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How Much YA Gets Published Each Year? Discussing YA Collection Development Challenges

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This year has been a deep dive into collection development for me. Actually, the last two years have been. Granted, collection development is always a part of the job and it is arguably my favorite part of the job, but these past 2 years I have been deeply involved in analysis and budgets and things like diversity audits. My goal is to put together an in depth YA collection analysis and plan that can help me draw some well founded and supported action items to develop a more comprehensive collection development plan. I want to develop an inclusive YA collection that meets both the supply and demand of YA literature and has high circulation because high circulation means teens are reading. I want goals, facts and figures, and solid statistics that I can take to the table every time I’m discussing YA services with, well, anyone.

As someone who has been doing YA collection development for a solid 25 years now, I have noticed the explosion in YA literature. The number of titles being published has increased, as much as 400% according to some sources. And if you ever visit bookstores like Barnes and Noble, which I do monthly as a part of my own personal collection development, you can’t help but notice that the amount of floor and shelf space dedicated to YA lit has increased there as well. That has not always been true for public libraries. Public libraries have a lot of great qualities, I’m obviously a fan and an advocate, but they also can be slow to adapt and change. Yes, yes, #notalllibraries, but if we’re going to be realistic we have to admit that public libraries on the whole tend to be more reactive than proactive.

Part of the problem is, of course, that although YA publishing has boomed, public library budgets have not. In fact, a lot of budgets have been cut in the past ten years, just as YA publishing was experiencing this boom. In addition, without building new buildings or renovating existing ones, it can often be hard to find additional space for existing or new collections. A lot of libraries have very real space issues and find themselves landlocked. There is no room for much needed growth at a time when more and more formats are being introduced into the market and librarians are being asked to do more with less. The space and budget challenges facing public libraries are very real.

So the question is, what does an ideal YA collection look like? How much floor space does it need? How much shelf space? What is a realistic budget? To answer this question we must look not only at circulation statistics, or demand, but at the supply side. How many YA books are being published each year and how does this influence that amount of floor space and monies that we dedicate to these collections? This question is harder to answer than it looks, in part because I don’t have access to the right data. But it didn’t stop me from trying to figure out a basic beginning reference point.

A pretty regular source of new YA release lists can be found at Goodreads. Here, you can find a monthly list of new YA titles compiled by the Goodreads librarians. This is by no means an authoritative list, because it doesn’t include things like graphic novels, manga, hi/lo readers like Orca published books, etc. These lists focus mainly on big name authors, debut authors, traditionally published authors and the participation of the public. A quick look at the Goodreads list looks like this:

  • January – 50 titles
  • February – 57
  • March – 64
  • April – 46
  • May – 71
  • June – 47
  • July – 40
  • August – 38
  • September – 57
  • October – 55

November and December don’t seem to be available yet oddly, but if we go by an average let’s say there are 50 YA books being published each month. This would bring the total number of YA books published and recorded on Goodreads to 625. And remember, this list is not all inclusive or exhaustive, it’s just a beginning point of reference.

Over at Book Birds blog, you can find another list of 2018 YA releases. This one states that there are “over 500 titles” on the list. That’s not a very specific number, and I didn’t go through each monthly list to count and come up with a more specific number. It’s a good resource, however.

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You can also find good lists of new YA releases at TeenReads.com and at YA Books Central. Book Riot frequently publishes lists that cover a 3 months period, breaking the year into quarters, that contain around 150 titles on each list, which would be around 600 titles as well. And of course we use our professional journals and additional sources like Baker and Taylor Growing Minds. An infographic published by The Blooming Twig indicates that an average of 30,000 YA books are published each year, which is a much bigger number than you see in the several sources listed above.

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This infographic from New York Books magazine shows the increase in the total of YA publishing through 2012 and indicates that in 2012, 10, 276 YA titles were published. I believe that YA publishing has grown even more since 2012. So in the most basic sense, it seems safe for public libraries to begin at the starting point that at a minimum, anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 YA titles are being published and marketed to teen readers. Libraries can’t and shouldn’t purchase every title, and not every title deserves to be purchased, which is where selection comes into play, but it’s important that we have a realistic starting point when considering what amount of space and budgets we want to devote to our YA/Teen literature collections.

If we go with the most basic source, Goodreads (and please don’t go with the most basic source when doing collection development), libraries are looking at having to add an average of 52 titles per month, if they bought everything listed on Goodreads. And remember, not everything is listed on Goodreads and not everything listed on Goodreads is worth purchasing for each specific library. And again, it’s worth reminding us all, that this bare minimum purchase doesn’t include things like hi/lo readers, Christian fiction, a lot of series fiction, graphic novels, manga, midlist, re-issues or replacement titles.

Most libraries also use vendors to purchase their books, so they get a pretty decent discount, sometimes as much as 40% off. On average, I have found over the years that I can expect to pay an average of $10.00 per YA book. This means that working with the Goodreads list alone, you would need to have $6,250 in your annual budget to purchase all the popular YA titles listed on Goodreads alone. That’s one copy for one branch to get all 625 titles listed on Goodreads. That’s obviously not how book budgets work, but I think having an idea of what that starting figure might be helps us to develop budgets moving forward. It’s a fact to keep in mind and use in combination with all of the other facts to help us in the process of collection development.

So as a very basic starting point, if a school or public library serving teens was to buy 1 copy each of every YA title listed on most major resources that teens use to help them determine their reading at an average price of $10.00 a book, they would need to have a basic budget of $6,250 to buy around 625 books. At an average of $17.99 retail price, teens would need $11,243.75 to purchase these same titles on their own at retail prices.

I know of school and public librarians who are tasked with building YA collections, including graphic novels and manga, nonfiction and more, with a budget of only $3,000. Collection development is a challenging process in the best of times, but in conditions like these, it can be incredibly hard.

I began this journey by just wanting to find out some basic YA publishing figures to help me get an idea of how many YA titles were being published each year to help me better understand what size a YA collection and budget should be if we weighed supply in with demand. The numbers that can easily and publicly be found (I believe there are industry statistics that others have paid access to that I don’t), indicate that on the whole, most school and public libraries are in fact greatly underfunded and under-spaced when it comes to developing YA collections in relation to the amount of YA titles being published, and this accounts for the fact that we can’t and shouldn’t be just willy nilly buying every title published. I also acknowledge that this is not universally true, there are many libraries that have bigger YA spaces and budgets, but on average I would anecdotally posit that even with the growth of YA services and collections in our school and public libraries, we are still under-serving our patrons in terms of budgets and dedicated floor/shelf space.

I also want to point out that another very real challenge to YA librarians is that teens are no longer exclusively reading traditional published YA books. In addition to a very real and vast transition to digital media, digitally published titles, and a deeper investment in time into social media, teens are also reading a wider variety of self-published titles and fanfiction. Internet sites like Wattpad are changing the ways that teens read and where they get their books. So as challenging as YA collection development is for YA librarians, it’s interesting to note that an additional challenge is that teens want and are reading titles that they don’t need libraries or YA librarians to provide access to. Now, teens have more choices then ever about reading, there are more titles to choose from and more nontraditional ways to gain access to them. The challenges are real for YA librarians who are serving a new generation of digital natives who have far more choices than previous generations.

It’s also an interesting corollary statistic to note that adolescents, or teens, make up around 13.2% of the United States population and ask ourselves if we are dedicating 13.2% of our library resources to this population. Again, this isn’t the only statistic we should be use when determining how to allocate our resources, but it is a statistic we need to keep in mind when considering how best we can help to meet the very real and unique needs of our teens. And it’s not just our teen patrons who are reading YA literature, so developing good YA collections isn’t just about serving our teen patrons, though I hope that when we are engaged in YA services they are always our primary concern no matter who else may be reading YA literature. Teens deserve dedicated services by passionate library staff who are knowledgeable about and invested in their success.

Edited on August 27, 2018 to add this note: As of today, there are already 577 YA titles listed on Goodreads as being published in 2019. Source: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/88845.YA_Novels_of_2019

Real Talk About the State of YA Services in Public Libraries

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I found my calling at the age of 20 while in college majoring in youth ministry. My heart was already dedicated to the idea of serving and working with teenagers and then I stumbled upon a job doing YA services at my local public library purely by accident, and it changed my life. For the last 25 years, my life has been dedicated to serving teens in public libraries. I feel blessed every day that I get to do exactly what I love.

When I began working in public libraries in the 1990s, public libraries were in a renaissance in both YA publishing and YA services. This was aided by the assistance of some phenomenal series that compelled readers in a way that we haven’t really seen in the last five years. Harry Potter and Twilight brought teens into the libraries in epic numbers as the desire for more books was hard to fill in the space that we had allotted. In some ways, The Hunger Games and Divergent sustained this, but I haven’t seen that type of series or book response in several years online or locally. That doesn’t mean that teens aren’t reading, because they are, but this was an entirely different phenomenon.

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As we the early 2000s approached, YA titles were skyrocketing in numbers and public libraries were pushing hard to increase their services to teens in local communities. Many multi-branch systems began hiring YA librarians for each branch. The reasoning was that we were putting all of this effort into service children and develop both readers and library users, it seemed like we should do the same for teens so that we would maintain that initial push and retain library users and supporters. We argued that once you lost library users in the teen years, it would be hard to get them back into the library. It was a correct argument then and it’s the correct argument now.

Recent reports indicate that public library use was up – way up actually – by millennials.  Millennials are by definition people in their 20s and early 30s. These are the very teens that public libraries were pushing to retain and it looks like that push to retain teens worked because millennials are in fact big library users. We said we would help raise a generation of adult library users, and by all accounts it appears that we did.

In 2008, you may recall, the market crashed and it crashed hard. Although the economy has slowly been recovering from that plunge, public libraries are still trying to regain their financial footing in this new world where individualism and capitalism are considered the end all, be all and there is a hard push against taxes, social services and social welfare, and just the idea of working together towards a common goal. Education, a traditionally feminine and unionized profession, has been consistently and categorically challenged by conservative groups as they push for privatization and whatever it is they are pushing for. Libraries, I believe, in some ways fall into these same categories. We are a female dominated profession that is funded by tax payer monies and we rally around the idea of the collective social good. In other words, we have a huge target on our back in the current political climate and we are struggling.

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And when public libraries struggle, sacrifices must be made and teens are often an easy sacrifice to make: they are a smaller percent of the population, they are traditionally reviled by adults who don’t remember what it was like to be a teenager, and it can, quite frankly, be easier just not to have them around. Teenagers can be loud, challenging, smelly, and hard to please. But trust me when I say that they are worth it.

Since 2008, I have watched my fellow professionals advocate and fight hard for libraries. I have seen friends laid off. I have seen libraries shut their doors. I have seen budgets slashed low, staffing sizes reduced, and a fight to get the most basic of materials and updated technology into our public libraries. And I have watched teens become under-served once again in our public libraries.

I have also noticed a dramatic shift away from emphasis on YA/Teen services. I have been watching this trend for a while and keep looking for statistics, but they are hard to come by. One of the things I started doing quite a few years ago was paying attention to job postings. Anecdotally, the number of YA librarian positions that are posted are fewer and farther between. Part of this is, of course, due to retention. There is not a lot of turnover in librarianship. Part of the reason also appears to be just a decline in the number of dedicated YA librarians being hired across the board.

Actually, speaking of a decline in hiring, there does appear to be a decline in the number of professional, degreed librarians being hired by libraries across the board. When MLIS librarians are hired, they tend to be in management positions and there seem to be fewer degree holding librarians per library or library system. For example, you may have an MLIS librarian as the head of youth services and have a variety of paraprofessionals working in the youth services department to provide things like programming and day to day operations. One of the library systems I worked for went from having 7 MLIS librarians to 2. There are no longer any specialists, there is no more reference, and the overall staff numbers were cut in half. The statement that public libraries are dying is categorically false, but I think there is an argument to be made that it is harder to get a full-time job with adequate compensation in today’s public libraries, especially if you want to dedicate your career to teen/YA services.

Source: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/facts-and-stats/changing-face-of-americas-adolescents/index.html

Source: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/facts-and-stats/changing-face-of-americas-adolescents/index.html

At the same time, we see an overall decline in the teen population. In these times of economic hardship, people are having less or no children, and who can blame them. The U.S. birth rate has hit a historic low. Millenials may be using libraries more, but they are often choosing to have zero to two children and we will all be filling the effects of that soon, especially in our libraries. In 2014, teens made up 13.2% of the population and that number is expected to keep going down. Though the overall number of teens in the population is growing because the population itself is growing, the percentage of teens in terms of the rest of the population is declining. It is projected to be 11.2% by the year 2050. In an era of shrinking budgets, it’s hard to keep asking admin for more staff and money to serve a declining population, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep asking because we should. Whatever percentage of the population they may be, teens deserve dedicated services by passionate staff who want to serve the and understand how to do it well.

Millennials are killing list – Business Insider

There have been a lot of articles decrying the bloody trail of items killed by millennials, but this is not one of those articles. I see the fruits of my labor in the early 90s and 2000s in the fact that this demographic groups are in fact using public libraries in large numbers. Millennials aren’t just using public libraries more out of economic necessity, but they are using them more because when they found they had a need, they remembered that we told them to use the library and they are. We told the public that dedicated service to teens would result in retained library supporters and users and we were right. We shouldn’t stop that effort now in the midst of these challenging times, but I fear that many libraries are in fact doing exactly that. What will the long term harm to public libraries be if we lose a generation of teen readers and library supporters? I hope we don’t find out because we agree today to rededicate ourselves to providing amazing YA services to teens in our public libraries.

Public library use in U.S. highest among Millennials | Pew Research

Guess who uses public libraries the most? Millennials – CNN

Talking heads in the media continue to tell us that the economy is improving, but anyone who works with the public knows that this is not entirely true. Most of the reporting looks at unemployment figures, which have gone down. What these figures don’t take into account is lower wages, the high rate of underemployment, the number of unemployed who simply gave up and stopped looking for work, and the number of adults who can’t actually afford to live on their own in the current economy. These too are the millennials, and they are struggling to make ends meet.

I gave birth to my second and final child in 2008, the year that the bottom fell out of everything. I remember how terrifying it was to bringing this new delicate human being into this world that was entirely dependent on me as my library started laying off employees. I was very lucky to get to continue to work at that library for 3 more years as their dedicated YA librarian, a position that they no longer have. I am equally lucky to be working in my current position as a YA services coordinator with 2 remarkable assistants. I have many friends who have watched as their libraries were restructured in the past 5 years trying to find new YA services jobs that just aren’t there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there are no more YA librarians or no more libraries hiring YA librarians, because that is not the truth. I am honored to consider several dedicated YA librarians among my personal friends and peers. But I am seeing that there are fewer and, as a passionate advocate for YA services, I get alternately angry and sad about what I perceive to be the decline in YA services in our nation’s public libraries. I feel like the public library use statistics regarding millennials proves that we were right about the power of dedicated YA services, so why are we moving in the opposite direction?

New Study: 55% of YA Books Bought by Adults – Publishers Weekly

But speaking of millennials and YA services, I think we must also consider the impact that this generation is having on YA literature. When I observe patrons perusing the YA collection at my library, they are just as likely to be adults as they are teens, a statistic which appears to hold true when you consider what publishing research tells us about who exactly is buying YA fiction. The answer is: adults. Now there are a lot of reasons for this, including the fact that a lot of these adults are buying YA fiction for teen readers. I am adult who buys YA fiction for teen readers and quite regularly. But this is also another way that we are seeing the fruits of our labor, we have raised a generation to be readers and the market didn’t keep up with their needs so they continue to read YA because those are the stories that most closely resonate with them, they are the authors that they grew up loving, and, although the YA market has really grown, it is easier to find a title in the YA section in comparison to the adult section which covers a much wider age range and number of titles. The YA section is, in a word, familiar, easier to browse, and like a warm, comfortable blank to millennials. We built it, they came, and now they’re staying.

But what impact has this had on YA literature itself? When we used to talk about YA literature, we were talking about books for ages 12-18. If you look at most YA being published today, it says 14+. Middle school aged teens in particular are being pushed out of the YA market which is aging up in terms of voice and content in part because the research has shown that this is where the money is. If you spend any time on book twitter or in the company of YA librarians, you are likely to hear them asking just who, exactly, is YA being written for these days. It’s a legitimate question with a complex answer.

Authors and publishers want to make a profit, this is capitalism after all. So if adults are buying YA, from a production point of view it makes sense to age YA up to meet the demands of those readers. Publishing tried out the idea of new adult fiction for a while, but it never seemed to take hold in the market. But those readers are still there and you can feel the impact on YA in terms of voice and content. Many authors will state that they don’t write for teens, they just write for whoever, and that’s a valid point of view. However, there are still those authors dedicated to writing primarily for the teen audience, and teens need these authors. Teens need books written for them that speaks to their real life experiences and that unique developmental challenges that they are facing.

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The other part of this discussion is that teens are changing. They are more aware, more engaged, and more open about talking about their lives and the worlds around them. It’s not that teens have grown more sophisticated, it’s that teens now have different tools to speak and demand to be heard. So this too changes the way we write the books we want them to read. Authors have to be more honest and relevant because teen readers demand it, even though it makes a lot of adults uncomfortable. Teen literature changes because teens themselves change just as the world in which they live does as well.

So here is some real talk about what I think is happening in YA services in our public libraries:

1. YA fiction is being ages up as a generation of YA readers has matured and continued to read the category as adults.

2. YA collections are just as likely to be read by adults as they are YA readers, and there are pros and cons to this. From an administrative point of view, a circulation statistic is a circulation statistic. As a YA librarian, I would like to see the emphasis on teens be at the heart of YA collections, but that is entirely dependent on what authors write and what publishers publish.

3. Young teens are being aged out of the YA market almost completely.

4. Some authors are trying to compensate for number 3 by increasing the breadth and scope of middle grade publishing, though many young teens appear reluctant to read middle grade because teen readers tend to want to read up in age. Some libraries are helping with this issue by building bridge collection of MG near their teen collections.

5. As demographics change and budgets get tighter, we are seeing a decrease in the number of dedicated YA librarians in our public libraries. Many youth services department continue to put an emphasis on teen services, but fewer libraries seem to have a dedicated YA specialist or a YA team or department.

So what does it all mean?

As someone who has been in this field for two and a half decades, I remember very well the glory of YA services in the 90s and early 2000s. And as I have mentioned, I work in a public library that is doing everything right and am proud to know fellow colleagues who are as well. But I can’t deny the subtle shifts I am seeing in these times and worry about the future of YA literature and YA librarianship. And I don’t just worry about these issues because I care about teens, which I do, but because I also understand that when we said we needed to retain teens in order to retain adults, it was true. The current status of YA librarianship effects the future of all librarianship, the future of public libraries.

Hey! The Library Is Kind of Awesome! Current Trends in US Public Library Services for Teens

This isn’t meant to be a the sky is falling type of post. Nor is it meant to be an old bitter get off my lawn or in my day kids used to whatever it is they used to do type of post. What this is meant to be is a reminder to us all: teens deserve dedicated YA books and services that meets their developmental needs. Public libraries need to be providing this if we want to continue to raise generations of library supporters and users. That call to action we put out in the early 90s wasn’t wrong, I feel that the recent statistics about millennial using the library prove it. The question is, what are we going to do with this information moving forward?

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It’s time for another renaissance in YA services in our public libraries.

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

thefinalsixPublisher’s Book Description:

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

Karen’s Thoughts:

I have a tendency to be drawn to big issue books that make a powerful statement. My reviews often contain the words powerful, necessary, impactful, etc. But the truth is, I DO like to read fun books just for the fun of it. And some of my favorite ones involve outer space or the prospect of outer space.

The Final Six is a mixture of Space Camp + Climate Change + Political Thriller. This is a pretty thrilling combination if you ask me.

It begins by establishing that the world is on the brink of imminent destruction from climate change. The crisis feels real and far too close to home. So a group of teens are selected to compete in a training and they will be whittled down to “the final six”, the six teens that will be sent with some A.I. technology into space to help terraform and colonize a planet to save the human race. So there’s a little bit of reality show competition thrown in here as well.

While in training, Naomi first sets out to jeopardize the mission because she does not want to leave her brother. But she soon begins to suspect that they are not being told the truth about the mission, their future, and a past failed mission. So Naomi, a wicked smart scientist and excellent hacker, begins to investigate, with the help of Leo, who very much wants this mission to take place because he feels he has nothing else to live for. I very much loved reading about this strong, confident and remarkably intelligent young woman and her relationship with both her family and the developing relationship with Leo.

There is intrigue and backstabbing and romance, everything you want in a good book. I found it very enjoyable and didn’t want to put it down.

I will say, the only unbelievable part to me is that in the back of my head I kept thinking: there is no way that any adults would be willing to send teenagers alone on a space mission to do this and there is no way they could realistically train in such a short amount of time, but I also kept being willing and able to suspend that disbelief because I was enjoying the read. At the end of the book some of the teens, and I’m not going to spoil which ones, take off for space and I am looking forward to the next installment to find out what happens.

I highly recommend this book.

For more Climate Change Fiction (Cli-Fi), check out:

What is CliFi? An Earth Day Primer

YA/Teen | Eco-Fiction

For More Books that involve space travel, and I’m excited to see this theme re-surging in YA this year, check these titles out:

We Love These 6 YA Books Set in Outer Space

Our Most Anticipated Science Fiction Novels of 2018

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.

Ali - Saints and Misfits

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.

starfish

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.

american panda

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.

epic-crush-genie-lo-book

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.

YA is Ultimately for Teens, and That’s Okay

The Teen spending time in the Teen MakerSpace

The Teen spending time in the Teen MakerSpace

The other day a parent came up to me and we engaged in some good old fashioned Reader’s Advisory. Her daughter was 11, a young 11. And she wanted some recommendations for some YA titles, but she was very worried about content. In the end I told her that after talking with her, I thought she would be comfortable with her daughter reading a variety of really excellent middle grade titles. What I heard her saying was that she wasn’t really comfortable with her daughter reading YA, and that’s okay.

At the same time, there has been a variety of conversations online about adults reading – and reviewing – YA. It’s especially an issue when adults continue to criticize main characters in YA literature for acting like, well, teenagers. The truth is, the best YA are those titles that feature authentic teen main characters. That means they have to feature teens that are reckless, impulsive, inconsistent, and changing. Because that’s who teens are.

Don’t get me wrong. I read YA literature. I don’t just read it because I’m a Teen Librarian or for TLT, I read it because I enjoy reading it. I have favorite authors. I have favorite titles, series, and genres. I am an avid YA reader. But I also recongize that ultimately, YA is not written FOR me. I enjoy it, but part of what I enjoy about it is that it is written for and about teens – and that’s very important.

We live in a culture that has strong negative feelings about teens. Local malls put up signs dis-inviting groups of teens from their properties. We enact curfews. We scoff, side eye and demean normal teenage behavior. We joke about how we would never want to go back to middle or high school (and to be honest, I wouldn’t). Every day in so many ways we communicate to teenagers that we loathe and judge them for who they are. Which is part of the reason why authentic, well written YA literature is so important. It communicates a very different and positive message to teens: we see you, we value you, we respect you, we hear you. That’s an important message that teens need to hear.

So what makes YA literature good? rireading2

A YA book has to respect the teen reader

Trust that teens can and do have the ability to read and understand a book. They don’t need to be talked down to. They don’t need your message telegraphed to them. If you assume your readers are unintelligent and write in ways that make that clear, you’ve already lost your audience. Teens know when we are talking down to them, and they resent it. If you don’t respect teens, don’t write or work for/with them.

A YA book has to reference things teens know

I grew up watching Doogie Howser, MD. I’m 44 years old. Your book should probably not have a teen character that references Doogie Howser without some really good reason for doing so. For example, in The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez one of the supporting characters is obsessed with the Rat Pack. This character explains to you why they are invested in the Rat Pack, who the Rat Pack are, and what they know about them. It’s an obscure reference that teens won’t know, but it is given in a context. Without that context, teens don’t understand what is being said or why. If you name drop obscure references from your own teenage life, you are no longer writing for teens but are writing for yourself or author adults your same age.

See also: Slang. Pay attention to the terms you use and slang you reference.

A YA book has to have teens that act in authentically teen ways

Teens are not mini-adults. Brain science tells us that the teen brain is functionally different than that of an adult. They are often bad at decision making, impulsive, and emotional. Yes, they absolutely are submerged into a world of incredible hormonal influx and wrestling with what those hormones mean. Like adults, many teens are unlikable. That’s just human nature. They should be complex, richly developed, and well-rounded. If you are an adult who complained because Harry Potter acted like a moody, entitled, emotional teen in the later HP books, then you probably don’t remember or don’t respect teenagers. I was a moody, entitled teenager who slammed down the phone, slammed doors, rolled my eyes and both raged and bawled my eyes out. It’s all normal teenage behavior. PS, many adults still do all of these same things. I mean, even I am prone to rolling my eyes.

There are always outliers, and they deserve to be reflected in YA literature too. But old soul teens who speak like college professors or act like mini-adults should also be outliers in YA literature, not the norm.

A YA book has to reflect the diverse world of teens

My teenage daughter is a cis-white female who has just finished the 8th grade. She knows and is friends with 4 trans people, many other GLBTQ people, people with disabilities, and a wide variety of people of color. Her white best friend is dating a black boy. She goes to church every Sunday and then goes to school on Monday and talks about her weekend with her Muslim friends. She does not live in an all white, all straight, all Christian world. Even in the community that I work, which is 96% white, my teens live with and want diversity. They are aware that they are a small part of the world. In fact, I find daily that teens are much more open and kind and craving of authentic diversity then previous generations have been.

A YA book has to reflect the diverse interests of teens

The Bestie is a cheerleader who plays volleyball and goes to book festivals. The Teen is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do who also loves musical theater and science; she is also an avid reader. The teens I know are interested in comics and anime and sports and art and movies and . . . . well, a little bit of everything. And not a single teen I know is defined by any one thing, just as adults are not. I am a wife and a mother and a librarian and a friend that loves science fiction and sharks and dinosaurs and robots and the water and cake. We are all multitudes, as are teens. Stop writing about jocks and cheerleaders and nerds and band geeks and loners and stoners in stereotypical ways. And stop writing one-dimensional characters. Again, respect the teen reader and respect their complexity.

selection1

YA is not for everyone, and that’s okay. Younger readers can read YA, but there is also lots of glorious middle grade out there for them to read. I love and read MG, too. Adults can read YA, but there are also lots of glorious adult fiction out there for adults to read. And in the middle there is YA, which can and should be ultimately for teens. Teens need good, quality YA written for and about them by authors who understand, respect and value them.

If you are an adult who reads YA and finds yourself complaining about the teens in YA literature, YA literature may not be for you. And that’s okay.

YA is Ultimately for Teens, and That's Okay//


YA is Ultimately for Teens, and That's Okay



  1. Walk into any bk store or library. See all the adult fiction? Read YA if you like, but it should be for & about teens. Adults don't lack rep


  2. And yes, teens often read adult fic. But man, when teens connect with a YA book that represents them in some way or they connect with it.


  3. That's priceless.
    And important and profound.
    And life changing.


  4. We tell teens in so many ways that we loathe them or find them a burden or a nuisance. To have sections of YA in bk stores & libraries


  5. sends a much needed affirming message. It lets them know that we do value them. That we do respect them. That was do want them here.


  6. I am an adult who reads YA. But I do so as someone who works with teens so I get how good YA has characters who act like teens.


  7. If the MC in YA annoy you because they act like teenagers, please remember what being a teen is really like. Spend time with teens.


  8. Or, you could always read adult fiction. That's okay too. There is a lot of great adult fiction out there.


  9. And if you can't handle teen characters in Ya lit acting like teens, please don't be a teen librarian. They need us on their side.


  10. And for the love of pete, please let YA continue to be authentically about and for teens. They deserve that respect.

 

#MHYALit: My Definition of Crazy, a guest post by author Lois Metzger

Today as part of the #MHYALit Discussion we are honored to host author Lois Metzger. Her newest book, Change Places with Me, will be released tomorrow. You can read all the #MHYALit posts here.

MHYALitlogoofficfial

I’m at my bedroom window, looking out at the building across the way.  Unbelievably, it’s on fire.  I can see a girl facing me.  Doesn’t she know she’s in a burning building and there are flames at her back?  But she’s just standing there, staring at me.  I start waving my arms at her—get out!  She waves her arms too.  Then I realize—I’m looking at a reflection.  I’m the one in the burning building and the flames are behind me, coming closer.

I wake up, heart thudding, barely able to breathe, my nightgown clammy, as if I’d stood too close to actual flames.

As a kid growing up in Queens, in New York City, I had nightmares like this several times a week.  In college I majored in psychology and read about “night terrors,” as they’re called, dreams so scary and troubling they wake you up.  The textbook said that people got night terrors two or three times a year.  I thought that must be a misprint.  They meant a week.  But then the book went on to say that people who had them more often might have mental-health problems.

Still, that didn’t mean I was crazy.  I had a clear definition of crazy in my head.  My grandfather.

####

My grandfather had lived his whole life in Vienna. When Hitler came to power in Germany, my grandfather didn’t see a threat because he’d fought in World War I on the side of the Germans.  But after Hitler marched into Austria in 1938, my grandfather was persecuted because he was Jewish.  At one point he was imprisoned, and beaten so badly that old surgery scars opened up again.  For years he was on the run.  In Yugoslavia, he was put in a number of small concentration camps.

After the war he came to America.  He lived in Manhattan and loved that he could walk everywhere, as he had in Vienna.  He came to our house a couple times a month and cooked egg noodles.  I remember him as tall, kind of stooped over, and soft-spoken (after saying “hello” in English, he kept up a steady stream of conversation to himself entirely in German).  He wasn’t all “there,” it was explained to my brother and me.  He thought that his wife (my grandmother) was in touch with Hitler and that Hitler was coming to New York to find him. My grandmother had had to leave him; she found her own apartment not too far from us.  We weren’t allowed to talk about my grandmother in my grandfather’s presence.  We had to pretend she was dead or in Chicago.  I don’t think it mattered that she could be dead one month and in Chicago the next.

Then, one day, he tried to kill a window washer by pulling his ladder away, because he thought the man was spying on him.  My grandfather spent the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital, though in his last years he had freedom to leave and go for walks.

Growing up, that was how I saw mental illness, as something distant and triggered by world events.  (Or the occasional sighting on the street of someone who was no-doubt-about-it insane.)  There was some talk that my grandfather may have had issues even before the war, but his war experiences pushed him far over the edge.  As for my grandmother, who’d been on the run with him—she came through the war much stronger.

My grandmother was the one who noticed things in me.  She said, “You feel too much.”  As a kid, I was drawn to books about narrators who were also plagued by intense feelings—sadness, grief, anxiety, depression, guilt:  Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” and Frankie in Carson McCullers’s “The Member of the Wedding,” Gene in “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles, and Ralph in William Goldman’s “Lord of the Flies.”  I didn’t know this was a kind of self-help, but it most definitely was.  In middle-class Queens I couldn’t relate to Holden Caulfield’s life of privilege—I didn’t even know what a prep school was—but I was right there with him in every other way, though I never took it seriously when he insisted, “I’m crazy.  I swear to God I am.”

It was only years later I realized the world of mental illness was a lot more inclusive and widespread than my narrow childhood definition.  The novels I write tend to be about young people who don’t even know they’re part of this world, let alone realize there’s a world of help out there.

Meet Author Lois Metzger

Lois Metzger’s latest book, “Change Places with Me” (HarperCollins 2016), is about a girl desperate to avoid intense feelings and who has a dream about a burning building.  She is the author of three other novels, including “A Trick of the Light,” about a boy with an eating disorder, and she has written two nonfiction books about the Holocaust.  She lives in New York City with her husband and son.  Please visit her at loismetzger.com and on Facebook and Twitter https://twitter.com/metzgerlois.

changeplaceswithmePublisher’s Book Description: CHANGE PLACES WITH ME by Lois Metzger

Rose has changed. She still lives in the same neighborhood with her stepmother and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was just a little different than it was before. The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror. Her hair and her clothes all feel brand-new. She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before. There is no more sadness in her life; she is bursting with happiness.

But something still feels wrong to Rose. Because, until very recently, Rose was an entirely different person—a person who is still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin. (June 14, 2016 from Balzer and Bray)

January #ARCParty – A Look at January, February and March 2016 YA Lit Releases

January #ARCParty

Here’s The Teen, The Bestie, and new TAB member Cat taking a look at some of the most recent ARCs that we have received here at TLT Headquarters (aka, Casa Jensen). In case you are new to TLT, here’s what we do: The teens go through each book and look at the cover and read the description to let me know what they think and if they would be interested in reading the title or not based on that little bit of info. I always find it interesting to see what they think plus it helps me know what titles they might be interested in reading and reviewing.//

January #ARCParty

A look at #yalit coming out January through March 2016

  1. Gonna have an #ARCParty. We'll be looking mostly at Feb & March 2016 #yalit release https://t.co/meRdfqq5gP

    Gonna have an #ARCParty. We’ll be looking mostly at Feb & March 2016 #yalit release pic.twitter.com/meRdfqq5gP
  2. The Bestie has already read this one and says "one of the best books ever". Substance abuse, cousins https://t.co/1ecPeEeEkc

    The Bestie has already read this one and says “one of the best books ever”. Substance abuse, cousins pic.twitter.com/1ecPeEeEkc
  3. An over achieving perfectionist tries to live life more fully https://t.co/VqC2AjMRLP

    An over achieving perfectionist tries to live life more fully pic.twitter.com/VqC2AjMRLP
  4. Karen actually read this & it was good. WWII. Greatest maritime disaster. They say it sounds good. #ARCParty https://t.co/SOAO6h94Dt

    Karen actually read this & it was good. WWII. Greatest maritime disaster. They say it sounds good. #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/SOAO6h94Dt
  5. Teen w/strange new power; 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. Sounds interesting! #ARCParty https://t.co/QMmowNJ5wD

    Teen w/strange new power; 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. Sounds interesting! #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/QMmowNJ5wD
  6. Much giggling about title. Transfer student. He really is a pterodactyl apparently! They are intrigued. #ARCParty https://t.co/RowzMD07h4

    Much giggling about title. Transfer student. He really is a pterodactyl apparently! They are intrigued. #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/RowzMD07h4
  7. They like the cover. They say yes!  (This is a sequel) #ARCParty @lexusgailey will be reviewing. https://t.co/M0OcvENkwJ

    They like the cover. They say yes! (This is a sequel) #ARCParty @lexusgailey will be reviewing. pic.twitter.com/M0OcvENkwJ
  8. Arts academy; is our MC responsible for a string of deaths? fantasy. So intriguing. #ARCParty https://t.co/ScoS790u5G

    Arts academy; is our MC responsible for a string of deaths? fantasy. So intriguing. #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/ScoS790u5G
  9. Suicide attempt, friendship & family; self discovery, middle school. They say it sounds good. #ARCParty https://t.co/eoM2ln7Nri

    Suicide attempt, friendship & family; self discovery, middle school. They say it sounds good. #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/eoM2ln7Nri
  10. Cliff falls for girl, has to figure out life, about to graduate. They said it sounds good & intense #ARCParty https://t.co/e8OMjCkjql

    Cliff falls for girl, has to figure out life, about to graduate. They said it sounds good & intense #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/e8OMjCkjql
  11. LOL - they're all, no don't touch it! Don't get anything on it! #Arcparty https://t.co/bFteHdkM0k

    LOL – they’re all, no don’t touch it! Don’t get anything on it! #Arcparty pic.twitter.com/bFteHdkM0k
  12. Drug abuse/addiction; domestic violence; homelessness; trying to end cycle #ARCParty https://t.co/GbMtTHQrID

    Drug abuse/addiction; domestic violence; homelessness; trying to end cycle #ARCParty pic.twitter.com/GbMtTHQrID