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Tag: Jay Asher

YA Literary Trope: The A-Hole Friend(s)

Welcome back to another exploration of common themes found in young adult literature.  We have already discussed some fun literary tropes including The Old Clunker I Drive, The I Already Know You Introduction, The I Have to Take Care of my Parents, and The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (and Boy.)  Today we will examine a not-so-nice trope: the A-hole friend(s).  Let’s talk about those jerks who steer our protagonists astray.  Those bullies who taunt, tease, and torture others.  This trope can be hard to read– a good writer (such as those I mention below) make these a-holes so true to life we palpably hate them.

YA Literary Tropes A Hole Friends

  • Before I Fall (2011 Best Fiction For Young Adults, 2011 Teens Top Ten) by Lauren Oliver: Elody, Ally, and (most of all) Lindsay.  Actually Sam, the narrator of this extraordinary book, is also kind of an a-hole.  The foursome are your typical High School popular mean girls.  They are beautiful. They laugh loudly. They target an innocent girl and bully her for years. They drink and drive fast (and pay for it.)  Sam seems to consider herself a bystander in a lot of this a-hole behavior, but as the book goes on she learns more and more how her behavior affects others.
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What Would They Read?: Norrie from Under the Dome

I read Stephen King’s Under the Dome several years ago, so I was understandably excited when I found p9621445_b_v9_aeout it was going to be made into a television show.  This show is in its third summer season, and I’ve wondered about the teen characters. If they actually had access to books, what would they want to read? Norrie, in particular, strikes me as a tough customer. She and her moms were on their way to a camp for rebellious teens when they became trapped under the dome. Norrie’s moms see her as rebellious, and her caustic attitude does little to win her any admirers in town, at least among the adult population. If Norrie were to walk in today, what would I recommend that she read?

Backlash by Sarah Littman

In Backlash, Lara’s family and friends soon realize the impact of small things that became bigger, more complicated problems. This book would be a good one to give Norrie to help her understand why her moms were so bothered by her sexting and why they wanted to send her to a camp for troubled teens. Norrie would probably also be drawn to the drama in this story and the way few of the characters are sympathetic.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

More and more books about LGBTQ+ teens are being published every day, but there are still frighteningly few books about teens with LGBTQ+ parents. Norrie would enjoy Lola’s story for the simple fact that Lola has two dads and has to deal with the consequences of this the same way that Norrie deals with having two moms.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your AssYaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (2014 Pura Belpre Award)

Yaqui decides that the new girl, Piddy, is too smart for her own good and isn’t Latina enough. Thus follows a year of Yaqui torturing Piddy, to the point where Piddy is assaulted outside her home and the assault is recorded and posted online. This book might help Norrie to tone down her caustic attitude a bit and to be able to see things from the other person’s point of view, as this story follows Piddy and how she deals with the torture she’s being put through.

Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

Ben’s father is tired of putting up with Ben’s rebellion, so he and his new boyfriend take Ben and move to the middle of Montana. Ben doesn’t feel like he fits in in this new small town, and he is still very angry at his father. Norrie would relate to Ben’s anger at his father as well as the small-town setting of this book, which is very similar to Chester’s Mill. 

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The Hub Loves the ’90s: ’90s Historical Fiction?!

The Hub Loves the '90sHappy end of April, Hubbers!  I can’t believe it’s already almost summer; time moves very quickly when you’re not noticing, I guess.  And, with that little rumination on the passage of time, I give to you the third and final installment in our The Hub Loves the ’90s series – great posts from Jessica and Katie have been featured in previous weeks, so be sure to check those out if you missed them the first time around.

The thing is, the 1990s were and continue to be the best decade that’s ever existed, and I’m not just saying that because that was when I was a teenager!  Like Katie said, I developed interests and favorites in the world of pop culture that still stay with me today.  I was just mentoring a teen the other day that was looking at the latest Rolling Stone that features Kurt Cobain on the cover.  She made a really quick comment to me about how great he is.  And, readers, let me tell you – that just sparked such a wonderful feeling in my heart because I could see that things I cared about (Nirvana being the #1 thing I loved as a teen) are still resonating with teens today.  As an adult, you want to think the art that shaped you will matter in the future, and a lot of 90s pop culture is still attracting teens, which is pretty great.

Well, enough with my sappy introspection!  With the influx of 90s culture into the current day, and like Katie mentioned, the influx of 30-somethings into the field of YA literature, we’ve got a bit of a ’90s revival happening in recent teen fiction.  Now, there’s no way I want to call fiction set in the ’90s historical fiction (how old does that make me?!), so how about recent past fiction, instead?  Good.  It’s settled.  So, here’s a list of some recent past fiction set in the 1990s that I thought I’d feature for all you Hubbers – first up, Facebook in the 90s?!

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Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights

by flickr user o5com
by flickr user o5com

Young adult and adult novels make it to the big (and little) screen fairly often these days.  So, just how smug should you feel when you have already read the book? There is no easy answer – so to tackle this issue I have broken down the movie/show tie-ins into categories.

The Book Series Made into a Show

You can feel superior, but do tread lightly as you enter this murky zone.   When translating a series of novels into a series of shows major plot elements are likely to be changed to allow for the continuity of the show.  Examples of the book series made into a show include Pretty Little Liars (based on the series by Sara Shepard), Gossip Girl (based on the series by Cecily Von Ziegesar; a 2003 Quick Pick & 2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore), and Game of Thrones (Based on the “Song of Fire and Ice” books by George R.R. Martin.)

walking dead
walking dead
  • Pros of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) You read the books, you loved them…you watch the show and get more!  You can translate your book reading experience into an on-going show and keep the story alive after the series is over and/or whilst you await (impatiently) for the next book.

2) Deviations from the book make for some fun and unexpected surprises.  You thought you knew all there was to know about white walkers in George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series… but after watching the HBO show– what?!

  • Cons of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) Deviations from the book make for some shocking unexpected surprises.  Yes, this is both a pro and a con.  These changes may call into question your precognitive skills.  For example AMC’s Walking Dead’s many plot changes as compared to the graphic novel series.

  • Bragging rights earned from pre-reading the book series made into a show:

Monday morning talk when there was a Sunday night cliffhanger: does <insert character name> die?  Then they look your way: do you know?  Oh, yeah. 

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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)

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Is This the Real Life? YA Books with Multiple Perspectives

One of my favorite types of books in the contemporary genre is the dual or multi-narrative. I’m sure I will revisit this topic again in future posts about contemporary YA fiction, but these were the first five titles that popped into my head when I started to make my list. I know I am missing a lot, so maybe this will just be part one?

Will GraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults and 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Told from the point of view of two Will Graysons whose lives change drastically when they meet. Both Wills are trying to find their way, and share how their lives are affected by knowing one Tiny Cooper, who is not tiny in any sense of the word.

Clean by Amy Reed (2012 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers)

Five different points of view from teens while in rehab. They are forced together to face their demons, their sobriety, and who they are without the addiction.

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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 Thesaurus.com. 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
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Is This the Real Life?: Characters Haunted by the Death of a Friend

I’m on Twitter a lot and I often see a lot of discussion on what the next big trend will be for YA lit, or people talking about the latest dystopian/paranormal/fantasy/hot new topic, but I don’t often see a lot of talk for contemporary titles by “fringe” authors. I LOVE the contemporary genre and want to see it get more love! I decided I wanted to tackle these books in a new series about contemporary titles for The Hub called: “Is This the Real Life?” (because it pairs so well with Kelly Dickinson’s new series on fantasy: “Is This Just Fantasy?”). I’m going to try and do themes each month (and feel free to suggest a theme in the comments) that will highlight both new and old titles.

In Mexico (and other countries) today is the beginning of the holiday known as Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead. It is a day when family and friends come together to pray for and to remember those who have died. With this in mind, my post this month is about teens that are “haunted” by the death of a friend or classmate.

13 Reasons Why

The most well-known of this type of book is the 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and Best Books for Young Adult title, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This is the story of shy Clay Jensen and his emotional journey as he listens to tapes made by Hannah Baker, explaining all the reasons she killed herself. Clay is shocked by what he hears and why HE is included on this list. He learns that what may seem like harmless actions (or non-actions) to others actually had tragic repercussions.

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Telling the Story With Texts and IMs

My sister and I were trying to plan our weekend.  After a texting spree that reminded us why we had an unlimited messaging plan, we still had some details to figure out.  I suppose we could have just called each other, but personally I love to text and chat, or both simultaneously.  I started thinking why text, tweets and IMs aren’t a more common form of communication in books when they are main way I converse in real life.  People do so much online these days that we have whole websites like Autocowrecks that revel2247117731_77c48b34af_m in the hilarity of auto-correct trying to tell us what we mean. With whole Twitter and tumblr hashtags devoted to texting mistakes, it seems that online conversations are the preferred way to talk. I was inspired by two previous Hub posts about novels that use letters and emails to tell a story.  Check out Epistolary Novels, Old and New by Hannah Gomez and Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: A Love Letter to the Un-Epistolary Novel by Wendy Daughdrill– and here’s my list of YA books that tell a story with the help of texts, IMs, and other forms of digital communication.

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