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YA A to Z: Terry Trueman

terrytrueman YA A to Z: Terry TruemanIn 2001 author Terry Trueman won the Michael L. Printz Honor Award for his book Stuck in Neutral. In this work, we step inside the mind of Shawn McDaniel, a boy who has Cerebral Palsy. He is also a boy that things his father is about to kill him. You see, Shawn can’t communicate with the outside world and his father is worried that Shawn is in pain, so he wants to help him. And now Shawn is trying desperately to find a way to let his father know that he wants to live.

At the time, this was one of the first books I ever read from the point of view of a character that had a disability. And later it would come to mean something so much more to me. You see, I am the aunt to three boys on the Autism spectrum. Like Shawn, my nephews have a real inability to communicate, more so when they were younger. One of my nephews can become so frustrated with his inability to communicate his thoughts and feelings that he bites himself to the point of bleeding. Children’s services has been called many times by outside parties, though thankfully children’s services are aware that self harm, OCD, echocholia and more can be a part of Autism.

I also have several close friends who have children on the spectrum and their lives require a navigation that is quite different than others. Childcare can be a challenge, if you are able to find any at all. Trips out in public must be carefully orchestrated, in part because variations of routine and be quite stressful for those on the spectrum. But also in part because the public often does not respond well when they see kids on the spectrum. And if a meltdown should occur in public, the stares and comments you will get are horrific, withering.

Which is part of the reason why books like Stuck in Netural are so important. You see, books can create empathy, compassion. Atticus Finch once talked about walking a mile in another pair of shoes and how doing that helped us to develop a sympathetic viewpoint. That’s what Stuck in Neutral does, it allows us to see into the heart and soul of a young boy, it humanizes him in a world that would seek to make him less than human. Stuck in Neutral is not about Autism, it’s about Cerebral Palsy, but it is an important reminder for us all that those who are differently abled than us, those whose lives may seem challenging and overwhelming, are still people with thoughts and feelings and dreams and fears and love. Whatever our bodies may look like on the outside, at the core of us we’re all just people.stuckinneutral 221x300 YA A to Z: Terry Trueman

If Stuck in Neutral was the only book Terry Trueman ever wrote it would still be the accomplishment of a lifetime, but it isn’t. Trueman went on to write a wide variety of additional novels, including Cruise Control which tells the story of Shawn from his brother’s point of view. There are 10 books listed on Terry Trueman’s Goodreads page, including No Right Turn (2006),  7 Days in the Hot Corner (2007), and Hurricane (2008).

In 2012 Trueman released Life Happens Next, which tells us more about Shawn’s life: “How do you connect with others when you can’t talk, walk, or even wave hello? In the sequel to Stuck in Neutral, which ALA Booklist called “an intense reading experience,” Shawn McDaniel discovers a new definition of “normal” and finds that life happens next for everyone.”

Terry Trueman went to school and resides in the state of Washington. Trueman has a son, Sheehan, who himself has Cerebral Palsy. Stuck in Neutral was eventually turned into a stage play and you can read a bit about that process here.

It is not always easy for me to understand this life that the people around me live that is dictated by the spectrum. My nephews are now all teenagers and to be completely honest, this life has been a tremendous challenge for them and the people that love them. None of them will ever live on their own. One of my friends already has their son on a waiting list for a long term care facility because they know that their son will always need extensive care and because of the rapidly rising rates of Autism the waiting list is long. They worry about what will happen to their children when they are no longer able to care for them. I want the world to be more compassionate to these families, to stop sneering at them in public, to stop turning their noses in disgust. I want the world to read Stuck in Neutral and other books with differently abled characters so that they will develop a deep and abiding empathy for all human life, even those lives that look radically different than what our world has decided the norm should be.

Join the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. On Twitter, we’re @TLT16, @boothheather, @robinreads, and @citesomething.

#YAAtoZ Schedule: Week 1 4: A ; 5: B ; 6: C ; 7: D  Week 2 10: E ; 11: F ; 12: G, H, I ; 13: J, K ; 14: L  Week 3 17: M ; 18: N, O ; 19: P, Q ; 20: R, S ; 21: T  Week 4 24: U ; 25: V, W ; 26: X ; 27: Y ; 28: Z

Autism and Libraries


Friday Finds – November 21, 2014

fridayfinds 300x298 Friday Finds   November 21, 2014This Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: What a few minutes searching Google Images for “Prom Dresses” taught me

Middle Grade Monday – Statistics

National School Climate Survey results about LGBT students’ experiences in school

The #SVYALit Project Google Hangout with A. S. King, Christa Desir & Carrie Mesrobian

We’re Not Faking it, We’re Making It: from the Robot Test Kitchen

YA A to Z

Around the Web

You want to read Ursula Le Guin’s speech for the National Book Awards.

Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. It is well deserved. See her keynote speech for SLJ’s Day of Dialogue here.

One of the many issues with charter schools is their lack of preparedness for dealing with children with special needs.

SLJ’s Best Books for 2014.


In case you’re having a bad day…



YA A to Z: Jenny Torres Sanchez

jenny 223x300 YA A to Z: Jenny Torres SanchezHere’s a fun fact for you: The first author to ever work with me for anything here at Teen Librarian Toolbox, when it was just me and I had zero to no idea what I was doing, was then debut author Jenny Torres Sanchez. I met her at ALA as she was promoting her debut novel The Downside of Being Charlie.

I fell instantly in love with Charlie because here was a book about a very authentic teenager, the geeky, insecure and uncomfortable in his own skin teens that I knew and had been working with for years. And Charlie was an artist, using photography as a means to help him figure out the world much the way that another great YA character I love does: Glory O’Brien. Except Charlie did it first, but these are great complimentary novels to highlight using art and looking at life through the lens of a camera.

But as much as I loved Charlie, I was blown away by Sanchez’s second book: Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia. Frenchie Garcia is obsessed with death, and very, very depressed. She is getting ready to graduate high school but suddenly her after school plans are changing, in part because her male best friend is thinking about going in some different directions. One of the main reasons for Frenchie’s current struggles involves her high school crush. You see, when she finally spends one night hanging out with him, she wakes up the next morning to learn that after they parted ways he took his own life. Now she is struggling with questions: Did he do something that night that might have indicated what was going to happen? Did she miss something? Could she have helped? So one night she embarks on a journey with a new friend where they revisit all of the stops she made that night to see if she can find the answers she needs to move forward. I really love this book and think it is an under-rated gem. It taps into those deep emotions of fear and guilt and uncertainty and really allows us to journey with Frenchie as she tries to find a way to move out of the molasses of depression that is holding her hostage.

death 200x300 YA A to Z: Jenny Torres Sanchez

About Jenny:

“My name is just Jenny, not Jennifer, or Victoria, or Elizabeth, or Lizzie, which is what I tried to make friends and my sister call me when I was younger because Jenny didn’t sound fancy enough. I spent a lot of time trying to come up with better names because I thought Jenny was too plain. I was quite the aristocrat, you see. I even tried to convince my fourth grade teacher that my name was Gennifer (like the creative spelling?), which caused a lot of confusion on that year’s state assessment test. Anyway, I like Jenny now and find it suits me just fine.” As you can see from reading a part of her bio, Jenny has a fantastic sense of humor.

I follow Jenny on Twitter and she claims to be a long lost twin sister of Dallas author Julie Murphy. Jenny is artistic, which probably helps explain why both of her main characters in her first two novels have been so artistic. But I say bring on the arts, we need more arts! Jenny was a high school teacher but is now writing and raising her kids, the youngest of whom is around 1 years old. For those of you who are actively looking for ways to support more diversity in your YA collection, Jenny Torres Sanchez is a Latina author that you can confidently add to your collections because her books have an authentic teen voice that captures the rich emotional lives of teens.

I can tell you that Jenny loves A. S. King and even wrote a post about Please Ignore Me, Vera Dietz as part of the Why YA series. Her post about King prompted me to read the book and I am now obsessed with A. S. King. So if you ever get sick of my A. S. King obsession, just remember that Jenny Torres Sanchez is the one who started it all. Jenny may be the only person who understands that every time I get to have a moment in conversation with A. S. King I kind of tear up; we have a mutual admiration society going. She was one of the first authors I interviewed and you can read that interview here. I haven’t actually gotten any better at interviewing authors, but I’ll never forget how kind she was working with me in those early blog days.

I am looking forward to reading more great YA novels in the future by Jenny Torres Sanchez. If for some reason you don’t yet have Jenny on your radar, do be sure and go pick up both The Downside of Being Charlie and Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia. And yes, the Dickinson is Emily Dickson (her ghost makes an appearance of course). And in case I didn’t make myself clear, I really, really, really adore Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia.

Join the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. On Twitter, we’re @TLT16, @boothheather, @robinreads, and @citesomething.

#YAAtoZ Schedule: Week 1 4: A ; 5: B ; 6: C ; 7: D  Week 2 10: E ; 11: F ; 12: G, H, I ; 13: J, K ; 14: L  Week 3 17: M ; 18: N, O ; 19: P, Q ; 20: R, S ; 21: T  Week 4 24: U ; 25: V, W ; 26: X ; 27: Y ; 28: Z

We’re Not Faking it, We’re Making It: from the Robot Test Kitchen

One of the features on the Robot Test Kitchen is a True Confessions series. In it, we discuss our personal experiences in this brave new world of integrating technology programming into our libraries. Sometimes it’s triumphant, sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The point of our True Confessions is to illustrate that no matter where you are with your technology skills and programming, you can move forward and you are doing it. In today’s RTK post, Jacquie shares her perspectives on a recent experience with both webinars and littleBits.

Working with my Robot Test Kitchen colleagues during ILEADUSA was a fantastic experience, and now that we’re continuing with this project I appreciate the value of this collaboration even more. When we’re given opportunities, chances are at least one of us can say yes. A couple of weeks ago Brian Pichman with the Evolve Project asked if any of us would be panelists during a webinar about Library Makerspaces, specifically talking about LittleBits in libraries. Due to busy schedules, I ended up being the one who was available.

As the webinar began, I experienced a moment of self doubt (which is unusual for me, but I know I’m not the only one to go through this) as I read the comments from the participants. So many of them have thriving Makerspaces, and are already using LittleBits in innovative ways that I thought, “Who am I to be a panelist and impart any knowledge to them?” I was already in and I accepted that plowing forward was the only option, so I gave myself a brief pep talk and carried on. I did talk about my experiences with LittleBits thus far, as well as plans for in-house use and circulation of kits.

Here are just some of the things I learned and ideas I gleaned:

  • The other panelist, Jessica Lamarre, shared the fantastic idea to use small pictures of the LittleBits components to make sure they get put back correctly, whether they’re housed in the original packaging or in a plastic tackle-box type container.
  • I learned that there is a LittleBits Synth Kit, which I think will be a great fit in my library for next summer’s Read to the Rhythm summer reading program.
  • There is an Arduino component so you can use Scratch extensions, there is a LEGO brick adapter, and they’ve even been used to power 3D printed cars. Is there anything LittleBits don’t play nicely with?

In the end, I’m glad I had this experience. I may not be an expert, but I have a lot to share. I’m not new to this either, but I still enjoy learning, sharing, and being inspired by the ideas of others. It was worth it to step out of my comfort zone, sit in front of a webcam, and share what I know because this is all so very important.

Whatever we’re working on, our ultimate goal is enrich lives and build communities. At the same time, if you’re reading this you’re part of a community. Whatever fantastic things get made or invented in our schools and libraries, however many kids are inspired to pursue new interests, we are part of it. Just as we’re giving people in our communities a chance to create and connect, we need to keep on connecting with each other. We’re not just making the makerspaces so the makers can come make, we are the makers too. So let’s embrace that maker spirit and realize that each of has a unique perspective and something to share. Your experiences and even the questions you ask can spark an idea for someone else.

-Jacquie @infojacquie

YA A to Z: Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah1a 200x300 YA A to Z: Sarah Rees BrennanWhy I chose Sarah Rees Brennan:

So, I’m not sure if choosing Sarah Rees Brennan for ‘R’ is cheating or not. I know in my collection, she’s filed under ‘B’, and I certainly wouldn’t want to move her, since that puts her right next to Libba Bray. On the other hand, moving her to the ‘R’ section would put her right next to Philip Reeve. Hmm… What I’m pretty sure of, however, is that she is one of my favorite YA authors. You may be noticing a trend here, but Sarah is also one of my favorite people whom I follow on twitter. She is quirky and hilarious, and often comments on her love of people’s anguish over the trials and tribulations of her characters. She also has a tendency to go on extended tweet binges of running commentary on (or parody of) her current favorite TV show.

Sarah is often found being smart on the internet, especially when professing her love of Taylor Swift. She also has a tendency to post extended original work on her blog in installment format such as her ‘short’ story, Turn of the Story.

Mostly, however, I love her books! The Lynburn Legacy trilogy is my favorite although I am fond of her others. Sarah takes great joy in manipulating and subverting tropes, using them to her own means for wonderful storytelling. I was all in when she explained that the Lynburn Legacy books were a magical gothic story, where the ‘damsel in distress trapped in the castle with her crazy relatives’ is actually the male protagonist. She took the character we would normally consider to be the ‘sidekick’ and made her the female protagonist. It’s actually quite brilliant. My favorite character from the trilogy is Kami’s best friend, Angela, who seems to incorporate the qualities of my two favorite dwarves (Grump and Sleepy.) Too bad there aren’t also dwarves named Loyal and Kickass. This is another one of those series I have gotten my friend Mr. Horton (our school’s football coach) hooked on, although he seems convinced that the series is called the ‘Lyndburg’ Legacy…

Brief Biography:

Sarah was born and raised and still lives in Ireland although she did live in NYC for a time after college.


  • The Demon’s Lexicon
  • The Demon’s Covenant
  • The Demon’s Surrender
  • Team Human (with Justine Larbalestier)
  • Unspoken
  • Untold
  • Unmade
  • The Bane Chronicles (with Maureen Johnson and Cassandra Clare)

In Anthologies:

  • Defy the Dark
  • Enthralled
  • After
  • Shadowhunters and Downworlders
  • The Girl Who Was on Fire

You can find Sarah online:

@SarahReesBrenna on Twitter

On Tumblr

Or her website or her LiveJournal

If you like Sarah Rees Brennan’s books, I’d recommend:

  • Gail Carriger
  • Cassandra Clare
  • Holly Black
  • Rachel Hawkins

yaatoz22 150x150 YA A to Z: Sarah Rees BrennanJoin the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. 

#YAAtoZ Schedule: Week 1 4: A ; 5: B ; 6: C ; 7: D  Week 2 10: E ; 11: F ; 12: G, H, I ; 13: J, K ; 14: L  Week 3 17: M ; 18: N, O ; 19: P, Q ; 20: R, S ; 21: T  Week 4 24: U ; 25: V, W ; 26: X ; 27: Y ; 28: Z


YA A to Z: Matthew Quick

matthewquick 296x300 YA A to Z: Matthew QuickQuick! Help me think of a YA author for the Letter Q. Haha, see what I did there. And that’s why I don’t write humor people.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has been an important part of The #SVYALit Project, particularly when it comes to the discussion of male survivors. If you haven’t read it yet, you should immediately rectify that situation. But before we talk books, let me tell you a little bit about Matthew Quick.

According to his webpage bio, where I also borrowed this picture, “Matthew Quick is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. He lives with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.”

If you read the longer bio you will learn that before quitting to pursue writing, Quick was a high school teacher. He also coached soccer and basketball. So obviously part of the reason that he writes such authentic YA literature is because he has spent some time in the trenches, and he obviously has some skills.

It seems remiss to discuss Matthew Quick without mentioning the movie Silver Linings Playbook, the Academy Award winning film based on his novel starring Jennifer Lawrence. This was his first novel, published in 2008.

His three YA novels include Sorta Like a Rockstar, Boy 21, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

forgivemeleonard 198x300 YA A to Z: Matthew QuickAbout Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock:

Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.

Nor to his mum who’s moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour
A teenage violin virtuoso
A pastor’s daughter
A teacher

Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not.

He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.” (Publisher’s Description)

“I feel like I’m broken—like I don’t fit together anymore. Like there’s no more room for me in the world or something. Like I’ve overstayed my welcome here on Earth, and everyone’s trying to give me hints about that constantly. Like I should just check out.”
Matthew Quick, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Join the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. On Twitter, we’re @TLT16 and I’m@CiteSomething

#YAAtoZ Schedule: Week 1 4: A ; 5: B ; 6: C ; 7: D  Week 2 10: E ; 11: F ; 12: G, H, I ; 13: J, K ; 14: L  Week 3 17: M ; 18: N, O ; 19: P, Q ; 20: R, S ; 21: T  Week 4 24: U ; 25: V, W ; 26: X ; 27: Y ; 28: Z


YA A to Z: Stephanie Perkins

Guest post by Mary Hinson

stephanie perkins YA A to Z: Stephanie Perkins“I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.” – Lola and the Boy Next Door

I’m visiting Teen Librarian Toolbox today (oh, my gosh, I just realized I’m an ACTUAL teen librarian now!) to talk to you about Stephanie Perkins, writer of swoony romance and all around awesome person.

I discovered Stephanie in 2012. I was in college and having a rough time outside of the classroom, which affected my performance in the classroom. I had been diagnosed with severe depression, and my only solace some days was the joy I got in visiting the local library (not the university library, which I actively avoided). Everyone on Goodreads had been talking about this Anna and the French Kiss book so I made sure to go find it at the library.

French Kiss tells the story of high school senior Anna who is shipped across the Atlantic and dropped into a super-exclusive boarding school for the children of various VIPs: politicians, the rich and famous, and, in Anna’s case, her best-selling Nicholas Sparks-esque author father. Anna’s story is sweet, fun, and utterly relatable, being at times simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming. Anna’s intense loneliness was a feeling I could understand entirely at that point in my life, and the hope I felt as Anna made friends and inched her way toward an adorable romance with Etienne St. Clair–a boy with a spectacular national identity crisis–made me hope for a happy ending of my own. As a tall girl, I like tall boys, but in vertically-challenged St. Clair’s case, I would absolutely make an exception because he is a charmer! Stephanie manages to incorporate so many facets of the teenage experience in her delightful debut: crushes, new friends vs old friends, mean girls, Parent Problems, and the changes created by both distance and time. There’s a lot going on, but it feels so true to the story that you never feel overwhelmed in reading Anna; instead, I guarantee there will be at least one thing that you will directly relate to.

“I don’t understand why things always go from perfect to weird with us. It’s like we’re incapable of normal human interaction.” – Anna and the French Kiss

AnnaLolaIsla 300x147 YA A to Z: Stephanie Perkins

Immediately after I finished Anna, I requested a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door. This companion tale (yes, it’s not a direct sequel, although Anna and St. Clair make an appearance or two!) recounts the adventures of Lola, a vivacious San Francisco girl with a passion for costuming and some serious drama with Cricket, the boy next door who moved away but comes back. Even though I enjoyed Boy Next Door, I had a harder time relating to Lola and her world during my initial read. I’ve never been a teenage girl caught between my twenty-something-year-old boyfriend and my childhood crush. I’m not all that quirky or whimsical. However, when I listened to Lola on audio earlier this year, I suddenly LOVED the story. Somehow I had missed out on its beauty the first time around.

But let’s go back to 2012. I loved Anna, and I liked Lola so when I heard there was a third book in the works, I was READY. Stephanie kept teasing about this mystery book three, but there was very little information. Finally, in 2013, this blog post popped up on Stephanie’s website. My heart broke for Stephanie as she recounted her struggles with depression, but I also felt a sense of camaraderie with Stephanie because of my own depression. I really just wanted to give her a hug and say, “it’s okay!” because I had been there. Some days, I’m still there. But Stephanie’s books and her brave admission of her struggles really helped me through that time.

“Do adults realize how lucky they are? Or do they forget that these small moments are actually small miracles? I don’t want to ever forget.” – Isla and the Happily Ever After

stepperkins3rd 300x228 YA A to Z: Stephanie PerkinsI am really glad that in 2014 not only did we get TWO Stephanie Perkins novels–the long-awaited Isla and the Happily Ever After and My True Love Gave to Me, a lovely anthology full of holiday short stories written by ya heavyweights and edited by Stephanie–but I have also had the immense pleasure of meeting her three times. I can tell you that Stephanie is one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever met, author or no. Also, to hear her talk about her husband Jarrod–on whom St. Clair, Cricket, and Josh are all modeled in one way or another–is the most darling experience. Save Will and Kate, I don’t know of another real couple that I ship so hard…unless it’s Stephanie and Kiersten, the bestest author besties of all time.

I just want to end by saying if you have not yet read Stephanie’s books, I highly recommend you do so, even if contemporary romance isn’t your favorite genre. Trust me; these books will make you ridiculously happy. Also, what’s next on Stephanie’s plate? A YA slasher. Because why not?

The #SVYALit Project Google Hangout with A. S. King, Christa Desir & Carrie Mesrobian

The #SVYALit Project Google Hangout with A. S. King, Christa Desir and Carrie Mesrobian is happening TODAY live at 12 Noon Eastern. You can join us by clicking on the Google event page link below. Or come back here and watch the recording.

SVYALitProjectNovember 300x151 The #SVYALit Project Google Hangout with A. S. King, Christa Desir & Carrie Mesrobian

The Google Event Page:

The YouTube Page:

YA A to Z: Lauren Oliver

If you are new to TLT, you may not know that I am a huge Lauren Oliver fan. The first Oliver title I read was Delirium, which The Tween and I listened to as an audio book. This was The Tween’s first YA book experience. Lauren Oliver was the first author I took The Tween to meet. I pulled her out of school early and the entire family journeyed to Northern Dallas for an epic adventure that culminated in this incredible moment. Her first signed book was Leisl and Po by Lauren Oliver. As you can see, there are a lot of firsts associated with Lauren Oliver in my house.

laurenoliver 300x300 YA A to Z: Lauren Oliver

I was in love with Pandemonium after reading it, so much so that I ended up writing this letter to Lauren Oliver. We live in a world in which choosing to love may not be illegal, but it is definitely courageous. If after getting your heart broken that first time, or the second or third or 100th time, you still choose to love, then you are one of the bravest people out there. I wish more of us chose love every day, then maybe we wouldn’t be at this staggering moment in U.S. history where 1 in 30 kids now are homeless.

Lauren Oliver doesn’t just write YA novels, she has written a couple of Middle Grade novels as well, which The Tween and I have read together. These are precious memories to me, especially as I have recently begun to notice that she doesn’t really want to kiss me goodbye as I drop her off in front of the school anymore. So I’ll take some good family reading cuddles when I can get them.

So, about Lauren Oliver. She was born, raised and currently lives in New York. She lived in Chicago for a while to attend university. It’s astounding to me that her first book, Before I Fall, was first published in 2010. Especially when you consider it is now 2014 and she has published 9 books: 6 YA, 2 MG, and 1 Adult. Her adult book, Rooms, is the only one I haven’t read so far. She is the daughter of true crime novelist Harold Schechter.

laurenoliverfanart1 300x147 YA A to Z: Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall is the Groundhog Like tale of a mean girl, unique in that it is told from the mean girl/bully’s perspective. She is forced to live one day over and over again as she slowly comes to understand how her actions have affected those around her and works to change the events of one fateful day.

panic 199x300 YA A to Z: Lauren OliverPanic is about a group of high school seniors who compete in a series of increasingly dangerous dares in a competition to win a large sum of money. The thing I like most about this book his the near pitch perfect way in which Oliver captures that fierce desperation to escape both small town life and a life of poverty. As someone who has lived in and cares passionately about the issue of poverty, I thought Oliver did a really good job of capturing those little details. At one point our main character is living out of her car and trying to keep that fact hidden from her friends and authorities so she can keep her and her sister together and out of foster care.

I am, obviously, a huge fan of the Delirium trilogy. This dystopian thriller asks us to consider what it means to chose love. It also asks us to consider the importance for free will and autonomy, even if that means we are often forced to suffer the consequences of not only our choices, but the choices of others. I think there is a lot of interesting discussion to be had here.

I recently finished reading an advanced copy of Vanishing Girls which will come out in Mvanishinggirls 198x300 YA A to Z: Lauren Oliverarch of 2015. It’s much too early to talk about this book, but it is the story of a family that is disintegrating, a small town mystery, and the relationship between sisters. There was so much that I liked about this book and look forward to discussing.

Her MG titles are Spindlers and Leisl and Po, both fantasies that The Tween and I love.

Join the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. On Twitter, we’re @TLT16 and I’m@CiteSomething

#YAAtoZ Schedule: Week 1 4: A ; 5: B ; 6: C ; 7: D  Week 2 10: E ; 11: F ; 12: G, H, I ; 13: J, K ; 14: L  Week 3 17: M ; 18: N, O ; 19: P, Q ; 20: R, S ; 21: T  Week 4 24: U ; 25: V, W ; 26: X ; 27: Y ; 28: Z

YA A to Z: Patrick Ness

patrickness 256x300 YA A to Z: Patrick Ness

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Today is brought to you by the letter N and the number 2. Actually, I just made that number part up. I’m having Sesame Street flashbacks.

I discovered Patric Ness last year as a judge for the Cybils. Wait, let me back up. I was of course aware of the author Patrick Ness before last year’s Cybils, I just hadn’t read any of his work yet. I know, it’s hard to believe that I – the dystopian lover – had not yet read The Chaos Walking trilogy, but I hadn’t and we’re all going to just have to live with that. I had them in my collection, of course, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading them yet. I hang my head in shame. But one of the things I love about the Cybils is that we can all find new titles and authors that we may not yet have explored.

“To say you have no choice is to relieve yourself of responsibility.”
Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

My first Patrick Ness book was More Than This. It is a complex speculative fiction title that challenges readers to read closely, think deeply, and asks profound questions. I’m not going to lie, I had to read it twice because I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on the first time. But I liked that I had to read it twice; I liked that it didn’t talk down to teens but fully expected them to just dive in because Ness acknowledges that teen readers can have deep thoughts, intellect, and very dark lives. On occasion various article writers – you know, the ones bemoaning children’s and YA lit – have suggested that Ness’s works are too violent or too dark. I follow him on Twitter and he has great discussions there about this topic. He doesn’t look down upon his readers or coddle them, he writes the books that need to be written and trusts that they will find the right audience. It’s a tactic that hasn’t failed him yet.

In 2011 Patrick Ness won the Carnegie Medal for Children’s/YA Fiction and in a piece about him Nicollete Jones says, “He does not believe in boundaries for books: he advocates reading everything, including trash, and thinks it is often enriching when one genre leaks into another . . .”

 YA A to Z: Patrick Ness

That same article goes on to describe The Chaos Walking trilogy: Chaos Walking is set in the future, on another planet like our own, but where men and animals can hear one anotehr’s thoughts (though dogs’ reflections are limited). Women’s thoughts are silent. It has, particularly in the first book, the atmosphere of a Western – a boy on horseback, a bad guy wanting small-town power – and it involves a love story, between teenagers Todd and Viola, and big themes including moral responsibility, attitudes to women, political deception and, notably in Monsters of Men, the nature of war. (–and-censure-2301674.html)

morethanthis 194x300 YA A to Z: Patrick NessMore Than This is a philosophical novel that explores the meaning, and nature, of life as well as relationships. It’s very Matrixy in some of its imagery, which is a high compliment. More Than This begins with a boy drowning (it’s a brutally well written scene). After his death, he wakes up to find himself in a world – the afterlife maybe? What follows is a surreal exploration of what it means to be alive, to be in love, to be a part of a family. The Tween once fell into the deep end of a pool, she was around 4 at the time, and I remember jumping in fully clothed as I watched her sink slowly onto the bottom of this pool. It was one of the more terrifying moments of my life. And reading More Than This, that opening scene, wrecked me. It was such a spot on depiction and tapped into that very primal moment of fear and I sobbed for days. That is not hyperbole. That’s how good I found Patrick Ness’s writing to be, he incapacitated me with emotion.

“You do not write your life with words…You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”
Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

The publisher’s description for A Monster Calls, which is currently in movie production mode, reads as follows:

“The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.”

So here’s the deal, I was late to the party. But Patrick Ness is a word salad genius. His works will blow your mind and move you.

yaatoz2 1 150x150 YA A to Z: Patrick NessJoin the conversation!  Share a post about your favorite author OR tweet us your favorite author with the tag #YAAtoZ. While we’re sharing our favorite authors, we would love to hear about yours. We all might find some new authors we haven’t heard of before. And the more authors we share, the more comprehensive and diverse the list becomes. On Twitter, we’re @TLT16 and I’m@CiteSomething

#YAAtoZ Schedule: Week 1 4: A ; 5: B ; 6: C ; 7: D  Week 2 10: E ; 11: F ; 12: G, H, I ; 13: J, K ; 14: L  Week 3 17: M ; 18: N, O ; 19: P, Q ; 20: R, S ; 21: T  Week 4 24: U ; 25: V, W ; 26: X ; 27: Y ; 28: Z