Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins Publication Date: March 5, 2019 ISBN: 978-0062748379
If you could save someone you loved, would you? That is the premise of Opposite of Always with an added Groundhog Day twist. Jack has no idea he is going to fall for Kate until he meets her at a party while he is doing a college visit. Her charm and sense of humor provides the antidote Jack needs to get over his crush on Jillian–one of his best friends who also happens to be dating Franny, his other best friend and basketball phenom. Things get complicated when Kate begins acting shady and Jack discovers that she suffers from sickle cell anemia, the life-threatening disease that ultimately kills her. . .over and over. Each time Kate dies, Jack is thrown back in time to the party when they met and is given the opportunity to try and save her, but with each changed decision he discovers there are changed consequences.
It’s Halloween and it’s time for more booklists about scary books. This booklist features scary books with diverse characters. Many diverse horror novels are also historical fiction, and these books often include folklore, mythology, and religion.
Hoodoo by Smith is about a 12-year-old boy nicknamed Hoodoo from Alabama in the 1930’s. Hoodoo, raised by his grandmother, sees a strange man one day and weird things begin to happen to his family and friends. Hoodoo must solve the mystery of his father’s death and conjure spells to save his loved ones.
Hoodoo or conjuring/rootworking is folk magic that uses natural resources such as herbs and even animals to enhance one’s life. People who practice hoodoo are often seeking love, wealth, or health. Hoodoo is believed to have originated from the 19th century in the southern states of America where there was a huge concentration of slaves. Because of the varied nationalities of the slaves, Hoodoo is the mixture of many different cultural practices including Native American herbal knowledge.
Corinne’s father tells her the story of the Jumbies, but she knows that they are just stories adults tell to frighten children. One day, Corinne meets a beautiful stranger who quickly woos her father. When Corinne finds out the strange woman wants to steal the land for herself and the Jumbies, Corinne gathers her friends and family to help her find her unknown magic to stop the stranger.
The Jumbies is a retelling of the Haitian tale “The Magic Orange Tree” about a girl with an evil stepmother. When the stepmother starves the girl as punishment, she steals three oranges. The stepmother finds out and the girl runs away only to discover a magical orange tree that she can control. The girl seeks revenge on the stepmother with the orange tree. Continue reading Diversify YA Life: Horror with Diverse Characters
Much of diverse young adult literature is contemporary, realistic fiction, or historical fiction about the struggle of being a person of color. As a teen library worker, I get to know the personal lives of teens and some of their stories are heartbreaking. From poverty to bullying, I recognize that the struggle is real and I am happy to be a non-judgemental adult soundboard. I am also grateful for the plethora of young adult fiction available so that I can hand a book to a teen I feel will provide some insight and comfort.
But when life is tough, many teens also like to escape into fantasy and science fiction. Readers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror also like to see themselves in these books. If people of color can survive slavery and oppression and poverty, they can also survive zombies and maniacal kings and dragons. So, where are the black Hermiones?
I am a teen services specialist and a major part of my job is to connect teens with books. I have an avid reader, who is Middle Eastern, who asks me to recommend fantasy books about once a month. A year ago when the We Need Diverse Books movement started, I asked her to do a cue card about why we need diverse books and she stated that she would like to see more Middle Eastern characters in fantasy. A little over a year later, I gave her The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and she came back and absolutely raved about the book. She said that she particularly loved the inside cover because there was a girl who looked and dressed like her. This is one reason why we need diverse books.
If you are a library worker looking to enhance your diverse young adult repertoire or a teen reader looking for yourself in a magical world or a speculative fiction reader seeking something new, here’s a list of speculative young adult fantasy/science fiction titles for you to try. Please note that some titles feature characters of color in a supporting role—but that’s okay because Hermione was a supporting character, too. Continue reading Diversity YA Life: Diverse Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
Adults reading young adult books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it! YA has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.) Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.
Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions? Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance. There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books. Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works) can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.
James Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero. Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.
Stephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner)and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner). Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!
Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy TheGirl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.
I don’t read as much horror as I probably should, since it’s very popular with a lot of teen readers. So, I was very happy to attend this YA Literature Symposium session presented by the two Paulas (Paula Willey and Paula Gallagher) both from Baltimore (MD) County Public Library. Not only did I hear about some horror books I wasn’t familiar with, I also won a scary shark t-shirt! Thanks to their generosity, lots of us in the audience got prizes of galleys of YA books, and everyone got creepy body part shaped candy and packets of Old Bay Seasoning (Why? Because it’s made in Baltimore).
I can’t describe their presentation any better than they did:
“Teens of all types gravitate to horror fiction – perfectly nice kids with perfectly comfortable lives (as well as perfectly nice kids with difficult lives) seek out books by Darren Shan, Alexander Gordon Smith, Jeyn Roberts and the like. In our presentation, we will make the link between the psychological developments that characterize coming of age and the metaphors of horror, and argue that just because it’s all in your head, that doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
They mentioned that teens who like horror are nostalgic for series they read as kids like the Goosebumps series, Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories, or David Lubar’s Weenies series. Teens today are cutting their teeth on new horror TV shows, and films, even foreign ones like Let the Right One In and are big consumers of media, especially horror series like The Vampire Diaries.
Paula Willey explained why it’s important that we understand why teens like horror:
1. We may need to overcome our own revulsion; people who don’t like it don’t understand the appeal.
2. Horror is unusually good at shining a light on concerns of adolescents in ways other types of fiction do not. Horror is a window into their worries.
They also said that issues of morality can be explored in horror. Alexander Gordon Smith can talk abut good vs. evil in his Escape the Furnace series and get away with it. I had to laugh when they showed a slide from their PowerPoint stating that adolescent development is characterized by poor decision making; risk-taking; and a changing sense of identity and the image on screen was a photo of Bella and Edward from the Twilight movie.
When did you start to love reading? Can you remember the first book that did it for you?
Why, yes I do remember–so glad you asked! I was in third grade at my local public library with my friend Margaret (a bookworm and savvy reader a few years older than me). She thrust Lois Lowry’s Anastasia, Again at me so I shrugged and checked it out. I spent the rest of that afternoon on my front porch for hours happily lost in the book. I was a reader. And I haven’t looked back since.
Over the years, I have found that the phase of life in which you read a book affects your outlook on it. Have you ever re-read a beloved book only to find you now despise it? Have you discovered that you still love that same book but notice a lot of different stuff now? If you’ve grown up reading chances are you have many fond memories of the greats you read as a kid. In this line of thinking my colleague Meaghan Darling and I put together some recommendations of titles to try now based on what you liked when you were younger.
* The Witches by Roald Dahl â€“Beautiful Creatures(2010 Morris Finalist) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Some witches are good, some are badâ€”but all are powerful!
As a follow-up to Hannah GÃ³mez’s post #DiversityatALA about the current movement to be vocal about the need for more diversity in YA literature (#weneeddiversebooks), and Kelly Dickinson’s post featuring LGBTQ titles, I’m here to list some upcoming YA books that contain non-white, non-heterosexual, non-cisgendered or differently-abled characters that you should be on the lookout for. If you are attending the ALA Annual Conference this weekend in Vegas, ask the publishers about ARCs for many of these. Not all of them will be available as ARCs because some aren’t being published until 2015, but publishers’ reps should still be able give you the scoop on them.
To start, I’m including a few recent notable books that you probably know about and a few that aren’t as obvious because the reviews might not have mentioned their diverse content, or you can’t tell from their jacket flaps.
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) is a novel about a transgendered boy while a strong pick for a nonfiction book about transgendered teens is Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.
I wasn’t aware that the main character Chevron “Chevie” is descended from the Shawnee Native American tribe in Eoin Colfer’s Warp: Book 1 the Reluctant Assassin until I started reading it. The second book in the series, Hangman’s Revolution is coming out today. Park in Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Printz Honor book) is half-Korean.
In Stick by Andrew Smith the main character â€œStickâ€ is differently-abled because he was born without an ear & his older brother is gay. Chasing Shadows by Swati Avashi has a main character of Indian descent and there’s a lot about Hindu mythology in the book.
Padma Venkatraman’s A Time to Dance is about a classical Indian dance prodigy whose life seems to be over after she becomes a below-the knee amputee.
Erin Bow’s Sorrow’s Knot is a fantasy flavored by Native American cultures and Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore features a lesbian character.
Now that you’re up to speed on recently-published diverse titles, here are some upcoming books with diverse content to keep an eye out for at ALA Annual and other conferences:
Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks, August 2014) is a ghost story about Okiko, whose spirit has wandered the world for centuries delivering punishment to monsters who hurt children, but when she meets teenaged Tark, she tries to free him from the demon that invaded him.
Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (Penguin, August 2014) A 15-year-old teen girl loses her eyesight the summer before high school after a firecracker misfires into a crowd.
Positive: a Memoir by Paige Rawl (HarperCollins, August 2014) (NF). Memoir of Paige Rawl, HIV positive since birth, who was bullied in school once she disclosed her HIV-positive status and from that moment forward, every day was like walking through a minefield. Continue reading Diverse YA Titles to Look for at ALA Annual