Young Adult books, commonly called “YA,” used to be limited to Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and a few other well loved but watered down stories. No more; YA books now take on social issues, life dilemmas, and high drama. The writing is often top notch, too.
In THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB, Robert Sharenow took a real incident, and imagined what might have been. Boxer Max Schmeling did rescue two Jewish boys during Kristallnacht. Because of his loss to Joe Louis, he was no longer under the protection of the German government, and was drafted. Many felt that he was assigned duties that were particularly dangerous, because of the “disgrace” he’d brought to the Fatherland. Sharenow makes Schmeling the mentor of a young Jewish boy, Karl Stern. Karl must navigate his way through Nazi Berlin, while trying to protect his family, and attempting to realize his own dreams.
Imagination plays a great part in the appeal of YA books, and SUPERNATURALLY, by Kiersten White, is a prime example. Heroine Evie finds her normal life boring, and accepts a position working for her former employer, The International Paranormal Containment Agency. She soon finds herself in a difficult situation, and begins to question her choice.
Choice is also at the center of Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT. Every sixteen year old must choose how to spend the rest of his or her life. A young girl named Beatrice makes a fateful and possibly dangerous decision. Will she pick staying with her family, or following her destiny?
Tara Hudson seems to be removing choices from her main character, Amelia. In fact, she has died, and is now part of the HEREAFTER. Can Amelia help her beloved friend Josh, or will an evil spirit, named Eli, triumph?
A dead blackbird is brought back to life by fifteen year old Kate Winters in SHADOWCRY, by Jenna Burtenshaw. Because of her miraculous powers, Kate is being hunted by the dreaded wardens, who want to use her to further their own cause in the war torn world of Albion.
Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, BEFORE I FALL, won raves. Now, DELIRIUM proves that her talent is the real thing. The question is whether or not love is something to dread, a force that must be conquered. This edition includes a Q&A, and an excerpt of the much anticipated sequel, PANDEMONIUM.
Kelley Armstrong is a number one best selling author on the New York Times list. The reason is clear with her new book, THE GATHERING. Her heroine, sixteen year old Maya, knows nothing about her background or herself. But she does have an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip, which is key to solving the mystery of her true identity.
THE POWER OF SIX is Pittacus Lore’s sequel to the number one New York Times bestseller I AM NUMBER FOUR. I must admit a soft spot for the author’s bio, which names him as “Lorien’s ruling Elder. He has been on Earth for the last twelve years, preparing for the war that will decide Earth’s fate. His whereabouts are unknown.” But his books are selling like hot cakes.
STARCROSSED is Josephine Angelini’s saga of sixteen year old Helen Hamilton, who dreams of trekking across the desert, and wakes to find her bed sheets damaged by dirt and dust. She also hallucinates at school, seeing three women who weep tears of blood. Being different is bad enough, but on a small island like Nantucket, it’s downright impossible to conceal.
All these books are real page turners, no matter what your age. So, the next time you’re about to pass by the YA rack, take a moment to check out this world of imagination and adventure.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and an avowed bibliophile.. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com