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  • Tara Sonin 3:00 pm on 2017/10/25 Permalink
    Tags: a court of thorns and roses, , , adam silvera, alexandra bracken, , , and I darken, angie thomas, anna breslaw, anna marie mclemore, april genevieve tucholke, are carson, as I descended, , charm and strange, , , ek johnston, , empress of a thousand skies, erin bow, erin bowman, exit pursued by a bear, female of the species, finnikin of the rock, francis hardings, girl in pieces, , grave mercy, handy nelson, history is all you left me, if I was your girl, jennifer lia longo, julie berry one, , karen m. mcmanus, kathleen glasgow, , kerry kletter, kiersten white, , , , mackenzi lee, , maria v. snyder, , marie rutkoski, marieke nijkamp, megan shepherd, , meredith russo, mindy mcginnis, my sister rosa, neal shusterman, nicola goon, one of us is lying, passenger, poison study, renee ahdieh, rhoda belleza, , robin lafevers, robin talley, roshani chokshi, , sandhya menon, sarah cross an, , scarlett epstein hates it here, scythe, six of crows, , the bone witch, the first time she drowned, the flame in the mist, the gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue, , the lie tree, the madman’s daughter, the passion of dolssa, , the scorpion rules, the sky is everywhere, the star touched queen, the sun is also a star, the winner’s curse, the young elites, this is where it ends, , tiffany d. jackson, Up to this pointe, vengeance road, , when dimple met rishi, when the moon was ours, when we collided, wink poppy midnight, , ya we love   

    50 YA Novels Adults Will Love, Too 

    Young Adult novels are written for teen readers, but there’s no reason why adults can’t love them, too! Some of the best contemporary, science fiction, historical, fantasy and romance novels are written by YA authors, and here are fifty you are certain to enjoy at any age.

    Up To This Pointe, by Jennifer Lia Longo
    Harper Scott’s ancestor died trying to get to the South Pole, so she has always tried to do the opposite: stick to a plan, to what she’s good at, and never take unnecessary risks. But when Harper’s plan goes up in flames, she finds herself headed exactly where she never thought she’d go—to Antarctica, to wait out a broken heart in their six-month winter. One of the most honest, beautiful, and crushing depictions of friendship you will ever read.

    Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman
    Historical fiction fans will love this Gold Rush-era western in which a girl seeks vengeance for her father’s murder by trekking across the west dressed as a boy. She meets two brothers along the way and finds herself torn between the rage in her heart and the possible love which might take its place. (Look out for the companion novel, Retribution Rails, in November!)

    Allegedly, by Tiffany D. Jackson
    Mary killed a baby when she was only nine years old. Allegedly. The case seemed open and shut, especially since Mary confessed. But was her confession coerced? And now that she finds herself pregnant, will the state take custody of her own child? This psychological thriller seems as cut and dry as the situation it describes, until the plot thickens.

    The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
    All her life, Blue has known that her true love would die. She’s also known that she belongs to a family of clairvoyants, and to heed their warnings, which come from the dead. But when she finds herself tempted by four boys, students at the local private school—and one of them in particular—she fears that she can’t avoid true love, or death, any longer.

    Grave Mercyby Robin LaFevers
    Magic, history, and Mortain—the God of Death—combine in this trilogy-starter about a group of assassin nuns who do death’s bidding. One of the most sensual and evocative novels you’ll come across in any genre, with heroines and prose worthy of acclaim.

    Six of Crowsby Leigh Bardugo
    The streets of Ketterdam are owned by Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs gang: a group of likeminded individuals, each with skills of their own, debts to repay…and some magic at their disposal. But Kaz’s quest for power has a dark underbelly—a secret he is trying to protect, and a rival he is desperate to unseat—and when one heist to steal something valuable could accomplish his darkest desires, he puts everyone at risk to achieve it.

    The Young Elites, by Marie Lu
    Every villain has an origin story, and this is Adelina’s: after suffering the effects of a fever which left her, and other survivors, scarred and feared by their community, she realizes that what she once thought was a curse may be the key to her freedom…and the ruin of those who cursed her.

    Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
    A princess who believes herself to be completely unremarkable becomes embroiled in a secret marriage, a war to protect a kingdom, and a prophecy that says against all reason, she will be the one to save them all. Beautiful prose and a unique magic system for fantasy fans!

    An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
    Two lives collide and the fate of a kingdom is at stake when a slave becomes a spy for the resistance and the soldier son of a fearsome ruler decides to help her. Tahir weaves action-packed fight scenes and secrecy with the nuanced thread of romance as, over the course of the novel, the two realize there is more at stake than their lives, and their freedom; their love. Add to the equation a third character who is desperately, but secretly, in love with the soldier, and complications ensue.

    The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
    Kestrel has always has two choices: join the army like her father, or marry. She desires neither—until she meets Arin, a slave she purchases on a whim in the marketplace. Suddenly she desires quite a bit: to fight, to love, and to put her trust in a man who confounds her at every turn. Arin is tempted by Kestrel, but the truth is he also wants to fight: specifically, her father, who is responsible for the colonization of his people. And he will use Kestrel to get what he needs.

    The Flame in the Mist, by Renee Ahdieh
    Mariko is a talented alchemist, but her skills matter less than her ability to marry and unite her family with that of the emperor’s. But on her way there, she is attacked—and when she escapes, she decides that finding those who tried to kill her and bringing them to justice is her true path in life.

    History is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera
    In this moving novel about first love, regret, and grief, Griffin is confronted by his worst fear: his ex-boyfriend—the guy he believed he would one day be with again—is dead. Spiraling downward, Griffin finds himself drawn back into past memories of Theo as well as confronted by the reality of the present, when Theo’s boyfriend comes to town for the funeral.

    The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd
    Gothic novel fans will love this historical science-fiction novel in the vein of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Isle of Dr. Moreau. Juliet has lost everything after her father’s career was ruined due to accusations she was always sure were false. She journeys to find the truth and finds herself torn between reality and insanity, and wonders if she will inherit her father’s legacy.

    Charm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn
    A boy is convinced he is turning into a monster—and not the metaphorical kind. But even monsters can’t outrun the secrets and shames of their pasts, and he is no exception. One of the most unique books I’ve ever read: part psychological thriller, part paranormal, part mystery, with prose that is exactly what the title suggests.

    The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee
    Summer may be over, but you can live vicariously through this European tour during the 1700’s featuring a pair of best friends—and one of them is in love with the other. Monty, a son of the aristocracy, and Percy, a black man raised with his rich, white relatives, somewhat to their dismay—have been friends their whole lives. Monty is a rake and a rogue, falling into bed and into bars with anyone willing, but his heart is set on Percy. They have one final gallivant through Europe, joined by Monty’s precocious sister, before they both must take on the responsibilities and obligations of men in their time. Regency romance fans will rejoice at this one!

    And I Darken, by Kiersten White
    This gender-flipped backstory to Vlad Dracul (now Lada Dragwyla) is as ruthless as its main character, who yearns for the day when she and her brother, Radu, can escape the clutches of the Ottomans and seek vengeance by waging a war she believes is her birthright. But when she and Radu both find themselves falling for the royal enemy, their story is destined to end in blood.

    Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
    Three sisters, all heirs to a powerful throne…but destined to die for it. If you love Game of Thrones’ magic and mind-games, this powerful and shocking fantasy series will make the wait for the next season fly by.

    The Star Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi
    A gorgeous fantasy about a reluctant queen caught between a prophecy that dooms any man who marries her—and her growing love for the man who does. Vivid, moving prose inspired by Indian folklore!

    A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
    While you’re waiting for the next series of Sherlock, check out this YA genderflipped version! Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are descended from the famed detectives bearing their last names. But unlike their counterparts, they are not friends. That is, until someone dies, and Jamie decides he and Charlotte are the only ones who can solve the case.

    This is Where it Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp
    A shooter causes havoc in a school over 54 minutes in this bestseller, a harrowing, emotional psychological thriller. Told through four perspectives, all with their own fears and secrets, this novel’s diverse cast shines light on the importance of inclusivity and mental health care.

    Wink Poppy Midnight, by April Genevieve Tucholke
    Part contemporary romance, part magical realism, and part thriller, this is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. A twisted love triangle turns violent and those involved are left to decide whether their actions played any part.

    As I Descended, by Robin Talley
    If you’re a Shakespeare fan, don’t miss this horror-tinged retelling of Macbeth. This time the ill-fated couple is Maria and Lily; who are in love, and determined to stay that way despite the class differences that could spell the end of their time together, as college approaches. When Lily coaxes Maria into committing a terrible act in order to win their school’s most coveted award, they are both haunted by the choice—literally.

    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that THUG is the book of the year to read. A direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel tells the story of Starr, who watches her childhood best friend get gunned down by a white cop. Caught between her family, her white friends and boyfriend, and the pressure of being the sole witness to this murder as protests rage and the fate of the cop is determined—Starr must decide how to use her voice, and her power, to get justice.

    The First Time She Drowned, by Kerry Kletter
    After spending two years in an institution, Cassie is finally getting her freedom—but when her mother comes back into her life, Cassie finds herself once again being drawn into a toxic relationship. After all: her mother’s the one who had her committed, simply to get her out of the way. A moving story of mothers and daughters, mental illness, and fresh starts.

    Scythe, by Neal Shusterman
    Imagine a world where there is no death no poverty, no war…but to keep the population from growing out of control and to preserve the peace, some lives must be taken. That’s where Scythes come in, and this dystopian sci-fi follows the journey of two reapers-in-training as they learn the art of killing, and the value of human life.

    Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here, by Anna Breslaw
    A fun contemporary novel for fans of fan-fiction—when Scarlett’s favorite TV show is cancelled, her anonymous fanfiction series goes viral…but it’s actually based on real people who would be hurt by her depiction of them. Scarlett is one of the most endearing characters you’ll ever meet; even as she makes mistakes, you root for her.

    The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow
    A future world in which the children of political leaders are held as hostages—to keep their parents under control, for any act of war would result in their deaths. A maniacal AI dictator, a burgeoning romance (or two), and two children at the mercy of their parents’ ill-fated decisions makes for a compelling read.

    Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow
    Charlie is determined not to think of the things she’s lost, or fall back into old patterns, but the past always comes home to roost. An incredibly authentic portrayal of depression, self-harm, and the depths of the human soul.

    Empress of a Thousand Skies, by Rhoda Belleza
    Two parallel narratives collide when a princess who was thought to be murdered and the refugee accused of killing her both seek justice for their circumstances. Rhee has always known she would inherit the throne her parents left vacant when they died. But after a failed assassination attempt, she realizes that destiny has other plans. Aly, a refugee who has gained fame as the star of a futuristic reality show, is determined to seek out the real villain—before an entire country declares war on him. A diverse epic that, while not set in this galaxy, reflects many of the issues we currently face.

    When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna Marie McLemore
    Magical realism at its finest meets a love story between two innocent teens caught in a web of secrecy. When a group of rumored witches decide to capture Miel and use the roses that grow from her wrists to make an infallible love spell, her relationship with Sam is put in jeopardy—as is the one secret she has kept from him.

    Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis
    A brutal, dark tale of the thin line between revenge and justice. Alex has killed her sister’s rapist and murderer—and it’s awakened something within her that can’t be controlled. As she tries to go about living a normal life in the wake of her undiscovered crime, she starts to have another uncontrollable urge: first love. Gritty, difficult, and powerful, this novel sends a strong message about rape culture.

    My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier
    Che thinks his sister is a sociopath. The problem? He’s the only person she trusts, and his parents don’t believe him. A psychological thriller as gripping as it is disturbing.

    We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
    If you love unreliable narrators, toxic friendships, and crushing tragedy (and who doesn’t honestly?) you will love this book. One summer changes everything for a group of friends, and only by going backwards can one girl pick up the pieces.

    The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
    A feel-good romance and an emotional story about how the stories of our lives are formed by our interactions with others combine for this award-winning novel. When an immigrant girl about to be deported and a boy who feels trapped by his parents’ expectations fall in love over a day, their story impacts everyone around them.

    When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon
    An arranged marriage turns into a delightful comedic romance when Dimple meets Rishi, the guy her parents want her to be with. Of course it does not go the way their parents expect it to: Dimple is more focused on her education, while Rishi actually does want to be matched…laughs and swoons definitely ensue.

    Exit, Pursued by a Bearby EK Johnston
    When Hermione is raped, she is determined not to let it interfere with her plans and her path. The aftermath of a rape is emotional, and often depicted as tragic. But in this narrative, heroine Hermione finds herself supported by everyone she knows—her parents, her best friend, her school, and local law enforcement. Still, she faces tough decisions in her journey to reclaim that which has been taken from her.

    Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken
    A sweeping time-travel fantasy romance for fans of Outlander! Etta is sent back in time to learn that not only are time travelers real, but she is from a family of them—and it is her obligation to continue their work. But when she meets Nicholas, sparks fly between them, and she is torn between fulfilling the destiny which she seems born to find, and returning to the life she had before. Impeccably researched and full of twists and turns, with diverse characters.

    One of Us is Lyingby Karen M. McManus
    The Breakfast Club turns deadly in this mystery where one student ends up dead during detention…just before he planned to shed light on all the dirty secrets of his fellow classmates. Suddenly everyone’s secrets and motives are brought into the light…and the killer will do anything to protect theirs.

    When We Collided, by Emery Lord
    Lord’s newest novel features a sensitive and nuanced depiction of mental illness. Jonah already sees it at home, in his mother, who has been battling depression since the death of his father, but when Vivi moves to town, she seems exactly like the injection of fun and life his family needs. What he doesn’t realize at first is she has mental health issues of her own, and they just may push them both over the edge.

    If I Was Your Girlby Meredith Russo
    An important story of a trans girl finding love, written by a trans women. Amanda falls hard for Grant—but as this is her first real relationship, and first relationship after transitioning from the gender she was assigned at birth to the one she identifies as—she’s scared it could blow up in her face if he found out about her past. How long can she keep her secret, and will she be accepted for who she really is? (Forgive the spoiler, but I believe it’s important: this one has a happy ending.)

    A Court of Thorns and Rosesby Sarah J. Maas
    A fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast in which Feyre is forced to live with Tamlin, a High Fae, as punishment for attacking a fae she believed was a wolf. If you love gilded castles and beautiful gowns, villains and cold-hearted rakes, magic and mayhem and of course a whole lot of romance, this series is for you.

    The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco
    When a girl raises her dead brother from the grave, she begins to undergo training to become a Bone Witch, tasked with fighting daeva and keeping The Dark at bay. But her gift means she will be feared by her community…and perhaps with good reason.

    Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta
    After the royal family and many others were murdered years ago, Finnikin has always believed the true heir to the throne is dead—until his dreams tell him differently. But in order to find the true heir, Finnikin must align himself with the mysterious Evanjalin—who doesn’t speak, but claims to know where the answers lie.

    Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder
    To save her skin, Yelena agrees to become a food taster for the Commander: meaning that if anyone tries to poison him, she’ll be the one to die. The catch (if that wasn’t enough) is that she drinks a fatal poison to ensure her loyalty…and must take a daily antidote to survive. But her kingdom is in turmoil, and the last thing she needs is secret magical powers…

    A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
    The tale of Gemma Doyle, a boarding school student with a rough past and a talent for seeing the future. Like all of Bray’s novels, A Great and Terrible Beauty is filled with strong female friendships, luscious and heartbreaking romance, and a plot that keeps you on your toes.

    Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
    This story about a human girl who can cross through the barrier between our world and the world of the chimera, is riveting and romantic. Except Karou is beginning to doubt the story of her life that has been told to her: why is her hair naturally blue, why is she entrusted to gather human teeth and bring them to the other world…and who is Akiva, a stranger who shows up with tragic answers to a past Karou is desperate to find.

    The Passion of Dolssa, by Julie Berry
    In medieval France, one girl believes with all her heart that she can communicate with God—while others, those with power, seek to have her executed as a heretic. She meets Botille, a young matchmaker who agrees to hide her from the people pursuing her—and when their two paths collide, Botille puts her family at risk to protect Dolssa’s secret. A fascinating exploration of history.

    Oneby Sarah Crossan
    Two twins have been together as long as they can remember—because they are conjoined twins, and share the same body. But when one of them starts to get sick, separation is put on the table in a way it never was before…because it could save their life. The one life they were determined to live together. A stunning story told in verse.

    The Lie Tree, by Francis Hardinge
    Faith wants to be a good, obedient daughter—but the curiosity she feels about the world, especially science—is unnatural according to her family. So she keeps her true self a secret…until her father is murdered, and only Faith holds the key to why: and it all comes down to a simple tree that her father believed held all the answers to the world’s questions. Will Faith find her father’s murderer, or will the tree damn her as it may have damned him?

    The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
    Mourning the death of her sister Bailey causes Lennie to navigate the winding, complicated roads of grief. Especially when they involve Bailey’s boyfriend, and feelings for him that she can’t ignore—and a new boy in town who makes her feel alive again. Heartbreaking and hopeful, one girl must come to terms with a future beyond her sister’s ever-lingering shadow.

    The post 50 YA Novels Adults Will Love, Too appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dahlia Adler 6:40 pm on 2014/12/08 Permalink
    Tags: #weneeddiversebooks, 2014 titles, , , , laura lam, lgbtq, lindsay ribar, michael barakiva, , , robin talley, , susan kuklin, , ,   

    12 Must-Read LGBTQ YAs of 2014 

    Nina LaCour's Everything Leads to YouIt’s been a really great year for young adult lit, and for LGBTQ YA in particular. The category continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and this list includes not only contemporary coming-out narratives, but fantasy, historical, and…however you’d classify Grasshopper Jungle. There’s even realistic fiction in which coming out isn’t part of the narrative at all. What these books do have in common, besides their literary merit, is that they all take a positive step forward in ensuring all teens are able to see themselves represented in YA lit, that they’re all necessary,. I’m hopeful they are a sign of more great things to come.

    Far From You, by Tess Sharpe
    Sophie is a recovering addict whose best friend, Mina, has been murdered. With the killer still on the loose, Sophie sets out to solve the mystery, and reveals her own truth in the process: she and Mina weren’t just best friends, they were in love. Sharpe’s debut is a poignant, heartbreaking look at the pains we go through to hide who we are, and what we risk losing in the process. It’s also probably the most beautiful, on-point depiction of bisexuality I’ve read in YA, period.

    Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley
    Set in 1959 Virginia, this story of two girls—one black, one white—who enter each other’s lives as a result of school integration is already fraught with brutal depictions of race relations of the time. But that doesn’t make Talley shy away from taking this book one step further, to an intersectional story featuring a relationship that’s rife with difficulty along both racial and gender lines. That they’re both girls feels secondary to the different color of their skin, and the fluidity with which their connection turns romantic feels so inevitable, it never really competes with the issue at the heart of the book.

    I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
    I make an active effort to be aware of LGBTQ books for teens, but in all my excitement over learning Nelson’s sophomore novel would be released in 2014, I had no idea one of the two main characters was gay. But in this novel about estranged twins dealing with love, loss, and the struggle to understand what tore them apart, it was a most pleasant surprise that my favorite of the passionate, real, and beautifully done romances in this book was between narrator Noah and the marvelously layered Brian.

    The Summer I Wasn’t Me, by Jessica Verdi
    When an author’s debut features a set of great gay dads, as did Verdi’s My Life After Now, it’s a given that any LGBTQ book by said author will jump to the top of my to-buy list. I got my hands on this one as soon as humanly possible, and fell for it hard, even as I cried my way through. I loved main character Lexi, who wasn’t the easy, obvious choice of a snarky character jumping into de-gayification camp with all the derision readers already possess on her behalf. And I loved her romance with Carolyn, which was sweet and flirty and charming. Though other parts of the book are tougher to take, the chemistry between them is a major pitter-patter-inducing bright spot.

    Shadowplay by Laura Lam
    This series (Shadowplay is a direct sequel to Pantomime) is still on my to-read list, but it’s come so highly recommended from so many trusted friends—and features such severely underrepresented characters—that I felt it needed to be mentioned here. Following the events of Pantomime, Micah is on the run, nursing heartbreak and learning stage magic in greater depth than he ever thought possible. A story of learning to embrace yourself and new beginnings set in the lush world of a steampunk-tinged circus, this promises to be one of YA’s most unique reads.

    Everything Leads to You, by Nina LaCour
    In a subgenre full of heartbreaking coming-out stories, LaCour’s third novel is a soft, light, Hollywood-inspired breath of fresh air. Emi is a set designer, still learning her craft and bleeding passion for a rarely seen aspect of the industry. Ava is the enigmatic, downtrodden aspiring actress who draws her eye, her support, and her heart. LaCour’s writing is dependably beautiful (her previous YA novels, Hold Still and The Disenchantments, are two of my favorites, and both contain queer secondary characters), and the combination of romance and mystery ensure this is not a book to be missed.

    The Fourth Wish, by Lindsay Ribar
    I loved this paranormal romance’s predecessor, The Art of Wishing, but the sequel takes things to the next level. The first book established genie love interest Oliver as bisexual; here we get themes and discussions of gender bending and fluidity, boundaries, and consent. This duology may seem light and sweet—and at times it is—but it’s also raising issues few books are. It also makes me think that if this is what Ribar can do in a paranormal world, I’d love to see what she can do in our own.

    One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva
    Every now and again you read a book that was pretty much put on earth to make your heart melt. This sweet, charming romance between the 14-year-old son of Armenian immigrants and an older skater boy who shows him the world he’s been missing is all kinds of adorable—the perfect read for those looking for queer kidlit without a lot of angst.

    Otherbound, by Corinne Duyvis
    Sci-fi and fantasy still have a long way to go toward inclusion of diverse characters (though Alex London and Malinda Lo have contributed mightily in that vein), but Duyvis’s debut seamlessly includes them. Nolan is a disabled Latino boy…except when he closes his eyes. Then he’s transported into the body of Amara, a mute servant girl who frequently suffers abuse but also has healing powers. What’s most notable here on the LGBTQ front is that through the course of the book, Amara has relationships with both her male fellow servant and the female princess she is sworn to protect—a rare demonstration of bisexuality in a category that seldom even references it.

    Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith
    There’s no question that Smith’s novel of a teen boy battling a potentially apocalyptic invasion of gigantic praying mantises alongside his friends is one of the more unusual YA offerings this year. The bisexuality of main character Austin, however, as he battles confusing attractions to both his girlfriend and his male best friend, is a much more universal kind of relatable.

    Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld
    Westerfeld’s large tome, which alternates between the contemporary perspective of a YA author ingenue and the paranormal romance that earned her a rather large book deal, was one of the year’s Big Books. But lost in all the talk of the meta structure and enormous size is the fact that Darcy’s POV contained a sweet, mature, well-done relationship between her and a fellow (female) author that had something none of the other romances between girls I read this year did: longevity. It wasn’t about the girls getting together, but about them being together, and that’s noteworthy enough in YA to earn it a spot on this list.

    Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    The only nonfiction title here, Beyond Magenta goes in depth with six transgender teens to discuss their experiences and share their struggles with self-identification. There are photographs, accounts, varying situations, and, most importantly, true-life stories that benefit readers of any age, whether they are trans, know someone who is, or simply want to educate themselves on the gender spectrum.

    What’s your favorite 2014 book featuring diverse characters?

     
  • Dahlia Adler 6:00 pm on 2014/09/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , civil rights, important issues, , lies we tell ourselves, , robin talley, ,   

    YA Romance Across Segregationist Lines: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley 

    9780373211333_p0_v2_s600Segregation and the battle for civil rights is a fundamental part of American history, showing our nation’s people at both our ugliest and our most inspiring. Lies We Tell Ourselves, a debut YA novel by Robin Talley, examines that time period with the story of one of the first fully integrated classes in Virginia in 1959, alternating between the points of view of Sarah, one of the few new black students, and Linda, her white classmate who also happens to be the daughter of a major opponent of integration. Every day is a struggle for Sarah to maintain her composure and grace in a world that doesn’t want her, and Linda doesn’t make it easy. But Sarah also forces Linda to see the humanity of the new students, and her beauty, and talent, and before long, the two find themselves becoming friends…and more.

    Lies We Tell Ourselves is simultaneously an extremely difficult one and a very easy one. There are truly brutal scenes of violence and strong language, and what makes them hardest of all to read is knowing this is a well-researched book, and Talley’s depictions in fact fall right along the spectrum of desegregation experiences. It’s also supremely well written, well paced, compelling, full of gut-punching moments, and impressively skillful at teaching empathy without moralizing. I knew as soon as I finished it way too late the same night I started it that it would be a favorite of the year, and many months later, that’s still held up to be true.

    For a little more insight into the research and stories behind Lies, I reached out to author Robin Talley, and she provided some tidbits that didn’t make it in to the book:

    • “Most of the harassment of the black students in Lies We Tell Ourselves comes from other students and teachers; only a few scenes show Sarah and her friends interacting with other adults in the community. One thing I would’ve liked to show more was the way many black students integrating previously white schools were harassed by white adults, many of whom would travel to these schools from neighboring towns or counties. In a lot of cases, those adults were the cause of the biggest problems. They were the major instigators of the violence surrounding Little Rock’s Central High School when it was first integrated in 1957. It was white adults, too, who screamed at six-year-old Ruby Bridges each day when she walked into her elementary school in New Orleans in 1960, and who made it necessary for federal marshals to escort her into and out of the school every single day.”
    • Lies We Tell Ourselves only hints at ‘segregation academies,’ but these were a major part of life in the 1960s during the integration battles. Often, as soon as a court ordered a school system to desegregate, white parents in the area would rush to create hastily organized all-white private schools so their children could get an education without being subject to having black classmates. Many of these private schools continued to operate long after integration was enacted statewide, and some of them are still around today. The Fuqua School in Farmville, Virginia, for example, was created in 1959 as an all-white private school to get around the integration order in Prince Edward County. It didn’t admit non-white students until the late 1980s. Even today, only a tiny handful of students there are minorities.”
    • “Speaking of Prince Edward County, someone could write a whole other book about what happened there. A desegregation lawsuit that started in Prince Edward County ultimately wound up being part of the groundbreaking 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that struck down segregation laws. But the white leaders in Prince Edward County were having none of it. In 1959 the Board of Supervisors closed every single one of the county’s public schools to prevent them from being integrated. The schools didn’t open again until 1964. For the five years in between, white students were able to use taxpayer money go to the private segregation academy that is now the Fuqua School. Black students had either to move to a different county, piece together what education they could at home, or simply not get an education at all. It was horrific.”
    • “In cheerier news, Lies We Tell Ourselves makes a reference to a tattered paperback novel Linda finds in a library when she’s looking for information on homosexuality. The book she finds is Spring Fire, by Vin Packer, a pseudonym for Marijane Meaker. Published in 1952, it centered on a scandalous relationship between two sorority sisters and was the first of the “lesbian pulp novels” that were sold at bus stations with lurid covers throughout the 1950s and 60s. These books tended to have very sad endings, due to fears of censorship—in Spring Fire, one of the sorority sisters goes crazy and the other decides she was actually straight all along—but nevertheless these books were popular reading with lesbians at the time who had no other literary representations of their lives.”

    Lies We Tell Ourselves is out today!

     
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