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The American Opioid Crisis in YA Literature

For the past couple of years, national, state and local communities in the United States have been trying to figure out how to deal with the growing opioid crisis. In the city of Mount Vernon, Ohio, where I currently work, I went to a series of training sessions last year that discussed this growing issue. This past year, there was also a state wide day of dialogue about the opioid crisis and public libraries, which some of my peers attended. It has struck me, however, that this topic hasn’t come up as much as it feels like it should given current statistics in YA literature. Until now.

real talk addiction brochure 1 real talk addiction brochure 2

Some Beginning Resources RE The American Opioid Epidemic/Crisis

Opioid Overdose Crisis | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Opioid Epidemic – HHS.gov

Opioid Crisis Fast Facts – CNN – CNN.com

I’ve recently read two forthcoming books which include or directly address the current opioid crisis in not just the United States, but specifically in the state of Ohio. Ohio is current ranked third in terms of states struggling with the impact crisis. Although there are often times when a state wants to be so highly ranked, this is sadly not one of those times. The opioid crisis is having a very real impact on Ohio citizens. I know teens who have watched their parents overdose and been forced to call 911, I know teens who currently have parents serving in jail, and I know teens that are struggling to eat because of poverty who are eating even less because their parents are using whatever little income they have to buy drugs. I don’t know a lot of teens who are doing drugs themselves, though I know that they exist, in part because they don’t appear to be coming into our libraries.

heroine

Heroine by Ohio resident Mindy McGinnis is a realistic look at how one very dedicated, athletic teen with a promising future loses it all because of her slow descent into opioid addiction. In Heroine, Mickey’s use begins as many others has, because she is prescribed pain killers after a devastating accident. It is believed that a lot of our current opioid crisis began because doctors were over prescribing painkillers. In Heroine, Mickey is in a devastating car accident that causes very real trauma to her body and painkillers are prescribed to help control the pain while healing. In part because Mickey tries to rush her healing and get back on the field, her painkiller use becomes amplified. Soon, like many addicts, MC is trying to find ways to get drugs because she can no longer get them through her doctor. Mickey finds herself a supplier and begins hanging out with other addicts as her life spirals out of control.

YA A to Z: Guilt, Shame and Blame – Heroin Overdose Deaths in Teen

With Heroine, McGinnis provides a very realistic look at how addiction works and how even the most successful of us can become caught in its throes. Each decision leads to the next and before our main character knows it, everything about who they are and how they function in the world changes. It’s a hard but necessary read for a world trying to understand what addiction is like. Heroine ends on a realistic but hopeful note, not glossing over the fact that addiction is a lifelong issue but that with the right tools and support, you can put your life back onto a positive track.

The American Opioid Crisis: A Reading List – Book Riot

what you hide

What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards is not about addiction, but it takes place in a public library and it touches on how addiction is effecting libraries. Richards is not only an author, but she is an Ohioan who works during the day in an Ohio public library. I know Natalie and have visited her library (it’s very nice!) and am not surprised to find that she is contemplating the current effect that the opioid crisis is having on public libraries in Ohio. We all are. Most public libraries are making decisions based on the opioid crisis, whether it be trying to determine whether or not staff should be trained in administering Narcan or whether or not to keep the bathroom doors locked. Some libraries have put in needle disposal bins to help protect patrons and staff from loose needles. Some libraries are buying all hardwood furniture so that needles can’t be shoved down upholstered cracks where patrons or staff can be stuck by them. From staff training to resources to programming to policies and procedures, the opioid crisis is having a very definite effect on public libraries in Ohio and nationwide.

8 Fiction Books that Shed Light on the Opioid Crisis – Electric Literature

What You Hide is the story of a homeless teenager named Mallory who hides out in the library after closing for a safe place to stay. She has left home because her stepfather Charlie is psychologically abusive and she is worried about the growing threats of physical violence. At the library, she meets Spencer, who is volunteering at the library to fulfill a community service obligation. Early on in the book, a dead body is found in the library and it is believed that the young woman has died of an overdose. At several points in the book, as Mallory seeks to find a way to solve her problem, as Spencer tries to figure out who he is and who he wants to be, and as they both try to determine the origin of the weird goings on in the library, there are some very realistic discussions about addiction and the current opioid crisis.

See Also: Sunday Reflections: When the Opioid Crisis Hits the Library

If you know anything about the process of publishing, it can take a long time for a book to be written and then published. Books are often announced more than a year before publication date. So even as the crisis has been discussed and building, and as policy makers at all levels are trying to figure out how to address the issues, it has taken a while for the issue to be discussed and reflected in YA literature because of this slow publishing turnaround. There are plenty of YA literature titles that discuss addiction and substance abuse in general, though not nearly enough, but there are few that touch on this current opioid epidemic in particular. I was grateful as an Ohioan, as a public librarian, and as a teen librarian to read these titles. I thought that they both did a good job of talking about the issues, raising awareness, and helping us to better understand the current crisis in our world. They are very much needed in the world of contemporary YA literature. Our teens are dealing with these issues, our teen literature should be as well.

Additional Resources

Northeast Ohio Libraries Feel Impact of Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid Epidemic: How Can My Library Help? – PLA 2018

Opioid Symposium – Ohio Library Council

Libraries Confront the Opioid Crisis – School Library Journal

Opioids in Communities, Libraries in Response – State Library of Ohio

About Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

Three screws in her hip.
Two months until spring training.
One answer to all her problems.

Mickey Catalan is no stranger to the opioid epidemic in her small town. There are obituaries of classmates who “died suddenly” and stories of overdoses in gas station bathrooms—but none of that is her. No, Mickey is a star softball catcher—one part of a dynamic duo with her best friend and pitcher Carolina—about to start her senior season with hopes of college recruitment. Until a car accident shatters that plan, along with her hip and Carolina’s arm.

Now Mickey is hurting. She can barely walk, much less crouch behind the plate. Yet a little white pill can make it better. After all, it is doctor prescribed. But when the prescription runs out, Mickey turns to an elderly woman who pushes hot meatloaf and a baggie full of oxy across the kitchen counter. It’s there Mickey makes new friends—other athletes in pain, others with just time to kill—and finds peaceful acceptance, a place where she can find words more easily than she ever has before. But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her desire for pills becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.

Coming out March 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books

About What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards

A new pulse-pounding romantic thriller from the author of We All Fall Down and Six Months Later

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

Coming December 2018 by Sourcefire Books

YA A to Z: Peace and Quiet – Recharging Your Battery After Summer Reading, a guest post by librarian Lisa Krok

 It’s almost here, the end of summer. Which means for a lot of us, summer reading is wrapping up. Today librarian Lisa Krok is joining us to talk about recharging your batteries.

rechargingbatteries

We all know that summer reading brings with it a flurry of activity, endless prep and cleanup, and most importantly, happy kids who are keeping their minds engaged and avoiding the summer slide. Now that your maker projects, crafts, concerts, slams, book clubs, cup stacking, video games, and cupcake wars are done, catch your breath. Literally…stop right now and take in a few deep inhales and exhales and be mindful of feeling yourself decompress. I think we get caught up in go-go-go-go for so long that we forget how to unwind and relax. We have served our patrons well, and now we need to recharge in that blissful month between summer reading ending and school starting, August.

Think of the speech they give every time you board an airplane: put the mask on yourself first before assisting others. Our nature as librarians is to be helpful, but we must take care of ourselves first to be of any good to anyone else. If you’re feeling burned out and exhausted, it is time to recharge. Ironically, one of the things that will help you recharge is to unplug. Yes, I said it. If you can’t do it for a week, do it for a day. If not a day, do it for an hour. No phones, no emails, no social media, no screens of any kind, just BE.

Stop and breathe some more; enjoy your surroundings. There are many things to appreciate that cost little to no money at all. Go for a walk in the park or visit your local botanical gardens for some beautiful sights and intoxicating scents. Many towns have free music in the park or at local colleges on the green. Bring a blanket along and enjoy a picnic. If you enjoy cooking, make your favorite meal; if not, treat yourself to a cherished restaurant. Have a soak in the tub for as long as you want (bring a book, of course).

Spend some time on your own or as a family at a local lake, beach, or pool. Sunshine and good books have tremendous healing powers! So do furry friends that may live in your home and relish extra cuddle time. Catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen because you have been too busy. Enjoy simple pleasures like lemonade or iced tea on the porch, smiling as your kids create with chalk on the driveway, or just watch the world for a while: wind blowing in the trees, squirrels running, birds chirping. Bring out some bright pencils and color in those Harry Potter and curse word coloring books (my two personal favorites) you bought but rarely use. Have a nap. Paint your nails. Practice some yoga poses. Light those scented candles you have been saving for something special. YOU are special, and you deserve them.

Lisa Krok

 Meet Our Guest Blogger

lisakrok1

Lisa is a branch manager and teen librarian in the Akron-Summit County Public Libraries in Akron, Ohio, a member of the 2019 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers team, and a Ravenclaw. She can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach. A to Z

YA A to Z: F is for Female Friendship

yaatoz

I am very honored to be the “Second Mom” to The Teen’s best friend, who we call The Bestie here at TLT. I have known this girl since she was in the 3rd grade and I truly consider her to be a part of my family. When I travel, I text her and keep in touch with her just as I do the two girls that I have given birth to. I feel very blessed to have her as an honorary family member and I love seeing her friendship with my daughter. As someone who moved a lot – hello, military brat – I never really got to have the type of BFFs that you read about in books. I am so delighted to see my daughter have one of her own and am proud to see the women they are becoming separately and together. Because of all of this, one of the things I always notice when reading YA is the best friend quotient. I like to give them both books that highlight besties and realistically portray the ups and downs of female friendship. My hope is that it will help them to develop realistic expectations and remind them that even in the moments where their friendship is tried and tested, as all friendships are, that they will make the choice and do the work of maintaining and nurturing their friendship. I’ve posted some of my favorite female friendship books before, and you can read that post here, but I’ve read some new ones to add to the list so keep reading.

riandky

The Teen and The Bestie

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

stay sweetPublisher’s Book Description

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

Karen’s Thoughts

This summer I had the honor of having The Teen volunteer with me at my library, which meant every day we drove back and forth from work together and listened to audio books. One of our favorites was Stay Sweet. I loved listening to this book with The Teen for a wide variety of reasons. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that we laughed and we cried together listening to this book. There are some very moving and emotional scenes and we balled. There may have been snottage.

One of my favorite things about this book was how much it emphasized the power and importance of female friendship. From the very beginning we step foot into this world where there is a strong emphasis put on empowering women and that stream of thought is never lost. Even when our main character’s friendship is put to the test and strained, as most friendships will be, the significance of and dedication to one another remains powerful.

As you may recall, The Teen and The Bestie often help me out a lot here at TLT and I take them to a lot of book events. When we finished this book I immediately thought, we need to make sure you both have a copy of this book to remind you of what being a best friend can look like as you make the transition from graduating high school. This goes right into both of their collections.

This book is moving, thoughtful, and a powerful story that reminds girls that they can learn, grow, be empowered and achieve their dreams. Sharing this book and this summer with The Teen will always have very deep and lasting meaning for me, and I hope The Bestie will love it as well.

Don't fear - The Teen isn't trying to kill The Bestie, they're just making a movie together

Don’t fear – The Teen isn’t trying to kill The Bestie, they’re just making a movie together

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

sawkillgirls

Publisher’s Book Description:

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This may in some ways be a weird book to include on a list like this. After all, it’s a dark paranormal mystery where a lot of girls die. It is also, however, the story of two girls who become friends and try to help each other solve the mystery of what it happening to the Sawkill Girls and how they can save themselves and each other from being the next one. This is a very compelling read with a lot of feminist undertones; it seriously makes some bold declarations about what it means to be a girl in this world. I think Sawkill Girls will be a phenomenal success when it comes out in October of this year.

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

exit-pursued

Publisher’s Book Description:

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Karen’s Thoughts:

I love this book and it is one of my favorites because of the way the two best friends deal with the sexual assault of one half of their duo. Johnston describes this book as a fantasy because it is the way she wishes we handled sexual assault compared to the ways in which we do. When Hermione is assaulted her best friend stands by her and up for her and it is glorious. In your moments of darkest need, everyone needs a best friend like this.

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she's part of the family and we support her always

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she’s part of the family and we support her always

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

wickeddeep

Publisher’s Book Description:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This is one of the teens favorite books of this year. It’s another dark paranormal – what can I say, we have a type – that also has a strong friendship tucked inside the pages. Also, there are witches! Friendship, romance, witches and local legends make for a pretty enthralling read.

The Teen and The Bestie making a "classic" portrait at an art museum installation

The Teen and The Bestie making a “classic” portrait at an art museum installation

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

nowheregirls

Publisher’s Book Description

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

Karen’s Thoughts

This is another meaningful contemporary that explores themes of sexual assault and teenage sexuality while giving us some strong female friendships. Here, a group of girls come together and fight the system while exploring who they are and trying to stand up for what they think is right. It’s powerfully, hand down, pull no punches feminism and it rocks! Also, there are a lot of intersectional friendships that happen here and it’s great to have some strong female friendships that are intersectional.

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The Bestie came and supported The Teen as she participates in a national martial arts tournament. They are interested in very different things but support each other!

What YALit with a strong female friendship would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below. The Teen and The Bestie may want to read them!

YA A to Z: O is for Outsider, a guest post by author Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Today for #YAAtoZ we are honored to have author Kirstin Cronn-Mills talking about being an Outsider.

yaatoz

My mom swears I knew how to read at three. I know my dad was teaching me about Roman numerals and the Valley of the Kings at four. I had no idea these things were even slightly unusual. Nobody in my house was neurotypical, but I didn’t know that, either.

It was reinforced over and over in elementary and high school: I didn’t think like other people, I didn’t react like other people (puberty emotions x 1000), I just . . . wasn’t like other girls. End of story. This fact mostly made me sad. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I did have seemed to accept my oh-so-brainy-and-different self.

College was better—I could be curious to my heart’s content, and I didn’t know when others judged me, because I wasn’t around those people. Then I fell in love, went to grad school, got married, went to another grad school, had a baby, and got a full-time job. All of it regular human stuff. But I still felt like an outsider.

The reinforcement continued: I wasn’t like other moms, or other soccer parents, or other teachers, and definitely not like other spouses, much to my husband’s dismay and frustration. Why was I so emotional? Why was my brain so busy all the dang time? Why couldn’t I relax?

Finally, through a long string of events and a couple lightbulb moments, the answer arrived: I have ADHD. I had been misdiagnosed by my psychiatrist for 23 years. Yes. 23. I’d even had an MRI in 2006, after my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor (our hometown is a cancer cluster, so it was worth checking). My psychiatrist said “Hmm. You have a less robust frontal lobe.” That’s actually a sign of ADHD, but neither of us put the pieces together. I said, “Well, it’s served me all right so far.” And that was that.

Turns out women and girls with ADHD tend to be more inattentive, with less outward hyperactivity, and our chattiness or scatterbrained-ness is chalked up to being “just a girl” (side note: research needs to catch up and explore how many different genders express ADHD, but right now it’s focused on the binary)  Lots of us are diagnosed at midlife because our estrogen decreases, so our symptoms skyrocket.

TLT O is for Outsider

It also turns out women with ADHD feel inadequate, judged, and stupid because we can struggle with tasks that are stereotypically ours—paying bills on time, throwing kids’ birthday parties, managing a household. Add in the societal pressure to be a perfect parent or spouse, along with the pressure to look like a fashion model, and we get depressed and anxious. Doctors end up treating the symptoms, but not the root cause.

After I figured out the right category for my brain, I grieved. Hard. I grieved my mistakes (soooo many) and the time I’d lost trying to be someone I wasn’t. Then I put the pieces together (again) and grieved for my grandma and my dad, who lived and died in times where their brains weren’t recognized or understood. But while I mourned, I was also ecstatic, because I understood who I was. I knew there were others like me. Now we’re outsiders together.

Fictional Characters with ADHD: Books We Love – ADDitude

Not long after my diagnosis, my friend Rachel told me I was a superhero—an X-Man, in fact. Hadn’t I noticed my superpowers? She stopped me in my tracks, because she’s right. I can focus for a really, really long time—so long that I’ve managed to write 9 books, plus a lot of poetry, while raising a son and working full-time. I have compassion for days, because I feel things so deeply. I am also easily amused, and generally happy—plus I’m funny. Usually.

The absences my brain creates—a slippery relationship with time, a tendency toward forgetting, SO MANY EMOTIONS—can usually be balanced out by my superpowers. Not in the eyes of culture, of course—same as in the X-Men mythology, our culture tends to shun us—but in my eyes, I feel as cool as Jean Gray or Storm.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills is the author of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Kirstin Cronn-Mills is the author of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Now, after 2.5 years of sorting out my powers, it’s time to advocate for a positive view of neurodiversity, of all kinds. My work in progress is called O IS FOR OUTSIDER. Evvie, the protagonist, has ADHD—as do her mom and the octopus researcher (!) she follows. These three women offer no apologies for their neurodivergence, and they like themselves. As the story develops, Evvie crushes on one of the octopus researcher’s helpers—turns out he’s neurodiverse, too. Nobody’s made to feel ashamed of the way their brain behaves, and everyone is supported for who they are.

Utopias are awesome, right?

In our real world, there’s still plenty of risk in claiming who I am. For example: what happens if my day job boss reads this post? She might instantly discredit everything I say and do. What if an editor sees this post and refuses to work with me, assuming I’ll miss my deadlines (I’m always early with manuscripts)? What if readers don’t give my books a chance because they assume they’re too weird?

The word “neurodiversity” comes from the autism community but can describe many different kinds of brains. We neurodivergent X-Men bring strengths to humanity that others can’t match (Albert Einstein, anyone?). If we’re a little bit late, or a little hypervigilant, or we see letters in weird orders, please be patient with us. We’re figuring out relativity or earning Olympic medals (hi, Simone Biles!). If you’re a person with autism, anxiety, ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, or any other kind of differently-wired brain, hello. I see you and your powers, and I salute you.

As I travel through my new life, I watch people around me who are judged for being different (all kinds of difference), and these questions constantly ricochet through my head: why is difference judged and shunned instead of appreciated? Why do we need the concept of “outsider”?

In response, my WIP asks this question: what would happen if people valued our neurodiversity instead of rejected us for it?

I want to celebrate my brain—even with its frustrations and absences. I want you to celebrate yours, too. I want that for my neurodiverse kid, other neurodiverse kids, and my dad and grandma. I want us to be OK with different ways to process the world. And I want my characters to reflect those different ways to be human.

Meet Kirstin Cronn-Mills

kirstin

Kirstin Cronn-Mills writes fiction and nonfiction for young adults. Her second novel, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award in 2014. She writes and teaches in southern Minnesota, where she lives with her family and her Harry Potter-named animals.
About Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
“This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show.”

My birth name is Elizabeth, but I’m a guy. Gabe. My parents think I’ve gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I’m right. I’ve been a boy my whole life.

When you think about it, I’m like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side–not heard as often, but just as good.

It’s time to let my B side play. (Published in 2012 by Flux Books)

YA A to Z: Gaslighting, a guest post by author Anna Hecker

Today as part of the YA A to Z series, TLT is honored to have author Anna Hecker here discussing with us the topic of gaslighting.

yaatoz

TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, including rape.

In the 1944 classic film Gaslight, a handsome pianist convinces his young wife to move back to the London townhouse she abandoned after her aunt was murdered there. There, he embarks on a systematic campaign to drive her insane.

Although she seems perfectly healthy he rarely lets her leave the house or have visitors, claiming her fragile health can’t handle it. When he calls her forgetful she protests, but then she begins “losing” small objects—and starts to feel like she’s losing her mind.

Slowly, her husband’s tactics begin to work. She questions her own judgment. She thinks she’s seeing and hearing things. In her isolated state, believing she can’t trust her own instincts, she increasingly comes to see her husband as the one pillar of sanity in her crumbling world.

It’s from this famous film that we derive the term “gaslighting.” In its simplest form, it means manipulating the truth to make someone feel like they’re going crazy. It’s a favorite tactic of sociopaths, cult leaders, and politicians; in an era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” who doesn’t feel like they’re being systematically driven crazy sometimes?

How to Know If You’re a Victim of Gaslighting | Psychology Today

Popular gaslighting tactics include:

  • Blatant lying, even in the face of evidence. (“I didn’t have my arm around that girl. That Instagram must have been Photoshopped.”)
  • Denying or contradicting things they’ve said or done. (“I never said I’d take you out for your birthday.”)
  • Twisting their victim’s words to have unintended meanings. (“You said you’d support me no matter what, but now you won’t even loan me twenty bucks?”)
  • Claiming their victim is unstable, over-sensitive, or mentally ill. (“You don’t believe me? You have serious trust issues.”)
  • Blaming their victim for their own behavior (“If you weren’t so controlling I wouldn’t have to sneak around.”)
  • Withholding information. (“I can’t even talk about this when you’re being so irrational.”)
  • Enlisting others to help destabilize their victim. (“My friends all think you’re crazy, too.”)

Of particular relevance to teen readers, gaslighting is common within abusive relationships. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 3 college women have been in an abusive dating relationship, and 1 in 10 high school students has experienced physical violence from a dating partner in the past year. While gaslighting and physical or emotional abuse don’t always go hand-in-hand, they can be a key part of why teens choose to stay in abusive relationships. When they’re told often enough that they’re over-reacting, that they deserve to be mistreated, or simply that what happened didn’t really happen, they begin to question their sanity. In a world where facts aren’t facts and reality isn’t reality, they turn to their abusive partner for stability—just like Ingrid Bergman’s character in Gaslight.

Rookie » Let’s Talk About Gaslighting

It’s important for teens experiencing gaslighting to know they aren’t alone…and they aren’t crazy. Fortunately, a new crop of teen and middle-grade books is confronting gaslighting in unique and brave new ways=. Here are a few to add to your shelves:

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ALWAYS FOREVER MAYBE  by Anica Mrose Rissi

What it is: A YA contemporary about a storybook romance gone wrong

Who it can help: Young people in manipulative, abusive relationships

This chilling tale of a storybook romance gone wrong rings all too true because of the slow, insidious way in which the gaslighting takes place. When Betts meets older, alluring Aiden, it’s love at first sight. But things quickly go south. He makes her question her own perceptions and memories and worries out loud that she’ll hurt him…even as he’s hurting her more every day.

This story will ring true for anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship. It’s a perfect way to start a conversation, and the list of resources at the end will hopefully help those in dangerous situations take steps toward finding a way out.

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WHEN THE BEAT DROPS By Anna Hecker

What it is: A YA contemporary about love, music, friendship, and finding your beat

Who it can help: People who rely on their romantic relationship for more than love

In my debut novel, WHEN THE BEAT DROPS, 17-year-old Mira’s seemingly wonderful new boyfriend gaslights her into ignoring some of his less-than-savory activities. Because he’s also her manager, her career as a DJ is tied up their relationship—an advantage he deliberately presses.

All too frequently, victims of domestic abuse have more at stake than just their relationship. They may depend on their partner for social status, transportation, tutoring, financial help, or even (ironically) as a way to escape an abusive home life. Realistically, those relying on their relationship for outside needs may need help finding a new way to meet those needs before they can be persuaded to leave.

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BLOOD WATER PAINT By Joy McCullough

What it is: Historical YA fiction based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi

Who it can help: Teens experiencing gaslighting or abuse from an authority figure

At seventeen, Artemisia is one of Rome’s most talented painters. But when her painting teacher rapes her, everything turns upside down. As he tries to convince her it was consensual, she finds herself questioning everything about her world—and a woman’s place in it. Told primarily in verse, this powerful tale of rape and redemption is the perfect jumping-off point for discussions about sexual and emotional abuse by authority figures. The verse format may also appeal to reluctant readers.

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BURRO HILLS By Julia Lynn Rubin

What it is: Gritty LGBTQ YA contemporary about a teen discovering his homosexuality in a dead-end town

Who it can help: Teens experiencing gaslighting and bullying by friends

Jack Burns is a resident—though oftentimes he feels like an inmate—of desert town of Burro Hills. Growing up surrounded by the broken dreams of his parents, Jack wonders if he will ever just get out. Get out of dealing drugs. Get out of poverty. Get away from the suffocating masculinity in high school boys. And get out of his own head.

All that changes when Connor comes along, captivating Jack and challenging him to find escape in new ways. But Jack’s old friends don’t want to let him go so easily: and they’re willing to lie, threaten, and manipulate to keep the status quo. A double-whammy for teens exploring their sexuality or feeling gaslit by friends, this is a stark look at toxic masculinity and the damage it can cause.

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THE LAND OF YESTERDAY By K.A. Reynolds

What it is: A MG fantasy in which a young girl travels to a magical land to save her family

Who it can help: Middle-grade readers who may be experiencing gaslighting but are unable to articulate it

The gaslighting in this middle-grade fantasy is unique because it’s being perpetrated by… a house?! When Cecelia Dahl’s little brother, Celadon, dies tragically, his soul goes where all souls go: The Land of Yesterday. When Cecelia’s mother leaves to go after her ghost-brother, Cecelia’s house, which has a soul, uses guilt, manipulation, and fear to force Cecelia into an ultimatum: embark on a journey to the deadly Land of Yesterday to bring back her mother, or have the house hurt Cecelia and her family even more than she could imagine.

While it’s painful to think of middle schoolers as victims of gaslighting and emotional abuse, it’s also an unfortunate reality. This whimsical novel can help articulate the meaning of gaslighting to young readers.

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THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS By Ann Braden

What it is: A MG contemporary exploring issues of class, gun control, and emotional abuse

Who it can help: Middle-grade readers who may be experiencing gaslighting or abuse by an authority figure

Seventh-grader Zoey doesn’t want to join the debate club. She just wants to stay under the radar: taking care of her younger siblings while her mom works, hanging out with her friend Fuschia, avoiding the rich kids in her school, and doing what it takes to stay in her mother’s boyfriend’s good graces so they can keep living in his nice, clean trailer.

But joining the debate club forces her to confront the truth about Fuschia’s situation, her mom’s relationship, and her own place in the world. A poignant and relatable read for middle graders who are afraid of speaking out for fear of not fitting in, it explores gaslighting by authority figures in a fresh (and, frankly, heartbreaking) way.

About Anna Hecker

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Anna Hecker grew up at the dead end of a dirt road in Vermont. She holds an MFA from The New School and spent a decade writing ad copy and chasing beats before returning to fiction, her first love. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and fluffy bundle of glamour, Cat Benatar.

Author Links:

Preorder: Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Website: annahecker.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heckerbooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeckerBooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeckerBooks

YA A to Z: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things, Historical Novels That Is . . . a guest post by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Zombies – I love them. I have never seen a single episode of Downton Abbey, though I remember how popular it was. And adding zombies to the mix is just the push I need to get me to explore 1920s England. This is not the first book this year to add zombies to a historical time period, Justina Ireland did it quite successfully in her look at the Civil War in Dread Nation (I’m reading this now and it’s challenging, fascinating and entertaining). These are both fun reads for zombie lovers like me, and an interesting tool to get readers exploring various concepts like slavery, racism, classism, and more. It’s historical fiction with an undead twist, or historical horror. And much like Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, I imagine there’s a little humor in there as well.

Historical Horror – Books where historical fiction is given the horror treatment. Entries into this genre include Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Graham-Smith, The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey (super creepy and fun), and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

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Today as part of our YA A to Z series, Zombie Abbey author Lauren Baratz-Logsted is sharing with us a list of her favorite historical fiction for YA readers. And as someone who doesn’t read a lot of historical fiction, lists like these are one of the very reasons why we love the YA A to Z project.

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I’ve had an eclectic career as a writer, having books published in multiple genres for multiple age groups, including ZOMBIE ABBEY, which is set in 1920 England. When it comes to reading, I’m the same. I’ll read just about anything, so long as it sounds good. One year, I set myself the goal of reading 365 books…just to see if I could! (Thank goodness it wasn’t a leap year.) It stands to reason, then, that I’d have strong opinions on my favorites within a particular genre. With no further ado, here are some of the Historical YA books that have given me the most pleasure:historical1

 

THE WICKED AND THE JUST by J. Anderson Coats. That’s such a great title, I could love it for that alone. But it’s so much more. Set in 1293 (not a year typically covered in YA!) in Wales (not a setting I’d read before in YA!), it features Cecily, who suffers from the recognizably teenage injustice of: ‘My father is ruining my life!’ In her case, that means he’s moved them from their comfortable place in England to the recently conquered Wales. Her fish-out-of-water story is told side by side with that of Gwenhwyfar, a local servant girl. It’s gorgeously atmospheric writing, evoking a brutal world that is often wicked and occasionally – wait for it! – just.

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THE MUSICIAN’S DAUGHTER by Susanne Dunlap. In Vienna in the 1700s, Theresa’s violinist father is murdered, leaving the 15-year-old girl to try to solve the crime while apprenticing with real-life conductor Franz Josef Haydn, who is losing his eyesight. Let’s just say that there are spies involved.

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PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER by Julian Lester. Was there anything the prolific Mr. Lester couldn’t do? I was so sorry when he died a while back. In this novel, set in ancient Egypt, the author strips the Charlton Heston right out of Moses, depicting him as an awkward teen who must struggle to grow into his role as a leader of his people.

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I WILL SEND RAIN by Rae Matthews. It’s possible that after reading Karen Hesse’s Newbery Medal Winner Out of the Dust a decade ago, readers thought, ‘Well, that’s me then, with the Dust Bowl checked off my list of things to read about,’ because it was that good. But readers will be cheating themselves if they don’t read this more recent offering, about a teenage girl in 1934 Oklahoma who battles the encroaching dust while entertaining dreams of a better existence, maybe even love.

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THE WATCH THAT ENDS THE NIGHT by Allan Wolf. If there were an Audacious Author Award, I’d be presenting it here. Mr. Wolf takes a story we all think we know – the sinking of the Titanic – and he explodes it wide open by adopting the novel-in-verse approach, taking on a vast array of points of view and voices: doomed Captain Smith; architect Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line; a young passenger looking for dragons; and on and on. Even the rats and the iceberg finally get their say.

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THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak. You don’t need me to tell you why this one is on the list, do you? Suffice it to say that I’m a tough old bird who rarely cries while reading novels anymore because the adult voice in my head taunts, ‘But it’s just fiction.’ And yet, about 40 pages before the end of this unique story of the Holocaust, the tears started and never really let up again until the end. It’s that moving.

Thanks for having me!

About Zombie Abbey

1920. ENGLAND

And the teenage Clarke sisters thought the entail was their biggest problem…

     Lady Kate, the entitled eldest.

     Lady Grace, lost in the middle and wishing she were braver.

     Lady Lizzy, so endlessly sunny, it’s easy to underestimate her.

Then there’s Will Harvey, the proud, to-die-for—and possibly die with!—stable boy; Daniel Murray, the resourceful second footman with a secret; Raymond Allen, the unfortunate-looking young duke; and Fanny Rogers, the unsinkable kitchen maid.

Upstairs! Downstairs! Toss in some farmers and villagers!

None of them ever expected to work together for any reason.

But none of them had ever seen anything like this.

Meet Lauren Baratz-Logsted

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Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for adults, teens and children, which have been published in 15 countries. Before becoming a writer, she was an independent bookseller (11 years), a Publishers Weekly reviewer (292 titles); a freelance editor, a sort-of librarian, and a window washer. She lives in CT with her husband, daughter and cat. Lauren prefers the nobility to zombies, as a rule, and so long as you’re not the latter, you’re welcome to visit her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com.

YA A to Z: The Long Road to Gentrification, a guest post by author Lilliam Rivera

Today we are honored to have YA author Lilliam Rivera join us for YA A to Z to discuss gentrification. Lilliam Rivera is the author of The Education of Margot Sanchez.

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When the Lyft driver veers the car to the first right on to Willis Avenue, I notice the large billboard sign. “New Luxurious Condos.” The billboard stands erect in front of a large empty lot. I try to remember what was on the empty lot before. Was it a tenement building? Was there a bodega? It’s only been six months since my last visit to the South Bronx, New York and I already see so many changes. It’s hard to keep up.

Although I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the past fifteen years, my heart is closely tied to where I grew up in the Bronx. My young adult novel The Education of Margot Sanchez (Simon & Schuster) is set in the Bronx with our protagonist Margot Sanchez being forced to work at her father’s failing supermarket. All around her, a slightly privileged Margot sees how the Bronx is quickly changing. The affects of gentrification are taking its toll on the neighborhood and on her family’s livelihood. This is the Bronx I see as I exit the car and walk to my parent’s house and notice yet another new boutique hotel promoting its grand opening.

When I set out to write my coming-of-age novel I knew I would write about gentrification. Like many I have my preconceived notions of how gentrification occurs. You see new buildings being erected, millions of dollars being funneled to rebuild parks, or a new police station sets up shop on a once abandoned lot and you think gentrification is here. It happened in Brooklyn. The same happened in the lower east side and Harlem. Detroit. New Orleans. What seems so sudden is actually an economic system placed to improve an urban neighborhood at the cost of the families living there.

Gentrification and the Criminalization of Neighborhoods – The Atlantic

Below, I’m sharing books that might help readers understand the history of gentrification as well as young adult novels that dig deep on how this can shape a young person’s life.

The following nonfiction books can give any reader a starting point in to the sordid history that pits the economic growth of a city on the shoulders of working class and poor families.

CDC – Healthy Places – Health Effects of Gentrification

How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood by Peter Moskowitz

Moskowitz breaks down the history of gentrification in Detroit, San Francisco, New York and New Orleans. The author writes: “What Gentrification is not about individual acts; it’s about systemic violence based on decades of racist housing policy in the United States that has denied people of color, especially black people, access to the same.”

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

Rothstein argues that federal, state, and local governments create and reinforce neighborhood segregation. “To prevent lower-income African Americans from living in neighborhoods where middle-class whites resided, local and federal officials began in the 1910s to promote zoning ordinances to reserve middle-class neighborhoods for single-family homes…”

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Desmond follows families in Milwaukee as they try to keep shelter. “After a few weeks, the city found Arleen’s favorite place ‘unfit for human habitation,’ removed her, nailed green boards over the windows and doors, and issued a fine to her landlord.”

As proven every day, young people are at the forefront of change. The following young adult and middle grade books tackle gentrification in a nuanced and intelligent manner:

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Set in Miami, this Pura Belpré Honor book is full of humor and love as a young boy fights against a land developer encroaching on his family’s restaurant.

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Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

An urban fantasy, Older creates a city that is not only under attack by dark forces but can only be saved by a young Afro-Latina Sierra Santiago in a changing Brooklyn.

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The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

While stuck working at her father’s supermarket, Margot Sanchez witnesses first hand how gentrification is blanketing the Bronx with the help of the young activist Moises.

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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

Set in 1969 New York, Manzano’s novel depicts the rise of the Puerto Rican activist group The Young Lords and one girl’s own political awakening.

Realistic Teen Fiction: Racism and Gentrification

This Side of Home by Renee Watson

Watson takes on gentrification in a Portland neighborhood as twin sisters try to carve a space in their slowly unrecognizable home.

Also, don’t forget to add the following forthcoming young adult book to your TBR pile:

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Pride by Ibi Ziboi

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

Meet Lilliam Rivera

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Lilliam Rivera is the author of The Education of Margot Sanchez, a contemporary young adult novel from Simon & Schuster available now in bookstores everywhere. Named a “2017 Face to Watch” by the Los Angeles Times, her work has appeared in Lenny LetterTin House, and USA Today, to name a few. Originally from the Bronx, New York, Lilliam currently lives in Los Angeles where she’s working on her second young adult novel, Dealing in Dreams, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in March 2019.

About THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ

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Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moisés—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

See Also:

4 YA Books That Deal With Gentrification – Book Riot

3 On A YA Theme: Social Justice in YA Fiction – Book Riot

The 5 Books You Need to Read to Understand Gentrification | The Nation

YA A to Z: H is for Historical Fiction, a guest post by librarian Amanda Perez

Today in our YA A to Z series, new librarian Amanda Perez joins us to talk about Historical Fiction in YA Lit.

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Historical Fiction authors go through a great deal of research in order to present their readers with an accurate window into history.  The final product presented to teen readers is often a masterful look into that particular moment in time, which encourages the development of empathy and new perspectives.  The benefits of reading Historical Fiction are well documented and as such are often the focus of book reports.

It is important to note that Historical Fiction can also be fun and not just a homework assignment.  The genre is unique in that it enlightens as well as entertains. The current trend of genre-bending include the latest works of historical fiction, and they may well be thrillers, humorous tales, or tinged with fantasy. Below is a list of recently released Historical Fiction teen novels, with great reviews.

(All Book Summary’s taken from Amazon.com)

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What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper (2018)

After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.

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Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon (2018)

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.

Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

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The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and Lilit Thwaites (2017)

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

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Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (2018)

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.

She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

Joy McCullough’s bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia’s heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia’s most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman’s timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.

I will show you
what a woman can do.

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Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman (2017)

Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father’s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows — until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn’t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb’s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb’s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life . . . until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: it can only be Caleb’s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows. From award-winning British author Tanya Landman comes a heart-stopping story of race, class, family, and corruption so deep it can kill.

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (2018) – Historical Fiction/Alternate History/Horror

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

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Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (2017) – Historical Fiction/ Multiple Timelines

Some bodies won’t stay buried.
Some stories need to be told. 

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self-discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations–both yesterday and today.

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2017) – Historical Fiction/SciFi/ Multiple Timelines

2065: Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house more than a hundred years ago and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate.

1934: Amid the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine’s family’s situation is growing dire. She must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

1919: In the recovery following World War I, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail from England to America. But can she make it that far?

While their stories span thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful. In Jodi Lynn Anderson’s signature haunting, lyrical prose, human connections spark spellbindingly to life, and a bright light shines on the small but crucial moments that determine one’s fate.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

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Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (2018) – Historical Fiction/Thriller

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she’s the Nazis’ worst nightmare.

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The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls, edited by Jessica Spotswood (2018)

To respect yourself, to love yourself, should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs — whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.

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The Book of Pearl by Timothee de Fombelle (2018) – Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever. Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon translate the original French into a work both luminous and layered, enabling Timothée de Fombelle’s modern fairy tale to thrum with magic. Brimming with romance and history, mystery and adventure, this ode to the power of memory, storytelling, and love will ensnare any reader’s imagination and every reader’s heart.

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Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (2017) – Historical Fiction/Thriller/Comedy

The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?historical13

 

Odd & True by Cat Winters (2017) – Historical Fiction/Horror

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

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The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (2017) – Historical Fiction/Mystery
When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly what she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she witnesses firsthand some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to-a stark contrast to her own upbringing-and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

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Guide Series by Mackenzi Lee (2017-2018) –Historical Fiction/Comedy

Summary for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Book 1):

A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

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Conqueror’s Trilogy by Kiersten White (2016-2018) – Historical Fiction/Alternate History

Summary for And I Darken (Book 1):

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

More Historical Fiction Series:

Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

Charlotte Holmes Series by Brittany Cavallaro

Valiant Series by Lesley Livingston

Soldier Girl Series by Michael Grant

The Diviners Series by Libba Bray

Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

Jackaby Series by William Ritter

Meet Guest Blogger Amanda Perez:

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Amanda is in her first year as a Youth Librarian, currently at the Folsom Public Library, and has recently graduated with her MLIS from San Jose State University.  The fact that her nose was always stuck in a book should have been an early indicator of her eventual profession; however her undergrad degree is actually in Economics. When she’s not reading Amanda can be found attempting to keep up with her husband and two kids at their busy home.

YA A to Z: Friends and Troublemakers, a guest post by author Lisa Brown Roberts

Today as part of our ongoing attempt to build an index of topics in YA from A to Z, author Lisa Brown Roberts is joining us to talk about friends and troublemakers. Please share with us your favorite friendships and troublemakers in YA lit in the comments.

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As much as I enjoy writing YA romance, I love writing friendship just as much, if not more (it’s probably why I write friends-to-lovers romance).

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In my newest book, Spies, Lies, and Allies: A Love Story, there’s a bestie because we all need one, but I also tried something new: writing an enemies-to-allies friendship. Heroine Laurel has a summer job at her dad’s company working alongside Trish, who’s determined to make things hard for Laurel. The girls are opposites, and at first Laurel’s goal is to stay out of Trish’s way, but by the end of the summer their relationship has transformed.

As I wrote this book, I realized Trish was a stand-in for one of my dearest high school friends. Amy and I were opposites- she was punk and I was Princess Di (for real, I had the haircut and everything). She was sarcastic, hilarious, and loved to challenge authority. I was a people pleaser and afraid of getting in trouble, yet somehow our orbits intersected. Amy pushed me out of my good-girl zone, daring me to take risks and have fun. The first time I experienced being  pulled over by the police, Amy was driving. When I was almost suspended for a prank (um, make that twice), Amy was my partner-in-crime.

We worked in the same mall, in candy stores right next door to each other. Once again, I was the good girl, wearing a black-and-white Russel Stovers’ uniform complete with bow tie that we called the “penguin suit.” Amy rocked her punk clothes, Doc Martens, and purple-streaked hair at the funky local snack shop. She gave away candy to cute boys and when those same boys flirted with me, I followed the rules – no free stuff from me!

When we didn’t have customers, we stood outside our respective stores and bonded. We talked and laughed and swooned over David Bowie and Robert Smith and Billy Idol, and checked out guys and took turns watching each other’s stores so the other person could run off to do whatever. Some of my favorite high school memories are of those evening and weekend mall shifts. Whenever I watch the mall scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I tear up a bit thinking of Amy.

Our shining mall moment was the night Amy called me and whispered, “Get over here now. INXS is in my store.” This was the eighties, friends, and INXS was big – and oh so sexy. My first thought was that if they saw me in my penguin uniform, I’d be humiliated. But I hurried next door anyway, casually strolling in like it was no big deal to see these sexy rock stars selecting candy and nuts.

Amy, always cool, smack-talked and joked with them while I just…stared. After they stocked up on snacks, they took a peek in my store, where I rushed to stand behind the glass candy cases and tried to act cool. Needless to say, they bought nothing from me. Somehow Amy and I held in our squees until they were far out of earshot.

Last summer, while attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Atlanta with amazing authors and readers, I received the shocking news that Amy had died suddenly of an aneurysm. I was at dinner with writer friends when I found out, and I pretty much fell apart. My writer friends were lovely and kind as I blubbered and told them all about Amy, and the INXS story, of course.

Returning to the hotel, my friends asked the Uber driver to play INXS. Our party Uber had a fun light system, and as INXS blasted through the speakers, the lights shimmered in time with the music. I cried and cried, and laughed, too, remembering my old friend while being comforted by new friends.

Spies, Lies, and Allies was written during the last year of my dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s and the same year Amy died. It was the hardest book I’ve written – striving for romantic comedy as I grieved. Yet to my surprise, this book became an homage to both my father and my friend. As a writer, I can’t ask for more than that.

Cherish your friends, new and old, whether you’ve known them for a lifetime or just one summer. And if you’re lucky enough to have a troublemaker friend, hug them extra-tight.

About Spies, Lies, and Allies:

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/spies-lies-and-allies-a-love-story.html

About Lisa Brown Roberts:

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Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies.   Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people. Connect with Lisa at www.lisabrownroberts.com.

Author Links:

Author Website: WWW.LISABROWNROBERTS.COM

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LBROWNROBERTS

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorLisaBrownRoberts/

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisabrownroberts/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8287979.Lisa_Brown_Roberts

Newsletter: http://lisabrownroberts.us15.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=1f2f19aa89bc2b30b56c3d1f2&id=4accff162c

Keeping History Alive Through Inspiration L.B. Schulman, author of Stolen Secrets

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. In its honor, we are proud to share this guest post by author L. B. Schulman.

In 1959, the Israel parliament officially chose the date one week after Passover to be dedicated as Holocaust Remembrance Day. That’s today, April 12th. In honor of this important day, I would like to share the inspiration and intent behind my young adult novel, Stolen Secrets–a contemporary story with a Holocaust mystery at its core.

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The idea for Stolen Secrets began in my car, while listening to a Holocaust survivor on NPR. It dawned on me that one day, we would lose all of our firsthand witnesses. No more speakers at schools or interviews on the radio. How would this impact society’s ability to empathize with this tragic historical time?

This led me to consider one of the most influential Holocaust victims–Anne Frank. She touched many people with a diary that recorded the daily life of a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in the annex apartment behind her father’s business. This book was published in 70 languages. Over 30 million people have read it. Ballets, operas, plays, movies, and works of art found their inspiration from the thoughts of this young victim.

I soon discovered that many schools no longer require students to read The Diary of Anne Frank. The power of Anne’s voice seemed to be fading away. Were we relegating future generations to learning about history through dry textbooks? I decided to try and revive Anne’s story through my own novel, while taking a look at the crucial role that witnesses of all kinds contribute to a deeper understanding of history.

In Stolen Secrets, sixteen-year-old Livvy must move to San Francisco, where she discovers an estranged grandmother. The woman has Alzheimer’s and shouts out memories from her time at Bergen Belsen concentration camp that can’t be verified as truth or dismissed as hallucination from a debilitating disease. When Livvy uncovers a concentration camp journal in her grandmother’s home, she wonders who wrote it, why her grandmother has kept it hidden for six decades, and what, if anything, it might have to do with Anne Frank who was in the same concentration camp at the same time.

I realized how little I knew about what had happened to the eight annex residents, including the Frank family, after they were betrayed. On August 8th, 1944, the residents were sent to Westerbork, a work transit camp, where they pulled apart dusty old batteries all day long. A month later, they were packed like cattle on a harrowing three day train ride to Auschwitz.  Ironically, they were sent on the very last train to ever leave Westerbork. Had they remained hidden one more month, they might have all survived.

At Auschwitz, the family was separated. Men in one line, women, in the other. This was the last time that Anne saw her beloved father, Otto. Anne, her sister, Margot, and their mother labored hard, hauling heavy stones, for two months, until it became clear that the Russian army was advancing to liberate the camp. In a panic, the Nazi’s moved as many Jews to Bergen Belsen in Northern Germany as possible. Anne and Margot were sent, but their mother was forced to stay behind. She died of exhaustion and starvation a few weeks later.

Bergen Belsen did not have a gas chamber, but it was overcrowded with people dying of infectious diseases. In fact, over 50,000 people died there. Sometime in early spring, Margot succumbed to Typhus. Anne, at age fifteen, believing that her entire family was gone, died a few days later of the same disease. Only a month later, Bergen Belsen was liberated by the British.

Of the eight original residents who had hid in the annex, Otto Frank was the sole survivor. He returned to his work place where one of the family’s helpers, Miep, gave him Anne’s diary, which she had gathered together after the Nazi’s tore the attic apart, scattering the pages. It took Otto a month before he could bear to look at it. He found Anne’s words to be powerful, but highly personal. Two years later, he was finally convinced to let a publisher turn the diary into a book. The rest, as they say, is history.

For myself with my own book, I found it challenging to incorporate a real person’s life into a fictional scenario. I didn’t want to inadvertently teach readers an invented history. I did this by limiting the imagined details of what happened to Anne and applying them to my main character’s high-stakes hypothesis of her grandmother’s secret. In the end, I couldn’t avoid a few inventions, but they are duly noted in the Author’s Note. I wish I could say more about the twists and turns in the ending, but I won’t spoil it!

I am happy to say that the United States Holocaust Museum now offers Stolen Secrets to their adult and teen guests. The book was named a notable selection by the Sydney Taylor Book Awards, which selects quality literature that authentically portrays the Jewish experience. But the best news of all happened via a Facebook post, when a reader wrote that she was inspired by my book to buy The Diary of Anne Frank for her daughter.

I had an “aha” moment. Even without firsthand witnesses, we can effectively teach history in memorable ways. Authors and artists, with the help of librarians, educators, and word of mouth, can pass along fresh new works to readers. Together, we can create for future generations a connection to a past that must never be forgotten.

Meet Author L. B. Schulman

STOLEN SECRETS is L.B. Schulman’s second young adult novel. Her debut, LEAGUE OF STRAYS, was published in 2012. She grew up in Maryland and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and a pair of loveable mutts. When she isn’t writing, she’s visiting genealogy sites, trying to find famous people she’s related to. You can visit her online at LBSchulman.com.