Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publication Date: June 2, 2020 ISBN: 978-0062652812
Everyone knows Calamity Jane as a girl in buckskins who performs tricks with the bull-whip in Wild Bill Hickock’s Wild West Show. What they don’t know is that Calamity, along with fellow sharpshooter Frank Butler and undercover Pinkerton detective Charlie Utter, is part of a team of werewolf, or garou, hunters led by Wild Bill himself. But when Jane discovers a suspicious bite after a tangle with a garou, she worries that her life is about to get a lot more complicated.
Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along
with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publication Date: November 5, 2019 ISBN: 978-0062693167
Senior Cass McMurtrey loves her life with her
adoptive parents. As she nears her 18th birthday and contemplates her dreams
for the future, she wonders about her birth parents. With encouragement from
her parents, Cass begins the journey to find her birth parents. Cass’s story is
interwoven with letters from S, a 16 year old who is searching for the perfect
parents for her unborn baby. As the two stories blend together, readers connect
with both Cass and S and become invested in their journeys to discover who they
are and how they arrived at the decisions they made.
Lifel1k3 (Lifelike) by Jay Kristoff Knopf Books for Young Readers / Random House Publication Date: May 29, 2018 ISBN: 9781524713928
Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland after the robot uprising, humans and robots co-exist as best they can. Evie navigates this world by fighting robots in the WarDome. After a public display of her robot destroying abilities, she must flee for her life. On the run, she stumbles upon a “Lifelike” android that holds the secrets to her past that she could never remember. When the fight of human versus machine ensues, she fights to survive, and to find the truth.
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, narrated by Fiona Hardingham HarperAudio Publication Date: June 26, 2018 ISBN: 9780062841667
My Plain Jane, the second (standalone) title in the Lady Janes series by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, is a tongue-in-cheek, supernatural spoof of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre. In this retelling, our titular heroine, Jane, can see dead people. In fact, she’s what’s known in the ghosthunting world as a Beacon–ghosts are drawn to her and will do anything she asks of them. While Jane enjoys getting to hang out with her (unfortunately deceased) childhood BFF, Helen Burns, she does not want anyone to know about her secret ability. Jane’s (living) best friend, Miss Charlotte Bronte herself, sees great things for Jane, and is dismayed when Jane decides to take up a position as a governess at Thornfield rather than work for the exciting Society for the Relocation of Wayward Ghosts with Charlotte’s brother Alexander.
As someone whose family has been affected by both depression and suicide, I am always interested in how authors, especially those writing for teens, choose to represent aspects of a character’s mental health.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, approximately 2 million U.S. adolescents attempt suicide each year in the United States, which (and not to sound childish) makes me extremely sad and want a way to be able to reach out to those readers who might not feel comfortable talking about it, but who desire a way to process their own feelings on the subject.
Recently, I had been reading a lot of YA fiction galleys, and I noticed a trend – books about suicide and depression have definitely increased, and I think that is very good thing for not only teens, but also those who work with teens or have special teens in their lives. Society hasn’t always been kind to the topic of mental illness (still isn’t in a lot of ways, actually) – but, being about to talk about it openly without fear of reprisal is something that has gotten better over the past few years. And, with the influx of new teen literature looking at suicide and depression in responsible, caring ways there comes a new way to reach out to those who are maybe struggling with it or dealing with it in their family or group of friends. I was happy to see School Library Journal’s excellent new bibliotherapy booklist for teens – it offers suggestions for those struggling with depression and suicide, but other tough topics, as well; be sure to check it out, if you haven’t already. In today’s post, I thought I’d highlight my five favorite new books that deal with suicide – I think all of them treat it with respect and a thoughtful nature.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: This book is actually my favorite out of the bunch; I really think this is one of the most realistic portrayals of depression and suicide that I have read in a really long time. Violet and Finch meet at the top of the bell tower at their school; they are both entertaining the thought of jumping to their deaths. Finch has been dealing with depression and bipolar disorder for quite a while, but Violet has only started entertaining the thought of suicide since her older sister/best friend recently died in a car accident. After some hesitation on Violet’s part, Finch manages to get Violet to start hanging out with him, and their relationship progresses from there. However, like life, sometimes finding a special someone doesn’t mean that your depression goes away; love doesn’t cure a mental illness, which, I think, is an unfortunate message that a lot of teen books about suicide offer up as a happy ending. Sometimes people still commit suicide even though they have someone who is trying desperately to understand and help them, and I applaud this book for showing a real-life ending – one that isn’t necessarily neat or pretty. But, this is a hopeful book full of love and future plans, and one that readers will be talking about. Continue reading Dealing with Suicide & Depression in Teen Literature
October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Karina Hernandez from New Jersey.
Young adult books with teen romance are the stories that take you on a roller coaster of emotion. It’s the moment when the two characters meet. It’s the love that grows between the two of them. It’s the introduction of a good love triangle. It’s the struggle when the couple refuses to accept their love for each other. It’s the tears shed, the pillows punched in frustration, the smile released when they finally kiss.
Everyone has their favorite couple from a YA- Hazel and Augustus, Anna and Ã‰tienne, Tris and Tobias, Sophie and Archer, Hermione and Ron, Samantha and Jase, Willem and Allyson, Eleanor and Park. Everyone also has their favorite love triangle – Katniss/Peeta/Gale, Bella/Edward/Jacob, America/Maxon/Aspen, Clara/Tucker/Christian, Juliette/Adam/Warner (Why does it seem like all the love triangles are two boys and a girl, anyway?).
These are the stories that leave us either sobbing at the end or just closing the book and letting out the biggest smile. These stories make us fall in love and just feel happy from head to toe. They take us on a crazy adventure from start from finish, leaving us rapidly turning the pages, thirsty for more.
In 2008, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight hit the big time with the release of movie version. Millions flocked to the theaters, then to bookstores and libraries to finish Stephenie Meyers’ saga. Suddenly, everywhere we looked, there were vampires: scary, sexy, sparkly, fangsâ€¦ you could take your pick. More books hit the shelves (or were discovered) like PC Cast’s House of Night series, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. Not to mention the many TV shows cropping up everywhere, such as HBO’s True Blood and CW’s Vampire Diaries. It was vampire frenzy. Then the inevitable backlash hitâ€”hard. Folks had clearly hit a saturation point with vampires (particularly Twilight.) It became cool to loudly proclaim ones’ hatred of Twilightâ€”and all things vampire. Twilight spoofs were being produced, such as Nightlight: a Parody by the Harvard Lampoon and the Vampires Suck movie.
Fast forward to 2013 when Holly Black (author of both children’s and young adult gold like The Spiderwick Chronicles and the overlooked but spectacular Curse Workers trilogy) offers The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This book has everything a lover of gothic reads could want: creepy cool cover art, a terrifying opening scene, scary and dangerously hot romance, flawed narrator, realistic intriguing side characters, and a vividly described falling apart Las Vegas-like town under constant camera surveillance (showing another frightening side of reality TV like that depicted in the Hunger Games trilogy.) In fact, in this librarian’s humble opinion, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown has nary a flaw to be foundâ€”except that it’s about vampires. As Karyn Silverman of the Someday My Printz Will Come blog writes, â€œâ€¦I think the anti-vampire bias runs so deep in most librarians these days that Coldtown risks a cold shoulder as a result.â€ I fear Silverman might be correct in her assessment, as I haven’t heard much buzz from other readers about Coldtownâ€”unless of course, I’m the one who brought it up (which I do, often and loudly). On a bright note, Coldtown‘s appearance on YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list offers hope for this overlooked gem. Continue reading The Rise and Fall of YA Lit Trends: Timing is Everything