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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

YA Bloggers Want...Stories That Will Keep Them Up Reading: Alice Pope

Alice Pope, former longtime editor of the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market and current official blogger for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, is our guest today at What YA Bloggers Want, a month-long series from many of my blogger friends who tell us what they'd like to see on the YA shelf.

Alice is just one more amazing person I met at the 2nd Annual Kidlit Blogger Conference - consider this a hint that you might want to attend the upcoming one in Minneapolis! She also asked me to contribute an article, "Telling Your Secrets," to the 2011 edition of the CWIM.

Welcome, Alice!



There are a lot of books in my house (YA and otherwise) that I’ve started and never finished. I only have so much reading time and if I’m not super into a book, I simply stop. (After five years as an English major, I was pretty much over forcing myself to finish books I find dull. No offense Brontë sisters.)

I want—no, I need—a book that I’ll have to stay up all night to finish. Here are the first four titles that came to my mind when I thought about books that kept up until the wee hours.

RATS SAW GOD by Rob Thomas: This debut from the man who would later bring us Dawson’s Creek and Veronica Mars might be my favorite YA ever. It’s certainly the one I’ve re-read the most. Main character Steve York rings true as he deals with father issues, girlfriend issues, writing his life story, and Dadaism. He breaks my heart just a little and he makes me laugh.

WHEN JEFF COMES HOME by Catherine Atkins: Also a debut, in 2001 I read Atkins’ book about a 16-year-old boy returning home after being abducted and held captive for 2½ years and to this day I still can’t bring myself to go to a road side rest stop (the scene of the abduction). Every time I drive by one I still get a chill, haunted by Jeff’s pain.

SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr: In this follow-up to Zarr’s National Book Award finalist STORY OF A GIRL, main character Jenna is someone I could so empathize with—someone who’s trying to re-invent herself and fit it. Then enters a compelling character from her past who complicates her life. I read this on a late-night flight and openly wept among the sleeping strangers.

WAKE by Lisa McMann: The first of a trilogy, McMann’s novel offers a contemporary main character with a fantastical twist—Janie is sucked into people’s dreams. McMann so adeptly handles the back and forth between Janie’s reality and the dreams she witnesses that it’s hard to pick which is more intriguing. I rooted for Janie; I fell in love with her boyfriend. I read it in one sitting and couldn’t wait for book two.

These books all have compelling plots full of complications, but what’s most important to me are the characters. These authors created in Steve, Jeff, Jenna and Janie characters that are believable, empathetic, real, flawed teens dealing with what life was dishing out with what strength they could muster. These authors created character I could care deeply about. And without that I would have been unwilling to go on their journeys with them.

Thank you, Alice!

Readers, it's your turn: what books have kept you up late reading? Is it the characters? The plot? Suspense? What kind of books would keep you up?

(Plus don't forget, one comment/post is entered to win this week's book prizes and the grand prize!! US addresses only.)


  1. There are several books that have kept me reading WAAAY past my bedtime. One is The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory and another is any of the three books in the Hunger Games series. The HG I can totally excuse, because it was riveting and I had no idea what was going to happen. But, I KNEW what was going to happen to Anne Boleyn. So, why did I have a reading hangover the next day whilst teaching? Must've been well-written. That's the only excuse I can think of.

    mrsderaps @ hotmail . com

  2. Reading hangover! I love that! I have to say, very rarely will I give up sleep for a book...so when I do, it's a noteworthy event. I love to find books that inspire reading hangovers!

  3. Gabrielle CarolinaOctober 13, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    First of all, let me say that there is a difference between, “I have to know what happens!” and “I can’t stand to return.” Return being the verb I am using to say, put the book down, look around the room your in and realize you aren’t in a forgeign land, the arms of your lover, your hated high school, a party, in The Hunger Games, on horseback, pregnant, alone, afraid, you have no secrets, besides your own, and you are simply, you… which isn’t a bad thing.
    There is a great difference, because in one, there is a mystery the author is holding out on you and it is in their hands whether your fears and suspicions will be properly met with results in the right time. How it all goes down is out of your hands.
    However, when you become one with the book in your hands (I feel very Star Wars, become one with the force) and you get sucked in to the world of imaginations creation, partially due to good writing, but mostly to do with how you see things, then magic happens.
    In this second way of reading a book, when reality becomes the lesser and fantasy the greater, it’s all up to you how you close the book. The ending can leave one person contented, and one in peril, just because of who they were while they read. You can be up at four AM and it doesn’t matter, because all is peaceful, and perfect, you understood why The End was it, why there wasn’t a different outcome, or the last words weren’t more. All this to say, it’s in your hands, pardon the pun, how a book makes you feel and how long you wish to remain in the world not around you.
    The Hunger Games kept me up for three nights straight. If you wanted to hear the story of my life, you would know why, as it is, let me say, Katniss and I know each other. Also, take my word for this, you who have grown up happier than others, Mockingjay could not have ended in any other way.
    The Books of Bayern are terrific, I remember not putting Goose Girl down until it was finished. I was nine then I think, and it was the longest book I had ever read on my own, and so worth it, I can still remember the immersion to this day.
    Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt played on my heartstrings, I felt like Dicey was my sister, who I couldn’t reach out for. Like I could only watch and it increased how much I enjoyed the read.
    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Just like Clay, Hannah made me listen, I felt like her fourteenth reason, the unnamed reason why.
    Wake, Fade and Gone Because I fell in love with Cabel
    before i fall I just finished it this morning. Wow was all I could say as I handed the book to my mother, with that read this now intensity in my eyes.




  4. The books that have kept me up late reading are the hunger games, tunnels, and sisters red! There have been a lot more, but I can't think of them right now>

    ako4eggs at comcast dot net

  5. Lots of good suggestions. Linger, I Am Number Four, and The Iron Daughter are ones I've loved recently.

  6. I loved the Iron Fey, Vampire Academy, The Hunger Games. All of these kept me up late at night to read and finish them.