Dread Nation by Justina Ireland Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen Publication Date: April 3, 2018 ISBN: 9780062570604
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to rise at Gettysburg and ended the war- not due to one side’s victory, but instead due to both sides’ fear. The compromise that ended the Civil War abolished slavery in the South, but introduced the Negro and Native Reeducation Act, which allows former slaves, and their children, two options- either fight shamblers on the frontier, or attend special combat schools, in training to protect the lives of right white Southerners. Even though she’s the daughter of a white plantation owner and former slave, Jane can’t escape the future that has been preordained for her—she has spent her entire life learning the arts of combat and Southern society in order to take up the mantle as an Attendant. As Jane’s education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore nears its end, and her future looms closer, a close friend asks Jane to search for his lost sister as entire families also begin to go missing. Jane, along with another Attendant who also straddles both worlds, ends up in the West, where they must battle both the undead—and the living—for their very existence.
I Hear the Sunspot: Theory of Happiness by Yuki Fumino One Peace Books Publication Date: February 13, 2018 ISBN: 978-1944937416
After Taichi agreed to be Kohei’s class notetaker, the two became close (possibly more than?) friends, but a misunderstanding during spring break has split them apart. When Taichi finally sees Kohei again, he is mentoring Maya, another student with a hearing impairment, and for some unknown reason, she does everything she can to keep Taichi away from them. Confused by his feelings for Kohei and feeling like he doesn’t belong at school, Taichi struggles to understand his place in world. When he is given the opportunity to work at a company that provides services to people who are deaf, he has to decide whether it is worth it to lose Kohei forever in order to try to make the world an easier place to live in for people like Kohei and Maya.
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, narrated by Khristine Hvam Audio published by Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: May 1, 2018 ISBN: 9781427296993
Sky in the Deep is a thrilling, Viking-inspired historic fantasy about family, loyalty, acceptance, and triumph of the human spirit. In Adrienne Young’s debut novel, Eelyn and her brother, Iri, belong to the fjord-dwelling Aska clan, where they’ve trained from birth to be warriors. Every five years, their sworn enemy, the Riki, come down from the mountains to fight a sacred battle. Five years before, Eelyn witnessed her beloved brother’s death after he fell into a ravine while fighting a young Riki warrior. But now, at the start of the new fighting season, Eelyn sees Iri on the battlefield, fighting on the side of the enemy. Reeling from his appearance and in denial of his betrayal, Eelyn is captured and enslaved. Living in the land of her enemy, Eelyn is faced with serious questions about the true meaning of loyalty and love. When the Riki and Aska are attacked by a ruthless, legendary clan, Eelyn must decide if “Honor Before Life” is more important than uniting with the Riki to save the home she loves.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session is one of the best parts of every ALA conference. Local teens get the opportunity to read books that have been nominated for #BFYA and give their feedback about the titles. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of real teens, and the group in New Orleans were particularly amazing. They all sounded like professional book reviewers, and I wish there had been time to talk with them at length about the books they enjoyed.
Here are some of the titles the teens particularly liked from this year’s #BFYA nominees list along with a little of their feedback and a link to each title’s nomination post (when available.)
Like Vanessa by Tami Charles Charlesbridge Publication Date: March 13, 2018 ISBN: 1580897770
It’s 1983 and the first black woman has just been crowned Miss America.
Thirteen-year-old Vanessa wishes she could be beautiful and confident like Vanessa Williams. At home, she struggles with an absent mother, a distant father, and a grandfather who loves her but loves the bottle more. So when Vanessa’s choir teacher encourages her to use her beautiful voice to compete in the middle school’s beauty pageant, Vanessa must face the most difficult relationship in her life: herself.
Have you been following the nominees for Quick Picks, Amazing Audiobooks, Great Graphic Novels, and Best Fiction for Young Adults on the Hub? As you’ve likely seen, the blogging teams for each of those lists have been working hard reading, writing, and sharing posts about titles that have been nominated for each of these selected lists.
And maybe you’ve thought, “I want to be on one of those teams next year!”
If that sounds like you then get excited! Because your time has come!
What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House Publication Date: February 20, 2018 ISBN: 978-1524700386
Saved by music, Gerta Rausch survived the horrors of Auschwitz as a member of the Women’s Orchestra, but liberation comes with difficulty as she tries to rebuild the life that was taken from her. Trying to protect his family from detainment, Gerta’s beloved father kept their family’s Jewish heritage a secret from her, leaving her to also grapple with her new Jewish identity as well as recovering from losing her beautiful singing voice after years of starvation and abuse. With the help of a fellow survivor who she considers a dear friend, but he feels much more, Gerta is also faced with two loves and the decision about who she will spend her new life with.
At ALA annual, Angela Johnson accepted the 2018 Margaret A. Edwards Award. The Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of their work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. For more information about the award and past recipients, see the YALSA website and the Teen Book Finder App.
After the audience consumed many, many tiny adorable pastries, Angela Johnson gave a speech highlighting stories from her extensive career as a writer.