ALA 2013: Adult Books for Teens: Making the Call

INFINITY-Fotolia.comAt the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, the Alex Award program featured three of the ten authors who won Alex Awards in 2013: Derk Backderf (My Friend Dahmer), Julianna Baggott (Pure), and Robin Sloane (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore). When the panel was asked whether they were writing with a teen audience in mind, only Baggott had a sense of teens as potential readers. But then, Baggott has published seventeen books, targeted at all age levels. Neither Backderf nor Sloane thought about the age of their readers at all.

What is it about these books, then, that place them in the category of Adult Books for Teens?

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Like a Train Wreck: Tragic Memoirs

DEPRESSION_by_optiknerve_grAnnie Dillard, our memoirs would probably not attract much readership. Like literary voyeurs, readers are drawn to memoirs that are sensational in their catastrophe. David Pelzer’s A Child Called “It” (2002 Popular Paperbacks) has been fascinating youthful readers for almost two decades. Such memoirs allow readers to experience horrible things vicariously, and, more importantly, witness the healing aftermath.

Most memoirs are written from an adult perspective for understandable reasons. Often the focus, however, is on younger selves that lived through the trauma-scarred years. For this reason, nearly all of the books below are published for adult audiences. Many of them have been recognized with YALSA awards or inclusion on a YALSA list.

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