Although I read all sorts of books, from adult historical and literary fiction to narrative nonfiction and books on nutrition, I am the children’s and teens’ selector, so I keep up with those books, too! This short list contains titles from some of the best YA writers out there, including atmospheric mysteries, mind-bending science fiction, surprising fantasy, and contemporary coming-of-age novels. These are some of my favorite new titles of 2013. Enjoy!
All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
When eighteen-year-old Judith returns to her Puritan village two years after she disappeared, even her mother considers her a ruined young woman. After hearing Judith struggle unsuccessfully to tell her tale with the half a tongue that her captor left to her, her mother is so repulsed that she forbids her to ever speak again. Judith knows that the boy she has loved since they were both children is lost to her forever, even though she can never tell him why. Her captor was his father. Thus begins a terrifying and desperate story of guilt and innocence, love and hatred, and above all, sad misunderstandings. See my full post here.
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Josie Moraine is the daughter of a brothel prostitute in 1950s New Orleans. She’s smart, pretty, resourceful, and yearning to escape her seedy life in the Old Quarter. Her mother has taken up with a dangerous man who repeatedly threatens Josie’s life. Josie longs to join society-girl Charlotte at Smith College, but it seems like just a dream. Life gets even more complicated when she finds a deceased wealthy man’s watch under her mother’s bed, which entangles Josie in a murder investigation. The anguish in the novel is excruciating at times, as Josie lands in one terrifying situation after another, and the author does not sweeten them up for a minute. A richly portrayed novel of ambition, betrayal, and honor.
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Seth drowns in the very preface of the novel, but he does not move toward a gentle light, nor is this book one big flashback. The reader works to discover the truth along with Seth in this sci-fi thriller, and events unfold ever more quickly, running toward a breathless conclusion. Along the way, Seth grapples with the nature of reality, wondering if his present circumstances justify the feeling he has always had, that there must be more than this. If this is the “more,” is it what he expected? Or perhaps the “more” was always in front of him before, but he didn’t see it.
Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal
Jeremy Johnson Johnson lives with his dad in the town of Never Better, but things could be much better for them. His grandfather bequeathed Jeremy the bookstore where they live, but his father took out a huge loan on the store, and of course, he can’t pay it back. Along comes the fetching Ginger Boltinghouse, who convinces Jeremy to participate in a harmless prank that goes terribly wrong. The ghost of Jacob Grimm, one of the famous brothers who wrote those dark fairy tales, is trying to protect Jeremy from the Finder of Occasions, a person who will use any event to visit evil upon his unsuspecting victims. The shocking twist proves that this is a Grimm tale, after all.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Bonded together more than ever after their mother leaves, twins Cather and Wren spend their time taking care of their sweet but unstable father and writing fanfiction about the incredibly popular Simon Snow series. When they go to college, Cather imagines that life will continue as usual, fitting in her schoolwork around her fanfiction writing, but Wren becomes a party girl overnight. Cather is dealing with a hostile roommate with a nosy boyfriend, a writing partner who steals her material, and a professor who informs Cather that fanfiction is not original writing. While Cath dithers about raising her failing grade in her most important class and Wren continues to implode, Cath’s romantic life becomes very complicated and their father chooses that moment to have a breakdown. A complex and delightful coming-of-age novel in which every character needs to come of age: the main characters, the roommates, the boyfriends, and even the parents.