As the number of film adaptations set to be released in the 2015 illustrates, Hollywood seems firmly committed to turning to the world of young adult fiction for inspiration–and box office success. While this trend is exciting for YA fiction fans, the lack of the diversity present in the stories selected remains disheartening. While planning a recent movie night at my library, I was freshly reminded of this problem and as usual, I took to Twitter to share my frustration.
The ensuing discussion was vibrant and, inspired, I polled friends & colleagues to develop a wish list of diverse young adult novels we’d like to see on the silver screen.
Talented young set designer Emi is spending the summer before college with her best friend Charlotte in Emi’s older brother’s apartment when an estate sale & a mysterious letter brings Ava into her life. But despite their immediate, electric connection, Emi & Ava each have pain in their past and their path to happily ever after will be far from simple. Between Emi and Ava’s “will they or won’t they” chemistry, great supporting characters and an intriguing setting, you’ve got the perfect rom-com of the summer!
Alek Khederian assumed that summer school will be an extension of his horrible freshman year; he never expected that it would lead him to Ethan. Alek can’t imagine why someone like confident skateboarder Ethan wants to hang out with him and when romantic sparks start to fly between them, Alek will have re-evaluate everything he knew about himself. This novel isn’t just a lovely coming of age tale–it’s a love letter to New York City and Alek’s Armenian heritage featuring a built-in soundtrack of Rufus Wainwright songs. Continue reading From Page To Screen: A ‘We Need Diverse Books’ Wish List
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 Summer Khaleq from California.
Most of us can attest to the fact that the ever-growing Young Adult genre is one of the most boundless and honest genres in modern-day literature. In terms of innovation, YA wins the gold.
Yet despite the ever-expanding horizons of YA, diversity in general seems to be a taboo topic. There aren’t nearly as many books featuring POC, LGBTQ, and/or disabled characters as there should be, with authors taking the safe route and opting for white heterosexual leads.
I’m certainly not the first to notice this, though. Campaigns supporting and advocating for diversity have been popping up all over the internet (such as the popular #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign), and if you aren’t familiar with any then you’ve either been a) living under a rock or b) hiding under a rock while reading a book. (Really, isn’t it sad the amount of campaigning that must be done in order to implement something that should be expected in this day in age?)
For those who are new to the movement, I’ve created a nifty little flowchart, since it can be cumbersome to look for potential diverse reads (insert expression of disappointment and irritation here). Even for those who have been following the campaigns for years, there are quite a few lesser-known books here that you should definitely give a try. Continue reading Diversify Your YA Contemporary Reads: A Flowchart
For many, summer will always be associated with vacation–and vacation reading habits. And just as we each have an ideal vacation, so too do we have personal definitions of vacation reading. As a generally omnivorous reader, I’ll fill my suitcase and e-reader with anything from favorite mystery series to thrilling high fantasy novels.
However, even I must admit that there is something about love stories that makes them particularly well suited for vacation reading. It might be inherent optimism in love stories–even those lacking a tidy, happy ending. They revolve around the belief that human connection is meaningful, fragile, and precious; what could be a more encouraging? Happily, the last few months have produced several rich and varied titles perfect for readers seeking a good love story to dive into this summer.
Everything Leads To You – Nina LaCour
When her older brother offers her his apartment for the summer, ambitious young set designer Emi can hardly believe her luck; it’s the perfect place for Emi & her best friend Charlotte to spend their final pre-college summer together. But Toby hands over the keys with one condition: they must do something epic in their temporary home. Then Emi discovers a mysterious letter at an estate sale and the resulting scavenger hunt leads her to Ava. Ava is different from anyone Emi has ever met and their immediate connection is undeniable and electric. But life-long romantic Emi hasn’t had the best luck in love and Ava has a painful history of her own. Can Emi & Ava find the way to their own Hollywood happy ending? Will Emi’s fulfill her brother’s challenge by falling in love–or tumbling into heartbreak? (LaCour was named a 2010 Morris Award Finalist for her debut novel, Hold Still.)
The Geography of Us – Jennifer E. Smith
In this next story of unusual meetings and communication mishaps, solitary bookworm & native New Yorker Lucy and grief-stricken, recent city transplant Owen find their lives unexpectedly colliding when a city-wide blackout strands them in the elevator of their apartment building. Following their rescue, Lucy & Owen explore the powerless city’s strange wonderland together. But when the power returns, their very separate realities come rushing back, tugging them apart. Lucy’s globe-trotting parents move her to Edinburgh just as Owen and his father decide to hit the road, searching for a new life in the wake of his mother’s death. But Lucy & Owen can’t shake their connection and through postcards, emails, text messages, & attempted reunions, the two teens navigate life, love, and the true meaning of home. Continue reading Summer Lovin’ : Recent YA Books To Satisfy Your Inner Romantic
Almost a year ago, I was sitting in a ballroom in Chicago, watching Benjamin Alire SÃ¡enz deliver a moving, and deeply personal speech during the Printz Award reception. Like most of the people there, I was listening intently and reaching up, at times, to brush away tears. Though his fellow awardees also presented beautifully eloquent remarks, it was SÃ¡enz’s words that left a lasting impression on me. He referred to himself as a “cartographer” who, in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2013 Stonewall Book Award, 2013 Printz Honor, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten, and Pura Belpre Author Award), created a “roadmap…for boys who were born to play by different rules.”
During SÃ¡enz’s speech, I thought about my friend, Julian, and his struggles during our teens. Jules was just starting to come to terms with his sexuality – the summer before our senior year, he told me that he was pretty certain that he was gay. Growing up during the 1980s-90s in a middle class suburb of Los Angeles, with a predominantly Latino population, we didn’t really have access to the wealth of queer resources that are freely available today. Also, people simply didn’t talk about those things (unless it was to make some tasteless, hurtful joke). So it was hardly a surprise that he bided his time, waiting until college to come out and be himself completely. After reading Aristotle and Dante, I sent Julian a text, begging him to pick it up. I said, “This is the book you needed to read at 16.” It took him a while, but he finally read it and wrote me this message: “Thank you for recommending this book so many months ago. It made me laugh from the first few pages. I’ve been savoring every page as it pulls me in and reminds me of the awkwardness and possibilities of adolescence.”
June is Pride Month, which celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and affirms their right to live visibly in dignity and equality. In honor of Pride, I want to share some amazing LGBTQ novels (some of which aren’t out yet, but you’ll want to add them to your to-read pile) that had me laughing and crying all over the place. Continue reading Season of Pride: A Roundup of LGBTQ YA Lit