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Young Adult books are aimed at high school and college-age readers in theme and reading level. When browsing for them on the adult fiction shelves, look for lime-green labels.
"The Garden," by Elsie V. Aidinoff: Long ago, when the world was new and God and the Serpent were friends, God created Adam and Eve, kept Adam for Himself, and gave Eve to the Serpent to raise. But, in this reimagining of the Old Testament story, the things God thought were important to teach His charge weren't the things the Serpent wanted Eve to learn, and the resulting clash of ideas resounded throughout Eden and caused the downfall of humanity.
"Pagan in Exile," by Catherine Jinks: Just looking at the cover of this book, you can tell that Pagan Kidrouk is not someone to cross. Sarcastic and sharp, Pagan grew up a street urchin in Palestine, and is now squire to the courtly knight Lord Roland Roucy de Bram. De Bram and Pagan have returned from the Crusades to gather more knights to help fight the Infidels in Jerusalem. Pagan expects gentility and true knightly behavior from de Bram's family, but gets a shock when he meets them for the first time: bloodthirsty and vicious, they are interested only in the neighborhood squabbles in which they've embroiled themselves. This is a slice of dark and dirty history, told from the viewpoint of a well-traveled and courageous young man.
"Nothing to Lose," by Alex Flinn: Last year, Michael's life looked pretty easy from the outside: his mom remarried a millionaire who made sure they were all taken care of. But the money was a trap, and Michael knew it: his mom sported bruises regularly and Michael lay awake at night wishing his stepfather was dead. This year, Michael's a runaway, working with a traveling carnival. When the carnival ends up in Michael's hometown, he discovers that his mother is about to go on trial for the murder of his stepfather. What Michael knows could help her, but does he dare speak up?
"Wendy," by Karen Wallace: In a stunning departure from the innocent world of Peter Pan, the Darling family here is firmly rooted in Edwardian society with its contradictory attitudes towards children. 9-year old Wendy and her brothers suffer under the heavy hand of Nanny Holborn, the inattentive love of their mother, and the disdain of their father. One magical summer, though, they are sent to their uncle's home in the country, and Wendy discovers a brother, plumbs the depths of their father's treachery, and begins to find a place for herself in the world.
"The Safe-Keeper's Secret," by Sharon Shinn: Being a Safe-Keeper means being able to keep even the hardest secret hidden. Damiana is the perfect Safe-Keeper, keeping the identity of her daughter's father and the real parents of her "foundling" son hidden and raising the two as brother and sister. On her deathbed, Damiana tells Fiona her brother's identity, but asks her to continue to keep the secret... but Fiona can't do it. As in all good fairy-tales, despite the trespass of trust, everything ends happily with all wishes granted and all loose ends wrapped up.
"Basilisk," by N.M. Browne: Two teenagers from very different worlds meet and become allies in a fight to save humanity from the machinations of the tyrannical Arkel. Rej, who lives below ground as a "comber," and Donna, a scribe in the city of Lunnzia in the Above world, discover that they have the same dragon-filled dreams. As they puzzle out what the dreams mean, they come closer to being swept up in the greed, politics, and drugs that form the foundation of their society. "one of those hideous books where the mother dies," by Sonya Sones Ruby's life is disintegrating. It's always been just Ruby and her mom since her famous-actor-dad divorced her mom before Ruby was born, but now Ruby's mom has died and Ruby's being shipped off to live with the man she calls "the sperm donor." In beautifully written loose verse, Sones tells the story of Ruby's grief for her mother, friendship with her father's assistant, her gradual adjustment to California, and her growing attachment to her father.
Author Alert! Next Friday and Saturday, the Juneau Public Libraries welcome author Debbie Miller. She'll be presenting a program for adults on Friday evening downtown at 7 pm about her journeys in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and then on Saturday afternoon, school-age kids are invited to the Valley Library at 3 pm to discuss Debbie's amazing kids' books, including one that's been chosen for Battle of the Books this year!