As another year begins, it’s time to look ahead to the exciting new comics and graphic novels by women that we can expect in 2018. Hopefully this list will give you something to look forward to as the new year starts!
In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month to encourage the reading of poetry and increase awareness of American poetry. It is a great time to support and inspire the teen writers and poets who frequent your library! Below is a sampling of fiction and nonfiction books to help you do just that.
YA Fiction Featuring Teen Writers
Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Ever since her beloved Uncle Joe died, aspiring writer Anna has lost her muse. This poignant debut novel follows Anna through her grief journey as she struggles to rediscover her passion for writing and cope with the knowledge that she may not have known her uncle as well as she thought.
In this novel in journal format, Gabi explores her feelings about her friend’s pregnancy, finds her voice in poetry, and works on her school’s zine.
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
During November of her senior year, Darcy wrote a novel for National Novel Writing Month that was picked up by a major publisher. In this unique book, chapters from Darcy’s novel alternate with her adventures in New York as she foregoes her first year of college to dedicate herself to the publication process. Continue reading Booklist: Fiction and Nonfiction for Teen Poets and Writers
Poetry has been figuring in a lot of teen literature lately. Have you noticed? I don’t mean novels in verse, quality as some recent titles have been. Nor do I mean poetry collections for teens (a la Poisoned Apples or Paint Me Like I Am). The Guardian noticed this poetry trend, too, pointing out a few examples in a recent article, and asked its readers for more.
I liked how the article noted authors’ uses of poetry, such as Meg Cabot beginning the chapters of Avalon High with stanzas from The Lady of Shalott. These stanzas just happen to give a clue about the characters’ identities. The article also mentioned a similar use of poetry in Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare: the lines that open the chapters are all from poets who lived in the time of the novel’s setting, late-19th century London.Continue reading Line by Line: Poetry in Teen Fiction
In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m highlighting YA books (and one adult one) that feature teen characters who are obsessed with poets and poetry. I know it’s not a very original idea, although it’s harder to do than come up with a list of YA books written in verse. Still, I’m happy to know that there are still teens today who adore certain poets and yearn to write their own stirring and meaningful poetry, as I did as a teen. I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath are favorites with YA characters.
When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriquez (2015)
In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control. Goth girl Elizabeth Davis is struggling to control her anger before it destroys her. Her seemingly happy classmate Emily Delgado is struggling with depression. They are both in the same English class studying Emily Dickinson. Which one is driven to suicide? The powerful novel will keep readers guessing.
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (2015)
Eva, 16, still grieving over her father’s death two years previously in a plane crash, has taken solace in devouring romance novels (118 so far), much to her women’s studies professor mother’s dismay. Eva’s interest in writing poetry is reignited after she starts to tutor Will, a senior, and her long-time secret crush. As she helps him refine his college entrance essay and AP English class assignments, they bond over their mutual love of poetry and grief over losing a family member. When Will unexpectedly moves to CA, Eva and her super-intelligent best friend Annie find a way to travel across the country to visit him. Each section includes poetry by Eva’s favorite poets, including W. H. Auden, Nikki Giovanni, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Adrienne Rich, W. B. Yeats, Mary Oliver, and Marie Howe, as well as Dylan Thomas and Elizabeth Bishop.
After her boyfriend kills himself in front of her after she ends their relationship because she’s pregnant and then is pressured to have an abortion, a traumatized Emily Beam transfers to a boarding school in Amherst, MA. Inspired by her namesake and favorite poet Emily Dickinson (whose poems appear throughout the novel) Emily writes her own heartfelt poetry about her relationship with her boyfriend, her suffering, and her journey toward healing.
Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy’s pregnancy, friend Sebastian’s coming out, her father’s meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially the poetry she writes that helps her forge her identity. Some of the poets and poems she likes include “Loose Woman” by Sandra Cisneros, Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”; Pablo Neruda’s “Tonight I Can Write”; and Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”.
With all the ways to watch TV today including; on demand, DVR, and instant streaming it is possible to watch an entire series’ episodes back to back rather than in a serialized week to week format. This kind of watching has been dubbed “binge-watching.” Maybe when you hear this term, an image comes to mind of someone mindlessly watching hour after hour of TV whilst eating chips. As fun as that sounds, “binge-watching” can also mean focusing on just one show over the course of many days or weeks. As a reader the way I become immersed in the characters and world of a good book are a familiar, comforting feeling, and binge-watching a quality show can offer a similar (on-screen) experience. Here are some great YA read-alikes inspired by some of my binge-worthy favorites.
Orange is the New Black – One of Netflix’s original binge-worthy series. This is the story of a Piper, a privileged woman who has to serve prison time for a crime committed in her 20s.
* Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. The book that inspired the show; Kerman tells the tale of how she spent a year in prison the humiliations she endured, and the relationships she forged.
Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, a holiday born out of women protesting their work in garment factories, trying to get the right to vote, and later just celebrating and trying to better the roles of women in the world. In fact in the United States, the U.K. and Australia, the entire month of March is identified as a celebration of Women’s History.
For many people, celebrating women’s history and women in general goes hand in hand with being a feminist. In 2014, feminist – being a person who believes in gender equality – became a cultural concept very much in the spotlight. Reporters and bloggers asked celebrities if they identified as feminists; Beyonce performed at the MTV music awards in front of a giant “FEMINIST” sign; and Time magazine controversially added the word to a poll of words to be banned. Other serious issues such as campus rape and Gamergate harassment made the lives of women and their treatment take center stage.
I didn’t self-identify as a feminist until middle or high school because I didn’t know that there was a word for what I had felt my whole life: that women and girls were unquestioningly the equal to men and boys and that we had the right to exciting, meaningful, and amazing books. I feel so happy and privileged to go up in a house where my 8 year old intention to be a brain surgeon during the day and a concert pianist at night was met with a supportive, “Ok.” I didn’t quite reach those heights but my family never made me feel like I couldn’t do that because I was a girl. Sadly, this is not the norm throughout the whole world, and not even in the United States.
Tangibly, materially, and in terms of rights and freedoms, there is a lot to be done for women and girls throughout the world and our country. But one of the things libraries and bookstores and readers can do is to read about lives of women and girls. By reading and sharing stories of women and girls we can show others the amazing things women can do. We can also share the struggles of women and girls and help inspire change.
Here are just a handful of books I’ve read recently that have a strong, pro-women message. They present women and girls who are strong without being caricatures; emotional without being a harmful stereotype; and most of all, full realized characters with hopes, dreams, and struggles.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris winner and Amelia Bloomer Project list): Gabi is a girl that I simultaneously wish I knew in high school or had been in high school. She doesn’t have all the answers but is still so confident in herself even when dealing with sexuality, her weight, family tragedies, her friends’ pregnancy and coming out, and more. She has a wonderful message of power and sense of self that speaks well to girls both struggling and not. This is also one of the few YA books I’ve read with abortion as a plot point.
Each year, YALSA’s Morris Award honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. The award winner will be announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Youth Media (YMA) Awards on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Join us for a live webcast of the YMA Awards press conference or follow I Love Libraries on Twitter or Facebook to be among the first to know the 2015 winners. The official hashtag for the 2015 Youth Media Awards is #ALAyma.
Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.
I am so happy you and your book are one of the Morris finalists! Gabi, a Girl in Pieces is one of the most realistic books I’ve read. It reflects what I saw as a teen and of teens I know, now. Was it your goal to give voice to Mexican-American teens?
I think it was my goal to present a different narrative of what it can mean to be Mexican-American. Living on the hyphen is a complex cultural existence at times, and we’re often pulled in many directions where allegiance is always demanded. It is a fractured state of being, though I don’t think it’s necessarily bad; at least the having multiple ways of looking at life-the Mexican and American/the male and female. Where that goes awry is when we want to make one way of approaching life, The One Way. That’s where things begin to disintegrate, loyalties are questioned, and patriarchies are born. Back to the narrative though, so many times in media and pop culture we get one narrative of what it means to be Latino/a, specifically in my case, Mexican or Mexican-American. And of course we need the subcategory, the hyphen; we can’t possibly be “real” Americans, and thus we need a story to go along with what makes us part of this country, but at the same time what makes us outsiders. The story of belonging, and not-belonging, that we’ve gotten is that we are housekeepers, landscapers, and migrant fieldworkers-all very necessary jobs to keep society moving, but yet always subservient roles in which we have very little opportunity for autonomy. That’s the story we’ve been given. We see this on big screens, small screens, and in books. And it’s romanticized too. Sure being a landowner, inheriting a farm that your great grandfather owned, has a bit of romance. But being a worker on that land from sun up to sun down, exposed to injury, violence, and rape-not so much. So with Gabi, I wanted to present a different story; one that is just as real, and just as American as that of a migrant farmworker. Because really, I believe those narratives and Gabi are stories of America, unhyphenated; and I wanted to give voice to those characters. Continue reading 2015 Morris Award: An Interview with Finalist Isabel Quintero
September 15 – October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month which honors the history, culture, and contributions of Americans of Hispanic/Latino descent. As someone who works in a primarily Spanish-speaking community, this national observance is especially meaningful for myself, my colleagues, and the patrons we serve. Hispanic Heritage Month presents the opportunity to showcase literature in which many of our readers see their personal and unique experiences reflected, celebrated, and made visible to the world around them. Here are a few titles for you to enjoy that feature Hispanic/Latino characters and/or are written by Hispanic/Latino authors. ¡Viva!
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
I’ve been a fan of Ruiz Zafón since 2001, when he transfixed me with his stunning gothic novel for adults, Shadow of the Wind; naturally it’s been wonderful to see his young adult fiction (orig. published in Spanish) translated into English. The Prince of Mist (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults) was lauded for its gorgeous attention to historical detail, haunting mood, and suspenseful twists. Ruiz ZafÃ³n’s Marina continues the same lush storytelling tradition. Fifteen-year old Oscar Drai’s adventure begins when he encounters the mysterious Marina while exploring an older part of Barcelona. They go to a cemetery where they witness a woman dressed in black placing a rose on an unmarked grave. Marina and Oscar choose to follow the woman, and are soon drawn into a world full of dark secrets involving a dead actress, a reclusive industrial tycoon, and creepy science experiments. Continue reading ¡Viva! YA Literature for Hispanic Heritage Month