You are currently browsing the YA category
Displaying 1 - 10 of 38 entries.

Maybe I Will

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 3:51 PM

MaybeIWillMAYBE I WILL by Laurie Gray. Luminis Books (www.luminisbooks.com), March 2013.  Ages 13+ ($14.95 Paperback – ISBN 978-1-935462-70-5, $26.95 Hardcover – ISBN 978-1-935462-71-2, $9.95 eBook – ISBN 978-1-935462-72-9)

Publisher’s Description:  It’s not about sex. It’s about how one secret act of violence changes everything—how best friends can desert you when you need them most, how nobody understands. It’s about the drinking and stealing and lying and wondering who you can trust. It’s about parents and teachers, police officers and counselors—all the people who are supposed to help you, but who may not even believe you. It’s about how suddenly all of your hopes and dreams can vanish, and you can find yourself all alone, with nothing and no one. Your only choice is to end it all or to start over…and all you can think is Maybe I Will. 

Reviews: Mike Mullin, award-winning author of ASHFALL and ASHEN WINTER wrote about Maybe I will: “In MAYBE I WILL, author Laurie Gray deals with a difficult topic in a thoughtful, nuanced, and realistic way. A pinch of humor and dash of Shakespeare add flavor to what otherwise might be an overly heavy stew. MAYBE I WILL belongs on teens’ reading lists and bookshelves alongside classics of its type such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK and Cheryl Rainfield’s SCARS.”

About the Author: Laurie Gray presents a compelling picture of the realities of sexual assault in MAYBE I WILL, drawing on her years of experience as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, dealing with crimes against children. The twist in the story is that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl, and we realize that it doesn’t matter, because it’s not about sex.

Round to it

Diane’s Notes: I was scared to read this book and kept putting off getting a round-to-it. I received a request to review Maybe I Will during a time when my world was crashing down. I have been a victim of sexual assault and abuse. I have been in the situation of keeping my worries to myself and wondering if I could handle the depression while trying to hold myself together and pretend to be “good” – just so my family and friends wouldn’t worry. I didn’t want to be seen as just a victim, nor did I want to be seen as a problem that other people would have to deal with. I was even afraid that if I read Maybe I Will, that I might consider giving up. 

I should have trusted the author Laurie Gray and publicist Rebecca Grose. While there is a sexual assault, it is not  graphically over-described. Suicide is not the entire focus of the story. Alcoholism is not the ending of one’s life.  Friends not being there for you is simply another obstacle to survive. The character has to learn to cope, survive, and adjust.

Readers will learn new techniques for surviving the teen years and life’s unfair, unjust events. Maybe I Will is an essential purchase for libraries with young adults requesting books like 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, A Child Called It, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones . 

The hardest part of reading Maybe I Will was that I had read the twist – that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl – and that I spent the entire first reading looking for clues to prove the character was one or the other. Pulling that perspective off was a dramatic success. By having the character almost gender neutral, this title will be easier to put in both male and female reader’s hands. While some said they were convinced it was a girl because they were female readers, if someone found themselves relating too closely, they could pretend the character was a member of the opposite sex and build in distance.

Perhaps the best parts of Maybe I Will were the poems and the literary references interwoven. How many teen titles link Shakespeare, Peter Pan, and Amazing Grace? The main character uses a journal to write  through the process of discovering the answer to the question “What is character?” The poems are full of angst and speak to teens – particularly to 8th and 9th graders with stanzas like:

Such a bitter seed I swallowed.

No one saw, and no one knew.

I buried it inside myself

Where it took root and grew.

or –

I feel like I have swallowed a black hole.

The cold and empty darkness never ends.

Emotions trample down my weary soul,

No longer trusting any of my friends.

Maybe I Will leaves the reader with hope. There is hope, there are ways to survive the bad, and there are people out there to help. The reality is that the bad is not always sufficiently punished in our legal system. But Maybe I Will may be the title that helps a teen open up and tell someone, rather than continue to suffer in silence. 

 

Diane’s blog on Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Marissa Meyer should be thrilled. Cinder was chosen one of the top ten books of 2012 on these lists:cinder-117x162

Check out a trailer for  Cinder here. I have to admit that I kept setting the book Cinder down intending to get around to it. When Shela wrote her blog post January 8th, I realized that I needed to seize the time to read Cinder. Now that I have read Cinder, Marissa Meyer is on my short list of  authors writing YA fairy tale versions (including Margaret Peterson Haddix, Shannon Hale, Gail Carson Levine, Vivian VandeVelde, Robin McKinley, and Alex Flinn). Marissa Meyer’s biographical information shares how much she enjoyed fairy tales growing up and how this translated into her writing fanfiction for SailorMoon.

Growing up I loved Beauty and the Beast because it seemed more realistic for Beauty to gradually realize the Beast had changed to something beautiful underneath. Maybe I didn’t like Cinderella because the Disney version had a blonde star. I couldn’t relate because I wasn’t blonde and I thought she relied on others too much to make her dreams come true. In fact I have always preferred the Kukla, Fran, and Ollie show Three Nuts for Cinderella better than the original versions.

Three Nuts for Cinderella (Tri oríšky pro popelku) is from Czechoslovakia, 1973. You can click here to watch highlights of this updated version of the classic tale, with the fairy godmother replaced by three magic hazelnuts that help Cinderella’s dreams come true. You can learn more about that version here. When I first read Anita Lobel’s Princess Furball, I related it to Three Nuts for Cinderella.

Marissa Meyer’s version has helped me rediscover Cinderella. Adults, young adults, and middle grade students will appreciate this 387 page futuristic sci-fi version. I could relate to the strengths of  Linh Cinder and her work ethic. With the setting in New Beijing 126 years after WWIV, there were Chinese aspects of the story providing flavor yet the story was universal and global. While racial differences weren’t emphasized, the new discriminations revolved around the status of 100% humans, androids, cyborgs, and Lunars. Old enemies like the plague still exist.

Cinder was able to accomplish unusual tasks because she seemed almost invisible due to her status. She was a strong character who refused to continue to let bad things happen to her by others. The growth in her character as she learns more about her past, her body, and her capabilities makes this a wonderful title for coming-of-age stories.

The presence of good vs evil characters was more distinct than in some modern versions so the reader knew who to cheer for throughout. This is a safe YA story that tells a fascinating first tale of four about the Lunar Chronicles. The author did not have to resort to sex, violence, or swearing to tell a good story and I appreciate that.

When I first handed the book to Shela, I wasn’t sure if the title would be appropriate as a read-aloud. I was glad she took it with her in audio format to test it out. When Shela wrote her blog, I was hooked. Having read it myself, I know exactly whose hands I want to place this in next. The hard part will be prying it out of my fingers as I wait for the second book in the series – Scarlet. Scarlet_final_USA-Today-117x162

For boys and girls who like technology, problem-solving, mysteries, and strong characters, Cinder is an excellent choice. Now I’m off to see how quickly I can get my hands on Scarlet. I was able to download the first five chapters as a preview, but I’ll be checking for the Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends booth at ALA Midwinter.

One more aspect of Cinder that endears me to the author and series is that it was originally written as part of NaMoWriMo.

Review: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

  • Posted on June 4, 2012 at 10:14 AM

The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May, 2012. ISBN13: 9780316185486 295 pages.

After a series of natural disasters, the modern world is destroyed and society reverts to a previous time in technology with steam and carriages, limited petrol for just a few wealthy hoarders, and desperate searches for safe soil to plant green things. During disasters some people cling to the past and try to protect their bubble of normalcy. Some people adapt and seek to help others. Then, there are the villains – people like Cornelius Holister who reminded me much of Hitler. These villains trick others and provide tempting offers for a future by destroying the old and hiding their diabolical schemes to seize power.

When princess Eliza’s father is killed, her older sister Mary and little brother Jamie try to escape with Eliza. When they are captured, Eliza must escape and find a way to come back and save Mary and Jamie. While the villain believes he is a modern Robin Hood, we soon discover his plans for the future. Eliza must gain new strength to rescue her family, lead her people to saving themselves, and defeat the villain.

Sometimes you just need to read a little fast-moving dystopian fiction with a kick-butt princess as the heroine. The Last Princess was a fun read, perfect for students who don’t need a great deal of character development or every loose strand interwoven back into the story. Let me point out the bad first before I rave about why I liked it. Flaws:

  • moves too quickly
  • events left undeveloped and unexplained (cannibals, Seventeen Days, Jasper the horse’s fate)
  • setting hovers between future 2090 England and a historical feel
  • shallow romance
  • characters not fully developed

Now, on to the good stuff. The Last Princess was an excellent fantasy read for middle-schoolers and young adults. I loved the tenuous feeling that these characters were possible since there were references to Princess Diana and Princess Kate. Those of us who love the royal family despite all their flaws will lap up the historical details of the Tudors and the House of Windsor. Royal princesses named Mary and Elizabeth (Eliza) and commoners named Polly are familiar to those of us who grew up on the classics. Some of the early scenes remind me of recent movies of the Queen and her semi-sheltered life.

I liked how the author Galaxy Craze made me think and put together pieces of the puzzle in the beginning to grasp what was happening and the timeframe. I was so hooked by the first five chapters that I couldn’t set the book down. I needed answers. I needed hope and I felt I was part of the heroine Eliza as she transformed and became stronger. While the beginning pages showed us a glimpse of protected royalty that were vaguely aware of the poverty and starvation around them, it was the description of Eliza’s saving a baby blue jay that enabled me to see her drawing strength to grow and meet these challenges:

Then one day he looked at me and opened his wings. I could see that his courage had grown inside him, and he lifted off, flying for the first time around the palace grounds. I opened my eyes to see the flaming torches of the Tudor Army running across the gardens, searching the grounds. Thinking about Blue and the first time he flew, I felt a wave of strength rise up within me, pulling me up, bringing me once again to my feet. I stood up in the night, without anger or fear, but with the knowledge that I, Eliza Windsor, had a light within me that could not be so easily extinguished. When I was younger, I might have thought it was a guardian angel, or God, who saved me. But now I knew that I would save myself. 

Eliza realizes she must save herself. As the story progresses, she faces the mistakes of the past and finds a path between vengeance and justice. While a romance begins, the author doesn’t focus on this as it would be a distraction to our heroine’s actions, plus I like keeping the novel accessible to middle school this way. The author leaves us wanting the sequel. I enjoyed the writing and the constant action. Eliza faces many difficulties, yet has tiny moments where her good heart and generous spirit are allowed to show. She does not become power-hungry. Her focus is on saving her family and restoring her sister to the throne to lead the people. She does not covet the throne. She makes hard choices and overcomes the loss of those dearest to her.

Let’s talk about the setting. The places listed here will be easy for students to locate and learn more about. Knowing that the author Galaxy Craze was born in England before moving to the U.S. to become an actress, we can see how she has incorporated places of importance. We read about the Tower of London, Balmoral Castle, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Paddington Station and Buckingham Palace.  One place of importance was the Steel Tower – a maximum prison set in London. I had to go check to see if such a structure existed. Instead I found references to the Steel Tower being built for the London Olympics this summer. Actually called the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower, this is not the structure mentioned in The Last Princess.  It was such a strange structure that I did have to include a [picture  though.

Throughout the Last Princess, Eliza visits places that currently exist, but have changed due to the disaster. In many ways, the places remain, but the method people survive has changed which gives this novel a historical feel much more than a futuristic feel.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience reading this quick-moving novel and cannot wait to read the sequel. If you read the reviews on GoodReads, you’ll see many people with mixed emotions. I can understand their reactions, but I simply enjoyed this title and thought it was a good summer reading kick-off. I hope you enjoy it too.

The Last Princess was reviewed as an ARC from the publisher.

Top Teen Titles #1

  • Posted on April 15, 2012 at 6:08 PM

#1 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown and Company, 2005. ISBN:  9780316015844, 235 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.

Quotes from Readers: “Romance for teens that is thrilling and safe.”

“The most popular title for teens since 2005”

“This title caused busy teenage girls to stop and read.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: Georgia Peach Book Award (2007), Kentucky Bluegrass Award for 9-12 (2007), An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2006), Prijs van de Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen (2008), Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Older Readers (2009); West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Older Reader Award (2008), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2008), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2008), Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for High School (2007), Gateway Awards (2007), Golden Sower Award for Young Adult (2009), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Adult Category (2007), The Flume: New Hampshire Teen Reader’s Choice Award (2007), Garden State Teen Book Award for Fiction (Grades 9-12) (2008), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Young Adult (2008), Rhode Island Teen Book Award (2007), Evergreen Young Adult Book Award (2008), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2006), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2006), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010), Iowa High School Book Award (2008), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006), Abraham Lincoln Award (2008)

Diane’s note: Romance lives on and takes the #1 slot for Top Teen Titles. This makes sense when you consider the factors that make a Top Teen list as opposed to a children’s book list. Look at the complete list to see the themes of growing up, realistic fiction, drama, and fantasy as a higher level.

Twilight continues to woo new readers every year. Romance became popular again when Twilight was released. Would you believe the http://thetwilightsaga.com/ page has 503,149 members?  I can recall trying to find romance as a teen and giving up. I read Harlequin Romances, Silhouettes, and more from seventh grade on. My grandmother received hers in the mail so I knew I could always borrow 20-30 a week to read and get me through study hall. I can recall blushing a few times and giggling out loud.

As an adult, there are many titles of paranormal romance available not suitable for early teens. I’ve just recently finished reading 23 books in one series by Christine Feehan and I am a big fan of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series. But when teens would ask me for romance books, I’d struggle to find something that didn’t focus on the sexuality as much as the romance. Twilight was an answer to prayers for romance reader’s guidance. Since Twilight, publishers embraced romance again with a twist for teens like the Harlequin Teen series.

When Twilight was released, I read and enjoyed Bella’s story because Bella was not a perfect heroine. She may even be clumsier than I am (those of you who suffered playing volleyball, basketball, and softball with me at Willow High School may disagree), but Bella has a maturity that I admired.

Twilight has been criticized by some people who feel Bella is helpless and passive, needing someone to save her. “Perhaps it was because I was a novelty here, where novelties were few and far between. Possibly my crushing clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress.”

Since I was able to put Twilight on my lovely Kindle for only $0.99 one day, I have enjoyed searching for words like damsel (occurs once), helpless (four times), and saved (8 times). I knew eventually I’d get to the phrase I remembered.

While in the hospital Bella is telling Edward that a man and woman have to be somewhat equal in a relationship without one of them always “swooping in and saving the other one. They have to save each other equally.” Bella insists she doesn’t want to always be Lois Lane, but wants to be Superman, too.

So for those of you who claim Bella is too passive, just wait because she has her own superpowers still to be released. Much like our teenagers have so much more to reveal in the future.

The detractors from Twilight just don’t get that this is an unusual vampire story and a romance without too much smut or mushiness. Boys and girls have enjoyed reading Twilight. My male middle school students wrote as many positive reviews as the girls did.

The Wrap-up Two years ago I surveyed teachers, librarians, students, and many others asking them to submit their top 3 choices of titles that should be in a teen collection. Little did I know that after I compiled the list and began writing about them, that I would have to go back and re-read all 100 of the top teen titles (plus many of their sequels) and some of them more than one time. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and exasperating to try to write just a little bit about each title, and to hopefully convince others of the merit of these titles.

Did I like every book? No, thank you very much, but then a perfect collection will have something for everyone to like and to dislike. If the survey was taken now, I wonder how drastically it would change. Would the Twilight and Harry Potter series still rank as high? Would Hunger Games score higher now that the movie has been released? How about the new titles that have been released in the past two years? I’m thinking of the YALSA Notable lists, the CYBILS, the Printz award winners, and new series that have captured the attention of our teens. While some of the titles are bound to change rankings, it has been fascinating the chart the interest in the Top Teen Titles.

The Complete List:

#100 Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic Press, 2009  ISBN13: 9780545123266
#99 Running Loose by Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow Books, 2003. ISBN: 9780060094911 224 pp
#98 Prama by Jamie Ponti. Simon Pulse Publishing, 2008. ISBN13: 9781416961000 194 pp
#97 The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein by Libby Schmais. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, December, 2009 ISBN13: 9780385906739. 288 p.
#96 Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park. Apple Soup/Knopf, 1995 ISBN 0-679-87088-1 88 pages. Grades 3+. Available from Random House.
#95 Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills by Charles Henderson. Berkley Publishing Group, 1988. ISBN13: 978-0425103555
#94 Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986. ISBN13: 978-0374347963.
#93 The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. Disney Hyperion Books, 2009. ISBN13: 9781423101475. 400pp
#92 The Journeys of Socrates by Dan Millman. HarperOne, 2006. ISBN: 9780060833022 Pages: 352; $14.99; Ages: 18 and up
#91 The House of Night series by PC Cast and Kristen Cast
#90 The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx. Pocket Books, 2007. ISBN13: 9780743486286. 432 pp
#89 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007.  ISBN: 1416914285. 485pp
#88 Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. HarperCollins, 1995. ISBN13: 9780064405843. 224 pp
#87 Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant. Walker & Company, 2006. ISBN13: 9780802777348. 277pp
#86 America by E.R. Frank. Simon & Schuster/Anthenum Books for Young Readers, 2002. ISBN13: 0689847297. 224pp
#85 All-American Girl by Meg Cabot. HarperTeen, 2002. ISBN13: 9780060294694. 256pp
#84 Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. Atheneum, 2002. ISBN13: 9780689853234. 240pp
#83 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Delacorte Press, 1999. ISBN: 0385323069. 256pp
#82 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Warner Books, 1960. ISBN13: 9780446310789. 288pp
#81 The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer. Orchard Books, 1994. ISBN13: 0531086798. 311 pp
#80 My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Atria Books, 2003; paperback version, Washington Square Press, 2005. ISBN13: 9780743454520. 432 pp
# 79 Night by Elie Wiesel. Hill and Wang; Revised edition (January 16, 2006)  ISBN13: 9780374500016. 128pp
#78 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Currently available: Aladdin (December 26, 2006). ISBN13: 9781416936473. 192pp
#77 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Bantam pb, 1953. ISBN13: 9780671824495. 258pp
#76 White Fang by Jack London. Puffin Books, June 2008 edition. ISBN13: 9780141321110. 307 pp.
#75 Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Harcourt Books, 2006. ISBN13: 9780152058265. 352pp.
#74 House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. A Richard Jackson Book/Atheneum Books for Young Readers , 2002. ISBN13:  9780689852220. 400pp
#73 We Were Here by Matt de la Peña. Delacorte, 2009. ISBN13: 9780385736671. 386pp
#72 Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor. HarperCollins, 2008.  ISBN13: 9780060890889. 304pp
#71  TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY – Jay Asher. Penguin, 2007. ISBN13: 9781595141712. 304pp
#70  Call of the Wild by Jack London. 1903 Available from Tor Classics ISBN13: 9780812504323 , 128 pp.
#69 Blankets by Craig Thompson . Top Shelf Productions, 2003. ISBN 9781891830433. 592pp
#68 Feed by M. T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, 2004. ISBN 9780763622596. 320pp
#67 Nation by Terry Pratchett. HarperCollins, 2008. ISBN 0061433012, 367pp
#66 Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos. Farrar, 2002. ISBN 374399883. 208pp
#65 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic Press, 2000. ISBN 9780439139595. 734pp
#64 I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
#63 Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Myers
#62 The Host by Stephenie Meyer
#61 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling
#60 Catching Fire – Collins
#59 Band of Brothers by Stephen E Embros. Simon& Schuster, 1992. 336pp hardcover. Available from Pocket Aug, 2002. ISBN13:  9780743464116.  480 pp.
#58 Holes by Louis Sachar. Yearling Books, 1998. ISBN: 0440414806, 240 pp.
#57 Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. TOR/MacMillan, 2008. ISBN: 978-0765319853. 384 pp.
#56 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle .  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1962. ISBN: 0-374-38613-7. 230 pp.
#55 Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, 2006. ISBN13: 9780763624026. 358pp.
#54 The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central Publishing, 2009.  ISBN:  0446547565, 400 pp.
#53 The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. Greenwillow Books, 2006.  ISBN13: 978-006083577X. 400 pp.
#52 Just Listen by Sarah Dessen Viking Juvenile, 2006. ISBN13:  9780670061051. 371 pp.
#51 Forever by Judy Blume – 1975 ISBN13: pp.
#50 Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. ISBN13: 978-0-375-82668-8. 497 pp.
#49 Vanishing Act by Jodi Picoult.  Atria Books, March 2005 ISBN:  9780743454544, 432 pp.
#48 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by JK Rowling. Scholastic, 2000. ISBN: 9780439064873, 341 pp.
#47 Paper Towns by John Green. Dutton, 2008. ISBN:  9780525478188, 305 pp.
#46 A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Delacorte,  2003. ISBN:  9780689875342,  403 pp.
#45 The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #4) by Phillip Pullman. Knopf, 1966. ISBN: 9780679879244,  399 pp.
#44 A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck. Dial, 1998 ISBN 0803722907 ,  192 pp.
#43  The Thief (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner. Greenwillow, 1996. ISBN: 9780688146276 , 224 pp.
#42 If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson. Puffin, 1998. ISBN: 9780142406014 , 192 pp
#41 I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. St. Martin’s Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books, 2003. ISBN: 978-0-312-31616-7, 352 pp.
#40 Wednesday’s Letters by Jason F. Wright. Penguin Group, 1998. ISBN:  9780425223475, 288 pp.
#39 Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. Puffin, 2004 (First published in the UK 2000). ISBN:  9780142401651,  256 pp.
#38 Ring of Endless Light (Austin family #5) by Madeleine L’Engle. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1995. (First published Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1980.) ISBN:  9780440910817.
#37 The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger. Hamish Hamilton, 1951. ISBN: 0316769177. 288 pp.
#36 The Body by Steven King. Penguin, 1999. ISBN: 9780582418172, 80 pp.
#35 A Child called “It” by Dave Pelzer.  Health Communications Inc., 1995. ISBN:  9781558743663, 184 pp.
#34 The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. Greenwillow Books, 2000. ISBN: 9780688174231, 288 pp.
#33 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Knopf, 2005. ISBN:  9780375831003, 512pp.
#32 Sabriel (Abhorsen series #1) by Garth Nix. Harper Collins, 2008 (first published in 1995). ISBN:  9780061474354, 336 pp.
#31 The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 1995. ISBN:  9780385321754, 224 pp
#30 The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. Vintage, 1996 (First published as Tiger, Tiger in 1956). ISBN:  9780679767800, 272 pp.
#29 The Secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum. Deseret Book Company, 2005. ISBN: 9781590383995 , 352 pp.
#28 Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1982. ISBN:  0374303665, 233 pp.
#27 Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. Harper Collins, 2004. ISBN: 9780060736255 , 128 pp. (Originally published 1989)
#26 The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Macmillan Children’s Books, 2001. ISBN:  033048205X, 240 pp.
#25 Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Harper Collins, 2008. ISBN: 9780061431838 , 432 pp.
#24 Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The by E. Lockhart. Hyperion, 2008. ISBN:  9780786838189, 342 pp.
#23 Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. Scholastic Press, 1988. ISBN:  9780545055765, 320 pp.
#22 Goose Girl, The by Shannon Hale.Bloomsbury, 2003. ISBN:  9781582349909, 400 pp.
#21 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Simon Pulse, 2005. ISBN: 0689865384 , 448 pp.
#20 The Fellowship of the Rings (and The Lord of the Rings series) by J. R. R. Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin, 1954. 424 pp. My versions are from Houghton Mifflin.
#19 Blue Sword, The by Robin McKinley. Greenwillow, 1982. ISBN:  9780688009380, 288 pp.
#18 Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. Warner Books, 2007. ISBN: 0446528056 , 224 pp.
#17 Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow, 2001. ISBN:  9780688180191, 224 pp.
#16 Tears of a Tiger (Hazelwood High #1) by Sharon M Draper.  Simon Pulse, 1996. ISBN: 9780689806988 , 180 pp.
#15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows #7 by J. K. Rowling. Scholastic, 2007. ISBN: 9780545010221, 759 pp.
#14 Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN:  9781416912040, 335 pp.
#13 The Giver — Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books, 1993. ISBN: 9780395645666  , 192 pp.
#12 Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. Little Brown & Co, 2007. ISBN: 9780316160209, 629 pp.
#11 Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. Little Brown & Co, 2008. ISBN: 9780316067928 ,754 pp.
#10 Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Scholastic nonfiction, 2005. ISBN:  9780439353793, 176 pp.
#9 Looking for Alaska by John Green – 2005. Puffin, 2005. ISBN: 9780142402511 ,221  pp.
#8 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Tor, 1985. Tor Science Fiction, July 1994. Revised Edition, ISBN:  9780812550702, 324 pp.
#7 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic, 2008. ISBN: 9780439023481, 374  pp.
#6 New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. Little Brown, & Co., 2006 ISBN: 9780316160193, 563 pp.
#5 Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007. ISBN:  9780316013680, 230 pp.
#4 Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone (Book 1) by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780439554930, 310 pp.
#3 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Puffin, 1999. ISBN:  9780141310886, 208 pp.
#2 Outsiders, The — S. E. Hinton. Viking Children’s Books, 1967.  ISBN: 9780670532575 , 192  pp. Available today from Viking Children’s; 40th Anniversary edition (September 6, 2007) ISBN: 978-0670062515.
#1 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown and Company, 2005. ISBN:  9780316015844, 235 pp.

Top Teen Titles #2

  • Posted on April 15, 2012 at 9:41 AM

#2 Outsiders, The — S. E. Hinton. Viking Children’s Books, 1967.  ISBN: 9780670532575 , 192  pp. Available today from Viking Children’s; 40th Anniversary edition (September 6, 2007) ISBN: 978-0670062515.

Publisher’s Description: First published by Viking in 1967, The Outsiders immediately resonated with young adults. This groundbreaking novel was like nothing else out there—it was honest and gritty, and was a deeply sympathetic portrayal of Ponyboy, a young man who finds himself on the outside of regular society. Forty years later, with over thirteen million copies sold, the story is as fresh and powerful to teenagers today as it ever was.

Quotes from Readers: “Timeless”

“A list like this needs something classic, and I feel like The Outsiders captures a certain vocabulary of past teens even better than The Catcher in the Rye.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads.

Awards: Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Secondary (1991), ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1975); ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2006.03|Criminal Elements, 2006); ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000; ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999 ; 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Susan Eloise Hinton was the first recipient of the YASD/ SLJ Author Achievement Award created to honor an author whose work has been taken to heart by young adults over a period of years, providing an “authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.” When you visit the ALA YALSA website for the now named 1988 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner, you can read “S.E. Hinton’s books have shown, over the past twenty-one years, the “lasting ability to speak to the young adult experience, to help reader to become more aware of themselves and of the world around them.” In presenting this award to S.E. Hinton for The Outsiders; That Was Then This Is Now; Rumble Fish and Tex, the Young Adult Services Division recognizes that these books provide a window through which young adults can view their world. In them a young adult may explore the need for independence and simultaneously the need for loyalty and belonging, the need to care for others, and the need to be cared for by them.”

Diane’s note: In the 1960’s fifteen year-old Susan Eloise Hinton was frustrated with the only books for teens revolving around prom and dating. When a friend of hers was beaten while walking home for being a greaser, she took her anger and wrote a novel about the cruelty of teenage life and social cliques. This changed juvenile literature in American and  began Young Adult Literature and realistic teenage fiction as we know it. When it was released, reluctant readers – especially boys- related to the story and her portrayal of conflict, brotherly love, and coming of age. Of course gangs and violence were part of the story which reflected the realism and respect for the audience.

The Outsiders remains  popular today and is often included in middle and high school curriculums. When S.E. Hinton was asked why the book has remained popular through the years, she replied:

“Every teenager feels that adults have no idea what’s going on. That’s exactly the way I felt when I wrote The Outsiders. Even today, the concept of the in-group and the out-group remains the same. The kids say, “Okay, this is like the Preppies and the Punks” or whatever they call themselves. The uniforms change and the names of groups change, but kids really grasp how similar their situations are to Ponyboy’s.”

Some schools and libraries have banned The Outsiders for the portrayal of gang violence, underage smoking and drinking, as well as strong language/ slang and family dysfunction. When I was able to convince a teacher to use The Outsiders with a group of Middle School students, it was an instant hit. Many of the students sought other realistic fiction titles afterwards, particularly those dealing with gangs and the type of daily violence to which they are exposed. I had one teacher hesitate to use The Outsiders because she thought it would be dated and students wouldn’t relate. Yet the beauty of S.E. Hinton’s writing and her impact is just as strong today. Stay gold, Ponyboy.

The Dead by Charlie Higson with a review by Susan Norwood (guest blogger)

  • Posted on December 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM

What’s cooler right now than zombies? If you said nothing, you’re right. While vampires, the ultimate forbidden love,  make for good romances, there’s nothing like a zombie invasion to get your pulse pumping. There is absolutely nothing about a zombie to love and everything to fear. Such is the case in Charlie Higson’s The Dead, a prequel to his first zombie novel, The Enemy.

Unlike many series, either book can be read as a stand-alone.  Although it’s somewhat preferable to read The Enemy first, it isn’t necessary. Each book has different characters and a different setting in time. Higson is known for another action series that appeal to boys, the Young Bond Series.  No character is ever safe, the action is non-stop, and it’s gross factor is right up there with The Living Dead.

Every person over the age of 16 has been stricken with a gruesome disease. They feel intense flu symptoms and begin to develop pus-filled boils all over their body. Once diseased, they hunger for the meat of younger children. Those who

survive call the humans-turned-monsters by various names, including mothers and fathers, strangers, and sickos. Once bitten, the victims don’t catch the disease, but they usually die from their wounds. Hospitals and doctors no longer exist.

The main characters are a group of boys from a prep school in England. When they can no longer keep the teachers from attacking them, they decide to flee to London. On route, they meet up with other fleeing kids- some who are helpful and others who view them as competition. They are on a constant quest for food and security. As in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, no character is safe, and main characters die as well as minor ones.

Here is a taste (pun intended) of just one of the many attacks.

. . . one of the teenagers was on him. A sharp-faced boy who looked to be about eighteen. It was hard to tell, though, because he eyes were bulging out of his head, and his face resembled a Margherita pizza, livid red with crusty yellow patches, like the worst case of teenage acne Ed had ever seen. . . The boy was snarling and snorting, which made green snot bubble from his nose. Pinkish-looking saliva foamed from between his rotten teeth.

And this is just one of the scenes. Admirably, Higson does not become redundant in his gruesome depictions, unlike some horror writers. This book will appeal to readers who don’t think that they can become shocked and that nothing is as scary as what they see in the movies or on TV. Seriously, I love to read a book while I am eating, but with this book I just couldn’t do it.Recommend this to fans of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins  and Rot and Ruin by James Maberry.

Cool sites Diane says to check out:

Charlie Higson’s Silverfin http://commanderbond.net/12194/charlie-higsons-the-dead-published.html

Charlie Higson’s site http://www.charliehigson.co.uk/

Book Trailer http://youtu.be/IjB9oDy0MOI

My Favourite Books blog http://myfavouritebooks.blogspot.com/2011/10/dead-and-fear-by-charlie-higson.html

Susan, have you read the sequel to Rot and Ruin – Dust & Decay? I think I’d better put it on my new kindle ASAP.

According to Wikipedia: “Higson is currently writing a zombie-horror series of books for children. The first book, The Enemy, was released in the UK by Puffin Books in 2009 and in the US by Disney-Hyperion in 2010. Book 2, The Dead, was released in the UK in September 2010. The third book in the series, The Fear was published on 15 September 2011. Charlie is currently writing the fourth novel in the series that will be out next year.

Top Teen Titles #3

  • Posted on October 23, 2011 at 9:35 AM

#3 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Puffin, 1999. ISBN:  9780141310886, 208 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country

Quotes from Readers:

Laurie Halse Anderson gets better with each book she writes. Speak was groundbreaking.

A very important read, especially for teen girls.

Perfectly captures a teen girl’s struggle to tell the world about her terrible secret.

Many English departments are adding this novel to their summer reading lists, and I am so happy about that! This is a wonderful book about finding one’s voice and being able to stand against wrong even when it’s not the popular thing to do.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (1999), Golden Kite Award for Fiction (1999), Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (2000), BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (1999), Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2000) Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2000), Printz Honor (2000), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2002), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2000)

Diane’s note: Young adult literature has been accused of overly focusing on “issues”. Yet, the students who relate to this book view Speak as far more than a book about an issue. Speak is like a guide for overcoming the depression that occurs 3 times more often in teens who have been sexually abused. When you consider the statistics that “1 in 6 American women will be the victims of a completed or attempted rape in her lifetime” (National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.) and that 44% of these are under 18, hopefully you will realize that we share a responsibility to provide voices for these victims.

I’ve heard students talk about how Speak helped them share episodes from their life. I’ve seen very disimilar teens notice each other reading Speak and opening up – it’s as if Speak gives them an option to share. Sometimes the conversations start with discussing how teens act towards each other in high school, then there is a moment of silence until someone starts talking about a personal connection and an incident of abuse in their life.

When I visited my local public libraries and asked at the front desk if they had a copy of Speak in, some of the library clerks grew uncomfortable. Surprisingly, not every branch near me had a copy. When I mentioned to one of the librarians how important this title is to be included in a collection, she hesitantly confided that a parent had complained so when their copy wore out, they didn’t replace it. Ah! Isn’t this a form of censorship when you refuse to purchase or replace a copy ONLY because you are afraid it might be challenged? Would it surprise you to know that I am donating a copy to that branch?

If the people who ban books could only see the hurt in many teens eyes and voices as they react to Speak; if the people who want to ban Speak could see the sheer number of teens who have been abused and are seeking a way to communicate, would they still restrict access? How do they justify ignoring the pain of an abused teen? Laurie Halse Anderson addresses these challenges on her website:

I am shocked whenever anyone challenges SPEAK. This is a story about the emotional trauma suffered by a teen after a sexual assault. Throughout the entire book, she struggles with her pain, and tries to find the courage to speak up about what happened so she can get some help. Isn’t that what we want our kids to do – reach out to us?

Read how Laurie Halse Anderson discusses the impact of Speak:

Do you think that SPEAK has made a difference?  Absolutely. But it wasn’t the book. The readers of SPEAK changed our world. Many of them came away from the book with a new understanding of sexual assault and depression. They dug deep and found the courage to speak up about their own pain. They reached out and asked for help. They spoke up. The teachers and administrators who were smart and bold enough to put a contemporary piece of literature into the classroom are changing the world, too. They put the book where it could open minds and hearts.


Top Teen Titles #4

  • Posted on October 20, 2011 at 7:11 AM

#4 Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone (Book 1) by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780439554930, 310 pp.

Publisher’s Description:

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry, an orphan, lives with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley.

One day just before his eleventh birthday, an owl tries to deliver a mysterious letter—the first of a sequence of events that end in Harry meeting a giant man named Hagrid. Hagrid explains Harry’s history to him: When he was a baby, the Dark wizard, Lord Voldemort, attacked and killed his parents in an attempt to kill Harry; but the only mark on Harry was a mysterious lightning-bolt scar on his forehead.

Now he has been invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the headmaster is the great wizard Albus Dumbledore….

Quotes from Readers: I had to include this book, as I feel that it got so many teens to start reading for fun again (or for the first time.)

This is a no-brainer. Any teen or young adult collection needs to include the Harry Potter series.

This book began a change in literature and made reading children’s books acceptable for adults and teens. Not only acceptable, but exciting. It gave the world something to look forward.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari.

Awards: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adolescent Literature (2008), British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year (1998), Smarties Prize (1997), Prijs van de Nederlandse Kinderjury for 6-9 jaar en 10-12 jaar (2002), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), American Booksellers Book Of The Year Award for Children (1999), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (2000), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award (2001), South Carolina Book Award for Junior Book Award (2001), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2000), Charlotte Award (2000), Nene Award (2000), Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2000), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2001), Blue Hen Book Award for Chapter Book (2001), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Reader Category (2000), Sasquatch Reading Award (2000), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2000), Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2000), Carnegie Medal in Literature Nominee (1997), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)

Diane’s note: When Betsy Bird did the Top 100 Children’s Novels poll, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was #3.  Think you can guess the next three?

Top Teen Titles #5

  • Posted on September 10, 2011 at 8:06 AM

#5 Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007. ISBN:  9780316013680, 230 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

Quotes from Readers:

  • For such a bleak story, it is filled with incredible hope too.
  • So many layers to love about this book. I love books that can be humorous and serious and succeed at both.
  • I have read Sherman Alexie’s book four or five times. Something I rarely do because I have no time. Never have I moved from hilarious laughter to sobs faster or more often..
  • Poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: American Indian Youth Literature Award (2008) Cybils Finalist (Young Adult Fiction, 2007) Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist (Young Adult Literature, 2007) ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2008) National Book Award (Young People’s Literature, 2007) Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book (Children’s Literature Honor Book, 2008) A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (2007) Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (Fiction and Poetry, 2008) Michigan Library Association’s Thumbs Up! Award (Honor, 2008) BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (2007) ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (Hard Knock Life, 2010) ALA Outstanding Books for the College Bound (History & Cultures, 2009) Odyssey Award (Recorded Books, Narrated by Sherman Alexie) School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2007) Peter Pan Award (Winner, 2009) Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award (2008) Kansas City Star’s Top 100 Books of the Year The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Winner Barnes & Noble 2007 Best for Teens National Parenting Publication Gold Winner 2007 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award Nominee (2011)

Diane’s note: July 17th, 2007 I blogged about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from an advanced reading copy I had received. Without even seeing the finished art work, I was hooked. When I saw the final version, I was convinced that this was one of the most important works for teens that belonged in a mature young adult collection. My favorite passage:

I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe.
But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants.
And to the tribe of basketball players.
And to the tribe of bookworms.
And the tribe of cartoonists.
And the tribe of chronic masturbators.
And the tribe of teenage boys.
And the tribe of small-town kids.
And the tribe of Pacific Northwesterners.
And the tribe of tortilla chips-and-salsa lovers.
And the tribe of poverty.
And the tribe of funeral-goers.
And the tribe of beloved sons.
And the tribe of boys who really missed their best friends.
It was a huge realization.
And that’s when I knew I was going to be okay.
But it also reminded me of the people who were not going to be okay.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at the reviews. I particularly liked this one by Jana Siciliano from TeenReads:

When was the last time a book not only made you a little bit nauseous but excited as well? The National Book Award-winning novel THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie is such a magnanimous stew of reality and hope — and the particular traumatic existence of a reservation teen in contemporary America — that you can’t possibly put it down, no matter how sad, disgusted or freaked out it makes you.

In much the same way that S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS defined that wrong-side-of-the-tracks world for word-loving ’70s preteen bookgeeks (of which I was one), this novel will challenge and define a new world for today’s readers.”

Top Teen Titles #6

  • Posted on September 7, 2011 at 4:59 PM

#6 New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. Little Brown, & Co., 2006 ISBN: 9780316160193, 563 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Legions of readers entranced by Twilight are hungry for more and they won’t be disappointed. In New Moon, Stephenie Meyer delivers another irresistible combination of romance and suspense with a supernatural twist. The “star-crossed” lovers theme continues as Bella and Edward find themselves facing new obstacles, including a devastating separation, the mysterious appearance of dangerous wolves roaming the forest in Forks, a terrifying threat of revenge from a female vampire and a deliciously sinister encounter with Italy’s reigning royal family of vampires, the Volturi.

Quotes from Readers: “Series are wonderful when the second gets better than the first.”

“I didn’t want to like this sequel but it deserves to be in  my teen collection.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2009), The Flume: New Hampshire Teen Reader’s Choice Award (2008), Soaring Eagle Book Award (2007), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2007), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award for Senior (2009), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award for Senior (2009), New York Times  Editor’s Choice, Publishers Weekly Teen People “Hot List”.

Diane’s note: I would prefer it if you read Stephanie Meyer’s description of her writing process for this sequel. “WHAT IF… What if true love left you? Not some ordinary high school romance, not some random jock boyfriend, not anyone at all replaceable. True love. The real deal. Your other half, your true soul’s match. What happens if he leaves?

New Moon was a shock when I first read it, but I related to the depths of Bella’s depression. I was expecting vampires, magic, and more Bella klutziness instead I was faced with loss of love and the depression that can occur with teens. Aha! This was a teen romance book, not just a vampire story.

If you have never been there, you cannot appreciate that feelings like Bella’s are not those of a wussy girl who needs saving by some man. (a typical criticism of New Moon)  It is the spiraling down into a place so dark that there is no light above or at the end of the tunnel, so there is no movement toward healing. This type of depression is COMMON in our teens. Take a look at the suicide rates.  Think of how many people around you have secrets they cannot share and cannot see how to get the help they need. (Yes, Denise, I have been listening to you) Whatever it takes to climb from this depth is valid.

If Bella started living again for her father, that was a positive step. Some girls would find female friends to relate to, Bella found Jacob. Some people have no one to help.  Have you heard me answer your question about how I am with “I got out of bed today, isn’t that enough?” There has to be a reason to get out of bed and to continue to function daily. I can relate to Bella.

New Moon was not just a vampire tale. This was the story of a girl who is impossibly in love with a vampire and is beginning to see some of the problems this will cause her. She’ll age, he won’t. His family might lose control and suck  her dry when she performs yet another klutzy move and bleeds. She’ll lose all contact with her friends and family if she becomes a vampire, etc. New Moon is the story of coping with loss and finding a way to keep going when all seems hopeless. New Moon is a story of building new relationships and taking chances. It’s also a story of teens and the foolish things they do (like Romeo & Juliet, adrenalin rushes, risk-taking).

As for those who don’t like New Moon, and there are many, you may have valid reasons but those don’t impact the teen’s attraction to this title.  For example,  Debbie Reese has a set of blog posts about the Twilight saga including a commentary when she and her daughter saw the movie. I found the comments from the Quileute people interesting as they cope with tourists and try to share the truth of their culture and legends.

When the movie version was released, I joined Susan at the theater. We were watching the crowds for their reactions. When Jacob first appeared and viewers saw those muscles, we giggled about the cougars in the crowd. Since one of my sons closely resembled Jacob before chopping off his hair for Locks of Love, it was an uncomfortable feeling. I like the movie version of New Moon much better than Twilight. Can you believe I still haven’t seen the movie version of Eclipse yet? Shocking, I know. I was happy to read the book Eclipse and the companion novel of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I found the character development much more interesting The Short Life than in most of the others.

While I’m not going to pretend these titles were the best in literature, I do acknowledge the way teenage girls were able to embrace romance and be perceived as cool readers.