Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Best YA Titles You May Never Have Read

When Kelly from YAnnabe posted about a Super-Secret-Blog-Project, my interest was piqued. Super and Secret? I was there.

Kelly explained THE WHY: "After seeing all the "best of 2009" lists lately, I've been thinking about how so many great YA books get published every year but don't make a splash. Most barely register a ripple. And of course, the vast majority of great YA books don't approach anywhere NEAR the fervor of The-Series-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. The goal is to highlight YA books that haven't gotten the attention they deserve. These books may not have made a splash when they were first released, so we're going to make a splash for them."

Then she explained THE HOW: Pick 25 books and use LibaryThing to see how many members have that title on their bookshelves. Those titles that appear on 500 or less members' bookshelves are your list.

I should mention that most of the books that appear below got a lot of attention when they came out. Many won awards or received starred reviews. There are a few Printz and NBA books here. Nevertheless, they met the criteria of less than 500 members, so they definately are in need of more attention!!!

So without further ado, here are my books (blurbs from Amazon because I'm sort of lazy mainly, but not only because I've got a virus. Yuck.):

Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood
The "Hollywood" where Sammy Santos and Juliana RĂ­os live is not the West Coast one, the one with all the glitz and glitter. This Hollywood is a tough barrio at the edge of a small town in southern New Mexico. Sammy and his friends, members of the 1969 high school graduating class, face a world of racism, dress codes, war in Vietnam and barrio violence. In the summer before his senior year begins, Sammy falls in love with Juliana, a girl whose tough veneer disguises a world of hurt. By summer's end, Juliana is dead. Sammy grieves; the memory of Juliana becomes his guide through the difficult year ahead. Sammy is a smart kid, but he's angry. He's angry about Juliana's death, he's angry about the poverty his father and his sister must endure, he's angry at his high school and its thinly disguised gringo racism, and he's angry he might not be able to go to college.

Rabb, Margo. Cures for Heartbreak
"IF SHE DIES, I'll die," are the words 15-year-old Mia Perlman writes in her journal the night her mother is diagnosed with cancer. Nine days later, Mia's mother is dead, and Mia, her older sister, and her father must find a way to live on in the face of sudden, unfathomable loss. But even in grief, there is the chance for new beginnings in this poignant, funny, and hopeful novel.

Resau, Laura. Red Glass
One night Sophie and her parents are called to a hospital where Pedro, a six-year-old Mexican boy, is recovering from dehydration. Crossing the border into Arizona with a group of Mexicans and a coyote, or guide, Pedro and his parents faced such harsh conditions that the boy is the only survivor. Pedro comes to live with Sophie, her parents, and Sophie's Aunt Dika, a refugee of the war in Bosnia. Sophie loves Pedro—her Principito, or Little Prince. But after a year, Pedro’s surviving family in Mexico makes contact, and Sophie, Dika, Dika’s new boyfriend, and his son must travel with Pedro to his hometown so that he can make a heartwrenching decision.

Shusterman, Neal. Downsiders
Talon lives Downside, that is, underneath New York City. There is a strict code of secrecy among the Downsiders. However, when Talon accidentally meets a young woman named Lindsay, who is a Topsider (from above the ground), the two worlds inevitably collide. They become friends and love blossoms. The punishment for Talon's lack of discretion could be death. What will happen to them? Will the entire Downsider community be discovered?

Freymann-Weyr, Garret. My Heartbeat
Ellen loves Link and James. Her older brother and his best friend are the only company she ever wants. She knows they fight, but she makes it a policy never to take sides. She loves her brother, the math genius and track star. And she is totally, madly in love with James, with his long eyelashes and hidden smiles. "When you grow out of it," James teases her, "you will break my heart." Then someone at school asks if Link and James might be in love with each other. A simple question. But the answer is far from simple, and its repercussions affect their entire lives.

Brooks, Kevin. Martyn Pig
With his father dead, Martyn has a choice. Tell the police what happened - and be suspected of murder. Or get rid of the body and get on with the rest of his life. Simple, right? Not quite. One story leads to another. Secrets and lies become darker and crazier. And Martyn is faced with twist and turns that leave him reeling. Life is never easy. But death is even harder.

Duey, Kathleen. Skin Hunger
Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A "magician" stole her family's few valuables and left Sadima's mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima's joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin's irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision. Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate -- and the first academic requirement is survival. Sadima's and Hahp's worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey's dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.

Thomas, Rob. Rats Saw God
For Steve York, life was good. He had a 4.0 GPA, friends he could trust, and a girl he loved. Now he spends his days smoked out, not so much living as simply existing. But his herbal endeavors -- and personal demons -- have lead to a severe lack of motivation. Steve's flunking out, but if he writes a one-hundred-page paper, he can graduate. Steve realizes he must write what he knows. And through telling the story of how he got to where he is, he discovers exactly where he wants to be...

Hautman, Pete. Godless
Fed up with his parents' boring old religion, agnostic-going-on-atheist Jason Bock invents a new god -- the town's water tower. He recruits an unlikely group of worshippers: his snail-farming best friend, Shin, cute-as-a-button (whatever that means) Magda Price, and the violent and unpredictable Henry Stagg. As their religion grows, it takes on a life of its own. While Jason struggles to keep the faith pure, Shin obsesses over writing their bible, and the explosive Henry schemes to make the new faith even more exciting -- and dangerous.

Hidier, Tanuja Desai. Born Confused
Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she's spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course it doesn't go well -- until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your heart, finding your culture, and finding your place in America.


Abby said...

Ohh, spreading the love for Born Confused! I love it!

joanna said...

I love Martyn Pig and I just put Godless on display last night. I'll have to see what I would add to this list!

Meg said...

What a fantastic list -- every book is new to me! Red Glass and My Heartbeat really got my attention. I'll be looking for them! Thanks for sharing!

Pam said...

I haven't read or heard of any of these.

Lenore said...

Just added Downsides and Cures for Heartbreak to my wishlist.

I have Skin Hunger and its follow-up on my shelves, but I'm going to wait until book 3 comes out to read them!

Emily said...

Great list! So pleased to see Margo's book there. She is a friend, and one of my favorite Texans!

Megan said...

Excellent list! I haven't heard of most of these, but they all sound like books I'd love to read! Downsiders is one I have read and really enjoyed. I loved how easy it was to believe that this whole different world exists beneath the sreets of NYC!

Kelly said...

Great list! I've only read Godless, which I agree is definitely noteworthy.

You always give me such good recs, so these are all going on my TBR!

Anastasia said...

New Mexico? I live in New Mexico!! :D

Melissa Walker said...

Great list! RED GLASS--sigh--so amazing.

Patti said...

I've been enjoying reading everyone's lists. This has been so fun!

Bibliovore said...

Oh man, Rats Saw God! It's been years since I read that but it still comes back to me. Thanks for the list--I'm going to check out some of the new-to-me ones.

missprint said...

I fell in love with the cover for Cures for Heartbreak and immediately had to read it--such a beautifully written book!

Patti said...

Bibliovore - Yes - it is one of the ones that stay with you forever. It was probably one of the first YA books I read after starting my job. and missprint - it is beautiful. Red Glass is another one that the love just explodes out of the book as you read it.

joanna said...

Cures for Heartbreak! Makes my heart happy to know more people will read it. And it does have one of the best covers ever.