Thus spake National Book Award-winning Sherman Alexie.
Here are a couple of myths about YA lit: (1) YA is all like Harry Potter. (A myth popular among those who’ve read little YA other than Harry Potter. And don’t get me wrong, I love Harry Potter! But he’s SO not representative of all YA. No single series could be.) (2) YA is only read, loved, lauded and applauded by young adults.
BWA-HA-HAHAHAHAAAA! LIES! ALL LIES!!!!!
Are you a person who hasn’t read much YA? If so, I am now going to recommend some beautiful and complex YA literature that will knock your socks off, even if you’re so old that you grew up in the 1920s wearing spats, making your socks more difficult to access.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (realism)
- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One and Volume Two, by M.T. Anderson (realism)
- Postcards from No Man’s Land, by Aidan Chambers (realism)
- The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (realism)
- Sleeping Dogs, by Sonya Hartnett (realism)
- Slake’s Limbo, by Felice Holman (realism)
- Toning the Sweep, by Angela Johnson (realism)
- The Tricksters, by Margaret Mahy (magical realism)
- A Step from Heaven, by An Na (realism)
- The His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman (fantasy)
- Kindergarten, by Peter Rushforth (realism / fairy tale retelling)
- The Attolia books, by Megan Whalen Turner (fantasy)
- Peeps, by Scott Westerfeld (contemporary fantasy? SF? If I tell you what it actually is, you’ll get the wrong idea)
- True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff (realism / free verse)
- The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (realism, sort of)
I’ve included descriptors in parentheses just to give you a sense of genre, but click through to the links to get to the Amazon descriptions.
However! Before you buy the books from Amazon — or even before you buy them from Powells — I want to say one thing (with thanks to my pal, secret code name: Heroes Use Headsets, for reminding me of this). Did you know that a lot of independent bookstores do online ordering and shipping — or, can take orders by phone and ship them to you — or, can take orders by phone and then contact you when your books come in? And when you shop at local independents, your entire community benefits. :o) If you live in the U.S., the American Booksellers Association has a handy-dandy independent store finder right here to help you locate your local indie.
One final thing before I go: Graceling fell today in the Battle of the Books — to The Lincolns, by Candace Fleming. Judge Nancy Werlin’s wise decision is here; she’s convinced me to read The Lincolns asap. Thanks, Battle, for throwing me in with so many great books! And good luck in the final two rounds. (You can keep track of next week’s semi-finals on the Battle Blog.)
More YA recommendations are welcome in the comments — and maybe I’ll follow this up sometime soon with a middle grade list and a picture book list. Happy Thursday, everyone :o)