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May 15, 2013 BOOKLIST
Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
Selected by the Books for Youth editors, the following titles constitute the year’s best personal reading for teenagers among adult books published in 2012. More on each book’s content and suggested audience can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent. By Matthew Carr. New Press, $27.95 (9781595586858).
This stirring, authentic account of the refugee experience comes from Carr’s face-to-face interviews and passionate observation of current hot topics sure to spark debate, including human trafficking.
Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football’s Forgotten Town. By Bryan Mealer. illus. Crown Archetype, $25 (9780307888624).
Mealer spent the 2010 football season with the Red Raiders of Belle Glade, Florida, and the team’s head coach, NFL veteran Jessie Hester, in this Friday Night Lights–like story of triumph over adversity.
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made. By Alan Eisenstock and others. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.99 (9781250001474).
An inspiring portrait of a dream realized as a couple of kids decide to remake Raiders of the Lost Ark (while it was still in theaters in the early ’80s) with a borrowed camera, a cast of friends, and a commitment to accuracy.
This Is How: Proven to Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More, for Young and Old Alike. By Augusten Burroughs. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (9780312563554).
Teens will respond to Burroughs’ hip, witty tone in this self-help book that basically offers up three words of no-nonsense advice: Get over yourself.
The Age of Miracles. By Karen Thompson Walker. Random, $27 (9780812992977).
A coming-of-age story and a tale of a frightening possible future, this gem of a novel features 12-year-old Julia, who is living in a world that is coming to an end as the earth’s rotation gradually slows.
Alif the Unseen. By G. Willow Wilson. Grove, $25 (9780802120205).
More mystical than Cory Doctorow’s For the Win (2010), but for the same teen audience, this dervish of a novel features a young hacker-for-hire who becomes an enemy of the state after his computer program catches the eye of the iron-clad security presence known as the Hand.
The Book of Jonas. By Stephen Dau. Penguin/Blue Rider, $24.95 (9780399158452).
With its spare prose and nuanced plot, Dau’s debut vividly demonstrates the cost of war through 15-year-old Jonas, who moves from a conflict-ridden Middle Eastern country to Pittsburgh.
Edge of Dark Water. By Joe R. Lansdale. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $25.99 (9780316188432).
Set in the 1930s, this dark, fast-paced coming-of-age mystery follows teens Sue Ellen, Jinx, and Terry, who are transporting their friend and once-aspiring star May Lynn’s ashes from East Texas to Hollywood.
Girlchild. By Tupelo Hassman. Farrar, $24 (9780374162573).
Hassman’s inventive and utterly believable debut takes place in a 1980s Reno trailer park, where narrator Rory Dawn lives with her alcoholic and mentally ill mother and suffers abuse at the hands of inept babysitters.
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. By Joshilyn Jackson. Grand Central, $24.99 (9780446582353).
A mesmerizing tale of how an exposed family secret changes the lives of three generations of Slocumb women, including 30-year-old Liza, a former drug addict, and Liza’s gangly and awkward 15-year-old daughter, Mosey.
Little Star. By John Ajvide Lindqvist. Tr. by Marlaine Delargy. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $26.99 (9780312620516).
This title begins when an abusive former recording artist and his meek wife discover a musically-talented baby in the woods. As the novel progresses, the oddball protagonists offer up a chilling, disturbing portrait of adolescence.
Pure. By Julianna Baggott. Grand Central, $25.99 (9781455503063).
Thanks to something called the Detonations, civilization has been destroyed and survivors are horribly burned, scarred, and fused to whatever they happened to be near when the Detonations occurred. A postapocalyptic novel for Hunger Games fans.
So Far Away. By Meg Mitchell Moore. Little, Brown, $25.99 (9780316097697).
Miserable 13-year-old cyberbullied Natalie Gallagher and lonely archivist Kathleen Lynch make a life-changing connection at the Massachusetts State Archives when Natalie brings in an old journal for a school project in this compassionate novel of human connection.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home. By Carol Rifka Brunt. Dial, $26 (9780679644194).
This novel is a beautifully bittersweet mix of heartbreak and hope as 14-year-old June Elbus reels from the death of beloved Uncle Finn, a famous painter who has succumbed to AIDS, in 1987.
That’s Not a Feeling. By Dan Josefson. Soho, paper, $15.95 (9781616951887).
At the Roaring Orchards School for Troubled Teens in upstate New York, the cult leader–like headmaster insists on structure and limits, but interpreting his rules isn’t easy for students Benjamin and Tidbit, whose friendship, confusion, and longing anchor this noteworthy debut.
When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man. By Nick Dybek. Riverhead, $26.95 (9781594488092).
This compelling variation on Treasure Island features a boy named Cal, a sensitive and courageous guide to the cruel mysteries of adult life, who finds himself enmeshed in a moral dilemma of epic complexity.