A little about the formatting of the reviews. Suggestions welcome!
Published in: I’m not yet organized enough to review only the most recent publications. I’ll try to stick to the last five years or so, but sometimes something Awesome And Older will come up.
Pages: Whether they should or not, many young adult readers care about this.
The protagonist: Remember your literary terms, kids! The protagonist is the main character, the “one you root for”.
The gist in 100 words or less: What the book’s about. Warnings for spoilers, if I must include them.
Great stuff: Things I liked.
Meh: Things that weren’t so great.
Best quote: I used to collect quotes and always lost the lists as word processing applications upgraded, leaving my files in ClarisWorks oblivion. I like quotes. Plus I am always teaching my students to read an actual page before they decide on a book–get an idea of the writing style, vocabulary, sentence struture etc. I like the cheesy quotes, so beware.
Parent/teacher alert: Here’s the deal: This blogger will encourage–nay, beg–you to Not Run Away From Talking About The Hard Stuff.
You have a teenager(s) and are partially responsible for a crucial developmental stage. You also know them pretty well.
I know a lot of people who get freaked out by what might be Lurking In YA Lit, so much so that they avoid the whole genre. They’re often right–drugs, sex, relationships, alcohol, abuse, neglect and scores of other Real Issues are in there. Often.
These Real Issues are not going away from young adult literature, and certainly not from the real world.
However, in today’s young adult lit world, Real Issues are frequently–VERY frequently; I’d venture to say MOST of the time–dealt with in incredibly tasteful and meaningfuly ways. Reading about a character who struggles with a methamphetamine addiction–and the horrors that come along with it–may be the safest way for adolescents to come face-to-face with these issues and watch what it does to the teens in these stories and their loved ones. Poor decision are not glorified (or, if they are, it is rare and my review will red-flag that issue!) but explored for what they are.
Therefore, the purpose of this section is not to Avoid This Book If It Talks About The Sex, but to give you a heads-up about a conversation you may need to have with your young adult reader. You know ‘em better than I do, but I work in a public high school: If they are not hearing about it from you, they are most certainly hearing about it from their peers.
Read it if you liked: I’ll try to use my ever-growing mental list of YA novels to attempt to pull an Amazon and show you what’s similar.
What my students thought: I am fortunate to interact with 100+ young adults in a given week, and many of them talk to me about what they are reading, even when I don’t “make” them. I have some books in my classroom library that are out all. the. time, and others that students don’t touch or drop after 20 pages, consistently.