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.
CREATE CHARACTERS THAT KEEP ME AWAKE
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.)