Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Conversation Snapshots: Let’s Talk YA Lit Titles & YA Programming Success

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YA Lit Suggestions

Although I do a lot of blogging here, sometimes good conversations happen on Twitter. Last Sunday, I wrote a post about updating YA titles that are discussed in media discussions and then I asked people on Twitter to recommend books for those updated discussions. Follow the tweet and you will see some of the recommended titles.

There were several recommendations for Scythe by Neal Shusterman, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. All great recommendations.

I keep thinking about how odd it is in retrospect that all these articles that talk about older YA don’t mention two of the first really popular – like word of mouth and all the teens come in asking for them popular titles: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. What titles – old or new – do you think need to be included in the conversation? Please let us know in the comments.

Teen Programming Success!

The second question I asked this past week was about popular YA/Teen programming. What, I asked, is the most popular program you have ever hosted past or present? You’ll get lots of great programming ideas by reading through this thread. Many have them have been and continue to be popular for me and some of them are completely new ideas that I am looking forward to trying out.

Have some other teen programming success stories that you would like to share? Drop us a comment.

Sunday Reflections: Let’s Update Those YA Lit Articles with Current Titles, and more suggestions for how we talk about YA lit in the media

Several years ago, I wrote a post to the media asking them to write their hot takes about YA literature differently. It was snarky and full of anger at a media that continued to denigrate YA literature and by proxy the teens that read it. At the time, their was a lot of pearl clutching about how dark YA literature was, without a real acknowledgment of how dark the lives of real teens can be, and often are. Recently, there have been a lot of additional articles about YA, with a lot of focus on the idea of “Toxic YA Twitter”, which as best as I can tell is really just people from marginalized groups asking for better representation in YA literature and calling out those books that they feel have harmful stereotypes and representation that may harm teen readers of color.

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But what all of these articles have in common is that they continue to discuss YA literature using books like Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent as their go to reference. One of the most recent ones did add The Maze Runner series to the list. The problem with this is, every single one of these books is around 10 years old or older and aren’t really representative of YA literature today. They are a small microcosm of YA lit, and in many places they are now a historic perspective on YA but by no means offer a good look at what is happening in the current YA lit marketplace nor do they represent what today’s teens – the intended audience for YA – are reading.

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For example, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has topped the New York Times bestseller list for 2 consecutive years. Like the books mentioned above, it was made into a move. Angie Thomas’ most recent release, On the Come Up, debuted on the NYT Bestseller list and was a title that we had so many holds on before release that we had to order additional copies. None of the books mentioned above have appeared on my library’s hold list for years. In fact, given the circulation statistics of the Twilight series, I could easily have justified weeding them from my library’s collection, though I did not.

It’s interesting that articles discussing YA tend to focus on that handful of older titles and neglect to mention more recent bestsellers for several reasons. One, in the past few years the bestseller list has grown increasingly diverse, which is a good thing. But when writers focus on this handful of older titles, they are continuing to highlight white, cisgender and heteronormative titles. Both The Hate U Give and The Children of Blood and Bone, another long term NYT Bestseller, are written by women of color, but they keep being written out of the narrative about YA literature.

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Simon Vs. the Homosapien Agenda by Beck Albertalli is another NYT bestseller that got the movie treatment. It is the story of a gay boy trying to figure out who he is and is accepted by his friends and family. This is just one of the growing number of LGBTQ titles that are popular among teen readers and have been high circulating, NYT bestselling titles in the past few years. Yet the titles being mentioned in these articles fail to represent LGBTQ teens.

Twilight was a huge hit among teen readers, but the first book in that series was released in 2005 and the final book in the series, Breaking Dawn, was released in 2008. I’m not excellent at math, but that seems to be almost 11 years ago. While there are some teens today that still seek our and read these books, this series is by no means as meaningful to today’s teen readers or the landscape of what’s happening in YA as many newer titles. As a reference for discussion on YA lit, it’s now a weird go-to reference.

The same can be said for The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner series. What’s also interesting is that several of these authors haven’t really released a new YA title in many years. Further, the author of The Maze Runner series was recently accused of sexual harassment and if I am not mistaken, is currently without a publisher. Veronica Roth is the only author from this particular group who is currently and actively publishing YA books and her most recent series, Carve the Mark, has been criticized by people of color as engaging in racist and harmful tropes. The titles in the series have debuted on the NYT bestseller list, but they have not had the demand or circulation as other titles among my teen readers.

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It’s also interesting that these articles which seem to want to focus on older titles often fail to mention authors of color with longstanding careers, such as Walter Dean Myers. It is unfathomable to me that you can talk about YA literature in any form and not mention Walter Dean Myers, who was a prolific writer and was the first recipient of the Printz Award Medal in it’s inaugural year for his book, Monster. Sadly, Walter Dean Myers is no longer with us, but no discussion of YA literature seems complete without mentioning his influence on the category. By the end of his career, Walter Dean Myers had written over 100 books for children and teens.

TLT TAB member Lexi is a HUGE A. S. King fan

TLT TAB member Lexi is a HUGE A. S. King fan

However, if you want your article to reference authors who have been publishing for a long time and are still publishing, I would recommend authors like Sarah Dessen, who writes popular contemporary books and has been in this business for almost as long as I have. Her latest book, The Rest of the Story, will be released later this year. Might I also recommend A. S. King, who writes mind-bending surrealistic fiction that recognizes teens as intelligent readers and challenges them to think outside the box. Her newest book, Dig, will be released on Tuesday, March 26th. These are just two of the authors that teen readers continually ask for who are still actively engaged in writing YA literature.

What I would like to see in articles about YA literature is some better and more current examples of titles that are of interest to today’s YA reader. Unless you are writing a historical perspective on the category, it seems outdated and out of touch to continue to use this small handful of examples that aren’t even the most popular titles with today’s teen readers. I also would like to see more diversity in the titles being used as examples to better reflect today’s teens. 40% of the population are not white, so shouldn’t the titles we talk about when discussing YA literature reflect the world?

Since the days of The Hunger Games and Twilight, YA publishing has exploded. I have read figures that state that the YA literature category has experienced an increase of around 400%. That’s a lot of growth and a lot of new titles to talk about. And my experience working in libraries directly with teens for 26 years has proven several things:

1. A majority of YA lit titles have a short shelf life and high turnover rate. Titles that my teens were begging for even 2 years ago can have a sharp and sudden drop off in circulation, demand and popularity. There are always exceptions to this rule, but it’s an important perspective to keep in mind.

2. There is often a huge difference between what adults readers of YA are interested in compared to what teen readers of YA are interested in. When discussing YA literature in the media, maybe we need to be more clear about what types of readers we are discussing. As the title of this blog probably informs you, I’m here for teen readers. I begrudge no adult who wants to read YA for whatever their reasons, I’m just personally dedicated to serving and advocating for teens and would like YA category to continue to be written with them in mind and I would like articles that discuss the YA category to be cognizant of teens as readers.

3. When discussing YA in the media, we need more data to help support our discussions. We need things like circulation data, bestselling data and feedback from actual teen readers. This will help us make sure that we are, in fact, talking about YA literature in ways that center factual data and actual teen readers. I’m tired of lazy articles that discuss what’s wrong with YA literature and continues to reference Twilight as THE teen book example.

4. When discussing YA in the media, I want some background discussion at the beginning of the article about a person’s qualifications to write said article. Are you an author? Are you a publisher? Are you a librarian? How long have you been actively engaged in the YA community? What are your credentials and why are you a knowledgeable, reliable and unbiased source of information? In a time when we are trying to inform the general public how to suss out fake news and seek out reliable news sources, we should be asking this information of every article written about teens and YA lit.

To be true to this above demand, let me take a moment to tell you that I have been a YA/Teen Services Librarian for 26 years. I have worked at 5 systems in 2 states in various types of communities, both rural and big cities. I talk with teens directly on an almost a daily basis about books and use circulation data and patron requests to help me purchase books for libraries and build inclusive collections of YA lit. I run this blog, write articles for journals like School Library Journals, and have spoken and taught at numerous conferences and webinars.

If you are a media entity seeking to publish an article about YA lit, please seek out reliable sources and actual data and make sure to talk about current titles that reflect the diversity of YA lit readers. I would recommend contacting a handful of YA librarians in public and school libraries and asking them what their teens are reading and asking them for some circulation data. Most librarians should have a way to go in an run a circulation report to tell you what the highest circulating titles in their YA collection are. In most cases they can give you historical and current data. You should also look at things like the New York Times Bestseller list which will also tell you how long a title has appeared on the list.

If you are a reader of these articles, please take a moment to look at them critically and ask yourself what makes them qualified to write the article, whether or not they have an agenda they are trying to push, and to examine critically the list of titles they are using to talk about YA literature.I would recommend immediately questioning the validity or intent of any article that is referencing older titles and seem to have no knowledge of current YA publishing trends.

If you are a publisher, author or YA librarian and you are asked to consult on an article being written, please take the time to answer thoughtfully and diversely, being respectful of and centering actual teen readers. Provide examples with data whenever possible.

Moving forward, let’s all agree to talk about YA literature differently in the media making a conscious effort to center teen readers and to more fully represent the breadth and scope of all that YA literature has to offer.

The Teen Reads the Complete Works of A. S. King

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At some point last year, The Teen and I both read an Advanced Review Copy of DIG by A. S. King, an author of whom I have been a long time fan. It is, in my opinion, one of her best works. I handed the ARC to The Teen telling her, when you get to the end it will blow your mind the way all the various bits and pieces come together – and it did. She loved DIG so much that she decided she was going to read every book by A. S. King. I’m going to tell you more about DIG in an upcoming post and book review as it comes out on March 26th. But we you need to know and understand that she was so moved and blown away by DIG that it prompted her to decide on her own that she was then going to read each and every book by A. S. King and then proceeded to do so.

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The Teen says that DIG is “Simply perfect. It all comes together.”

She had already read Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, a book that she likes and recommends frequently. She has even gifted Glory O’Brien to friends for Christmas and birthdays. You can read more about Glory O’Brien here. She has also already read Ask the Passengers, a book she loves and widely recommends as well. In fact, she recently recommended Ask the Passengers and Please Ignore Vera Deitz (discussed below) to her English teacher. So over the past month or so, The Teen has been reading the entire works of A. S. King and today we are going to share that experience with you. Because she had already previously read Ask the Passengers and Glory O’Brien’s History of the World, they are unfortunately not reviewed or discussed below. Just know that she likes and recommends them both. In fact, Ask the Passengers is one of her favorite books.

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Another favorite of mine is Please Ignore Vera Dietz, so I was excited that The Teen was finally going to read this one. This is the story of a young girl, Vera Dietz, dealing with the death of her friend and crush Charlie. Here’s what she had to say about it . . .

king5“I love this book so much. Showcases grief, friendship, family betrayal and all the things that come between. Beautifully written.”

She then read I Crawl Through It. I will honestly admit that this is a book that has always seemed way over my head. I get bits and pieces of it, but it has never come together for me in the ways that King’s other books have. So when The Teen finishes reading it, I asked her to explain it to me. Her response was, “I can’t explain it to you, but it makes sense to me and I think it’s really powerful.” I Crawl Through It is about 4 teens who are traumatized by various life events, including sexual violence, school shooting drills, and over testing and their attempts to escape the high pressure life they find themselves being forced to live in. This is what The Teen had to say about it . . .

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“A great book on the issues teenagers face in school and how important it is to deal with your problems.”

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She then tackled Still Life with Tornado. This is a book in which a 16-year-old girl named Sarah finds herself talking to various other versions of herself as she works through some very real issues. The Teen had this to say about it . . .

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“Shows to many important things and touches on many common issues in society.”

The Teen also read, but did not love, Reality Boy. Reality Boy is the story of Gerald, a teenage boy who is forced to live his life on reality tv who struggles with anger issues. This is what The Teen thought about it . . .

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“I don’t like Gerald but {this book} shows how influential media and abuse are.”

The Teen then read Me and Marvin Gardens, which I was slightly surprised about because it is a middle grade book and kind of outside her reading interests, but she read and liked it. I give her credit for her commitment to the reading project. This is what she had to say about Me and Marvin Gardens . . .

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“Precious and 100% worth the read.” The Teen doesn’t really do precious, she prefers dark and murderous, but we all contain multitudes and I was glad to see this review.

Everybody Sees the Ants is another one of my favorites and I was also glad when she tackled this one. Everybody Sees the Ants is about Lucky Linderman, whose grandfather never came home from the war, whose father never got over that, whose mother pretends that nothing is wrong and who is, quite unfortunately, being bullied mercilessly by the hands of Nader McMillan. This is what the teen had to say about Everybody Sees the Ants. . .

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“An inspiring story, very uplifting.”

As an aside, I am a part of an adult book club and every time it’s my turn to pick a book, I choose a YA book. My adult book club has read this book and every adult there loved this book as well. It’s an important and moving story about overcoming, healing, and dealing with the very real trauma that life throws at you.

And finally, The Teen read The Dust of 100 Dogs. Funny story, this is the only A. S. King book I have never read but I am sure I will eventually because I now own a copy of it. The Dust of 100 Dogs is one of the few A. S. King books that doesn’t really contain her now characteristic surrealist style and The Teen found that to be a real drawback, though your mileage may vary. A late teenage female pirate is reincarnated as a modern day teenage girl trying to get to Jamaica to unearth treasure she knows is buried there. This is what The Teen has to say about it . . .

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“Not her usual surreal book, but still an interesting story.”

Let me just take a moment here to tell you that this is the book we have had the most discussion about. This book contains an interesting mother/daughter dynamic, which The Teen explained to me, and we talked a lot about it. The mother, it seems, is trying to live vicariously through her daughter so she is controlling and the relationship is unhealthy. It’s interesting to me that although she liked this book perhaps the least, it would be a tie between this one and Reality Boy I think, that it generated the most discussion.

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Her favorites, in no particular order are:

  • Dig
  • I Crawl Through It
  • Everybody Sees the Ants
  • Still Life with Tornado
  • Ask the Passengers (another previously read title that is a favorite)

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As a mom who also happens to be a YA librarian and a fan of A. S. King, it was fascinating to watch The Teen decide she wanted to do this thing and then do it. I checked out books from the library as she asked for them. I bought some of them online for her. We talked about each book as she read, some more than others. She has actually met A. S. King in the past at a teen author event, so she is not unaware of who she is. And as I have mentioned, she had previously read a couple of her books. I think that A. S. King earned a lifelong reader and fan through this process, and it all happened because one teenager read one book and decided she wanted to keep going. A. S. King’s books spoke to my daughter about the teenage experience, but they are also – as she says – smart, intelligent, complicated and twisted and demonstrate that as a writer, A. S. King respects and understands her readers. I think more than anything that what I heard my daughter saying as we talked about these books was that she felt understood, moved and valued.

Feminist AF Fashions and the YA Characters That Rock Them

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For a long time, I bought into the lie that a feminist couldn’t be girly or care too much about fashion. I believed that in order to be a feminist, you had to reject all things associated with what it traditionally meant to be female. Pink and tutus, for example, were straight out. By over time, I learned that this belief was not, in fact, feminist. This is one of the reasons why when I was designing the Feminist AF graphic, I purposely choose to use an image of a red sequined background. Young feminist Karen would have rejected anything with glitter or sequins and pearls or whatever as not feminist. Young feminist Karen would have been wrong. I love the image so much that I had a cell phone case made out of it, which is what I now proudly carry. (Ordered via Snapfish)

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The Teen models my TLT Feminist AF phone case

Meanwhile, The Teen found her own way to turn her phone into a Feminist AF fashion statement. Be sure to check out how she organized her apps.

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Today, guest poster Lisa Krok is talking with us about Feminist AF fashion statements and then she shares some books featuring YA characters that rock all kinds of fashion. Because feminist and fashion can go together and we can rock it!


 

While teens don’t have Cinna on hand to style them like the Girl on Fire, many choices are out there to cover feminist fashionistas from head to toe. Starting at the top, teens can keep warm and in vogue with this handmade beanie, found on Etsy. Alternatively, for a golden glam look, try David and Young’s feminist baseball cap, found on Poshmark.

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/504546661/feminist-black-beanie-hat-white-text

https://poshmark.com/listing/Baseball-Feminist-hat-

What better way to accent your feminist cap than with some badass earrings!  Author Hillary Monahan creates fun and funky jewelry choices with feminist options featured in her Etsy shop.

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/HillsPeculiarities

Up next, some trendy t-shirts to flaunt girl power.  Amazon.com hosts a plethora of listings from a variety of sellers.  One of the best ways to promote feminism is of course to support and empower each other, and resist those who do not.   www.amazon.com

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Your feet need some love, too. Try these lively socks that are just a sampling of many choices from Blue Q  https://www.blueq.com/socks/ .

femsocksLast but not least, teens need the most important accessory of all: an awesome book! Feminist AF Fashionistas come in a wide array of forms and these characters (and books) prove it:

A Flair for Glam

Hair, body, face…and the DRESS!

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Tough as Nails

Rock some Timbs like Bri,  shoot purple lightning from your hands, or wear a snake as jewelry.

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Fashion Has No Limitations

All genders, all sizes, all cultures, and all sexual orientations.

femmultiEditor’s Note: You can also teach teens to make their own feminist fashion statements, so look for an upcoming post where I share with you just how you can do this.

Meet Our Guest Poster

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-Lisa Krok is a Feminist AF Ravenclaw, library manager, and 2019 and 2018 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers committee member. She is counting the days until we have a female POTUS. Lisa can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach.

2019 Collection Development Resources, a handy list of resources to help you buy new books in the new year

One of the reasons that I do this blog is that it allows me to create and curate a resource for myself. That’s right, I use this blog as a resource just as much as I hope others might. It works as sort of a journal, a manual if you will, to help me be better at my daytime job. Today I am curating a list of 2019 collection development resources because I want to have them all in one place for myself moving forward, but I’m happy to share them with you and I hope you’ll share your favorite resources with me.

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YA Lit

Rachel has put together an amazing resource for those who purchase YA lit which you can access here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Q6zleJBHg0EWLG22aC3awjJQk7SaS5qtDlaZEb02XgU/edit?usp=sharing. You can learn more about Rachel at Rec-It Rachel.

Bookbirds has a curated list of YA lit releases which you can find here: http://www.booksbirds.com/2018/02/your-guide-to-2019-ya-releases.html

Stacked books has a list of 2019 YA lit titles with teens of color on the cover. You can view that post here: http://stackedbooks.org/2018/07/2019-ya-books-with-teens-of-color-on-the-cover-so-far.html

Epic Reads has curated Harper’s 2019 YA lit cover reveals here: https://www.epicreads.com/blog/summer-2019-young-adult-book-covers/

You can view the Penguin 2019 YA lit book preview here: http://www.penguinteen.com/2019-penguin-teen-ya-book-preview/

Macmillan has a list of 2019 YA releases which you can view here: http://macmillanlibrary.com/2018/08/20/books-for-teens-2019-ooh-la-la/

Simon Teen has a look at their 2019 YA lit book covers here: https://rivetedlit.com/2018/06/04/your-first-look-at-all-the-covers-for-our-spring-2019-ya-books/

And Goodreads currently has a list of 665 books tagged as 2019 YA lit releases which you can view here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/128821.YA_Novels_of_2019

MG Lit

The Goodreads middle grade list currently has 265 titles on it and you can view that list here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/111975.Middle_Grade_Novels_of_2019

There are some MG novels listed on this 2018 and 2019 spreadsheet over at MG Book Village which you can find here: https://mgbookvillage.org/2018releasedates/

Goodreads also has a list of MG and YA lit titles that feature POC characters here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/111986.2019_YA_MG_Books_With_POC_Leads

Goodreads has a list of MG and YA lit titles that feature GLBTQAI+ themes here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/108612.2019_YA_Books_with_Possible_LGBT_Themes

I will be adding to this list as I find new resources and please feel free to add any links you are aware of in the comments. Happy book buying!

 

The Quest for Good YA Publishing Statistics

Searching for Good YA Publishing Statistics//

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So I am currently working on doing some hardcore YA collection data analysis for my library. In addition to looking at what we have and how much it circulates, I was curious to know how much YA is published yearly to get a better idea of our YA collection size relative to what is available for purchase. And then, out of curiosity, I was curious to know what percentage of books published each year fall into the YA category. To be honest, this data has been much harder to find then I anticipated. Below I have collected some resources that I have found and tweeted about. If you have some good resources or data, I would love for you to share in the comments.

My questions are:

How many YA titles were published in 2017?

What percentage of titles published in 2017 were YA?

Is the number of YA titles being published growing, shrinking, or staying the same?

Thank you,

Karen


Searching for Good YA Publishing Statistics



  1. Does anyone have good numbers or a good source on how many YA titles were published in 2017 & what percentage of published titles were YA?


  2. So I am putting together some intense YA collection analysis. I have a ton of in house stats, but I really need a general idea of how many YA titles are pubbed yearly and what % of overall publishing is YA. My goal is to help determine how much $ & floor space for YA. Anyone????


  3. Goodreads lists approximately 1200 for 2017

    I found an article that talked about growth in the YA market, but it was from 2012.






  4. This says 30,000 (and has some other interesting info graphics) pic.twitter.com/el2jM6Fvch




  5. Everything You Wanted to Know about Book Sales (But Were Afraid to Ask) - this article is interesting info, but doesn't answer my question  https://www.google.com/amp/s/electricliterature.com/amp/p/1fe6bc00aa2d 



  6. One of the things that makes trying to find this data difficult is that in reports YA can still be thrown in with Children's


  7. @TLT16 I wrote a bit about the project I tried to do here:  http://www.youthservicescorner.com/2015/ya-literature-data-project/ . I think because it's industry data, a lot of the numbers are a bit secretive?



 

Asian American Voices in Young Adult Literature, a #YAAtoZ guest post by Kristyn Dorfman

Today for YA A to Z we are delighted to present with you a discussion of Asian American Voices in YA Literature by library Kristyn Dorfman.

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The need for diverse narratives has always been important but that has not always been apparent in the books we see published. Now, finally, diverse stories have been gaining more traction, though ever so slowly. Growing up, I often found it difficult to find books about people that looked like me or whose lives felt similar to my own. I have always been an avid reader and though this did not deter my voraciousness, I am sure there are many that are clamoring for stories about their own experiences and feel like reading is not for them because they cannot find themselves. It is also a disservice to others to not allow them the opportunity to see and experience lives different than their own. I believe that understanding another’s viewpoints, experiences, and perspectives allows us to be more empathetic individuals.

To that end, I am very excited to share a variety of new(ish) and exciting books with Asian American Protagonists (mostly) written by Asian Americans. This list includes a wide variety of Asian experiences and if there are any titles I have missed, especially those with male protagonists, that you feel should definitely be included, please feel free to comment below!  Enjoy!

(Reviews from Follett or Publisher via Titlewave.com)

Ahmadi, Arvin. Down and Across. Viking Books for Young Readers, 2018.

Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try-all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

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Ahmed, Samira. Love, Hate and Other Filters. Soho Teen, 2018.

17-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: a good school, an arranged marriage. And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school, living in New York City, pursuing the boy she’s liked for ages. But unbeknownst to Maya, there is a danger looming beyond her control. When a terrorist attack occurs in another Midwestern city, the prime suspect happens to share her last name. In an instant, Maya’s community, consumed by fear and hatred, becomes unrecognizable, and her life changes forever.

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Ali, S.K. Saints & Misfits. Salaam Reads, 2017.

Fifteen-year-old Janna Yusuf, a Flannery O’Connor-obsessed book nerd and the daughter of the only divorced mother at their mosque, tries to make sense of the events that follow when her best friend’s cousin–a holy star in the Muslim community–attempts to assault her at the end of sophomore year.

Ali also has an article in the December 2017 issue of VOYA entitled, “Muslim Representation: The Case for Expecting Diversity within Diversity.

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Bowman, Akemi Dawn. Starfish. Simon Pulse, 2017.

Kiko Himura yearns to escape the toxic relationship with her mother by getting into her dream art school, but when things do not work out as she hoped Kiko jumps at the opportunity to tour art schools with her childhood friend, learning life-changing truths about herself and her past along the way.

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Chao, Gloria. American Panda. Simon Pulse, 2018.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Chee, Traci. The Reader. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016.

(Sequel: The Speaker, 2017)

Set in a world where reading is unheard-of, Sefia makes use of a mysterious object to track down who kidnapped her aunt Nin and what really happened the night her father was murdered.

Chen, Justina. Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018.

When Viola Li returns from a trip, she develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn’t just have to wear layers of clothes and spaceship-sized hat. She has to avoid all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat.

Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He’s a funny, talented Thor look-alike with his own mysterious grief. But their romance makes her take more risks, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams.

Dao, Julie C. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Philomel Books, 2017.

Beautiful eighteen-year-old Xifeng, raised by a cruel aunt who says the stars destine her to be Empress of Feng Lu, chooses to spurn the man who loves her and exploit the dark magic that can make her dream real.

De La Cruz, Melissa. Something in Between. Harlequin Teen, 2016.

After learning of her family’s illegal immigrant status, Jasmine realizes that college may be impossible and that deportation is a real threat, uncertainties she endures as she falls for the son of a congressman who opposes an immigration reform bill.

Gilbert, Kelly Loy. Picture Us in the Light. Disney-Hyperion, 2018.

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realises there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. As Danny digs deeper, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

Goo, Maurene. I Believe in a Thing Called Love. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017.

A disaster in romance, high school senior Desi Lee decides to tackle her flirting failures by watching Korean television dramas, where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten.

Goo, Maurene. The Way You Make Me Feel. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2018.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

Heilig, Heidi. The Girl from Everywhere. Greenwillow Books, 2016.

(Sequel: The Ship Beyond Time, 2017)

Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may come to an end.

Liu, Liana. Shadow Girl. HarperTeen, 2017.

A young girl, hoping to escape her family drama, begins tutoring a rich man’s daughter, but when she develops feelings for herstudent’s brother, along with strange noises in the house, she can’t shake the fear that there is danger lurking amidst this beautiful mansion.

line in the

Lo, Malinda. A Line in the Dark. Dutton Books, 2017

When Chinese American teenager Jess Wong’s best friend Angie falls in love with a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess expects heartbreak. But when everybody’s secrets start to be revealed, the stakes quickly elevate from love or loneliness to life or death.

whendimplemetrishi

Menon, Sandhya. When Dimple Met Rishi. Simon Pulse, 2017.

When Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel meet at a Stanford University summer program, Dimple is avoiding her parents’ obsession with “marriage prospects” but Rishi hopes to woo her into accepting arranged marriage with him.

Oh, Axie. Rebel Seoul. Tu Books, 2017.

In Neo Seoul in the year 2199, pilot Lee Jaewon is tasked with spying on supersoldier Tera. Lee begins to have feelings for her and finds his loyalty to the government faltering.

rani

Patel, Sonia. Rani Patel in Full Effect. Cinco Puntos Press, 2016.

Rani Patel, almost seventeen and living on remote Moloka’i island, is oppressed by the cultural norms of her Gujarati immigrant parents but when Mark, an older man, draws her into new experiences red flags abound.

want

Pon, Cindy. Want. Simon Pulse, 2017

Jason Zhou is trying to survive in Taipei, a city plagued by pollution and viruses, but when he discovers the elite are using their wealth to evade the deadly effects, he knows he must do whatever is necessary to fight the corruption and save his city.

Pung, Alice. Lucy and Linh. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

In Australia, Lucy tries to balance her life at home surrounded by her Chinese immigrant family, with her life at a pretentious private school.

Redgate, Riley. Noteworthy. Amulet Books, 2017.

Feeling undervalued because of musical talents that place her outside the spotlight, Jordan disguises herself as a boy to gain entry into a competitive, all-male a cappella group that is looking for a singer with her vocal range.

Sugiura, Misa. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret. HarperTeen, 2017.

Sixteen-year-old Sana has too many secrets, but when she and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it’s time she finally be honest with her family.

Wong, Corrie. The Takedown. Freeform Books, 2017

In this near-future mystery, Kyla Cheng, the smartest, hottest, most popular student at her Brooklyn high school, gets taken down a peg by a faked sex tape that goes viral.

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Yee, F.C. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. Amulet Books, 2017.

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered. Enter Quentin, a mysterious transfer student from China who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. Genie has no idea that Quentin, in another reality, is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate, right down to the furry tail and penchant for peaches. Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

Meet Kristyn Dorfman

dorfman

Kristyn is a Middle and Upper School Librarian (grades 5-12) at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She also reviews for School Library Journal. Kristyn is a native Brooklynite and the mother of two amazing little people. You can often find her behind a book, behind a cup of coffee, or singing broadway musicals off key at inappropriate times.

B is for Brothers *and* Sisters; a Take 5 List

Today is the last day of January, so it’s our last day with the Letter B (though we will still post something if we get it because we like this discussion). Today TLTer Heather Booth is discussing brothers (and sisters).

yaatoz

two boys and a girl sit on stairs with a golden retreiver

The rest of the dog is there; I promise.

If you are in a mixed gender sibling group, you might have noticed the relative lack of books featuring relationships between brothers and sisters as compared with books about sisterhood or the bond between brothers. I get it. As the parent of sisters, I see how their relationship is something set apart from what my brothers and I had. But whenever I read a book about brothers and sisters in relation to one another, I’ve got to say it tugs on my heartstrings.

We didn’t have many hobbies in common. We didn’t share clothes. We didn’t weren’t generally friends with each others’ friends but one of us did date someone’s best friend.  The typical bonding that you see in books about sisters or books about brothers doesn’t tend to happen quite the same way, but it does happen.

With shoutouts to my not-so-little brothers, here are my top five books with brother/sister relationships:

 

Book cover: an illustration of a light blue sedan is viewed from overhead, headlights on, with a double yellow lane divider to its left

Good and Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Good And Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore

When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a road trip to find Adrian Wildes, a famous musician who’s been reported missing, she’s beyond confused. Her brother hasn’t said a nice word to her or left the couch since his girlfriend dumped him months ago—but he’ll hop in a car to find some hipster? Concerned at how quickly he seems to be rebounding, Lexi decides to go along for the ride.

Besides, Lexi could use the distraction. The anger and bewilderment coursing through her after getting dumped by her pretentious boyfriend, Seth, has left her on edge. As Lexi, Charlie, and their neighbor Zack hit the road, Lexi recalls bits and pieces of her short-lived romance and sees, for the first time, what it truly was: a one-sided, coldhearted manipulation game. Not only did Seth completely isolate her, but he took something from her that she didn’t give him permission to.

The farther from home they get, the three uncover much more than empty clues about a reclusive rocker’s whereabouts. Instead, what starts off as a car ride turns into an exploration of self as each of them faces questions they have been avoiding for too long. Like the real reason Charlie has been so withdrawn lately. What Seth stole from Lexi in the pool house. And if shattered girls can ever put themselves back together. (Publisher description)

Book cover; Printz and Stonewall awards featured. The title is surrounded by a multicolored starburst pattern of lines

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. (Publisher description)

 

 

Book cover: the title looks like the leafless branches of trees; a girl's face is seen with blue lips and eyes closed

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips

Even though Micah’s a star pitcher, his older sister Lindsey is the real deal—a runner so good, she has a shot at the Olympics. The two of them urge each other on, and are each other’s best support. Then the unthinkable happens: Lindsey is murdered, and Micah may have been the last person to see her. But he can’t remember what happened, no matter what their parents tell him, no matter what the police say. Did he witness his sister’s murder—or commit it? Can he recall the truth before his life is sentenced to end, too? (Publisher’s description)

More than anything, I appreciated the mourning that Micah does for his sister. Their love for one another is evident in a way that is uncommon in sibling relationship books. -hb

 

 

 

 

 

Book cover: the title is scrawled in black;

Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Ink & Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page. (Publisher description)

 

 

Book cover: A white background highlights the figure of a black girl with natural hair and jean shorts; her torso and the bottom of her face obscured by a protest style sign bearing the book title

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. (Publisher description)

Among the many things I loved about this book is the way Starr and Seven have a complex relationship as similar-aged, opposite gender, half-siblings. What is never in doubt or ambiguous though is that their bond is strong and permanent. (hb)

 

Two men and a woman stand arm in arm

me & my big little brothers

#MHYALit: Small Towns and Mental Illness, a guest post by This is Not a Love Letter author Kim Purcell

Today we are honored to have a guest post by author Kim Purcell. She is discussing with us the topic of small towns and mental health. She is also generously offering to give away one copy of THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER, which comes out tomorrow, January 30th, from Disney Hyperion.

thisisnotaloveletter

In This Is Not a Love Letter, I wanted to talk about the issues of living with a mental illness in a small or isolated community. I grew up in an isolated, medium-sized mill town in Northern British Columbia.

Growing up, there was a stigma against seeking therapy and medicine for mental health issues. It’s gotten better now, everywhere, but small or isolated communities still have this problem.

In my research, I found that small towns statistically have more mental health issues, and these issues go untreated. Studies have shown that suburban teens also have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and rural teens commit suicide at twice the rate of their urban peers. In smaller communities, teens are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.

Is there something about living in a small community that leads to mental health issues? Is there anything we can do?

It turns out that it’s a combination of many factors. In any smaller environment, there are fewer therapists and psychologists. People are less likely to seek help due to the lack of anonymity and the stigma. Sometimes there are long waiting lists for the one psychiatrist in the region. In rural areas, it is compounded by poverty and a lack of health insurance.

On top of all this, smaller communities are particularly difficult for anyone who steps outside of the norm, who looks or acts differently. If you can’t conform, it can be a struggle. I found it difficult to conform, to be “normal”. Also, everyone knows and judges your business, and bullies are very hard to escape.

When I started writing This Is Not a Love Letter, I was living in a small village suburb of New York City with my husband and kids. We only lived there for two years, but I was alone too much, and I started to feel depressed. On top of that, I remembered all the ways that living in an isolated environment was difficult for me growing up, and also for my friend Al, who went missing right before graduation. This story is based on that time in my life.

In some ways, writing this book there helped me dive into the growing desperation of my main character, Jessie, as she starts to fear the very worst. As I looked around, I saw other women who were depressed, but nobody was talking about it. The place lacked the joy of the city. Mothers were held up to an impossible standard and this bled down to the kids. Children with mental health issues were socially isolated, and their mothers were seen as failing. There was an incredible amount of pressure on everyone.

For example, one friend of mine was a hoarder. It was untreated and hidden for years. This inspired the hoarder environment that Jessie lives in. It was how I processed her desperate situation. Fortunately, she did drive to get help, eventually.

In this book, I wanted to take the reader into the life of a small-town person, and to reach out to people in those small towns and tell them they aren’t alone, that it’s important to seek help, even if you have to travel to get it. Also, you can move to a bigger environment, where you’ll find other people like you, and it will change your life for the better. I have lived in Vancouver, Seoul, New York City, Guadalajara and Los Angeles, and I can tell you it’s a big difference. It’s great to be accepted for exactly who you are. So, if you’re a teen, just hang on, talk to your doctor, get help, and reach out to others online.

And if things get too hard, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

About THIS IS NOT A LOVE LETTER

One week. That’s all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future–decisions they had been fighting about for weeks.

Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he’s run away, but Jessie doesn’t believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river–the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened.

As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie’s town who don’t like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats.

Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

Publishes January 30, 2018 from Disney Hyperion. ISBN: 9781484798348

Meet Author Kim Purcell

Kim Purcell has written two young adult books, Trafficked (Penguin) and This Is Not a Love Letter (Hyperion). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two kids, two dogs and three cats. She loves dancing in elevators, swimming in lakes, drinking hot tea and eating chocolate chips with almonds.

Comment below to be entered to win a copy of This is Not a Love Letter by author Kim Purcell. Please enter by February 6th. Open to U.S. residents. One randomly selected winner will receive a copy of This is Not a Love Letter. You will be contacted via email. Do the Rafflecopter thingy to enter.


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Book Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

trulydeviousPublisher’s Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Karen’s Thoughts:

I’m a big fan of mysteries so I was really looking forward to this one, and it didn’t disappoint. Well, it did disappoint, only in that it’s the first book in a trilogy so the mystery wasn’t solved. I can not wait to read the next book.

Let me start by saying The Westing Game is one of my favorite childhood books. It is the only book that I have re-read multiple times. I used to re-read it once a year and am getting ready to read it out loud to Thing 2 (age 9) in hopes that it will also be one of her childhood favorites. TRULY DEVIOUS REMINDED ME A LOT OF THE WESTING GAME IN TONE, IN LANGUAGE, AND IN THE WAY IT COLLECTED SUCH AN INTERESTING MIXTURE OF INTERESTING CHARACTERS INTO ONE SPOT AND SET UP A MYSTERY THAT YOU WERE INTERESTED IN SOLVING. As I’ve mentioned, I have no idea how this particular mystery is solved, because it isn’t yet. And to be honest, this is two mysteries in one as it has a historical mystery and a contemporary mystery.

I love the MC Stevie, who struggles with anxiety in very realistic ways. She is just one of many quirky, intelligent and ambitious teens who come to the Ellington Academy to learn in a very nontraditional environment. Each character is very unique and fully fleshed out in complex ways. I can’t help but wonder who among them may be an evil doer? I liked the people, I liked the school, and I am glad that we are getting more of it, though I’m not going to lie: When the book “ended” I threw it down yelling, “what kind of ending is that?” I want more of these characters and this school, but with a new mystery. I wanted answers. I am impatient, I don’t want to wait. Alas, wait I must.

I highly recommend it. Teens looking for a fun, engaging mystery will enjoy it.