Daniel is a boy that has lived most of his life being made fun of because of his weight. The last thing he wants to do is go to Leizure World were sports and exercise is the thing. But his father, who is depressed and has been drinking too much, insists that it will be the perfect healing place for them both. On the way to the resort, Daniel saw a girl in the middle of the road and made his dad swerve to miss her. He thought he saved her life. Later, he sees her again, swimming in the lake. When he finally meets her, he notices that she has wounds & bruises that seem to be getting worse instead of better. Another thing Daniel notices is that her watch is ticking backwards. One more strange thing happened when he took some of the boys to the lake to meet her and they could not even see her and then of course they think he is crazy. Daylight Saving, is a book of friendship, a different kind of friendship but an endearing one.
The Summer Olympics seem in the distant past, but we haven’t forgotten the amazing, star gymnast Gabby Douglas who won the gold along with all our hearts. She has co-authored an autobiography about her rise to the pinnacle of Olympic history which is enjoyable and inspiring. Particularly recommended for young adults as encouragement to keep on pursueing their dreams, Gabby tells her story of sacrifice with little negativity. She shares her families history of struggle when they lived in their car and had nothing, the endless practice,the sacrifice of her sisters who gave up their own loves of ballroom dancing and ice skating, and the neglect of her father- her biggest hurt. She gives credit to her families faith in God and their love as the biggest factors in her successful rise to stardom.
This young adult book is about Francis, a Chinese American young woman. Bitter Melon tells of Francis’ struggle to try please her mother. You see her mother was never pleased by anything Francis did. Finally, Francis decides that if nothing she does pleases her mother, she will please herself. Her mother expected Francis to excell, and she did, but never quite well enough. When Francis accidentally ends up in Speech instead of Calculus, Francis chooses to stay. Here Francis finds something she loves and is extremely well at. Only, her mother must never find out.
The second book in the Lunar Chronicles after Cinder, Scarlet is the story of Little Red Riding Hood set in a dystopian future where the world is under constant threat from aliens living on the moon and plague has devastated the population.
Scarlet lives on a farm near a small town in France with her grandmother. When her grandmother goes missing, Scarlet does everything she can to try to find her, including trying to get information out of a very intimidating professional fighter known as Wolf. Wolf may be involved in her grandmother’s disappearance, or he may simply be trying to help her. With no other information about how to find her grandmother, Scarlet goes with Wolf to Paris to confront the gang he says took her, the Order of the Pack.
Cinder’s story is also continued in this novel. Her goal is to find out more about her past since she still has no memory of her childhood before New Beijing.
The third book in the series, Cress, is set to be released in 2014. While Scarlet didn’t have quite the cliffhanger Cinder did, I still can’t wait to see what happens to these characters.
Adriana Trigiani has authored the Big Stone Gap series, a delightful character-rich, witty story of a spinster living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Walking through the young adult section, I found Triginani had authored two books for teens. The Viola Chesterton books begin as quick peeks into boarding school life in South Bend, Indiana for a 9th grader whose parents must relinquish that year as they travel to Afghanistan to film a documentary. Again, these books are character driven with teen foibles, fears and funny situations. Viola must figure out how to extend herself to a new environment with peers very different from herself, and find where her talents as a filmmaker can be used. Definitely teen material, but good for adults to see into a stage of life that may have been long- forgotten.
Tuberculous is a dreadful diagnosis any time but especially before antibiotics existed during the first half of the twentieth century. Queen of Hearts is a realistic and heartwrenching story of how this disease touched lives in a Canadian sanitarium at the beginning of World War II. This young adult book hooked me and kept me emotionally charged as I followed the story of Marie Claire and her family as they battled this disease. People of all ages and all stations in life spent months to years in TB sanitariums. This historical novel does what I love in any good novel set in a prior time; it made me want to find out more about the history of tuberculosis. In the nineteenth century it was named the romantic disease because people suffering from tuberculosis were thought to have been bestowed with heightened sensitivity. The slow progress of the disease allowed for a “good death” as sufferers could arrange their affairs. It wasn’t until the development of streptomycin in 1944 that cures became the norm. Now with multidrug resistant strains there has been a resurgence of the disease. Every year, nearly half a million new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis are estimated to occur worldwide.
The Fault in Our Stars was chosen by Time Magazine as the Best Fiction Book of 2012. This compelling novel tells the story of Hazel, a 16-year-old girl who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 13 years old. With her lungs riddled with tumors that she and her family are hoping to keep at bay with a new experimental drug, Hazel is forced to carry an oxygen tank everywhere and is isolated from friends her own age. She attends a cancer support group, where she meets Augustus Waters, a young man in remission with osteosarcoma but has had to have part of his leg amputated to survive. Both are intelligent, sarcastic, funny and mature and they form a strong friendship then a romantic bond. This is a touching, at times humorous and at times heart-wrenching , brilliantly written story about young people wanting to be remembered and wondering what legacy they will leave behind. Although categorized as a Young Adult book, this is a novel for anyone who loves exceptional writing and beautifully drawn characters. A truly amazing story and one that will linger with you for a long time. A favorite quote from Hazel about the many platitudes that cancer patients must endure hearing: “Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and it’s stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate”.
Young Adult books, as many people are recognizing these days, are not just for teens. In fact, adults make up the majority of young adult book purchasers. With that in mind, here are a few of my Young Adult picks from the past year that that should appeal to people of all ages.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
In 1941, fifteen year old Lina, her mother, and younger brother are suddenly pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet soldiers and sent to work camps in Siberia, while the fate of Lina’s father is unknown. Lina, her family, and fellow Lithuanians struggle to maintain their humanity while enduring brutal cold, near starvation, disease, and cruelty from Soviet soldiers. To cope with her horrific situation, Lina, a gifted artist, draws in secret, hoping that one day someone will find her pictures and her story will be told.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
At age sixteen, Hazel is a stage IV thyroid cancer survivor. Her life is hanging by a thread, as an experimental drug temporarily keeps her alive, but no one knows how long it will be effective. At her parents’ insistence, she begins attending a weekly support group for teens living with cancer. It is here that she meets Gus, a fellow cancer survivor, and they fall in love. Green deals with the tough issues in this novel – life, death and love – with honesty and sensitivity. And, although this book tackles a serious subject, there is a good deal of wit and humor that keeps it from devolving into a cry fest. However, you may not want to completely abandon that box of Kleenex!
Bzrk by Michael Grant
Conjoined twins Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, evil and twisted owners of Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, have a master plan to take over the world and turn it into their version of Utopia. Opposing them is a secret organization, code name BZRK, in which members take the names of the famously insane. This is no ordinary war, however. Here, the weapons of choice are nanobots the size of dust mites, and the battlefield is inside the human brain. The price of war to combatants is often insanity, loss of memory or free will, and even death. Atrocities are committed on both sides, and it is often impossible to tell the good guys from the bad. Although this book is science fiction, the ethical and philosophical issues Grant raises held my attention long after I was done reading.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Jazz is your average teenager growing up in the sleepy little town of Lobo’s Nod, except for one little thing. His dad is one of the most notorious serial killers in history. Before finally being captured by police, Jazz’s father murdered over 100 victims, and passed on many of his secrets to Jazz along the way, hoping that one day Jazz would follow in his footsteps. Growing up with a sociopath has left Jazz with nightmares and the constant fear that he will inevitably end up just like dear old Dad. As if life isn’t complicated enough, bodies are beginning to pile up in Lobo’s Nod again. Jazz is determined to help the sheriff with the investigation, but unbeknownst to the police, Jazz has his own secret. If you are easily spooked, you might want to read this one with the lights on.
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
This National Book Award Finalist is a fictionalized retelling of the childhood of Cambodian human rights activist, Arn Chorn-Pond. Arn is only eleven years old in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge marches into his Cambodian town and forces everyone into the country to work as slave laborers. Arn is separated from his family and is witness to atrocities that will make your stomach turn. As the Killing Fields pile up with bodies, Arn does whatever it takes to survive before he is eventually rescued and brought to America. This is not an easy book to read, but it is certainly unforgettable.
If you are looking for last minute Christmas gifts or a great book to read over Christmas break, try out one of these I’ve mentioned or check out one of the many other great reads in our Young Adult area.
After war and plague destroyed New York city, most of civilization has migrated underground. Lives are short and when Deuce turns 15, she takes on the role of huntress to provide food and protection for the group. She is paired with Fade, a teenager who lived topside as a young boy, but he is not trusted by the elders who rule the clan. On a hunting mission, Deuce and Fade discover that a neighboring clan has been brutally destroyed by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks. When they try to warn the elders, they are exiled from the clan. Fade leads the way to topside and Deuce, born in darkness, must learn to survive in sunshine–in the ruins of a city populated by dangerous gangs. Guided by Fade’s memories as a child, they face dangers unlike any they have ever known. Enclave is a tense, action-packed dystopian story, much more thriller than romance, though Aguirre teases at a future love triangle. This is the first book in projected series, and will appeal to fans of the “Hunger Games.”
Olive Corbett is definitely not crazy. Not anymore. Olive, coming off a failed suicide attempt, takes her meds, hangs out with her best friend, Ami, and avoids the girls who were her friends before the “incident.” Olive notices that the new girl at school, Miranda, has latched onto popular Katie, Olive’s ex-best friend. Olive can see that there is something almost parasitic about the relationship as Miranda starts to adopt Katie’s personality and even begins to dress and look like Katie. Disturbed, Olive types the things she first noticed about Miranda into Google: weird skin, alien, and mirror eyes. Possible explanation: a shape-shifter and Katie is her host! Maybe the wild rumors about Miranda are true. Maybe Miranda is a killer–but who would believe Olive? Shift is a sinister young adult thriller that tears through the themes of identity loss and toxic friendship.
I picked up The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde because I’ve read and liked the Thursday Next series and because the book got some great reviews. If you like Jasper Fforde’s oddball humor in his other books (or if you like Terry Pratchett), you’ll want to pick up The Last Dragonslayer.
Jennifer Strange is a foundling. She was abandoned on the steps of the convent of the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster as a baby and raised there. At 12, she was placed with Kazam Mystical Arts Management and is currently running the agency after the disappearance of its founder in a magic trick gone wrong.
Kazam is an employment agency for magicians that has fallen on hard times. Magic has been fading from the world and the magicians have grown less powerful as ambient magic has fallen. When magic starts to see a surge, strange events start to happen. The magicians with precognitive abilities all have a premonition that the last dragon will be slain in the next week. Jennifer sets off to find the Last Dragonslayer to see what she can do to prevent this from happening.
Every morning, A wakes up in a different body. Some days A is a girl, some days a boy, sometimes white, sometimes Asian, some days fat and some days thin (although always the same age as A, which at this point is 16). A has gotten used to these changes because it’s all A has ever known. A tries not to interfere in the lives of the bodies s/he inhabits, just drifting in and out and trying to leave things the way they were and not cause damage or have the person act too far out of character.
That all changes when A wakes up in the body of a slacker named Justin. Justin has a girlfriend, Rhiannon, and A falls in love with her at first sight. Suddenly A is breaking the rules and trying to see Rhiannon even after switching bodies. Rhiannon is the first person A confides in about the way A lives. It’s the first time A has really wanted to be with the same person every day. Rhiannon and A must navigate the complexities of what A’s condition means in having a relationship. They must decide what things can be sacrificed and what things cannot.
Today is Maggie’s first day of school. Ever. For the first 14 years of her life, Maggie’s mom homeschooled her. Her only friends were her three older brothers who are there at high school to watch out for her, but it definitely isn’t the same. Lucy and her older brother, Alistair, are the only ones who have shown an interest in trying to get to know shy, quiet Maggie. They eat with her at lunch, go with her to see Alien at Halloween, and take her with them to the local Maritime Museum. That’s where Maggie finds out the back story of the ghost that has been stalking her since she was a little girl.
Ravka is a place of hardship for most. It is ravaged by wars with hostile neighbors and has been split in half by the Shadow Fold for the past few hundred years. The Fold is a dead, dark place filled with volcra, creatures that fly out of the darkness and snatch and eat the men trying to reach the ports of Ravka on the other side of the Fold. Some in Ravka, known as the Grisha, have special powers ranging from the ability to heal wounds to the ability to summon fire. The Shadow Fold itself is the result of a Grisha known as the Black Heretic’s greed and lust for power.
Alina and Mal are soldiers in the First Army who grew up together on a noble estate after being orphaned in the Border Wars and have been best friends since their shared childhood. They must cross the Fold, or Unsea, on ships made to cross the dead sand and dust. Ships powered by Grisha who can summon the wind. When their ship is beset by volcra and Alina and Mal are moments from death, Alina’s desperation makes her use a dormant power, one the people of Ravka have been waiting for since the Fold first appeared.
Alina is swept away to the palace by the Darkling, head of the Grisha, to train and learn to use her new found power. Without Mal she feels more out of place than ever, and the palace is filled with intrigue and people with hidden motivations. Who can Alina trust in this strange new world?
When starting a book, the anticipation can be tremendous.
Who will these characters be? Which ones will I like/love/despise? Where will the story take me? Will there be adventure? Tragedy? Laughter? Tears?
If we are lucky, a few chapters in we have settled in with good friends, in a familiar setting. We have become comfortable in this new world. We can’t wait to see what each turn of the page will bring.
We’ve settled in and become comfortable. Yes, twists and turns in the plot may make us anxious, but with luck, our heroes/heroines will come out of the situation without too much damage. Though they, and we, may not see it for some time, hopefully they have learned and grown from their ventures.
Then, many times before we know it, the story is coming to a close. We begin to realize we will soon have to let go of all of the people, places, and things to which we have become attached. We know the end our time with them is near.
Then, it is over. You put the book down and reflect on everything that just happened. Whether it took a few hours or a few weeks for us to get through the story, if it is one we enjoyed, it is a bittersweet moment. We hope for a sequel, but know that more often than not, this is the end.
Now we can only imagine what happens next. For our favorite characters, we imagine greatness in their future. Happiness, love, and all good things.
I’m sure I am not the first person to realize that books really do reflect life. Even if the adventures are way beyond anything we would actually experience in real life, the jest of the scenario is relatable.
Such is true for me this week.
After six and a half years as Young Adult Librarian at Manhattan Public Library, I say goodbye this week to head off to the next adventure in my career.
From my first day at MPL, I have always known this was a special position at a special library. In my time we have been able to take the Young Adult area from a single isle of books in a far corner, to a welcoming section with seating, displays, and a booming programming schedule.
While I am apprehensive about leaving MPL, I take comfort in knowing that staff and teens will work to keep the programs going and continue to build this crucial area.
So many people have worked alongside me over the past few years to encourage teen reading and get teens active at the library that I could never thank them all; but I hope the next YA Librarian at MPL will have the wonderful experiences that I did in meeting teens, community members, educators, parents, and all those involved in other community organizations.
The hardest thing for me this week will be to say farewell to some teens I have known for many years now. When I came some were just approaching middle school, and now those same kids are in their last year(s) of high school. I have seen so many of them grow into wonderful young men and ladies and can’t wait to hear about all of their accomplishments in the near future.
Looking back on the first time I ever wrote this column as a staff member at MPL, I was able to speak more about what a Young Adult Librarian is and what they do.
I pointed out that telling someone you work with teenagers causes one of three reactions: fear, sympathy, or confusion. To this day, that is still true.
However, I am now able to add in the description of my job that “my” teens are so much fun and appreciate me for who I am and what I can do for them that every day is an adventure, and every time I get to be around the teens I learn more about teens, about my job, and about myself. Working with teenagers for more than nine years has given me a unique perspective on the world, one which I believe keeps me young.
The volume of my life that has taken place around Manhattan Public Library has been a good one. With lots of twists and turns, but ultimately with a happy ending that leaves us all looking forward to what happens next.
With all this in mind, I leave you with a quote I recently found by Terry Pratchett in his YA book Nation.
“No more words. We know them all, all the words that should not be said. But you have made my world more perfect.”