I’ve roped another guest blogger into taking part of my work load. Her name is Amy Leibowitz and she’s a fabulous author and friend! She’s here to talk about my favorite genre of books, Young Adult Fiction. Without further ado, Amy:
Because I’m a book reviewer and blogger, I thought this challenge would be fairly easy. In some ways, it has been. I’ve been able to cover several categories just from what I normally pick up. But some are less easy, and I’ve had to go out of my way to find good things to read. Fortunately, because I have kids, there’s no shortage of kid and young adult lit in my house.
Every year, there’s a children’s book festival at one of the local college campuses. This year, my middle schooler was excited to go because he was able to meet one of his new favorite authors—Linda Sue Park. She’s the award-winning author of A Long Walk to Water (which is on my reading list for true story and was the assigned book in my son’s classroom) and Newberry Award-winning A Single Shard. She is also a contributing author for The 39 Clues series.
My son was able to have Ms. Park sign his copy of A Long Walk to Water. Meanwhile, my daughter picked up her book Project Mulberry, which is what I chose as my YA fiction. It’s probably closer to a middle-grades (MG) novel, but those categories are closely related.
Project Mulberry is about a Korean-American girl, Julia, and her best friend, Patrick, both of whom are involved in a 4H-type group and working together on a project to enter in the state fair. They choose to raise silkworms, even though Julia wants to do something “more American.”
There are some complex themes in this book, including racism, ethical farming, and cultural pride/sharing. Julia is a terrific narrator, relatable in so many ways. I loved her voice. I read this one out loud with the kids, so we all got to enjoy it together, and we were all excited to see what would happen next. I highly recommend this book, especially for anyone who is on the fence about whether they would enjoy YA or MG novels.
One of the big issues being discussed in YA lit right now is the rampant sexism. Not in the books themselves, per se, but in the community. Some issues which have come up are that male authors “understand” teenage girls better and that books are marketed in such a way that boys are universal (i.e., girls can read about them and relate to them) but girls are special (i.e., boys cannot relate to girls). Obviously, I think those are both terrible. I highly recommend that readers make the effort to read about people who are not exactly like themselves. Books such as Project Mulberry prove that gender and culture have very little to do with whether or not a main character or a plot is interesting or relatable.
If you want to know what else I’m reading (and writing!), you can find me on my blog at http://amleibowitz.com, on twitter @amyunchained, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UnchainedFaith/. You can read my reviews both on my blog and at Inked Rainbow Reads: http://www.inkedrainbowreads.com/category/reviewer/amy/. If you’re an indie author, an author of LGBTQIA+ lit, or an avid reader looking to talk about books and want to do a guest post, you can drop me a line via my blog on the contact form.