Sunday, May 11, 2014

YA Guy Reads... Diverse Books!

YA Guy's been following the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement in YA literature, and doing my part to promote it. (For example, check out this post on the Fall Fourteeners blog.) It's an important moment in literary history, and I'm excited to be part of the YA community while it's happening.

So in the ongoing spirit of promoting diversity in YA literature, I want to list ten diverse YA books I've read this year. That's out of a total of almost 30 YA books read thus far in 2014, so about a third. I've provided links to my reviews if you need more convincing, but trust me--I wouldn't be listing these books if I didn't believe they all deserve to be widely read.

So, alphabetically by author's last name, here goes!

1. Austin Aslan, The Islands at the End of the World. A great sci-fi eco-thriller set in Hawaii and narrated by a half-Hawaiian teen, full of surprises and language as lush as the islands themselves.

2. Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities. A multcultural cast and mixed-racial narrator anchor this astonishing science fiction novel, sequel of sorts to Bacigalupi's equally impressive Ship Breaker.

3. Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. With gay main characters and a beautifully realized evocation of being a high-school oddball, this book's every bit as good as you've probably already heard.

4. Christine Kohler, No Surrender Soldier. Based on the true story of a Japanese soldier who lived underground on the island of Guam for two decades after the end of World War II, this book treats themes of family, loyalty, faith, and community in rich and layered ways. I interviewed the author here.

5. Kristen Lippert-Martin, Tabula Rasa. A taut cyber-thriller with a Latina narrator and some of the most breathless action sequences you're likely to encounter anywhere.

6. Meg Medina, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. A searing examination of bullying, narrated by the Latina victim of the attacks.

7. Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Gringolandia. Totally amazing story of a Chilean political prisoner who returns to his family broken by torture, and who must try to reconcile with his teenage son.

8. Sherri L. Smith, Orleans. I haven't given this book a full review yet, as I've just finished it. But it's a genuinely inspired science fiction novel, the story of a future New Orleans separated from the U.S. after storm and disease ravage the community, and narrated by a teenage African American, Fen, in her own engaging and distinctive dialect. Watch for a review soon!

9. Christina Struyk-Bonn, Whisper. A futuristic fairy-tale of a world that demonizes all those with physical disabilities, including the narrator, a teenage girl with a cleft palate. I interviewed the author here.

10. Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story. The tragicomic story of a teen suffering from depression. The real-life tragedy of author Vizzini's recent suicide adds poignancy to the fictional narrator's survival.

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