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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 2003. More on suggested audience, content, etc., can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
Brazaitis, Peter. You Belong in a Zoo! Tales from a Lifetime Spent with Cobras, Crocs, and Other Creatures. Random, $24.95 (1-4000-6012-5).
In this exciting memoir, a former superintendent of reptiles at the Bronx Zoo describes his unruly, reptile-obsessed adolescence and his diverse career, which includes nabbing drug dealers and animal smugglers.
Everest: Summit of Achievement. Ed. by the Royal Geographical Society. Simon & Schuster, $50 (0-7432-4386-2).
Spectacular photographs and gripping text commemorate nine historical Everest expeditions. The climbers’ physical accomplishments are balanced by thought-provoking discussion of how Westerners and Tibetans differ in their views of the mountain.
Gonzales, Laurence. Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. Norton, $24.95 (0-393-05276-1).
In these true stories of miraculous survival, Gonzales explores the unexpected ways in which adventures go wrong.
Hart, Mickey and Kostyal, K. M. Songcatchers: In Search of the World’s Music. National Geographic, $30 (0-7922-4107-X).
Grateful Dead drummer Hart offers this fascinating, nicely designed introduction to the world’s traditional music. Lively text and captivating photographs.
Humes, Edward. School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School. Harcourt, $25 (0-15-100703-9).
One of the nation’s most successful public schools, in a Los Angeles suburb, is the setting of this searing look at the pressures faced by high-achieving high-school students.
Roach, Mary. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Norton, $23.95 (0-393-05093-9).
With wit and precision, Roach investigates what happens to human bodies after they are donated to science. The unusual anecdotes keep the science exciting without sensationalizing.
Salzman, Mark. True Notebooks. Knopf, $24 (0-375-41308-1).
Salzman reluctantly entered Los Angeles’ Central Juvenile Hall to teach writing to violent teenage offenders. He emerged with this powerful, intimate account of his students, whose voices are included in excerpts from their writing and conversation.
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Pantheon, $17.95 (0-375-42230-7).
Using the format of comics, the great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor offers an unforgettable, personal view of her experiences as an early adolescent during the Ayatollah Khomeini’s authoritarian regime and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war.
The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip-Hop, and the Poetry of a New Generation. Ed. by Marc Smith and Mark Eleveld. Sourcebooks, $24.95 (1-4022-0037-4).
This vibrant collection of spoken-word poetry captures the raw street-savvy language of rap and hip-hop and the aggressive energy of slam poems, as well as other poetry, all meant to be read out loud. A welcome anthology that reflects a growing movement with a large youth following.
Summer, Lauralee. Learning Joy from Dogs without Collars. Simon & Schuster, $24 (0-7432-0102-7).
Summer recounts how she won a wrestling scholarship to Harvard after spending much of her life homeless. Without self-pity, she describes her clashes with the Ivy League community and her painful search for her dad.
Barry, Max. Jennifer Government. Doubleday, $21.95 (0-385-50759-3).
In an America governed by massive corporations, Hack Nike is a merchandiser embroiled in a murder plan, while Jennifer Government, a tough agent, pursues him. A hip, ironic adventure filled with futuristic scenarios that seem chillingly plausible.
Davis, Amanda. Wonder When You’ll Miss Me. Morrow, $24.95 (0-688-16781-0).
Faith, a lonely, outcast teen, has one friend-the Fat Girl, who appeared to Faith after a vicious sexual assault drove her to attempt suicide. Davis’ novel is a dark, unsettling, and deeply affecting portrait of surviving trauma and coming of age.
Douglass, Sara. Beyond the Hanging Wall. Tor, $24.95 (0-765-30449-X).
Fourteen-year-old Garth and his father are healers who discover a missing prince in this rousing fantasy.
Gamble, Terry. The Water Dancers. Morrow, $24.95 (0-06-054266-7).
From WWII to the Vietnam War, this family saga tells a moving story of prejudice and the frictions between classes. The story begins with teenage Native American Rachel, who falls in love with a wealthy heir.
Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Doubleday, $22.95 (0-385-50945-6).
Fifteen-year-old Christopher is an autistic math genius determined to find out who killed his neighbor’s poodle. Haddon’s debut novel is an inventive mystery about self-discovery and living with illness.
McCafferty, Megan. Second Helpings. Crown/Three Rivers, paper, $10.95 (0-609-80791-9).
In this sequel to Sloppy Firsts, Jessica Darling negotiates her senior year with the same wry, comical insight that made the first book compulsively readable.
Mending the World: Stories of Family by Contemporary Black Writers. Ed. by Rosemarie Robotham. Basic/Civitas, $25 (0-465-07062-0).
With contributions from fiction writers teens will recognize, this fine collection focuses on young black people who struggle to define themselves as they learn the truth about their family stories.
Mosher, Howard Frank. The True Account. Houghton, $24 (0-618-19721-4).
The Lewis and Clark expedition inspires a wild, funny spin-off in this tale about an eccentric Vermont uncle and his nephew who race across the American landscape, determined to beat the famous explorers.
Shamsie, Kamila. Kartography. Harcourt, $24 (0-15-101010-2).
Amid the violence and upheaval of Karachi, Pakistan, a boy and a girl grow up as best friends, until a separation and adolescence change their feelings for each other. A thoughtful, romantic story that beautifully conveys the drama within families and on the streets.
Wolff, Tobias. Old School. Knopf, $22 (0-375-40146-6).
In a 1960s New England boarding school, an aspiring writer longs to fit in with his privileged classmates. Wolff’s clear, precise prose articulates the anxieties and yearning of adolescence.
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