Last week I highlighted some of the exciting science fiction and fantasy YA novels that are coming out this fall. This week I’m sharing some of the more realistic and contemporary YA that I heard about at ALA, although two of the four have potentially supernatural twists:
Belzhar by Meg Wolizter. Fresh off the success of her 2013 bestseller, The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer returns with Belzhar. Jam Gallahue’s boyfriend is dead, and she has been shipped off to a bizarre Vermont boarding school that is supposed to be therapeutic. A journal-writing assignment takes an unexpected turn when Jam discovers that writing allows her to access Belzhar, an alternate world where Reeve is still alive, forcing her to confront her loss anew. Coming September 30, 2014.
First sentence: “I was sent here because of a boy.”
Conversion by Katherine Howe. Seniors at the elite St. Joan’s Academy of Danvers, Massachusetts are under incredible pressure as graduation approaches. At a time when they desperately need to keep it together, one by one the girls at the school succumb to a mysterious illness that involves inexplicable seizures and tics. No one seems to be able to figure out what is going on, but Colleen Rowley realizes that Danvers now stands on the site of what was once Salem village, where three centuries before, a similar plague touched off the most famous witch hunt in American history. Inspired by true events, Conversion is available now.
First sentence: “How long must I wait?”
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. Known for her humourous non-fiction works, including How To Be a Woman and Moranthology, Caitlin Moran’s new semi-autobiographical YA novel tells the story of Johanna Morrigan, aka Dolly Wilde. After humiliating herself terribly on local television, Johanna sets out to reinvent herself, building a new identity out of poetry, music, and paperbacks. She goes to work for a music magazine, drinking, smoking, and writing scathing reviews of bands. But can she really build her coming-of-age out of records and novels, or is there more to growing up? On sale September 23, 2014.
First sentence: “I am lying in bed next to my brother, Lupin.”
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan. Iranian-American high school senior Leila feels different enough from her peers thanks to her Persian heritage. She doesn’t need anyone to know that she also likes girls. But a beautiful and intriguing new student name Saskia opens Leila up to the possibility of coming out of her closet, and finally engaging with her peers, who also have secrets of their own. This sophomore novel by the author of If You Could be Mine will be in stores October 7, 2014.
First sentence: “My copy of The Color Purple lies in front of me on my desk, the spine bent and wrinkled from the many times I’ve pored over the book.”