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Bearing Witness to Violence, a guest post by author Eric Devine

Recently I was at a school in Harlem, giving my standard presentation of how I became an author and what my work is about, and I found myself at the section on Press Play, which many of the kids had read, and I was nervous to speak about the story’s roots. There, before me, sat multiple athletes and the athletic director, and I looked at them and said, “I hate jock culture. That doesn’t mean I hate athletes or sport, but I do detest the privilege athletes are given merely because they are strong, or can run fast, or throw a ball well. Those same privileges, by and large, are not afforded to students of similar academic prowess, and that is a problem.”

Boy do I know how to work a crowd :)

Yet, in spite of the bristling athletes and the way the director looked at me, they began to nod as I talked about how I looked at this concept in my work.

Press Play is about Greg Dunsmore, who is his own worst enemy. Bullied for being overweight, he has turned to his phone and the movies he makes with it for solace. He lies with his film and has a reputation because of it. He is a pariah, especially in a school dominated by its devotion for the boys’ lacrosse team. So in his senior year, for his film class documentary, as a way of demonstrating he is more than the lies and the taunts, Greg decides to film his weight loss. He wants this for himself, not for them, or possibly as a way to make one honest film. Therefore, he sets out with his “friend” Quinn to train. While doing so, the boys hear something going on during the lacrosse team’s indoor practice in a nearby gym. Greg grabs his phone and they investigate. This sets in motion the dilemma of the novel, because Greg finds the team brutally hazing the underclassmen and gets it on film.

What does one do with such evidence? Go to the principal or the authorities. But how does one do that when the principal is the coach and seemingly everyone in the town has either played the sport or is financially connected to the team?

And so the story takes on these two dimensions: the will-he-won’t-he-Hamlet-like waffling of Greg, alongside the increasingly horrific abuse. This scenario is an unfortunately common parallel to so many who find themselves in sexually violent scenarios. Who can you trust when your trust has been taken? How can you move on when you have experienced what you have, and yet in your gut know others may be victims?

Because it’s all about power, and so often victims have only their voice matched against entities infinitely more powerful than themselves. And so they stay quiet, and who can blame them?

Yet, here we have Greg, witness to the acts, with evidence, and in the age of all things internet, the possibility of a voice powerful enough. But he’s a liar. Has proven that time and again. What can he do, after years of being abused and subsequently and callusing himself with lies, to now help these victims?

I’ll let you read the story to find that out.

But I can tell you that after I detailed this scenario to the athletes and the school’s athletic director, it opened up a conversation in which the director asked about hazing in their school’s program.

Now, on the spot like that, I’m not one bit surprised that the kids said nothing occurred. So of course I asked, “Does it not occur, or do you not recognize it for what it is?”

That caught them off-guard.

And I think that this question is the key to the #SVYALit program. Replace “hazing” with “rape” and then ask the same question above to a teenager who isn’t comfortable talking about sex, much less a violent encounter with sexual elements. I think the response is universal, and is the one I received from the boys: shrugged shoulders, and a “maybe.”

This is why I am proud to be a part of the conversation. Because teens do commit violent acts against one another, and many have sexual aspects that make them rape. And yet teens are not fully aware of this, nor how to talk about it. Therefore, the chat Anthony Breznican, Joshua Cohen, and I will have on 1/28 is important. Hazing abounds in high school, in small incidents and in massive, conformist ways. And often it teeters on, and then falls into, sexual assault, and may be the one area in this spectrum of violence where boys are more represented than girls. That worries me. That predilection, or at least that shoulder-shrugging acceptance of violence, sexual or not, paired with the privilege of athletics, is a noxious creation.

Please, tune in, or catch our conversation after the fact. The angles of this issue are vast and knotty, and only through relentless exploration and discussion will we ever make headway. Because a shrug in the face of the aftermath of such violence is not only unacceptable, it is reprehensible.

 

Join us on Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 at 12 Noon Eastern for a Google Hangout led by Press Play author Eric Devine and featuring Brutal Youth author Anthony Breznican and Leverage author Joshua C. Cohen. The topic will be hazing. Learn more about the #SVYALit Project.

More on Hazing at TLT:

Take 5: Hazing

Initiation Secrets: Press Play and a look at hazing with author Eric Devine

Breaking Tradition: BRUTAL YOUTH author Anthony Breznican on the fight against hazing

Meet Our Guest Blogger:

Eric Devine is the author of fearless fiction: Press Play, Tap Out, Dare Me, and This Side of Normal. He is also a high school English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Eric is represented by Kate McKean of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.

About Press Play:

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.
Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.
Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities. – October 2014 from Running Press Kids

Press Play by Eric Devine releases today, so he’s having a cool contest

Yay, it’s Pub Day! And to celebrate the fact that Press Play is out in the world, I’ve created a fun and interactive giveaway. You have the opportunity to win a signed copy of Press Play, as well as this long-sleeve T-shirt.

From today, 10/28, through Tuesday, 11/11, you have one job––to create a video. What kind, and what to do with it, are below:
*You do not have to be a Tumblr user to enter. You just need to go to the site. 
I promise* 
1. Go to a bookstore. Record yourself making a big deal about finding Press Play on the shelf. Maybe you can even talk it up to other patrons. It’s your call, just make it fun for everyone.

2. If you’ve already gone to the bookstore or to one of my signings, and, therefore, have a copy, there’s no need to go to the bookstore. Make a video in which you discuss the awesomeness of the book. It doesn’t have to be you sitting in front of the camera, talking. However you want to create the “review” is up to you.

3. Once you’ve recorded, you’ll need to upload your video to YouTube or to Vimeo so that you have an Embed code or URL.

4. With video complete, go to my Tumblr: http://initiationsecrets.tumblr.com/ 

5. See that “Submit” tab?

6. Click Submit and you’ll see this:

7. Now, enter a name and email. I need to be able to tell you that you’ve won :)

 

8. You’ll need to change “Text” in the upper, left corner to “Video”

 

9. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready and the screen will look like this:

 

10. Paste in your Embed code or URL and Submit

Sweet, right? I know. I’m looking forward to seeing all the videos, the antics, the creativity. And I’m excited to hear your reactions to my work.

Go, have fun. Enjoy Press Play. I’m waiting for those videos.

About Press Play:

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him

.
Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities. (October 28 from Running Press Kids)

About Eric Devine:

Eric Devine is a high school teacher and the author of Tap Out, Dare Me and the upcoming Press Play, all from Running Press Kids. He blogs here at Teen Librarian occasionally and wrote a chapter in The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services, edited by myself and Heather Booth and published in July 2014 from ALA Editions.  

You can follow Eric online:

Twitter

Take 5: Hazing

Earlier this month it was revealed that the football program at Sayreville in New Jersey was suspended due to allegations that the team was engaging in horrific acts of hazing that included sexually abusing their team mates. Hazing asks – forces, requires – people to do embarrassing or dangerous acts in order for them to be accepted into a group. It says you can be one of us if you are willing to do this thing, and that thing often ranges from embarrassing to illegal, violent and sometimes deadly. To date, 7 teens have been charged for their participation in the Sayreville hazing acts, with more possible charges to come. It is a stark reminder that hazing is a real and current issue, not just in our colleges but in our middle and high schools as well.

Here today are five YA lit titles that deal with hazing.

Press Play by Eric Devine

Coming out later this month, Eric has already told us a little bit about Press Play. You can read that here and check out his Initiation Secrets Tumblr in support of the book and in an effort to raise awareness of hazing.

“Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.


Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.” (Publisher’s Description)


Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican


Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that’s even worse in Anthony Breznican’s Brutal YouthWith a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive. (Publisher’s Description)

Library Journal gave Brutal Youth a starred review in June of 2014 stating, “Breznican captures a perfect balance of horror, heartbreak, and resilience and takes the high school novel into deeper places.” And you can read his interview with School Library Journal here.

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

“The football field is a battlefield

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on – and off – the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy – including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.” (Publisher’s Description)

In December 2010, Booklist gave Leverage a starred review.

The Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper

“WARRIORS ROCK!
 
Sixteen-year-old Jericho is psyched when he and his cousin and best friend, Josh, are invited to pledge for the Warriors of Distinction, the oldest and most exclusive club in school. Just being a pledge wins him the attention of Arielle, one of the hottest girls in his class, whom he’s been too shy even to talk to before now. 


But as the secret initiation rites grow increasingly humiliating and force Jericho to make painful choices, he starts to question whether membership in the Warriors of Distinction is worth it. How far will he have to go to wear the cool black silk Warriors jacket? How high a price will he have to pay to belong? The answers are devastating beyond Jericho’s imagination.” (Publisher’s Description)

In 2003, VOYA gave The Battle of Jericho a 4Q, 4P rating stating that it is a reminder to adults that if youth are asked to choose between fitting in and putting themselves in danger, they will in fact choose the danger. The truth is, everyone is just looking for a place to belong and we will sometimes go through incredible trials to be accepted.
 
Divergent by Veronica Roth

It was interesting when doing research on Hazing (for an upcoming #SVYALit Project discussion, more on that in a minute) that many people discussed Divergent as a title that belonged on this list. I hadn’t really thought of it in that way, but of course there are many trials or tests that Tris must go through even to get inside the Dauntless faction dorms that could be considered a type of hazing, from jumping off the moving train to jumping off the building. I’m putting it on this list because I think it makes for some interesting discussion about what hazing is and how normalized it may appear.

More:
Books Tagged “Hazing” in Library Thing
Daniel Kraus list of Hazing titles in Booklist

Additional Resources:
NPR: History of Hazing
Pinterest board: Hazing Prevention Week 
Hazing Prevention.Org 
For more on hazing visit StopHazing.Org.

In January, as part of the #SVYALit Project, we will be talking more about the topic of hazing. Not all hazing involves sexual violence, but hazing CAN involve sexual violence and we’re going to talk about that. Authors Eric Devine, Anthony Breznican and Joshua C. Cohen will be joining us and we’ll be reading PRESS PLAY, BRUTAL YOUTH and LEVERAGE. Look for more information in December when the 2015 #SVYALit Project schedule is announced. And please be sure to read the books and join us for this important and sadly timely discussion.

Initiation Secrets: Press Play and a look at hazing rituals, a guest post by author Eric Devine

What are you willing to do to belong to a group? That’s what hazing is, being asked to do certain things in order to be admitted into a special group of people like a team, a club, or a sorority or fraternity. Often the things people are asked to do to prove they are worthy can involve humiliating themselves, sometimes it involves hurting others. And sometimes, people die. Author Eric Devine has written a new novel, Press Play, that explores the way a school’s lacrosse team initiates its new members. As part of the promotion for the book Running Press Kids and Eric Devine are collecting initiation stories on Tumblr to raise awareness about the practice of hazing. Here’s Eric talking about it all in his own words. For more on hazing visit StopHazing.Org.

“If there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that weight is hard to lose, and kids are ruthless.”
                                                           
                                                                                    ––Greg from Press Play

Greg’s assessment of life comes early in a story where both his weight and the brutal nature of teen culture are center stage. And Press Play does not hold back on the difficulties the overweight protagonist faces. But the brutality is not only directed at Greg. It comes from all angles, particularly, from the beloved lacrosse team and their hazing rituals.

I have been around high school athletics for over twenty years, as an athlete, coach, and teacher. Many aspects of sport have changed, but the bedrock that has remained is the necessity of players to assimilate the culture of the team, either willingly, or through demonstrations of such loyalty.

created this Infographic about High School Hazing which you can see full size here

And yet, this need for sacrifice or to demonstrate one’s conformity, is not unique to sport. Hazing, or initiation rituals, occur within the drama clubs, marching bands, and religious youth groups. Therefore, the question becomes: how prevalent are acts of initiation within the high school culture?


I’m assuming pretty high. I believe that if students were polled about the various ways in which the have had to submit to the pressures of the group, we would be astounded with the results. I believe young adults emulate their predecessors, and to a degree, desire to exert their power and dominance as they see it done by adults. This coercion, or outright abuse of power, is the angle for my Tumblr, Initiation Secrets.

Together, my publisher (Running Press) and I have created a site for teens and adults to share anonymous stories about their initiations. The idea is to demonstrate how prevalent such acts are and to showcase the variety of areas from which they emerge.

Additionally, there are resources for teens, parents, teachers, and administrators, who recognize the “fun and games” or “traditions” are more than that, and are in fact damaging practices that have profound and long-term impacts on those who participate in them.

Please, take the time and check out the site. Share it with educators and coaches and students who you know. Share it with adults you know, who still carry the weight of what happened “back then.” This is not an echo chamber of horror stories, but rather a way to have a voice, now, when none was available previously.

About Press Play:

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him

.
Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities. (October 28 from Running Press Kids)

About Eric Devine:

Eric Devine is a high school teacher and the author of Tap Out, Dare Me and the upcoming Press Play, all from Running Press Kids. He blogs here at Teen Librarian Occasionally and wrote a chapter in The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services, edited by myself and Heather Booth and published in July 2014 from ALA Editions.  

Breaking the Gender Molds, a guest post and giveaway by author Eric Devine


I’m a 36-year-old, cisgendered, heterosexual, white male, who writes Young Adult novels that are boy-centric, and I’m bothered by the slim definition of what it means to be a man.

I was raised under very stereotypical precepts about manhood, and I was always bothered by them. Instead of watching sports, I read. Shyness overtook bravery. I did not demand, I accepted, and it was problematic.

Until I flipped the switch during middle school and played the part. It was instantly apparent how much easier it was to be a loud-mouthed punk than it was to be me. But in spite of the ease, I was unsettled, because I knew who I had abandoned.

Painful, yes, but excellent training for the work I do today. Because those expectations, those norms of masculinity, still exist, are extremely pervasive, and put boys and teens into extremely uncomfortable situations where they either have to behave the part or suffer the consequences. The pressure is real and terrifying, and something I try to address in my work.


In summary: Tap Out is about what one does as a very stereotypical “tough” male in a hostile and violent environment that has only one use for him. One he doesn’t want, but is hamstrung to escape.


Dare Me explores what it’s like to want to break the profile of “nothingman” and win acclaim, earn money, and come out on top by succeeding at feats of valor––or more commonly known today as YouTube stunts.


Press Play is about pushing back against the dominant, violent culture, by fighting with technology and intelligence, instead of fists. It’s about choosing not to hide, in spite of the enormous danger of exposure.

Much of my decisions regarding what I write and how I address issues of gender, in particular masculinity, are informed by my own experience, but equally by my students. We talk. A lot. And I tell stories of my youth because they want to understand how I’ve arrived at my perspectives. I’ve addressed aspects of drug use, sexuality, violence, suicide, rape, privilege, and any number of humorous/disgusting combinations about life you can think of. Often we talk about expectations placed on girls and boys, even if my students don’t realize that’s what they’re talking about.

One day we discussed fighting. There had recently been one, and based on the details, I innocently asked about a broken nose. The class sensed I knew more about this topic than I was letting on and asked me to tell a story of what I knew of breaking someone’s nose.

I did, briefly, but more importantly, then asked, “What are the expectations for males in our society, especially contact sport athletes, when it comes to fighting?”

This led to an engaging conversation that quickly turned from only males in sports to males and females broadly. And it was an interesting experience for many of the girls to hear the boys talk about the pressure of fitting in. They deftly detailed that on some level the dirty jokes and swearing and fighting are part of the roles in which they are asked to play (Yes, they struggled to word it this way––they’re teens––but the message was clear: forced stereotypes are universal).

I was so proud of our conversation because it was obvious that I had provided a space for my students to think about concepts they’d never fully entertained, which is exactly what I try to do in my stories. Yet, the issue stuck with me. Because what didn’t emerge in that conversation was that those pressures don’t go away. They morph and become stronger. And in light of very recent events of parties and rape and fight clubs, I felt a bit hopeless. How is a male, today, supposed to successfully navigate the pressures of being “a man” and evolve into someone who is unafraid to embrace a balance of masculine and feminine traits? In essence, how are they to succeed where I failed?

I won’t say books are the answer, because that’s naive. Parents, adult figures, older brothers and sisters, and by very large measure peers and pop culture all have a hand in shaping boys and girls. Books are a part of that, and a significant one if they flip preconceived notions on their heads. If they challenge the stereotypes. If they offer alternatives to the norm of cisgendered, heterosexual, white protagonist. Or if they expose and explore the trappings of how and why the stereotypes abound.

And they already exist. But the audience needs to be wider. I know men and women who haven’t read a book since high school, and so for all the good that I can do by writing novels that challenge societal assumptions, how are my stories ever going to find a way into the hands of the sons and daughters of these adults, who do not value reading, who may be completely comfortable with the expectations of the standard male and female models because they were never challenged to think otherwise, and who have not had conversations with their children about the fact that “being a man”  or “being a woman” is an ever-evolving process that is a paramount pursuit in order to have a fulfilling life?

But there are others. Like me, and not at all like me, who are having these conversations, who are reading and helping teens navigate. There are teachers and librarians and adult figures in various capacities who are open and willing and helpful. There are allies in every struggle. And I feel that the issue of redefining both masculinity and femininity is a pressing and important concern. Not so that we can foist new roles on boys and girls, but so that we can accept the traits of masculinity and femininity, the fact that they are a part of us all, regardless of gender or sexuality. If only so that the “boys will be boys” mentality, that is one of the most ignorant concepts in our culture, can die.

And so with it, some of that pressure. I say “some” because there will always be pressure. But it is up to us to decide how it is applied, and to what end. Do we want to continue the binary opposition of male versus female in our culture, or do we want to move forward with a better understanding of humanity and of ourselves?

Because in the end, even my freshman understand the pressures are they same, they just manifest differently. Therefore, we should be seeking virtues of behavior and not categories. Because breaking the mold is beautiful, but never again having to fill one is stunning.

Eric Devine is a high school teacher and the author of Tap Out, Dare Me and the upcoming Press Play, all from Running Press Kids. He blogs here at Teen Librarian Occasionally and wrote a chapter in The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services, edited by myself and Heather Booth and published in July from ALA Editions. 

You can follow Eric online: 

Win Eric Devine’s Books!

Eric and Running Press Kids have generously donated a copy of Tap Out which I am putting together with my arc copies of Dare Me and Press Play picked up at various library conferences to give to you as a prize. You can win a complete set of Eric Devine books! If you live in the U. S. you can do the Rafflecopter thingy below until Saturday the 23rd, The Tween’s birthday and the debut of the new Doctor, to enter.

Take 5: 5 ARCs I Picked Up at ALA That I Can’t Wait to Read

This year at ALA Annual I learned lots of things, met lots of people, and came back with a ton of ideas I wanted to pitch. But in the end, it always comes back to the books for me and I saw lots of great ones. From rain that will kill you to a book that asks you to determine the truth from the lies, here are 5 of the ARCs I picked up at ALA 2014 that I am dying to read asap. All the descriptions are publisher’s descriptions, but they are intriguing. You’ll also want to check out these 5 fall YA lit titles that I have read and Highly Recommend.

H2O by Virginia Bergin

It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.

They don’t believe it at first. Crowded in Zach’s kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach’s parents’ frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, “It’s in the rain! It’s fatal, it’s contagious, and there’s no cure.”

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who’s been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby’s only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he’s even still alive.

Coming October 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire. ISBN: 9781492606543

Karen’s Note: End of the world scenarios? Sign me up. With real world concerns about today’s water supply and environmental issues, this is a timely read. It also sounds like it would make a good pairing with Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.

Press Play by Eric Devine

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.


Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.

Coming October 2014 from Running Press Teens. ISBN: 9780762455126 

Karen’s Note: Eric Devine is an excellent author who writes powerful, gritty stories from the male point of view. He also has written several posts for us here at TLT and wrote a chapter in the upcoming booking The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. He has a heart for getting guys to read and you should definitely check him out. 

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla’s life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive… or survive.

Coming October 2014 from Walker Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9780802737564

Karen’s note: If you haven’t yet read CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst, you really should rectify that quickly. CONJURED is a bizarre and twisted in every epically awesome way possible retelling of the Pinocchio story with circuses, serial killers, and a teenage girl who can’t remember who she is and when she does it may be deadly.

There Will be Lies by Nick Lake

New from Printz winner Nick Lake—the ultimate thrill ride about the lies others tell us . . . and the lies we tell ourselves.

Shelby Jane Cooper’s world is the town of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she’s home-schooled, hits balls at the batting cage, visits the library, and sees The Boy. Life in her city in the desert is one big routine, like ice-cream-for-dinner Fridays: normal.

But in four hours, she’ll be struck by a car, and that’s when normal ends.

Barely recovered from the accident, Shelby is inexplicably whisked away by her mother—away from the hospital, her home, and everything she loves—on a manic road trip to the Grand Canyon.

Shelby’s mother says that everything’s fine. But with mile after mile falling fast behind them, Shelby starts to question everything she knows about her life and tries to piece together what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can ultimately trust.

Master storyteller Nick Lake hooks readers from page one in this emotional rollercoaster which rockets from one dramatic twist to the next until the book’s shocking conclusion.

Coming in January 2015 from Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781619634404

Karen’s Note: Everything about this sounds good. Sign me up. The cover has not yet been revealed for this title.

Sublime by Christina Lauren

True love may mean certain death in a ghostly affair of risk and passion from New York Times bestselling duo Christina Lauren, authors of Beautiful Bastard. Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of Shatter Me calls Sublime “a beautiful, haunting read”.

When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed…

Coming October 2014 from Simon &Schuster. ISBN: 9781481413701

Karen’s Note: Sometimes I am shallow, but I think this is a pretty cover. And I know that tons of my readers will be lining up for this one. Beautiful and haunting are some of my favorite book descriptors so I am in.

And Now for a Giveaway

I accidentally picked up two copies of THERE WILL BE LIES by Nick Lake while at ALA. Or perhaps the Tween picked one up. However it happened, I accidentally got two which means someone else didn’t get one so I am going to give one of mine away. You can enter to win two ways: 1) Leave a comment here with follow back information like an email or Twitter handle and/or 2) Tweet about the giveaway – helping to spread the word – and copy and paste a link to your tweet in the comments. We’ll accept entries until this Sunday, the 13th, at Midnight. Open to U.S. residents.

What upcoming releases are you looking forward to? Share in the comments. I would hate to miss a great book!   

#SpeakforRAINN15 – Celebrating 15 Years of Speak by Raising Money for RAINN

Fifteen years ago, the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was released. Today, this novel is a classic that still speaks to the heart of teens everywhere. I have teens regularly come in and ask for this book.

Speak is the story of Melinda, who has stopped speaking. As a survivor of a sexual assault, Melinda just can’t find the words to tell others about what has happened to her. It is a story of survival and recovery. It is a story about speaking up and out about horrific truths. It is a story which is tragically all too familiar to sexual assault survivors everywhere.

Laurie Halse Anderson has been a very active spokesperson for RAINN over the years. RAINN is the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, dedicated to working with survivors on recovery, raising awareness, and even recently working with Congress to address the widespread epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses. During the month of April, if you make a donation to RAINN, the publisher, Macmillan, will make a matching contribution. Here is the information from the RAINN donation page:

“In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month and the 15-year anniversary of Speak, Laurie has joined forces with RAINN to create #Speak4RAINN15, a campaign to raise funds and connect survivors with the help they deserve. You can make a difference this April by donating $15 to #Speak4RAINN15. Once you donate, Macmillan, publisher of Speak, will match your contribution dollar-for-dollar! $10 helps one survivor through RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE), so combined with support from Macmillan, your $15 will help three survivors of sexual violence!

For over 15 years, Melinda’s story has given thousands of survivors the courage to come forward. Please join Laurie today in showing other survivors that recovery is possible.
Join the conversation on Twitter with @halseanderson and @RAINN01 by using the hashtag #Speak4RAINN15.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, it’s never too late to get help. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected to your sexual assault service provider, or visit online.rainn.org to chat one-on-one with a RAINN staff member. You are not alone.”

As someone who believes in the power of YA literature to raise awareness, promote healing, and change our culture, I made my donation today. Please check out the #SVYALit Project to learn how you can use Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and other YA titles to discuss important issues like sexual violence and consent with teens. And check out this powerful post from author and teacher Eric Devine about teaching Speak in his classroom: LOUD AND CLEAR, A REFLECTION ON TEACHING SPEAKING BY LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON IN THE CLASSROOM.

Loud and Clear: A Reflection on Teaching SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson in the Classroom (a guest post by author Eric Devine)

As part of the #SVYALit project, we reached out to author Eric Devine and asked him to write.  We wanted to make sure that male voices are heard in the discussion. And he is an awesome writer and teacher. Today he shares with us his experiences of teaching Speak in the classroom.  Please note, we want to hear from as many voices as possible on this subject. If you would like to share a book review, create a booklist, or discuss the topics, please email me (email address at the right).
The novel Speak is part of my school’s freshman curriculum. It’s the one book I hold onto until the end of the year, because there’s not much selling I need to do with the story, as I have to with To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, etc. The students read and discuss without much prodding from me, and it is during this discussion, two years ago, when the book went from a perfect end-of-the-year novel to detouring into dangerous and alarming territory.

My classes discuss the novel in four parts, after each of the marking periods. By the end, they understand the symbolism with the seasons and within Melinda’s artwork. They see the root of Melinda’s chapped lips, the strained relationships within the story, and, of course, her inability to speak about what has occurred.

During the discussion after the class had finished the novel, I kept hearing the word responsibility. Now, I had split the class into multiple groups, and it was buzzing through all of them, so I stopped the discussion and said to the class that it sounded as if they were focusing on the responsibility for the rape. They agreed they were. Part of me wishes I had pushed no further, but the majority is glad I asked what I did: “If you had to assign percentages of responsibility for the rape, what would that look like? Create a pie chart for me.”

This picture is from my classroom. The four groups varied, but one point became very clear, Melinda was sharing almost equal responsibility with Andy (IT). Now, you’ll notice in the image that there are more than four pie charts. That’s because there were dissenters within groups regarding what the “group” had indicated. Therefore, there are smaller circles for each group, indicating such. The breakdown of responsibility fell into three categories: Melinda, IT, alcohol/peer-pressure/setting. The analysis of all 10 circles, indicating the percentage of responsibility for the rape, amounts to the following:

Andy (IT): 48%
Melinda: 41%
alcohol/peer-pressure/setting: 11%
To say I was disturbed by what I saw would be a gross understatement. I read Speak when it first came out, while I was in college, and at no point did I ever consider that anyone beyond Andy was to blame. That’s because there isn’t. So, when my class of a roughly equal mix of freshman boys and girls––almost sophomores––looked upon their pie charts as okay, I almost lost my mind. When we next spent a half hour discussing what they had indicated, and they offered justifications for their reasoning, I was sickened. But, at that point, I’d been teaching for a decade, so I knew I couldn’t start screaming or preaching. I needed something greater.
I snapped the picture above and went directly to my school’s social worker. She was equally appalled, and so brainstormed what we could do. By the end of the week, we had formed a panel of upperclassmen who had connections to rape on a personal level. They were also students from various clubs, who were intelligent and articulate. The social worker advised them and then gathered handouts regarding rape statistics and misconceptions, and as a unit, we met my class.
The social worker began by indicating the responsibility percentages the class had assigned were unnerving and that she wanted to educate them a little. She distributed her handouts and talked a bit. There were some students who were visibly uncomfortable, now armed with such knowledge, but there was a collection of the most vocal for Melinda as the primary bearer of responsibility, who kept their eyes lowered and zoned out.
Then I introduced the panel. They discussed their personal connections to rape, and then I opened the floor to Q&A. The class was hesitant at first, but the upperclassman were savvy, and got the ball rolling. Soon enough, as I had hoped, the most adamant of the class started offering their opinions. The social worker and I waited in the wings to moderate, but the discussion ran itself, with a fair amount of point, counter-point argument.
The panel asked excellent questions and supplied spot on analogies for the class to digest. And they did. The boys (primarily) and girls who were the most adamant that Melinda was to blame were quieted and the social worker and I were pleased.
I continued with the rest of the year and all was fine. I felt like I had done a good job, had seized a teachable moment and triumphed.
And then I heard some of the most vocal boys joking. They were laughing about the discussion, about needing to play it safe over the summer, about making sure they stayed away from drunk girls, and to never, ever have sex with them.
The anger I had felt ignited ten-fold, but then came the stark and sobering realization that there was nothing more I could do. To dive deeper would force me to stray from the curriculum and to delve into more character education than I’m sure some parents would have liked. I have no doubt that some of the blame-speech came form home.
I had tried, and I had failed, and I have never been more dejected as a teacher.
It would be wonderful if one of the boys spoke to me after class and expressed his true compassion for the situation, and that he was just playing along, as teens will do. That didn’t happen, though. It would also be nice if I could write that all worked out the next year, that the group I had the previous year was an anomaly. The truth is, I don’t know what last year’s class thought about responsibility, because I didn’t ask. I was too afraid of finding out, of losing again, so I didn’t probe.
And I know how awful that sounds. And I am exceedingly sorry. As a man and as a husband and as a father and as an educator, I do bear a responsibility to have that conversation with my students and with my daughters, but I need help doing so. My one voice does little against a tide of vocal opposition, especially in my position, where the view is that I should be focusing on comprehension and writing skills, not social justice. 
Source: Tumblr
That is why this project is so important. Because if the social dialogue about rape changes, then maybe the misguided youth won’t react to Speak in the way my class did. If more YA books about rape get into the hands of these students, then possibly their perceptions will change. They won’t see victims as other and as responsible.Hopefully they’ll recognize the victims as members of their class, their friends, their family. And hopefully never, themselves.
But the current irony abounds. The voice of the most ignorant resounded over our conversation about rape, the pain of it, and the compounding torture of having to speak about it. There is little doubt in my mind that victims know this, intuitively. Why wouldn’t they? It’s what they hear. And at some point we, as a society, express that this is okay. I don’t know why, but I hope that some time soon we will make it a point to address the scope of this issue. I hope we make it a priority.

Until then, I will do my part to keep the dialogue going in my class, so that when the change comes, I can appreciate it, loud and clear


Eric Devine is a teacher and author of the new young adult novels Tap Out and Dare Me published by Running Press Kids.  His upcoming novel is called PRESS PLAY. You can read more about it at his webpage or at Goodreads. He previously blogged for us after asking his male students if boys like to read in the post SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE.
You can find a variety of resources, statistics and more at the SYYALit Tumblr Archive to help get the conversation going.

Friday Finds – August 2, 2013

This Week at TLT:

We all need to be more aware of what poverty looks like.

Jennifer Wills joins us with her thoughts on program themes.


Dare you to read this excellent guest post and giveaway with author Eric Devine!


This week’s book reviews are A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin and Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff.

 
Are teenage assasins the hot new thing in YA? 

 
Christie and her teens saw the new superhero movie The Wolverine!

 
Robin has some thoughts about using book labels in the Middle School library.

  
What new book, movie, or other event are you waiting for? Chime in in the comments!

We have a new feature – ‘I’ll Never Get Over’! First up is Karen talking about Jumper by Steven Gould.

Previously on TLT:

Eric Devine joined us last September to discuss getting boys to read.

Around the Web:

Here is a really fascinating infographic on bullying.

YA Author, Queen of Teen, and Twitter user extraordinaire, Maureen Johnson got a new puppy – and someone made her (Zelda, the puppy) a Tumblr. Because of course they did.

Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls Series has been optioned for a movie!!! 

This fabulous and empowering bit of marketing has been making the rounds this week.

 

Careening with our youth culture: the daring nature of Dare Me (a guest post by Eric Devine and GIVEAWAY)

I spent a lot of time as a teenager risking my life. And not in some symbolic sense. I put myself in harm’s way on so many occasions that when I tell stories of my youth, someone always says, “I cannot believe you’re still alive.”

Neither can I. And I blame the Internet.
Really, the lack of it. When I was a senior in high school (’96) our library got its first computer with Internet. At home, the same happened. But in its infancy, PCs with Internet connection weren’t that alluring, so I had to find entertainment elsewhere.
The problems my friends and I faced were classic: boundless energy, lack of supervision, devil-may-care attitudes and “stupid creativity”. I use that term because had we channeled our energy into anything positive, who knows what we could have achieved? Instead, we were all fortunate to simply maintain our lives, but not without scars and not without stories.
Like the one time we jumped off the ledges at this local abandoned quarry:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYDhnOnA_s8 (this is not us, but the location).
My friend jumped, but for some reason believed in cartoon physics–that if she just stepped back she’d defy gravity. Instead, she belly flopped from that height, came up, gasped for air, and went right back under.
I was a lifeguard, so I swam under and rescued her, dragging her to the ledge where she vomited a gallon of water.
We kept jumping.

And that is one of the tamest events on my resume.
These times provided me–to a degree–the psychological backdrop for my characters within Dare Me. I was once young and invincible, but I also wanted to push the limit, to eradicate the fear every teenager has. I failed and I succeeded. Fear is intrepid like that.
Today, my students have these same stories, but they also have the Internet. For them the same problems as my friends apply, but now they have guidance on their stupidly creative endeavors. It comes in the form of Jackass (and all the offshoots like it), as well as Tosh.O (and all the impersonators) and viral videos of teenagers doing what we’ve come to accept as “teenage” things.
Except they’re not. I was fueled by death-defying stupidity and a lot of these kids are as well, but in addition is a desire for fame or infamy, whichever brings in the most money. I believe that is a trickle-down effect of youth chasing the goals of adults.
However, if I possessed a smartphone and YouTube then, the chances of you having seen me injured, or worse, are pretty high. Because when money is a real potential, your audience is vast and they chime in looking for more–albeit from the comfort of the keyboard–something in the teen brain screams, “All right, let’s do this!” I would have been no exception.
This is why Dare Me moves away form being solely a story about “teens doing stupid dares, which they post online” to a commentary about how our youth have become pawns in this culture that seeks entertainment at whatever the cost.
When I first envisioned Dare Me, the bulk was about the dares. Which ones should I choose? Would they be intense enough? Would someone copy them?
I then moved into wondering about the implications of such a story. What message was I going to send? Certainly I wasn’t intending to offer a pass for such behavior, but how to express that without preaching, without being a hypocrite? That became the real challenge.
It’s one I believe I have executed. As a reader wrote to me, “This story is analogous to a fireworks display that builds to a grand finale, but leaves you in suspense as to the aftermath.” It is in that aftermath, as is so often the case when dares go wrong, that the lesson is learned. No one needs to come onstage and say anything, the consequences are so evident.
That is the purpose of Dare Me, to provide a safe, voyeuristic look into the lives of teens who are willing to risk it all, not only to watch them do so, but to examine why, and at what cost. Because there is always a cost, and often it far outweighs the sought after gain. Which is why the dedication for my novel is as follows:
For those with the will to dare and the courage to accept the consequences
I’ve accepted what I have done and respect whatever force has kept me here, if only so I can continue to exist with the frame of mind: that could be me, and to then tell the story, so the brutality of firsthand knowledge isn’t a requirement of learning.
P.S. This is the bridge high above the waters within the quarry. A glance at my cover should be enough to connect the dots, but reading the second dare within Dare Me will solidify it.
Eric Devine is a teacher and author of the new young adult novel Tap Out, published by Running Press Kids.  You can read more about it at his webpage or at Goodreads. Tap Out by Eric Devine is in stores now.  Dare Me will be released in October of 2013, also by Running Press Teens.  Eric Devine is also the author of one of my favorite guest posts where he discusses boys and reading
Dare Me on Goodreads: “When Ben Candido and his friends, Ricky and John, decide to post a YouTube video of themselves surfing on top of a car, they finally feel like the somebodies they are meant to be instead of the social nobodies that they are. Overnight, the video becomes the talk of the school, and the boys are sure that their self-appointed senior year of dares will live in infamy. Every dare brings an increased risk of bodily harm, but Ben cannot deny the thrill and sense of swagger that come with it. The stakes become even more complex when a mysterious donor bankrolls their dares in exchange for a cut in the online revenue the videos generate. But at what point do the risk and the reward come at too high of a price? What does it take to stay true to one’s self in the face of relentless pressure.”