Sunday, January 24, 2010

Unsung YA Heroes

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.

18 comments:

Steph Su said...

You've picked fantastic books there. Sold was incredible, in the sad sort of way, and you've piqued my interest for If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period. I'm glad you decided to join in on the Unsung YA blog blitz!

susan said...

Sold was sad and incredible and the writing was beautiful. it's hard to use poetic device and to do it well.

Anastasia said...

Jacqueline Woodson's books always make me go "ow" in the heart area. Great list!

Melissa Walker said...

Great list! I'm also a big Jacqueline Woodson fan.

Nathalie said...

I've bookmarked this page. Thx for the list!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I hate to write comments that are so vapid as this but Great list! what else is to say?!!

hcmurdoch said...

Sold and First Part Last are excellent choices! Our students really like Angela Johnson in particular and I am always pushing Patricia McCormick's books

Lu @ Regular Rumination said...

So many great books on this list, some I have read and some I have not. I know that I will definitely be adding books to my TBR from these selections. Thanks, Susan!

Kelly said...

Susan, great picks! The only one I've read is Sold. I loved it, so I'm sure I'll enjoy the rest of these.

I just added a link to your list from the master post. :)

Lorin said...

So glad you took part in this- great list! I've been meaning to read Alvarez for a while, so thanks for reminding me.

Jessie Carty said...

such a great line up! i almost picked up the alvarez book because i read an essay collection of hers that was just great! perhaps i should put it back on my list :)

MissAttitude said...

Great list! I need to read Sold. loved In the Time of the butterflies. My goal is to read If You Come Softly in February. also, I'm going to have a week of Haiti reviews (or at least a week's worth) and I'm adding Every Time a rainbow dies. Glad to hear you liked The Meaning of Consuelo, adding it to my tbr list (latino historical fiction!)

Color Online said...

I heard about the challenge at the last minute. Glad I made it and pleased with the reception.

Jenny said...

Ah! The First Part Last! I am so, so glad you mentioned this book! When I took an adolescent lit class at university, we had to have a vote between The First Part Last and this other book calling Swallowing Stones. And Swallowing Stones won, and I really wanted to read The First Part Last anyway, but it was checked out of the library and then I forgot its title.

Yay! Thanks for the reminder!

Kelly said...

Wonderful list! Thank you. I love Jacqueline Woodson's and Angela Johnson's books too. One of my unsung YA favorites is Path to My African Eyes by Ermila Moodley. I also love the Del Rio Bay Clique series by Paula Chase.

Color Online said...

You know for some reason I thought this was for older titles. Glad so many participated and mentioning books I've read and enjoyed and others I want to read.

Vasilly said...

I just added almost every book you wrote about to my TBR list. The only exception is In the Time of Butterflies. That book has stayed with me though I've read it years ago. Now I want to re-read it.

I read Locomotion and Peace Locomotion by Woodson last year. She is such a talented writer. I need to read everything by her.

susan said...

Vasilly,

E and I are on a mission to read everything by her. I have read about half.