The 2015 Printz Award winner I’ll Give You the Sun is finding more and more fans in my library, and readers often connect with the story of artists, of grief, and family, or enjoy the lyrical writing and love story. Some love the dual voices and structure.
Whether they loved the style or the plot of Noah and Jude’s story, readers will find a new book to fall in love with on this list. I’ve tried to include a mix of older and sometimes overlooked titles as well as a few new releases for those who seem to have already read everything.
The Brilliant Light of the Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow
This tender romance is all about life and love and letting go and growing up. Francis and Amber meet in a cancer ward, but this isn’t just another cancer romance. It’s full of wit and humor and features a goofy, awkward family in addition to the love story.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
This just might be the cutest YA romance of 2015. Simon meets another guy who is gay but not yet out on his school’s gossip tumblr, and they begin exchanging flirty emails…but will they ever meet in real life? Readers who loved Noah’s coming out and falling in love story in I’ll Give You the Sun should definitely check out this recent debut. Continue reading 12 Books for Fans of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Oh my goodness – Summer Reading and Learning is almost over, and I am so thrilled. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Summer Learning, but it’s tiring, yes?
Well, guess what I found out recently turned 20 years old? Me? Unfortunately, no, but something better – the movie of my generation (well, 1 of them, at least) – Clueless.
You know the story; a retelling of Emma, Clueless is led by Cher as she tries to find love and cultivate friendships as well as her wish to be a good person: a person who helps other people. It’s that shining gem starring Alicia Silverstone which also gave viewers our first glance at the never aging Paul Rudd. Seriously – have you seen him in the new Wet Hot American Summer prequel on Netflix? Dude doesn’t age.
Anyways…I decided to watch the movie to relive that summer of my 17th year where I had nothing more to ponder than where I thought Cher had bought that yellow plaid jacket/skirt combo. The movie was just as good as I remembered, and I realized that I’d love to delve more into Cher as a character. What was she like? And, most importantly, what would she read?
So, here it is, Hubbers, my attempt to guess as to what our dear Cher would most enjoy reading if she would happen to come in to the library and ask for some recommendations. And, one tiny nonessential secret before we move on to my top book picks for Cher. I actually hadn’t thought of the movie for a while, but as I was watching Bachelor in Paradise a few weeks ago (no judgement), Ashley I. was lamenting her status as a virgin, and boom! This quote popped in my head: “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” I figured any random quote that would stick in my head for 20 years must be indicative of a fantastic movie. And, I was right. Anyways, here we go…
Are you heading to ALA annual this year? Are you staying home, but wishing you could join the festivities in San Francisco? Here are some young adult books set in San Francisco to help you feel like you are there already:
Jade Moon is offered the opportunity to join her father in immigrating to the United States. Soon, however, she finds herself trapped on Angel Island with no promise of ever seeing her new country. The only way she can get off the island is to disguise herself as a boy. Can this fire horse girl survive the streets of 1920s San Francisco?
Frances’s mother dreams of the day that Frances graduates from high school and begins to pursue a career as a doctor. She encourages Frances to work very hard in school and has forbidden any extra-curricular activities. A computer glitch lands Frances in a speech class, though, and there she begins to find her true calling.
As the holiday season enters into full-swing and all my friends are discussing vacation plans with their families far and wide, I got to thinking about the ways in which families are depicted in YA literature. In particular, the surprising lack of diversity in how family units are portrayed as a general rule. More often that not, YA main characters come from “traditional” heterosexual nuclear families with birth parents who are not divorced. That said, as families across the nation become increasingly more diverse on all sorts of levels, so too are fictional families in YA and adult literature. In honor, then, of diverse families, both the ones we are born into and the ones we find, I’ve rounded up a wide array of titles celebrating the love we give and receive from the most important people in our lives.
Holly Goldberg Sloan’s book Counting by 7s is a favorite at my school with both students and teachers alike. It centers on the life of the endearingly quirky 12-year-old genius Willow Chance, the adopted multiracial daughter of loving white parents. When her adoptive parents tragically die in a car crash, Willow finds herself taken in by her Vietnamese friends and their single mom. What I really appreciated about this book is that it emphasizes that family, although always imperfect, is something that can be created and that is ultimately transformative. Featuring a truly unusual and unique set of misfit characters, this is an uplifting book that reads something like a fable or fairy tale come true. Continue reading Diverse Books, Diverse Families
I began the first full day at the 2014 Young Adult Literature Symposium with a session that perfectly suited this year’s “Keeping It Real” theme. Titled “YA Realness: What Makes ‘Contemporary Realism’ Feel True To Readers?” this Saturday morning session featured a self-moderated panel of established authors discussing a range of topics related to contemporary realistic fiction for young adults, including the genre’s authenticity, controversial topics, writing craft, and continued appeal to teens.
In many cases, a panel without a formal moderator could go horribly wrong, but the excellent crew of authors in this particular session instead created a casual and very thoughtful conversation about many aspects of contemporary realism. Matt de la Pena, Coe Booth, Sara Zarr, Sara Ryan, and Jo Knowles are all authors well-known for their varied, popular, and critically acclaimed works of contemporary realistic fiction written for and about young adults.
Sara Zarr started the session off by getting right to the most basic but unavoidable question: “How do you define ‘contemporary realism?” She broke the ice by offering her own, excellent definition of the genre as a story that takes place more or less in the present in which nothing happens that could not feasibly happen in our world and nothing occurs that might violate the space-time continuum. The other panelists chimed in, mentioning their emphases on honesty, emotional truth, and grittiness. Matt de la Pena shared his usual response to questions concerning his preference for realistic fiction over fantasy: “I am so infatuated with the real world that I don’t go there [to supernatural creatures, etc.] creatively….you all have great stories in your lives, you just think they’re normal.” Continue reading YA Lit Symposium: YA Realness – What Makes Contemporary Realism Feel True to Readers?
When Roomies begins, teens Lauren and Elizabeth are a couple months away from starting their freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley.They have just received each other’s names and email addresses from the campus housing office because they have been matched as dorm roommates.Lauren lives in San Francisco, California, which is not far from the city of Berkeley.In her loving two-parent family, she is the eldest of her siblings by several years.Her responsible nature may stem partly from her heavy child-rearing responsibilities.She is somewhat shy, concerned with honesty and aims to work in scientific research.Elizabeth, also known as E.B., lives in suburban New Jersey near the Shore with her single divorced mom with whom she does not have a close relationship.Elizabeth can be overly sensitive at times and is more impulsive than Lauren, as well as more outgoing.She plans to study landscape architecture.
Initiated by Elizabeth of course, the two begin an email correspondence over the summer.They share the details of their lives and soon after their feelings and frustrations about friends, family and boyfriends.This is not an epistolary novel, however; these emails are one component of a traditional narrative.The two girls alternate narrating chapters.
Initially Lauren and Elizabeth experience a mainly positive interaction, getting a feel for each other’s personalities, leaning on each other throughout a couple situations in their personal lives and sharing the joys of their respective first loves.A misunderstanding arises, however, connected to Elizabeth‘s estranged father, who lives and owns an art gallery in San Francisco.Both girls are challenged to look at the situation through the other’s eyes and decide whether reconciliation is possible.In an interview with Harvard Magazine (September-October 2014) Tara Altebrando describes how she and Sara Zarr wrote the book both separately and together over a period of three years and mentions that they are considering either a sequel or another collaborative project.
I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of Roomies if you can, which is voiced by Becca Battoe and Emily Eiden.These two readers do an amazing job of vocally capturing the distinct rhythms and personalities of Lauren and Elizabeth, not to mention the differences in regional accents.
But now the time has come to blend!When choosing the ingredients for a â€œbookish brewâ€ I consider the setting and the essential traits or qualities of the main character of a novel.As there are two quite distinct main characters in Roomies, I’ve created two smoothies.Continue reading Bookish Brew: Summer Smoothie Edition
Given the central role that the Internet plays in so many people’s lives these days, it is hard to believe that this has been the case for less than 20 years. As with all great technologies, it has brought with it a whole spectrum of positive and negative changes, and has fundamentally altered the way that people meet friends, keep in touch across great distances, and express themselves.
Whether you want to keep in touch with friends both far and near, feel awkward in social situations, or are simply interested in connecting with others who share your specific interests, the Internet offers a whole new way to socialize, communicate and create. Continue reading Teen Tech Week: YA Fiction About Online Life
One of my favorite types of books in the contemporary genre is the dual or multi-narrative. I’m sure I will revisit this topic again in future posts about contemporary YA fiction, but these were the first five titles that popped into my head when I started to make my list. I know I am missing a lot, so maybe this will just be part one?
Told from the point of view of two Will Graysons whose lives change drastically when they meet. Both Wills are trying to find their way, and share how their lives are affected by knowing one Tiny Cooper, who is not tiny in any sense of the word.