Each January when the Printz award and the Best Books List are announced, Illinois Teen Librarians are surprised, elated or shocked. Now is your chance to vote for your best book by participating in the YASF 2013 YA tournament of books this March. In this tournament, 16 titles will be placed in brackets with the winner from each bracket moving on to the next. Librarian judges will decide which book will win by writing a review on the blog with the reasoning for their decision. At the January 30th meeting, forum members will select the titles and the judges.
Set in Omaha in 1986, Eleanor and Park form a friendship when Park lends Eleanor tapes and comic books. There is a lot of conversation on the bus in this era before cell phones, texting and tablets and the alternating voices of Eleanor and Park provide a two-sided perspective on the falling in love scenario. The dialogue is well written and most of the reviews cannot resist quoting the hand holding scene. This is a tender, uplifting, and touching love story that is not trite, sentimental or unrealistic. The lyrical writing stirs memories of that “first love.”
Belittled by her classmates for her red hair and “big body,” Eleanor lives in a stepdad situation. Eleanor shares a room with her four siblings, her stepdad is abusive and there is little privacy or money. At school she is subjected to numerous pranks by the popular group.
A geek and somewhat of a free spirit, Park is a son of an American father and a Korean mother. His loving parents are kind and his family serves as a contrast to Eleanor’s horrible home setting.
Due to the cursing of some characters and the abusive character of the stepdad, this book was challenged in Minnesota during Banned Books Week in September. It is an honest view into how poverty, bullying and abusiveness can erode the human spirit but not destroy it. Despite Eleanor’s scary home life the story is not depressing and shows how love conquers all.
So far Fangirl is on Library Journal’s best 2013 YA Lit for Adults and also the 2013 Best Young Adult Fiction List. It is a coming of age story about fanfiction and also features a first love theme. Main character Cath writes Simon Snow fanfiction which resembles the Harry Potter character. When both Cath and her twin sister go to college, writing fanfiction continues to consume Cath while her sister Wren relishes the social scene. The relationship between the sisters and their father is the heart of the novel. The characters, the college setting and the plot have a lighter atmosphere than Eleanor & Park. There is a strong emphasis on how Cath develops as a writer with the help of her college friends.
What are your favorite 2013 titles? Join in the fun of the Young Adult Services Forum Tournament of Books and participate as a judge or submit titles by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org before January 30, 2014.