And, last but not least, for those of you who prefer real-life stories and/or mysteries, here are those nominees. Voting ends October 13th, so get reading!
Three or four weeks ago, one of the many libraryland blogs I subscribe to had an article about one YA author's quest to read one book a month throughout 2018 that focuses on an aspect of justice and/or change. The challenge grew out of the conversations Marie Maquardt has had with teens who say they "want books that give us all the feels and open our eyes, hearts, and minds to important social issues."
Maquardt observed that "so many young readers seeks novels that offer new ways of looking at the world, challenge them to ask tough questions, and motivate them to take action."
So far, she's read books about confronting racial injustice, girls fighting back, the American Dream and immigration, climate change, gentrification, and the refugee crisis. I've added additional titles that fall within those categories so that you, too, can #readforchange.
Maquardt's articles are really insightful, so I encourage you to look through those, too, especially if you are interested in more resources on the topics.
What other topic(s) do you think Maquardt should cover later this year?
HOW TO HANG A WITCH by Adriana Mather
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were? If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.
THE SCARLET LETTER by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s exploration of the dichotomy between the public and private self, internal passion and external convention, gives us the unforgettable Hester Prynne, who discovers strength in the face of ostracism and emerges as a heroine ahead of her time. As Kathryn Harrison points out in her Introduction, Hester is “the herald of the modern heroine."
THE INVISIBLE GIRLS by Sarah Thebarge
A girl scarred by her past. A refugee mother uncertain of her future. Five little girls who brought them together. After nearly dying of breast cancer in her twenties, Sarah Thebarge fled her successful career, her Ivy League education, and a failed relationship on the East Coast and started over in Portland, Oregon. She was hoping to quietly pick up the pieces of her broken life, but instead she met Hadhi and her daughters, and set out on an adventure she’d never anticipated. Hadhi was fighting battles of her own. A Somali refugee abandoned by her husband, she was struggling to raise five young daughters in a culture she didn’t understand. When their worlds collided, Hadhi and the girls were on the brink of starvation in their own home, “invisible” in a neighborhood of strangers. As Sarah helped Hadhi and the girls navigate American life, her outreach to the family became a source of courage and a lifeline for herself. Poignant, and at times shattering, Sarah Thebarge’s riveting memoir invites listeners into her story, finding connection, love, and redemption in the most unexpected places.
GIRLS LIKE US by Gail Giles
A 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner! With gentle humor and unflinching realism, Gail Giles tells the gritty, ultimately hopeful story of two special ed teenagers entering the adult world: "We understand stuff. We just learn it slow. And most of what we understand is that people what ain’t Speddies think we too stupid to get out our own way. And that makes me mad." Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in their first “real world” apartment, it initially seems to be an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces a harrowing experience that no one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought—and more importantly, that they might be able to help each other move forward.
Umm, yeah... Real life is hard. And we see that reflected in a lot of realistic fiction books.
JOHNNY GET YOUR GUN by John Ball
When a nine-year-old boy shoots an older child, a race war is ignited between militant blacks and racist whites of 1960s Pasadena. Follow black homicide detective Virgil Tibbs as he investigates the scene of the conflict involving riots, brutalities, a chase through Disneyland, and a heartwarming—and heartbreaking—scene that takes place in the baseball stadium of the former Los Angeles Angels. Here you will find childhood gone awry, racism that ought to shock but in context does not (we know it too well), and political conflicts that add fuel to the fire.
ON TWO FEET AND WINGS by Abbas Kazerooni
Abbas Kazerooni is not yet ten, but he’s suddenly forced to leave his parents, his friends—his entire world—and flee Tehran. The Iran-Iraq war is at its bloodiest, and the Ayatollahs who rule Iran have reduced the recruitment age for the army. If Abbas doesn’t escape, it’s almost certain that he will be drafted and die fighting for a regime that has stripped his family of all they have. On his own in the strange, often frightening city of Istanbul, Abbas grows up fast—with little more than his wits to guide him. He must conquer difficult things: how to live on his own, how to navigate a foreign city and culture when he doesn’t speak the language, and, most importantly, how to judge who is a friend and who is an enemy. Facing the unexpected as well as the everyday challenges of life on his own, Abbas walks a tightrope of survival—yearning to please the demanding father he has left behind, yet relishing his new found independence. His quick thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, and the kindness of strangers allow him to make the best of his dire situation in surprising ways. Does he have what it takes to not only survive against these challenging odds but achieve his parents’ ultimate dream for him: a visa to England, and the safety it represents? This compelling true story of one young boy’s courage provides a powerful child’s-eye view of war, political tumult, and survival.
Every year, the American Library Association recognizes books, illustrators, and authors of the children's and YA variety. It's like the Oscars of YA (and children's lit., but that's not our focus here)!
Without further ado, here are the 2018 winners that are in the BPL collection!