New young adult fiction on the shelves

Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Young adult fiction is for readers in high school and older who like more involved plots and more mature themes than those found in chapter books. They are easy to spot: look for yellow-green stickers on the spines of books shelved in the adult fiction area.

"Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow," by Jessica Day George.

Readers who love getting lost in a good fairy tale will find themselves absorbed in this retelling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." When the youngest daughter of a large family is the one to find the mythical, wish-granting white reindeer, she is gifted with a name (her family never bothered to call her anything but "lass") and the ability to talk to animals. This last is both a blessing and a curse: she gains a reputation in her village for having a way with animals, and that brings a polar bear to her doorstep one winter. The bear begs her to come live with him for a year and a day (but will not say why), promises her family wealth and that she will be safe, and so, against her father's and favorite brother's wishes, the lass goes on an adventure of a lifetime.

"Down to the Bone," by Mayra Lazara Dole.

Publically outed and expelled from school when a nun reads a note from Laura's girlfriend Marlena, and then ushered out the door by her mami who says she can't love a gay daughter - Laura thinks things can't get worse. But then Marlena leaves Miami to go back to Cuba, telling Laura everything was a mistake. Heartbroken and betrayed, Laura struggles with herself. Is it just Marlena she loves? Or is she gay or bi? Populated with some characters you'd love to meet and others you'll love to hate, this is a quick, rollercoaster of a book with an ultimately happy ending.

"Unwind," by Neal Shusterman.

Opening with a chilling new Bill of Life agreed to by Americans of the future, this is a future in which abortion is outlawed, but which allows parents and guardians to have a child between 13 and 18 "unwound". Not killed outright, but harvested in pieces to help others live healthier, happier lives. Meet three Unwinds: 16-year old Connor can't believe he's enough of a troublemaker for his parents to sign him away; 15-year old Risa, who's lived in an orphanage all her life, has always felt the threat of unwinding and has worked hard to be good, yet still finds herself part of the home's bottom line; and 13-year old Lev, who has known all his life that he's going to be tithed and who used to be okay with that. Now all three are on the run to somewhere safe... if only they knew where that might be.

"The Fold," by An Na.

When Joyce Park's beneficent Aunt Gomo wins a bundle in the lottery, she offers everyone in the family a chance to improve himself. What she offers Korean-American Joyce is surgery to give her an eyelid crease so she'll look more "American." Torn between wanting a date with oh-so hunky John Ford Kang, really hating pain, wondering whether she'd be betraying her heritage, and knowing she's unlikely to be offered a gift like this again, Joyce takes her time making a decision. Everyone has their own advice: her sister weighs in against it, a cousin who's undergone the surgery doesn't see any reason to hesitate, and her best friend can't believe Joyce might turn down a gift like this. But as, one by one, Gomo's gifts to the rest of the family reveal unintended consequences, Joyce realizes she likes herself just as she is (and so does John Ford Kang). A funny approach to a serious subject.

"The Compound," by S.A. Bodeen.

Eli and his family have nine years to go before the air and water are safe outside their underground nuclear shelter. They've been in the luxurious compound for six years already, and though Eli still misses his grandmother and twin brother, who couldn't make it to the shelter in time, life has seemed almost normal. But now it seems like something just isn't right. For one thing, the food is running out faster than his father calculated. For another, his father seems jumpy and odd lately. When his father proposes a solution to the food problem that will requires suspension of any morals the rest of the family possesses, Eli realizes that he needs to find out the truth about his life.

•••

The annual bookmark contest has begun! Artists from pre-school on up through high school may enter - pick up your entry forms at any public library and create as many bookmarks as you'd like before Oct. 15.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call586-5249.



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