My friends and colleagues know me as someone who didn’t spend much time in the realm of young adult (YA) fiction at the age when that genre should have appealed to me. In my previous experience reading YA novels, I had felt the storylines to be too flat and the characters too vacuous and self-absorbed, much like teenage years themselves. In ninth grade I wrote an article for the school paper bemoaning the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar claiming that it portrayed a completely unrealistic and even offensive portrayal of teenage girls in high school. Bet you can tell I was the life of the party back then, huh? Unfortunately, a handful of popular series, including Gossip Girl, left a bad taste in my mouth that forced me to swear off reading YA novels thinking they had nothing to offer me. Since getting more exposure to the YA genre in my library career, however, I found that there are a wealth of titles exploring more substantial topics with no self-absorbed characters to be found.
My biggest interest in the genre right now lies with Starr Carter in Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give (DB87441). Starr navigates her life split between the poor neighborhood where she lives and Williamson Prep, her upscale private high school. On her way home from a party with her friend Khalil, both are pulled over by police and Khalil is shot and killed while also being unarmed. As the only witness to the shooting, Starr is questioned and then intimidated by some of the other local cops as well the neighborhood drug lord which puts her life in danger. While I haven’t finished the book, I have also yet to put it down and am sure it will be one of my new favorites. If you’re looking to add some more compelling and thought-provoking YA to your summer reading list, I highly recommend The Hate U Give as well as the following that I’ll be checking out soon as well:
Fat Angie by e. E. Charlton-Trujilo
DB76248 / BR19882
Life further unravels for overweight high school freshman Angie as her dysfunctional family learns that Angie’s sister is presumed dead in Iraq. But then cool new girl K.C. forms an unlikely romance and friendship with Angie.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
DB80645 / CL15574
When Addie’s granddaughter asks about her life, Addie recounts growing up in Boston as the daughter of immigrants who did not trust the opportunities America affords their children. But when Addie joined a library group, her world opened up.