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Tag: Gayle Forman

Book to Movie: Soundtracks that Rock


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 Dessi Gomez from California.

fault in our stars the giver if i stayMovie soundtracks can potentially make or break a movie. It’s great when they complement the movie, and they are even more poignant when they connect to the book off of which the movie is based. I compared the soundtracks of three popular books that have been recently transformed into movies: The Giver by Lois Lowry, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. These soundtracks chosen to help tell each of these stories have different tones that create unique vibes for each and every reader and viewer. The Giver is suspenseful and liberating. If I Stay is indie and quietly heartbreaking. The Fault in Our Stars is modern and mainstream. I wanted to talk about four songs from each soundtrack that I personally think really topped off the movie. [Note: time stamps for specific lyrical references are given at the end of some descriptions.]

fault-our-stars-movie-posterThe Fault in Our Stars

  • “All of These Stars” by Ed Sheeran

This song does a fine job of closing up the movie as the credits song. I thought of the title of the story when I heard the words, “I saw a shooting star and I thought of you.” Many of the songs in the soundtrack contain references to the stars. The lyric “I can see the stars from America/Amsterdam” connects the two countries in which Hazel and Augustus spend time together. The combination of “the way our horizons meet” and “skyline splits in two” speaks of how Hazel and Augustus are meant to be together, but are cruelly torn apart. “I looked across and fell in love” reminds me of how Augustus couldn’t take his eyes off of Hazel once he saw her in support group.  [Times: beginning-1:37; 2:17-2:35; 3:15 to end]

The Effect of YA on My Generation


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 Abby Brunn from Georgia.

photo by flickr user chillmimi
photo by flickr user chillmimi

Teenage years. Arguably the most pivotal time in a person’s life. Full of confusion, expectations, excitement, love, friendship, anger, sadness, happiness, success, discipline, adventure, craziness, and wonder.

A time of so many emotions and experiences. A time of vulnerability.

A time in which any wisdom and understanding on the purpose of life and its trials is welcomed with open arms.

Young-adult (YA) literature, especially in recent years, has been a shelter for its readers, especially those at a growing adolescent age. It has become a source of wisdom and a source of light, giving teenage (as well as adult) readers advice on how to handle the confusing yet beautiful moments that life throws at you. Call it cliche, but it’s true.

Life is horribly difficult and blissfully wonderful at the same time. YA literature allows its readers to experience both sides and helps them cope with the good and bad while also giving them a sense of comfort, showing them that they are not alone. It serves as a teacher; a mentor that introduces morals and advice disguised by plots and characters.

And it teaches willing students. Around the globe, YA has been on the rise. Need proof? You need only go to the nearest bookstore to find that many YA books have graced the front shelves alongside the bestsellers. Oh wait… that’s because they are some of the best sellers.

But why?

Page to Screen: If I Stay

if i stay posterThe film based on Gayle Forman’s novel If I Stay starring Chloe Grace Moretz came out this past weekend. It topped the Friday box office with a $6.8 million dollar opening and became the #3 movie of the weekend.

We YA lovers really do love a good opening weekend for the hotly anticipated and heavily marketed films based on our beloved books. If I Stay was named on the 2010 Best Books for Young Adults and Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults lists, and has legions of devoted readers. So how did director, RJ Cutler et al, do with adapting Forman’s novel? I have some mixed feelings about this one, so riffing on Jessica Lind’s post from last week’s The Hub about required reading, read on for the good, the bad and the ugly of this particular film adaptation.

Audiobooks for Reluctant Listeners

By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
June is Audiobook Month!  Many of us have fond memories of being read to as a child, but did you know that you can still be read to?  That is the value of audiobooks! The story comes alive and, with the right narrator, you can hear a story much more differently than you would reading it.  Accents are perfected, exclamations are understood, and even words or names you may not know or have never heard before make sense to you.  This is my second year evaluating audiobooks for YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee.  As chair of this year’s committee, I am so excited for all the great audiobook-related things happening this month.  Articles are being written about the importance and resurgence of audiobooks, you can get in “Sync” this summer and download free audios, and the audiobook circulation at my Library sees a nice increase starting in June with many people going on road trips and vacations.

To give you an idea of what makes an audiobook a good listen, here are some of the criteria that gets an audiobook on the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection list:

  • The narration has to expand or compliment the original text.  In other words, when you listen to a narrator tell the story, it comes alive and allows the you to experience the text in a different way.
  • Character voice variation is key!  We must have a sense of who the character is by the different qualities in the voices that the narrator uses.  For example, it is a lot more enjoyable when you are listening to a narrated conversation and can tell which character is talking without the text cues letting you know.  Accents, exclamations, and sound effects also are considered.  If done well, they really make an audiobook amazing!
  • There is also the importance of a match between the text and the narrator.  You know when it is right; your ear picks it up.  The narrator embodies the main character and sometimes even all the characters in the books.
  • The technical production on an audiobook is also a criteria for the Amazing Audiobooks list.  We want to make sure the editing is done well, the sound quality is even, and that there are no issues with extra sounds or mike pickups. Additionally, we do consider the music that you hear at the beginning, end, or in between the tracks–does it match the story?  Is it effective in heightening the story? If it is, then it just adds more quality to the production.

So, where should you start if you have never listened to an audiobook before?  Well, some great awards and lists are put out every year: the Odyssey Award, the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults annual list, and the Audies are a few places to start.  Below I have compiled some of my favorites, that I think will be a great first listen for all of you who are new to audiobooks and want to give them a try.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, read by Jeff Woodman.  Brilliance Audio: 7 hours. (2008 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

The Hub Celebrates Thesaurus Day

Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew
Portrait from Medical Portrait Gallery by Thomas Pettigrew

Happy Thesaurus Day!

While not necessarily a well-known holiday, Thesaurus Day is celebrated on January 18, the birthday of Peter Mark Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus.

The original version of Roget’s thesaurus, created in 1805 and released in 1852, contained 15,000 words. Over the years, the thesaurus has grown, adding thousands of additional words and synonyms. These days, in addition to print versions of the thesaurus, wordsmiths are able to access the Roget’s thesaurus online through If you are interested in a historical perspective, a 1911 version has been cataloged as part of the ARTFL Project through the University of Chicago.

We’re celebrating a day early here on The Hub by using the thesaurus to swap words in some popular YA titles. See if you can figure out the original titles and then scroll down to check!

  1. The Tome Bandit
  2. The Bonus of Being a Loner
  3. Papyrus Municipalities
  4. An Excellent and Dreadful Virtue
  5. The Insanity Below
  6. Swivel Spot
  7. The Examining
  8. Faithful
  9. Break Me
  10. The Choice
  11. Vocalize
  12. A Chain of Ill-fated Happenings.
  13. Gorgeous Critters
  14. Audrey, Halt!
  15. The Commander of the Loops
  16. Thirteen Rationales of Cause
  17. The Categorically Bona Fide Journal of a Part-Time Native American
  18. The Sorority of the Roving Trousers
  19. Always…
  20. 13 Slight Azure Pockets
  21. The Starvation Sports
  22. The Accuracy Referring to Always
  23. The Labyrinth Sprinter
  24. Granted That I Stick Around
  25. Paired

Dealing with Death in YA Lit

photo by flickr user Jeffery Ray Coffman
photo by flickr user Jeffery Ray Coffman

Well, here’s a topic that’s going to make everyone’s day more cheerful…

Although we all have to face death at some point, many of us get through our day-to-day lives by putting it at the back of our minds. That doesn’t always work, though, and it’s not always what we need to do. Many churches honor All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday of November (All Saints’ Day being November 1) in part by reading a list of everyone among congregation members, friends, and family who have died in the last year. This year’s list at my church included my husband’s grandfather, my uncle, and a childhood classmate, bringing death squarely to the forefront of my mind right now.

As for many other difficult topics, there are tons of YA books that look death squarely in the face. In many cases, it’s just by including the death of a beloved character or having the protagonist face the very real possibility of death (The Hunger Games, anyone?). However, if you, like me, sometimes need to wrestle with death beyond acknowledging that it’s part of life, consider one of the following:

The Fault In Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green  (2012 Teens’ Top Ten Winner, 2013 Odyssey Award Winner, Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults 2013, 2013 Readers’ Choice Winner, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Death stinks. And while I’ve pretty well decided there’s no good way to go, death by cancer, when you’re a teenager, pretty much takes the cake for rottenness. The Fault in Our Stars acknowledges this right off and it shows snapshots of the horror of dying–but it doesn’t stop with these. Even while not skirting around their illnesses or death, Hazel and Augustus still focus their energy on the business of living. One of my favorite scenes in the book is their dinner in Amsterdam, with champagne that tastes like stars and a snowstorm of spring blossoms. It’s these descriptions of the beauty of life juxtaposed with the ugliness of death that make this book so poignant.

American Teens in Europe

suitcases by maliasWhen I was growing up, summer vacations meant driving from Florida to New York and then back again with my family. While I was lucky enough to spend a day in NYC every year, it never seemed as exciting as the idea of traveling to Europe. The history, art, and culture all seemed so romantic, but also so out of reach. I suspect that these factors play a role in the contemporary YA trend of American teens traveling to various cities in Europe.

In the past year, I read four books that centered around American teens spending time in Europe. Even after having traveled a bit as an adult, these books continue to draw me in with their romantic and adventurous stories set in exciting cities that I grew up reading about and seeing in movies. ll four are contemporary stories set in Western European countries, but each one tells a different tale of maturity, independence, self-discovery, and romance. These are not simply stories about American teens vacationing in Europe; they are about experiencing life. The locations allow characters to encounter new situations, people, and struggles, opening the door for personal growth.

Strange Associations

Does this remind you of anything?
Does this remind you of anything?
When you read a lot of YA over several years, you start to notice things. At least if you’re me. Sure, you notice some plot and character formulas at work, but that is to be expected. And yes, some books obviously resemble each other — which is good, because it helps us compile read alikes!

That’s not what I’m talking about though. I’m referring to a funny and lesser understood phenomenon. I make associations. Basically, I’ve begun matching trivial little details of different books. What’s the use of this? I don’t really know if there is one. Sometimes it does seem like an interesting sociological phenomenon. Like when two film biopics of the same person come out within in a few months of each other. Everyone thinks, Why Hitchcock? Why now? Other times, it doesn’t seem to mean anything; it’s just coincidence. (I’m not a detective, so I’m allowed to believe in coincidence).

Anyway, dear readers, I’m going to share some of these strange associations with you now. I can’t remember all of them, but here are a selection for your entertainment.

Three books where the mother is a highly successful romance writer

Looks Matter (With Books, Anyway)

I totally judge books by their covers.

Don’t get me wrong; I usually don’t stop there. The beauty beyond a book’s skin is what I really look for. But the cover of a book can be enough to make me check it out immediately — or to stop me from opening its pages for months. The cover is the first thing about a book I see, so of course it’s important in deciding whether or not to read it.

For me, the cover that stands out from the others is the cover I’m drawn to. I’m sure in some way they’re all designed to be the cover that stands out, but lately, it’s been easy to see the trends in the look of YA literature. Teen books can largely be grouped by their covers.

clockwork princessFirst, there are books with real people modeling on the front. With those covers, it feels like I’ve seen so many recently featuring a girl in a fancy, sumptuous dress, even when it doesn’t have much to do with the book. Most recently, Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare joined the crowd with this kind of cover (though its dress can be forgiven due to being set in the 19th Century). Other popular titles following this trend include The Selection by Kiera Cass, Matched by Ally Condie, and the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Those are all fantasy or dystopia books, however. Most of the other covers with models that I see are realistic fiction, so they feature teenagers in normal clothes. Usually they’re doing something semi-related to the novel, like holding hands or walking along train tracks, but often they’re ambiguous enough that the cover could be switched with that of another novel on the shelf and each would still have a similar effect.