cassie falls hard, she and her new girlfriend seek to finally find Molly someone to love, setting her up with a cute hipster friend. Meanwhile, a nerdy guy has started working at the store where Molly works, and she’s falling hard. Suddenly, Molly finds herself in romantic pickle.
All American Girl by Meg Cabot
Samantha suffers chronically from middle child syndrome. Sandwiched between a glamorous older sister with an amazing boyfriend and a younger sister who’s a prodigy, Sam marches to the beat of a different drummer in her black clothes and combat boots. Everything changes when one afternoon, while waiting for a ride, Sam inadvertently saves the President from an assassination attempt. Her new celebrity status is attracting a lot of attention – including that of the president’s son, David. Hilarity ensues.
The Gallagher Girls (series) by Ally Carter
The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a top-secret school for girls in training to become spies. Coursework includes covert operation, culture & assimilation and advanced encryption. None of the classes, however, have prepared Cammie Morgan for falling for a regular teenage boy. Cammie may excel at the art of espionage, but teenage romance is a whole different matter.
Pitch Black by Christine Turner Jackson
In this coming-of-age story, teenage baseball pitching phenom Benny Turner faces down batters, racism, and life’s challenges as he transitions to high school against the backdrop of 1950s segregated Washington, D.C.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Claudia’s best friend, Monday, is missing. And only Claudia seems to notice or care. Monday wouldn’t have run away. Something is wrong. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Claudia presses her mother and Monday’s sister, April to help. As the timeline in the story jumps from past to present and back again, readers begin to piece together the story of Monday’s disappearance.
Pulp by Robin Talley
As Abby Zimet delves into her senior project on classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction, she feels a connection to author “Marian Love” and becomes determined to track her down and uncover her real identity. An alternating narrative set in Washington, D.C. in 1955 follows Janet, who, while keeping her romantic relationship with her best friend Marie a secret, discovers a new genre of romance novels where women fall in love with women, and becomes determined to write and publish her own story.
Talley’s debut novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves, is set in Northern Virginia as a public high school integrates in the 1960s and two female students – one black and one white – work together on a school project, confronting racial tensions and a growing acknowledgement of their feelings about one another.
–Alicia Blowers, YALSA Local Arrangements Committee Chair