2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, Part I

The full list of YALSA’s 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list is at its website, including the BFYA Top Ten.

Below are the books on the list that I’ve read, with links to my reviews. Please go to the YALSA website for the full list and YALSA’s own annotations. Because of how many books on the list, I’ve broken this into two posts, for today and tomorrow.

For the counters: I read 7 of the 10 Top Ten; and 32 of the 113 BFYA books.

Which ones have you read?

Which ones do you plan on reading?

. . . .

Billingsley, Franny. Chime. Penguin Group/Dial Books, 2011; My review. “Because when I read this book, I put post-its on every page; and because Briony is such a complex character; and because the way this story is told; Chime is one of my Favorite Books Read in 2011.”

Black, Holly. Red Glove. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing /Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011. My review. “I had the pleasure of reading White Cat and Red Glove back to back, and I can’t wait for the third book. The world Black has created, and the characters within it, are complex and fascinating and a little bit (um, no a lot) scary. There is humor, warmth, and love in these books, but there is also darkness.” One of my Favorite Books Read in 2011.

Blake, Kendare. Anna Dressed in Blood. Thomas Doherty Associates/Tor Teen. 2011. My review. My review. “Anna Dressed in Blood is both scary and romantic; Anna is both sympathetic and horrible, a murdered girl whose life was taken, a grand injustice, but also someone who has spent more than fifty years tearing apart anyone who steps into her house. The pacing is terrific; I especially loved it when I thought it was “the end” and it turned out much more was going on than I, or Cas, suspected.” One of my Favorite Books Read in 2012.

Blundell, Judy. Strings Attached. Scholastic Incorporated, 2011. My review. “After reading Strings Attached, you’re going to want to some of the great films from the late 40s and early 50s. Blundell recreates that New York world, so well you think you can open a door and step into it. It’s in the little details, of the clothes, the food, the hair. Kit manages to be of her time, but also “modern” enough to be identifiable to the modern reader. She has a dream, she’s chasing that dream, but she also loves a boy. As for the dream chasing, it’s not like she’s doing something unthinkable at the time; many young women went to New York with similar dreams of fame and success.”

. . . .

Bray, Libba. Beauty Queens. Scholastic Incorporated, 2011. My review. “Here’s the short pitch: America’s Next Top Models plus Lost multiplied by Arrested Development.” One of my Favorite Books Read in 2011.

. . . .

Bunce, Elizabeth C.  Liar’s Moon. Scholastic Incorporated /Arthur A. Levine, 2011. My review later this week!

. . . .

*Carson, Rae. The Girl of Fire and Thorns. HarperCollins Publishers/Greenwillow Books, 2011. My review. “Because Elisa is such a wonderful, smart, unique main character; because The Girl of Fire and Thorns is about taking responsibility for one’s life and actions; because belief and God and religion is treated with respect; because the food made me drool; because for a few minutes I actually wondered how I could travel to Joya and see what Elisa sees and eats what she eats; for all this, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is one of my Favorite Books Read in 2011.”

. . . .

Chayil, Eishes. Hush. Walker and Company, 2010. My review.Hush is a fascinating and brutally honest examination of what happens to a family and community that believes that if they think child sexual abuse doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen, and anything — or anyone — that says otherwise should be quieted, excluded, shunned, hushed. Best to act as if nothing ever happened. I could not read this book in one sitting. I had to put it down, take deep breaths, literally walk away.”

. . . .

Clement-Moore, Rosemary. Texas Gothic. Random House Children’s Books/Delacorte Press, 2011. My review. “In my review of Clement-Moore’s The Splendor Falls, I compared it to books by Barbara Michaels: “You know all those Barbara Michaels books you go looking for? Young girl, old family home, dueling love interests, with the three s’s: setting, suspense, supernatural? And when they’re done, you wonder what to read next?” Texas Gothic shows that Clement-Moore is this generation’s Barbara Michaels, and I guess it’s more accurate to say that those teen readers who like these books should be shown the Michaels books rather than vice versa. It is 2011, after all.”

. . . .

Dessen, Sarah. What Happened to Goodbye. Penguin Group/ Viking Juvenile, 2011. My review. “While What Happened to Goodbye has a romance in it, this is not a romance. Rather, it is about a girl whose life fractured, whose sense of self fractured, and who spent two years hiding from what had happened by trying on and discarding new personas. Now, Mclean is at a time and a place, both physically and emotionally, where she can put those pieces together and become herself.”

DeStefano, Lauren. Wither. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2011. My review. “Linden’s rich and powerful father buys him three new brides. Rhine, who misses her brother. Jenna, 18, who is just as involuntarily a bride as Rhine. At 13, Cecily is an orphan who believes she is now living the fairy tale: a room of her own, clothes, good food, servants. Linden’s brides are on a locked floor, locked away from the world, birds in a cage. As I watched the Royal Wedding, I kept on thinking of how Wither was a twisted, nightmare version of the happily ever after fairy tale: here is your prince, your castle, your life of luxury. The price paid to be a princess is high.”

. . . .

Edwardson, Debby Dahl. My Name is Not Easy. Marshall Cavendish, 2011. My review. “Depressing things happen in My Name Is Not Easy. It’s not just having to live apart from parents, family, home. Luke and his brothers are forbidden to speak Inupiaq with each other; corporal punishment is not unusual; Isaac is taken from his brothers and, without his mother’s permission, adopted by a family in Texas; one of planes taking students home crashes; the government conducts testing on the Eskimo students. There is a difference between a depressing book and a book where sad things happen; this is not a depressing book. Yes, things are lost; Luke’s name is not easy, and neither is his time at the school. There is also love, friendship, kindness, and survival. Not just survival, but triumph.”

. . . .

Handler, Daniel; Why We Broke Up. Illus. by Maira Kalman. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011. My review. “I confess, after reading Why We Broke Up and put it back on the shelf, I think about Min and Ed as if it were real. What crazy party scheme is Min thinking up now? Doe Ed still drink his coffee the same way Min does? And because of that — because I care both about Min and Ed — this is a Favorite Book Read in 2011.”

. . . .

Johnson, Maureen. The Last Little Blue Envelope. HarperCollins Publishers /HarperTeen, 2011. My review. “I’m sure I’m not the only one who threw Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes across the room when the last envelope was stolen. ARGH. And while I understood and it made perfect sense for the book, I still was very ARGH about it. So I was pleased as punch when I heard that there was going to be a sequel and my torment would end. . . .By the end of this book, I was resolved to start saving my money immediately to go to London, Paris, Dublin, and the other places Ginny visits. Johnson does a spectacular job of conveying a range of settings, in a way that makes you wish you were there. Except, I wouldn’t stay in hostels. Unless I had my own bathroom and my own bedroom.”

Johnson, Maureen. The Name of the Star. Penguin Group/Putnam Juvenile, 2011. My review. “Rory Deveaux is spending her senior year at Wexford, a boarding school in London. Meeting new people, figuring out a new school system, being in London instead of a small town in Louisiana, should be amazing.  And it is — except for the murders. Murders that are mimicking the infamous 1888 Jack the Ripper murders. Rory and her fellow students try to get on with life and school; all that changes when Rory sees someone suspicious by the school, someone the police think may be their Prime Suspect. Someone only Rory saw. Is Rory at risk?”

. . . .

A big thank you for the hard work of the BFYA committee, who read a lot of books to create this list. The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee are: Patti Tjomsland, Chair, Mark Morris High School, Longview, Wash.; Jennifer Barnes, Malden (Mass.) Public Library; Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library; Debbie Fisher, Central Falls (R.I.) High School; Michael L. Fleming, Pacific Cascade Middle School Library, Issaquah, Wash.; Clio Hathaway, Hayward (Calif.) Public Library; Diana Tixier Herald, Genrefluent.com, Glade Park, Colo.; Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas Department of Library and Information Science, Denton; Alissa Lauzon, Haverhill (Mass.) Public Library; Shelly McNerney, Blue Valley West High School, Overland Park, Kan.; Stacey McCracken, W.F. West High School, Chehalis, Wash.; Shilo Pearson, Chicago Public Library; Judith E. Rodgers, Wayzata Central Middle School, Plymouth, Minn.; Ted Schelvan, Chief Umtuch Middle School, Battle Ground, Wash.; Gillian Engberg, Booklist consultant, Chicago; and Carol Steen, administrative assistant, Columbia Valley Gardens, Longview, Wash.

2 thoughts on “2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, Part I

  1. The only one on today’s list I have read is BEAUTY QUEENS…and it was with reluctance I started it as I am not a beauty pageant fan except when watching with equally irreverent friends. But wow, was I surprised…it was a rare book I Could. Not. Put. Down. Libba has pageant contestants nailed in their multiple personas, she has the age group of females nailed. It was indeed for me one of my favorite books read in 2011! From the list a Maureen Johnson book will be next for me.


  2. For BEAUTY QUEENS, I also loved how Bray respected the girls and the reasons they compete even as she questioned what, exactly, the pageants represent and reward.


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