Warning – Don't look for these books in the Young Adult section! These are "Adult Books," written for adults. Teens beware!
Ok, now that I've got your attention, let me also say that these books are just great for teens. So great, in fact, that the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) made an award just for them, and named them after a famous Baltimore librarian – sort of. Her name was Margaret A. Edwards, but her friends called her Alex, and that's where we get the Alex Awards. The 2012 Alex Awards feature ten books written for adults, but with special appeal to teens. Read more »
Ida Mae Jones is a young African-American woman living with her family in Louisiana. Her father who taught her to fly a small crop duster has passed away, and her brother has signed up to serve in World War II. It is not surprising that Ida Mae feels caught between her family obligations and her love of flying. She learns about the Women Airforce Service Pilots – a civilian organization that served to fly airplanes under the military with the goal of freeing up qualified men to serve in combat. The WASP pilots transferred planes and equipment from assembly plants to military bases and often trailed targets in the air for anti-aircraft artillery practice.
Not only was the WASP a highly selective group that underwent rigorous training, but Ida Mae faces even more difficulty because she knows she can’t sign up as a black woman. Her fair skin allows her to pass for white, but the stress of this combined with the training proves difficult. On the positive side, the friends Ida Mae makes in WASP training are fantastic and provide support for Ida Mae even if they don’t know her secret for sure. Read more »
Having moved on from vampires and zombies to dystopias, as heralded by the success of the Hunger Games series, many teen readers are looking for something similar but still fresh. Catherine Fisher's Incarceron (and the sequel, Sapphique) fit the bill perfectly. Variously described as fantasy, science fiction, slipstream, and steampunk, the setting of this book is both a dystopic future and a fantastical past.
Having moved on from vampires and zombies to dystopias, as heralded by the success of the Hunger Games series, many teen readers are looking for something similar but still fresh. Catherine Fisher's Incarceron (and the sequel, Sapphique) fit the bill perfectly. Variously described as fantasy, science fiction, slipstream, and steampunk, the setting of this book is both a dystopic future and a fantastical past. Read more »
Heart of a samurai : based on the true story of Manjiro Nakahama
“An action packed historical novel set on the high seas!” claims the book jacket for Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. Normally these aren’t quite the descriptors I am looking for in a good book, but this Young Adult novel has amazing visual appeal and lying underneath the “high seas adventure” is a true heart of gold.
Preus tells a fictional account of a true story: Manjiro, a young man from a small fishing village, becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in America. Japan at the time had closed borders and a deep distrust for anything foreign. When Manjiro is rescued with his friends after being shipwrecked on an island by an American whaling ship, his life is changed forever. Captain Whitfield sees that Manjiro is a quick study, both in language and sailing and takes him under his wing. The more Manjiro sees outside Japan, the more he wants to learn and explore eventually ending up attending school in New Bedford, Massachusetts living with the Whitfields. Read more »
Lydia, Emily, and Cassie have been best friends through everything, guy problems, family issues and even Secret Assignments. While they all attend a posh private school, each girl has a unique way of expressing herself. Lydia sometimes declares that she is a fish, with the intention of becoming a writer someday. Emily’s dream of becoming a lawyer might never gain steam if she can’t remember the difference between cinnamon and synonym. And Cassie just wants to stop being too afraid to get up on stage and sing. This year their English teacher has assigned them pen pals from public school Brookfield High to reacquaint them with the Joy of the Envelope. Over the course of the year they each get to know a stranger. Sebastian is an artistic soccer player who sometimes can’t control his temper. Charlie is a sweet guy who always seems to be in trouble. And Matthew is either very dangerous or nonexistent. Prank calls, mistaken identities, spy missions, Dates with Girls, with a side of blackmail and revenge make for an interesting year!
June is generally recognized as LGBT Pride Month. In honor of this, the Lambda Awards were announced last week for excellence in LGBT literature. A long list of winners in a wide variety of categories can be found on their website.
The winner in the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category is Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright. This novel is about high school student Carlos Duarte who is juggling a job at the Macy’s makeup counter, a jealous boss, his sister’s abusive boyfriend, and a difficult crush. Booklist’s review of Wright’s novel remarks that “there’s a whole lot going on in Wright’s novel, but it’s handled deftly and, for the most part, believably. Best of all, Carlos is not completely defined by his homosexuality. It is an important part of him, yes, but so are his ambition, his concern for his sister, and his capacity for friendship.”
Grace Brown, a 20 year old skirt factory employee, was murdered in 1906 just outside an Adirondack mountain resort by Chester Gillette. Gillette was arrested soon after Grace’s body was recovered in a lake and he was later executed in a New York prison.
This gruesome true story serves as part of the backdrop for the very non-gruesome and excellent young adult novel, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. The main character, Mattie Gokey, receives a bundle of letters from a guest at the resort and makes a promise to burn them. But when Grace’s body is later pulled out of the lake, Mattie becomes unsure what the right thing to do. Maybe the letters hold answers?
Mattie is also torn between her duty to her family and her dream of going to college. Her family lives in a rural area and they work extra hard making a living off of the land, made especially difficult since her mother has passed away and there are three younger girls to look after.
A book about football in the summer? Sure! Pro teams are already running organized team activities, and high schools & colleges will be training hard while most of us are sipping lemonade. Gordon Korman's Pop is the perfect summer football book. Marcus is the new kid in upstate New York's Kennesaw, a former star quarterback at this old Kansas high school. Read more »
I don’t read enough young adult fiction, so when I came across The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sightwith its intriguing title, I decided to jump in. It tells the story of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan who is flying across the Atlantic to attend her father’s wedding but only under duress.
“The Professor,” as she tags him, left Connecticut a year ago for a four-month stint at Oxford, but never returned home to the family. He asked for a divorce from Hadley’s mom, and Hadley has been seething ever since. Reluctantly, under pressure from both parents, she’s boarding a plane at JFK International Airport.
The first thing that happens is she misses her plane. This really complicates things because she only gave herself a window of five hours from arrival at customs to being a bridesmaid at a London church. She gets scheduled on a jet three hours later. Hadley asks a woman to watch her bags and the woman angrily accuses her of breaking the law, but a handsome youth with a charming British accent offers to help. Read more »