I have spent the entire weekend blogging and reading about books. Just when I was going to get away from my monitor I stumble up Unsung YA Heroes (scroll down to second list). I could not resist. Without my usual long-winded intro here are a few of my unsung YA Heroes:
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. It's a story about a teen father. The main characters are African American. But this isn't your typical urban tale of poverty and hardship. The teen parents are smart, have futures and they were more responsible than many of their peers but pregnancy can happen even if you take precautions. The story is told from the father's point of view and the story isn't linear. Love the characters, the storyline and most of all the writing.
Sold by Patricia McCormick. I don't read many verse novels but I am drawn to books set anywhere in Asia, Middle East or India. In this story a young girl from a small village in Nepal is told she's going to work for a woman in Calcutta as a maid. Lakshmi's family is very poor so despite her fear and not wanting to leave her family, she goes off believing she'll earn enough to return and pay her family's debts. What she soon discovers is the woman who arranged for her to get the maid's job has actually sold her to a brothel.
Everytime A Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams Garcia. While many have read Speak, this is my preferred book about the aftermath of rape. Here we have two fully-developed characters. One is Haitian and the other is Jamaican. Despite their personal hardships, Thulani and Ysa do not cloak themselves in victimhood. They are wounded but in supporting each other they begin to heal. Williams is a skilled and seasoned writer that I'd like to see reviewed more in the blogosphere.
If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko. Okay, this is MG I suppose but we didn't have MG, we had Young Adult and I'm sticking with that. This author was new to me so while others sang her praises she was the unexpected surprise read of the year.
Kristen and Walker seem like unlikely friends but when Kristen is dumped by her best friend she feels pretty vulnerable and out desperation she strikes up a conversation with a kid she normally wouldn't have the nerve to speak to. Walker is the new kid but he's cool and making friends easily so why would he talk to her? Because he is a good he stands up for Kristen when others try to blame her for something she didn't do. They form an odd friendship and then Kristen learns a secret wilder than anything she could have imagined. I loved, loved this book.
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Cofer Ortiz. This coming of age story set in 1950s San Juan, Puerto Rico is classic in form. A young girl shrouded in family sadness, a changing social and political climate in her home country and dreams of coming to America. Despite place and time, I think most readers will relate to the main character.
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson. I'm not a romance fan, YA or adult but this is a love story that more than two years later makes my heart hurt. Two teens, one black and one white. The ending is unexpected though in hindsight there was the slightest foreshadowing. Woodson foregoes typical socioeconomic stereotyping with Miah and Ellie is the one who has strained relationships at home. How they navigate their way through first love with a barrage of others subtely and not so subtle questioning their relationship how they deal with race themselves is tender and painful and real.
In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alveraz. This historical fiction based on the true lives of the Mirable sisters is one of my favorite books. Told in alternate points of view from each sister I learned so much about the country, the politics and this family. Loved the pacing and Alveraz's style. Enjoyed this far more than the movie.
Find more unsung heroes by using the hashtag #unsungYA at twitter.