Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

Ace of Spades. By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends, $18.99 (9781250800817). 

Ambitious queen bee Chiamaka and loner scholarship kid Devon are the only Black students at school. That’s all they have in common until an online bully going by the name “Aces” starts spilling all their secrets. Chiamaka and Devon will have to join forces to bring Aces down—or lose everything.

Bad Witch Burning. By Jessica Lewis. Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press, $17.99 (9780593177389). 

Katrell’s ability to converse with the dead has been earning her enough money to help her mom pay bills and buy food. When she makes a startling discovery about her abilities around the same time she receives a dire warning to stop using her magic, Katrell is faced with an impossible decision.

Barry Squires, Full Tilt. By Heather Smith. 2020. Penguin Random House Canada/Penguin Teen, $17.99 (9780735267466). 

After watching a performance of Irish step dancers, Barry Squires decides he was meant for tap shoes. The trick will be convincing everyone around him to give him a chance.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn
Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
ISBN: 978-0525515609

Biracial teen Amandla lives in Sugar Town, a township on the outskirts of Durban, South Africa with her single white mother. Ever cognizant of her mother’s fluctuating mental health, Amandla is concerned when her mother returns home from one of her secret trips to Durban with a large envelope full of cash and a mysterious note. Amandla and her friends decide to follow her mother to Durban where they discover that Amandla has an entire family she knows nothing about, with a history that will change everything she thinks she knows about herself and her mother. 

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#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, October 5 Edition

Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
ISBN: 978-0544968578 

King Ulises has been on the throne for one year, the throne intended for his older brothers who were murdered years ago, along with his father, by emissaries of a rival kingdom. His friend Elias lost his mapmaker father in the same attack. When Ulises’ cousin Mercedes comes across a strange map that seems to have been drawn by Elias’ father, the three friends suspect there is more to the story than they have been told, and leave on a quest to uncover the riddles hidden in the map.

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It Really Happened: YA Fiction Based on True Events

9781419710322_p0_v1_s260x420I wanted to write this mostly because of one YA writer who has begun the trend of basing her YA fiction books on real crimes. Initially, I thought I would focus on the increasing number of YA historical fiction books coming out that are based on true crime stories like the Jack the Ripper rip-off killings in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series. But, I realized that her books aren’t historical fiction, they are contemporary novels that contain events based on true historical events.  So, I will focus here mostly on contemporary YA fiction with elements based on true historical events – with a few exceptions (I can’t resist a book based on a true story where a woman pretends to be a man and gets away with it).

A Soldier’s Story: the Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds. A Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss (2012, pbk. 2014) is   is based on the true story of nineteen-year-old Sarah Emma Edmonds, who masqueraded as a man named Frank Thompson during the Civil War. Her adventures include serving as a nurse on the battlefield and spying for the Union Army, and being captured by (and escaping from) the Confederates. Sarah narrates her riveting story as she deals with the dangers of living a lie and the horrors of war and even the complications of romance while posing as a man.

The book includes real photographs taken from the Civil War. Moss states in the epilogue that the bones of the story are all true; she used actual names of the soldiers who served with Sarah and she used Sarah’s actual diary and that of others as primary source materials. She also says that of the over 400 women who dressed a man during the war, most shared with secret with loved ones. Only Sarah was known to have lived as a man before enlisting and the only one to be recognized by acts of Congress as an honorably discharged soldier. Continue reading It Really Happened: YA Fiction Based on True Events