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Tag: Erin Jade Lange

Teens’ Top Ten: Five Questions for Erin Jade Lange

Photo Jul 03, 8 11 39 PMOver 32,000 teen readers cast their vote for the 2013 Teens’ Top Ten, and The Hub is celebrating their choices! Today we feature Erin Jade Lange, whose book Butter is #10 on this year’s Teen’s Top Ten list.

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Butter is the story of an obese teen who in a moment of despair decides to kill himself– live on the Internet, with food.  The popular crowd at his high school becomes a morbid chorus of cheerleaders, taking bets and urging him on.  At the same time they pull Butter into their circle and he feels like he has friends for the first time.
You nailed the cruelty of high school experience. How did you research this type of behavior for the book, Butter?
To be honest, I didn’t have to research so much as just try to write reality – the reality I remember from my own experience in school and the reality I still see around me today. I don’t think cruelty begins and ends with high school. Some bullies start young, and some never grow out of it. But I do think the hormonal roller coaster of our teenage years amplifies both the cruelty and the emotional response to it.
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Books Outside the Box

Young adulthood is the time when most people learn who they really are and to like who they find. This post is about books that are not the traditional YA, but instead are books that show the difference between packaging and content.

For many young people, myself included, the world sent us a host of messages telling us we were out of step, that something was wrong with us. That is especially true for kids who are overweight. In today’s world, a retail store’s recent decision to feature a size 12 swimsuit model prominently on their website without labeling her as “plus size” provoked pages of commentary and even criticism from numerous news outlets.

No wonder so many teens have trouble looking at themselves in a mirror.

I was one of those overweight teens, and I know that diversity is about more than just race, religion, or locale. During my all-important teen years I never found any books that featured a protagonist like myself dealing with the issues of being bigger than the other kids. Oh, books often featured an overweight sidekick to provide a little comic relief while the lithe and winsome protagonist fulfilled his or her destiny. But the overweight kid never took center stage. Their pains and issues were not the spotlight.

Things have changed, both in real life and in fiction.

truthNot every book is about the beautiful people. Dara, the protagonist in Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Frazer (2009), is a former child beauty pageant star turned overweight teen. Her story is not about a girl deciding to diet or about parents and friends realizing they are wrong about her. She is a “fat girl,” but that is not her whole identity. She uncovers a past her parents have kept hidden from her, including an older sister who left home before she was born. She does not decide to diet to fix her problems and earn the love of others. Nor do her parents undergo a miraculous change of heart and learn to accept their children as they are. Instead, this is a true coming-of-age story where Dara learns to accept herself as she is, as well as to accept her elder sister’s sexual orientation and the idea that her parents will probably never change their attitudes toward either of their daughters.

Unfortunately, the publisher chose not to portray an overweight teen on the cover. Still, this book will appeal to people who seldom see their issues in print. It will also reach out to anyone who wants to see the world through the eyes of someone bigger than average. As one reader said about the book: I’m a 25 year old guy, and I still found myself relating to the main character in a lot of ways.

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September Debut Novels

I don’t know what it is about late summer and early fall this year, but they sure are bringing out the debut novels. Like last month, there are many new faces making their appearance on YA shelves. I’ve arranged the titles by genre and included read-alikes where possible, and all descriptions come from WorldCat. Remember, if you read something by a debut author — that is an author who has never published a book before in any genre or for any age group — take the time to suggest it to YALSA’s William C. Morris committee.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Origin by Jessica Khoury (Razorbill/Penguin, 9781595145956)

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home — and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life. Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin — a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

 

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan, 9780374373665)

In alternating chapters, tells of the mermaid Syrenka’s love for Ezra in 1872 that leads to a series of horrific murders, and present-day Hester’s encounter with a ghost that reveals her connection to the murders and to Syrenka. Technically, Fama is not a debut author, though this is her first YA novel.

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