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Tag: c.j. omololu

Showing Our True Colors: YA Covers That Got it Right in 2012

Publishing companies aren’t putting out enough YA titles that feature protagonists of color. And when they do, some book covers try to hide or obscure the characters’ race by showing them in silhouette or in shadow, or at times whitewashing them completely. Even the most diverse library collections sometimes look homogenous when you just see the covers. Don’t believe me? Check out my post from last week: “It Matters If You’re Black or White: The Racism of YA Book Covers.”

The problem is insidious, but it’s not completely pervasive, as many of you pointed out in the post comments last week. There are a lot of publishers, authors, and books that have no problem putting people of color on the covers of their books. So I just wanted to take a moment to recognize and celebrate those folks who understand how important it is for everyone to be able to see their own identity validated on the cover of a book. Here are some books covers that got race right in 2012.

Ichiro by Ryan InzanaA.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division by Douglas RushoffNever Fall Down by Patricia McCormickBoy21 by Matthew Quick

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Teens as Caregivers in YA Novels

November is National Caregiver Month, a time to celebrate the caregivers in our lives. Who do you think of? I’m from a pretty traditional background, so I think of my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. But I also was cared for by friends and mentors along the way. Just as each of us knows the importance of these people in our lives, so do many authors, and the theme of caregiving resounds from the pages of YA literature.

In many cases the teen characters of YA books are caregivers to each other. A group of friends (or enemies in some cases) will band together to survive against long odds or battle a tyrannical government. This is especially the case with many dystopian novels and is one of the reasons we love YA so. We see this in books like the Ashfall (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults) series by Mike Mullin, the Chaos Walking (2009 Best Books for Young Adults) series by Patrick Ness, the Ship Breaker (2011 Printz Award) series by Paolo Bacigalupi, the Lost (2011 Teens’ Top Ten Nominee) novels by Michael Grant, and the Unwind trilogy (2011 Top Ten Popular Paperbacks) by Neal Shusterman.

However, there some other ways in which teen characters are presented as caregivers.

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Psychological Maladies in YA Fiction

I’m a bit, ahem, obsessed with realistic fiction that reveals the inner workings of psychological disorders. From OCD to schizophrenia, here are three recent haunting reads about the human mind:

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan
Sam Hopkins, the preacher’s kid, is tired of everyone expecting him to be perfect. He wants to experience what life might be like to live a bit on the edge, so he decides to hang with the “bad kids” who spend their time jacking cars and beating kids up. Jennifer is the girl at school that nobody knows how to deal with, who talks to herself and is having increasingly terrorizing hallucinations about demons and death that she insists are real. When their two worlds collide, Sam is challenged to defend Jennifer’s safety while also weeding through her dementia. Could Jennifer’s visions be real?

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Take Me Away!

So, I’ve been trying to write this blog since Saturday; how ironic that I’m extremely chatty and terribly passionate about books, yet here I am with writer’s block.  I imagine this post to be like that “you’re trapped on an island what one book do you take” question. How, if I am only going to put one good book in someone’s hands to narrow my options?  Now that I have an answer to, I don’t, I cheat and give you the best I know, not matter how many titles that might be.

I give you my favorite sigh worthy novels you’ll read and pass on to friends; books with plots that you’ll want to escape into again and again.

Perfect Chemistry By Simone Elkeles

With the flavor of West Side Story and The Outsiders mixed together, Perfect Chemistry satisfies the need for drama while maintaining an air of reality that lends credence to the struggles of main characters Alejandro and Brittany.  Imagine a tough Latino boy who secretly desires a stable life, possibly as a teacher, who meets flawless Caucasian rich girl Brittany who seems to have it all together but inside she’s falling apart from the chaos in her household; now what if they each fulfill in each other their suppressed desire to be seen as they truly are and loved for that?

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

A great and noble experiment had gone horribly wrong. The outside world believes the prison of Incarceron can rehabilitate its inmates but Finn, trapped on the inside must rely on Claudia, the warden’s daughter who is trapped in her father’s castle.   So many questions impede both characters happiness.  Can Finn ever escape a jail that devours souls?  Can Claudia escape an arranged marriage that will steal her freedom?  Finn and Claudia hold keys both real and imagined that can unlock prisons of metal and lies.  A sequel, Sapphique, was just published in December.

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