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Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
Chosen by the Books for Youth editors, the following titles constitute the year’s best personal reading for teenagers among the adult books published in 2001. More on suggested audience, content, etc., can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
Burger, Joanna. The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship. Villard, $23.95 (0-679-46330-5).
In a warm, funny pet story that is also scientifically accurate, ornithologist Burger and her husband adopt a 35-year-old parrot, and their lives are transformed.
The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Diaspora. Ed. by Edwidge Danticat. Soho; dist. by Farrar, paper, $15 (1-56947-218-1).
Gripping, frank, immediate, and very easy to read, these searing essays and poems talk about the pain and pride of young people who don’t belong, both in Haiti and in their places of refuge. A landmark anthology.
Daughters of Absence: Transforming a Legacy of Loss. Ed. by Mindy Weisel. Capital, $26.95 (1-892123-37-1).
Twelve daughters of Holocaust survivors--many of them writers and artists--talk eloquently about growing up in the shadow of their parents’ trauma and displacement. The poignant black-and-white family photographs bring home the personal stories.
Hogan, Linda. Woman Who Watches over the World: A Native Memoir. Norton, $24.95 (0-393-05018-1).
For older teens, this is a haunting, courageous memoir by Chickasaw novelist Hogan, much of it about young people who are lost, broken, and strong. Hogan links her own life with the suffering of her ancestors and the tragic legacies of the U.S. government’s war on Native Americans.
Lewis, Sydney. Help Wanted: Tales from the First Job Front. New Press, $25 (1-56584-369-X).
Twenty-five young people talk about what it’s like to enter the workforce: to search for a job, encounter great bosses and survive horrible ones, face ethical questions, network, succeed, fail, move on, find direction, and flail around.
Mullen, P. H. Gold in the Water: The True Story of Ordinary Men and Their Extraordinary Dream of Olympic Glory. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $23.95 (0-312-26595-6).
Young athletes will be enthralled by this realistic, personal view of the U.S. swimming team’s journey to the 2000 Olympics: the dreams, the training, the toll, the failure, and the success. A superb sports book.
Perrotti, Jeff and Westheimer, Kim. When the Drama Club Is Not Enough: Lessons from the Safe Schools Program for Gay and Lesbian Students. Beacon, $22 (0-8070-3130-5).
For both students and adults, this is a moving account of many teens’ experiences as well as an accessible resource for setting up support groups at school. The chapter “Sports, Sexual Orientation, and School Climate” is worth the price of the book.
Pollitt, Katha. Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture. Random/Modern Library, paper, $12.95 (0-679-78343-1).
Based on Pollitt’s popular columns for the Nation, these witty, passionate, irreverent essays open up many issues that affect young people. The subjects range from same-sex marriage to the movie Titanic.
Reid, T. R. The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution. Random, paper, $13.95 (0-375-75828-3).
With excitement and clarity, Reid explains the technology, traces the history of electronics, and tells the stories of the two young engineers who created the silicon microchip and launched the global information industry.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Houghton, $25 (0-395-97789-4).
As consumers and as minimum-wage workers, teens are at the center of this gripping and sometimes scary account, which tells the truth about what’s in the meat and why the fries taste so good.
Stark, Peter. Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance. Ballantine, $24 (0-345-44150-8).
What happens when you freeze or drown or die of thirst or contract malaria or fall from a mountain? The combination of harrowing adventure and physiological fact makes for heart-stopping reading, especially since Stark uses you-are-there scenarios to bring the reader into the survival narratives.
Walker, Rebecca. Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self. Riverhead, $23.95 (1-57322-169-4).
In a candid, unforgettable memoir, the daughter of Alice Walker and Mel Leventhal talks about growing up confused about race, class, place, friends, and sex. Older teens will want to read this honest, poignant, beautifully written story.
Bird, Sarah. The Yokota Officers Club. Knopf, $23 (0-375-41214-X).
Both funny and heartbreaking, this is a gripping novel of family secrets, told through the viewpoint of a teenage army brat, who blames herself for her parents’ problems even as she longs to stop moving all the time and make her own way.
Box, C. J. Open Season. Putnam, $23.95 (0-399-14748-9).
In his rookie year as game warden in Wyoming, Joe Pickett uncovers a many-tentacled scam involving an oil pipeline and an endangered species. The mystery in the rugged outdoors will grip teens.
Bunting, Josiah. All Loves Excelling. Bridge Works, $22.95 (1-882593-40-5).
The pressure to get into a prestigious college is the drama in this realistic, contemporary story of a hardworking high-school student who is driven to a breakdown by the expectations of her parents and herself.
Grooms, Anthony. Bombingham. Free Press, $24 (0-7432-0558-8).
A young soldier in Vietnam remembers his coming-of-age during the civil rights era in Birmingham, Alabama, and his loving family’s struggle with his mother’s critical illness.
Heynen, Jim. The Boys’ House: New and Selected Stories. Minnesota Historical Society, $19.95 (0-87351-413-0).
Part vignette, part story, these short, gentle, earthy, mysterious, and hilarious pieces about midwestern farm boys are rooted in the textures, smells, and violence of living among plants and animals raised to be consumed. The words are simple and serious, and they capture big themes in small moments.
Lackey, Mercedes. The Serpent’s Shadow. DAW; dist. by Penguin, $24.95 (0-88677-915-4).
Set in an alternate Victorian London, this fantasy is about Dr. Maya Witherspoon, daughter of a Brahmin lady and an English physician, who practices both standard Western medicine and the magic of India.
Odom, Mel. The Rover. Tor, $25.95 (0-312-87882-6).
Combining farce and derring-do, Odom pushes the conventions of fantasy to the max in a rip-roaring, laugh-out-loud romp with wonderful characters and nonstop action.
Skinner, Jose. Flight and Other Stories. Univ. of Nevada, paper, $15 (0-87417-359-0).
Fourteen realistic coming-of-age stories about young Latinos in the Southwest introduce readers to a variety of people and places and the distances between them. Whether they are new immigrants or mainstream Anglos, the young men are caught between worlds, unable to understand the language.
Wilentz, Amy. Martyrs’ Crossing. Simon & Schuster, $24 (0-684-85436-8).
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the center of this gripping novel that focuses on individual people on all sides, including an Israeli border guard and a young Palestinian mother whose child needs medical help.
Zettel, Sarah. Kingdom of Cages. Warner Aspect, $24.95 (0-446-52491-3).
With two teenage sisters at its heart, this novel is both exciting sf and a thrilling coming-of-age story. The setting is an Earth-colonized world decimated by plagues, where the sisters must face profound moral choices about the murder of their mother.
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