Oh Riverdale – I have a special place in my heart for you, but I think your teenaged residents could use some time away from town quarantines and drug induced hallucinations and really horrible parenting. Luckily, YALSA’s 2019 award winners and nominees have books to help your beleaguered high school students cope with all the drama. (Warning: Season 3 Spoilers)
The Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session is one of the best parts of every ALA conference. Local teens get the opportunity to read books that have been nominated for #BFYA and give their feedback about the titles. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of real teens, and the group in New Orleans were particularly amazing. They all sounded like professional book reviewers, and I wish there had been time to talk with them at length about the books they enjoyed.
Here are some of the titles the teens particularly liked from this year’s #BFYA nominees list along with a little of their feedback and a link to each title’s nomination post (when available.)
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Camille is a Belle, one of a select few blessed by the Goddess of Beauty with the ability to restore beauty to the cursed people of Orleans. On their sixteenth birthday, she and her sisters must compete for the privilege of being chosen the Queen’s favorite, to live in the the royal palace and serve the royal family and their court. Camille’s journey to attain this coveted position is a riveting one, bursting with twists and intrigues at every turn. However, once she finally achieves what she’s worked her whole life for, she begins to discover that not everything is as it seems on the surface. Beneath the glimmering facade of Orleans’ stunning opulence and obsession with beauty lie dark secrets and ominous forces that threaten to topple to kingdom and unbalance Camille’s world.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Xiomara can’t be the perfect Dominican daughter that her parents expect her to be, so she pours out her frustrations in a secret poetry journal. Her mother expects her to be confirmed and marry a good Dominican boy. Instead, she questions the teachings of her church and falls in love with her chemistry lab partner, Aman, who is definitely not parent-approved. But she can’t hide her secrets from her parents forever.
As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s reflect on one of the most culturally significant time periods of African American history: the Harlem Renaissance.
I have always been interested in the Harlem Renaissance, stemming from reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston when I was in high school. I followed that up with reading the beautiful biography by Valerie Boyd, Wrapped Up in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. I was so impressed by the life and writing of Hurston, and what it meant for her to be such a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Before I knew it, I was exploring more. Having already been introduced to jazz music in middle school, I knew the genius of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. What I didn’t know, however, was the extent of their contribution to the Harlem Renaissance movement and all the other art, music, and writing that was being created during the 1920s and 30s in the cultural epicenter that was Harlem.
If you are looking for some authors, artists, musicians, and other prolific people of the Harlem Renaissance to get you started on your search for learning more about this historic time of rebirth for the African American culture, check out some of my suggestions below. It’s my humble attempt at a beginner’s guide, so please add your own contributions in the comments!