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Chosen from the many adult books published during 1997, the following titles have been earmarked as top choices for teenagers’ personal reading by the Books for Youth editorial staff and contributing reviewers Sue-Ellen Beauregard, John Mort, Leone McDermott, Karen Simonetti, and Candace Smith.
Bodanis, David. The Secret Family: Twenty-four Hours inside the Mysterious World of Our Minds and Bodies. Simon & Schuster, $27.50 (0-684-81019-0).
An intriguing, unusual “exposé” by the author of The Secret Garden and The Secret House takes a look at the scientific underpinnings of a typical family.
Bragg, Rick. All Over but the Shoutin’. Pantheon, $25 (0-679-44258-8).
In a riveting rags-to-riches story, a Pulitzer Prize–winning correspondent remembers his country roots and his single-parent mother’s courage.
Buck, Rinker. Flight of Passage. Hyperion; dist. by Little, Brown, $23.95 (0-7868-6100-2).
Brothers prove themselves to their father and to one another in an exciting, heartfelt recollection of the cross-country flight the two undertook in a restored Piper Cub.
Carroll, Rebecca. Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America. Crown, paper, $12 (0-517-88497-6).
A wide range of lively teenagers talk about who they are and give their views on race, sex, gender, and their future as black women in the U.S.
Corwin, Miles. The Killing Season: A Summer inside an LAPD Homicide Division. Simon & Schuster, $23 (0-684-80235-X).
A gritty, revealing glimpse of suspects, victims, and law enforcement, written by a crime reporter who spent a summer on the streets.
Fouts, Roger and Mills, Stephen Tukel. Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me about Who We Are. Morrow, $25 (0-688-14862-X).
An affecting, accessible combination of science and story that leads readers toward a better understanding of the similarity between themselves and their chimpanzee “cousins.”
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Wait till Next Year: Recollections of a ’50s Girlhood. Simon & Schuster, $25 (0-684-82489-2).
In a terrific read that also makes a wonderful curriculum supplement, Goodwin evokes the preoccupations of her childhood—among them, the rituals of her church and the fortunes of her family’s beloved Brooklyn Dodgers.
Holland, Endesha Ida Mae. From the Mississippi Delta. Simon & Schuster, $23 (0-684-81011-5).
Growing up in an all-black, poverty-stricken community in the 1950s didn’t stop Holland from finding inspiration and strength, as she demonstrates in these stark, powerful recollections.
Kincaid, Jamaica. My Brother. Farrar, $21 (0-374-21681-9).
Kincaid’s candid, angry, loving memories of her brother’s death from AIDS are as riveting as her account of her breaking away from home.
McCall, Bruce. Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Canada. Random, $24 (0-679-44847-0).
Humor and pathos mark McCall’s remembrances of his dysfunctional family and his childhood preoccupation with all things American.
Simon, David and Burns, Edward. The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. Broadway, $27.50 (0-7679-0030-8).
An intense, eye-opening chronicle of violence and struggle in an inner-city Baltimore neighborhood, focusing on 15-year-old DeAndre McCullough. Essential reading no matter what corner a reader lives on.
Westbrook, Peter and Hazarika, Tej. Harnessing Anger: The Way of an American Fencer. Seven Stories, $22.95 (1-888363-39-8).
An outstanding, inspiring memoir about a biracial teenager growing up in the 1960s, who channeled his anger about racism and about his difficult home life into the sport of fencing.
Beagle, Peter S. Giant Bones. Penguin/ROC, paper, $9.95 (0-451-45651-3).
Written with a lyrical charm that will have great YA appeal, these six short stories further cement Beagle’s reputation as the class act of fantasy writing.
Bridal, Tessa. The Tree of Red Stars. Milkweed, $21.95 (1-57131-013-4).
Set in Uruguay during the 1970s, this evocative novel is a moving account of a girl’s coming-of-age and awakening political consciousness.
Cook, Karin. What Girls Learn. Pantheon, $23 (0-679-44828-4).
In a poignant story that reads as if it were written just for teens, the lives of two sisters are forever changed when their beloved mother falls in love and remarries, only to be stricken with breast cancer.
Gaiman, Neil. Neverwhere. Avon, $24 (0-380-97363-4).
A sure bet for YA fantasy and horror fans, this journey into London Below, a subterranean city made up of bits of historic London and populated by people who “fell through the cracks,” makes great escapist reading.
Hall, Robert. London Blood: Further Adventures of the American Agent Abroad. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $20.95 (0-312-16908-6).
The ever-resourceful Ben Franklin assists authorities in solving a pair of brutal murders in eighteenth-century London in this exceptionally good entry in a clever, entertaining mystery series.
Hamill, Pete. Snow in August. Little, Brown, $23.95 (0-316-34094-4).
An intelligent, heartfelt story in which the relationship between an immigrant rabbi and a dutiful altar boy awakens the boy to the harsh realities of intolerance and the value of real friendship.
Harmetz, Aljean. Off the Face of the Earth. Scribner, $22 (0-684-83617-3).
This top-notch thriller has a clever hook—an 18-year-old boy who has been kidnapped uses his baseball trading cards to help authorities determine his whereabouts.
Kleiner, Glenn. The Last Day. Warner, $24 (0-446-52285-6).
Kleiner delivers plenty of action as well as an irresistible setup that is made to order for teen fiction fans: a beautiful woman steps out of the Negev Desert and proclaims herself the new messiah.
Mills, Deanie Francis. Ordeal. Dutton, $22.95 (0-525-94202-5).
A woman determines to do everything she can to win freedom after a former lover, a militia extremist, kidnaps her and her teenage son. Suspenseful and authentic, right down to the language.
O’Leary, Patrick. The Gift. TOR; dist. by St. Martin’s, $22.95 (0-312-86402-7).
Echoes of Tolkien reverberate throughout this wonderful fantasy, a satisfying story-within-a-story in which a king and his youthful companion try to best the forces of evil.
Teller, Astro. Exegesis. Random/Vintage, paper, $11 (0-375-70051-X).
Alice Wu has a cyber pen pal, an artificial intelligence that has National Security Agency operatives very interested. With elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ender’s Game, this clever, fast-paced sf is a real winner.
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