2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #19

Not signed up yet for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm EST on June 23, so sign up now!

the hub 2016 reading challenge

I am pretty excited that it is summer. I know it might not technically be summer yet, but it is definitely in sight and I am personally looking forward to it! Summer is the perfect season to take a good book on vacation or read outside after a day at work, so I’d love to hear from you in the comments about where you’re reading and listening to your books these days.


My most recent Hub Challenge book was Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia. I had no idea what to expect going into this particular book. I wasn’t familiar with Liz Suburbia’s work before this book, but I did know that Sacred Heart had won a number of accolades, including an Alex Award and a spot on the 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list. I also knew that it started as a webcomic. With this knowledge, I decided to delve into the story, which is simultaneously a comic about high school that feels as though it will be very relatable to a wide range of readers, and a mysterious story of a town where all of the adults have disappeared. Suburbia chooses to handle this central mystery very peripherally, particularly at first. Though many characters mention parents and other adults and their absence, it is not the focus of the story. This gives the reader a feeling of having been dropped into a world that has been dealing with the absence of adults for some time and allows Suburbia to explore the impact this has over time. While I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that most all readers will find something that surprises them as this story proceeds. If you want to learn more about the book, check out Elizabeth Norton’s Hub interview with Liz Suburbia.


I actually haven’t decided what I am going to read next, so I would love to hear recommendations in the comments! Which book have you read for the Hub Challenge that you loved? Or that you think people might have missed but should really read? Any books that got you interested in a whole new genre? How about a new format, like a book that made you love audiobooks or graphic novels more than ever before? Let me know in the comments! I can’t wait to see what you recommend as my next book. And, be sure to share any other thoughts you have on the books you’re reading for the Hub Challenge in the comments below, on Goodreads, or using the #hubchallenge hashtag on Instagram and TwitterContinue reading 2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #19

2016 Alex Award Winner: An Interview with Liz Suburbia

Liz Suburbia’s debut graphic novel, Sacred Heart, was selected for the Top Ten lists for both the  Alex Award and Great Graphic Novels for Teens, presented as part of the ALA’s 2016 Youth Media Awards.  A full list of all the authors and titles honored at the 2016 YMAs can be found here.

Cover-of-Sacred-HeartSacred Heart follows Ben Schiller, who is trying to navigate high school in Alexandria, a town where all the adults have gone away.  As the teens attend school purely to socialize and local punk band the Crotchmen rock the nights away in an abandoned church, Ben juggles her changing relationship with her best friend and her newfound role as a parental figure to her younger sister, Empathy.  But no one knows when or if the parents are coming back, and a string of deaths may mean that even more sinister things are coming.

Congratulations on your Alex Award win!  What was your reaction to winning?

Thank you!  I was surprised and humbled. My mom is an elementary school librarian who follows ALA news closely, so when she texted me about it I felt pretty good.

Was there something in particular that inspired you to write Sacred Heart?

I didn’t really know where I was going with it when I started; at the time I had just started working at a comic shop and was suddenly completely immersed in comics, so I was inspired to make one of my own. I started with the kind of generic “young girl coming of age” template and it grew from there.

Sacred Heart is about a town that is completely devoid of adults.  Did you know at the beginning where all the grown-ups had gone, or did that revelation come later in the writing process?  

At first I was having trouble writing adults into the story, and it occurred to me that I could just not include them. It took me awhile to come up with a good reason for their absence though. I had a kind of lightbulb moment out of nowhere when I went to see the band Shannon and the Clams, and they sang a song from the perspective of a kid who doesn’t want to be in their parents’ cult anymore. Continue reading 2016 Alex Award Winner: An Interview with Liz Suburbia

2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #4

Not signed up for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, so sign up now!

Hey Hub Challengers, we’re at week four, how are you doing? I’ve gotten a slow start to my reading but I feel it picking up now.

the hub 2016 reading challenge


This week I finished The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten. I had a bit of trouble getting into it at first but I’m glad that I stuck it out. It’s the story of Adam, a teen with OCD who has been in treatment and going to group therapy for a little bit when Robyn shows up. He is instantly smitten with her and decides that he must “get better” for her. Apart from his OCD, Adam has a lot more going on in his life: family stress between his mom and stepmom, the threatening letters that his mom is receiving but can’t seem to talk about, plus school and friends. I appreciated learning more about OCD and seeing Adam and his friends getting help when they needed it. Not to be too spoiler-y, but I’m glad that Adam and Robyn’s relationship developed to where it did by the end, and I thought they both acted really maturely.

I also read The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. This book had been on my to-read list for a while so I was so happy to see it on the Amelia Bloomer list. I unabashedly love the Amelia Bloomer list and am excited about feminist books in general, so I pounced on the opportunity to read this. The book reads as a slice of life narrative of Addie Baum, the daughter of Jewish immigrants in Boston at the beginning of the 20th century. Addie narrates the earlier years of her life to her granddaughter telling her story and dispensing advice along the way. It’s a sweet story and as a Massachusetts resident, it was fun to recognize places around Boston and Cape Ann! Continue reading 2016 Hub Challenge Check-In #4