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Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
Selected by the Books for Youth editors, the following titles comprise the year’s best personal reading for teenagers among adult books published in 2005. More on each book’s content and suggested audience can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
Bodanis, David. Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity. 2005. Crown, $24 (1-4000-4550-9).
In this lively history, Bodanis introduces many of the principal figures who discovered and developed electricity. The revealing human stories make the technology fascinating and accessible.
Croke, Vicki Constantine. The Lady and the Panda: The True Adventures of the First American Explorer to Bring Back China’s Most Exotic Animal. 2005. Random, $25.95 (0-375-50783-3).
Ruth Harkness, a dress-designing-socialite, captured the first giant panda to be seen in the West. The adventure, strong writing, and fascinating personalities make a thrilling, deeply satisfying story.
The Hero Project: How We Met Our Greatest Heroes and What We Learned from Them. 2005. McGraw-Hill, paper, $14.95 (0-07-144904-3).
Two teen brothers interviewed their heroes, including Jimmy Carter and Jackie Chan. Excerpts from the boys’ conversations appear in this moving, insightful collection.
O’Connor, Ian. The Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High Stakes Business of High School Ball. 2005. Rodale, $23.95 (1-59486-107-2).
A veteran sports reporter chronicles a young Brooklyn basketball star’s harrowing leap to NBA stardom in this raw view of the complex, contradictory world of big-stakes high-school basketball.
Riverbend. Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq. 2005. Feminist, paper, $14.95 (1-55861-489-3).
This collection of material culled from a young Iraqi’s online blog reveals a little-seen view of a young person’s life in Iraq before the current conflict.
Waking Up American: Coming of Age Biculturally; First-Generation Women Reflect on Identity. Ed. by Angela Jane Fountas. 2005. Seal, paper, $15.95 (1-58005-136-7).
In this excellent anthology by new immigrants, young women writers speak with irreverence and honesty about complex identities, love, and the prejudice at home and outside.
Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle. 2005. Scribner, $24 (0-7432-4753-1).
Walls’ extraordinary memoir recounts her itinerant childhood with two eccentric parents and the poverty and bullying that she endured. A graceful, candid, and sometimes shocking story.
Bates, Judy Fong. Midnight at the Dragon Cafe. 2005. Counterpoint, paper, $14 (1-58243-189-2).
Su-Jen Chou and her parents are the only Chinese family in their small Ontario town in the 1950s. After her handsome half-brother arrives, Su-Jen notices new family tension and its hidden cause. The secrets and the simple, beautiful words make this novel a breathless read.
Dermansky, Marcy. Twins. 2005. Morrow, $21.95 (0-06-075978-X).
Throughout high school, identical twins Chloe and Sue forge very dissimilar identities as they struggle with bulimia, first love, and the shifting intensity of their own bond. The twins’ alternating viewpoints narrate this darkly humorous, affecting debut.
Devoto, Pat Cunningham. The Summer We Got Saved. 2005. Warner, $23.95 (0-446-57696-4).
In 1960s Alabama, young Tab and her sister are introduced to nonviolent protests and the lies told by both white and black. Realistic, flawed characters, poignant humor, and provocative questions about social injustice combine in this compelling historical novel.
Evans, Diana. 26a. 2005. Morrow, $23.95 (0-06-082091-8).
In suburban London, the members of a biracial, bicultural family feel pulled between dueling identities. Evans’ lyrical telling focuses on the young characters and fluidly juxtaposes disparate worlds.
Galloway, Gregory. As Simple as Snow. 2005. Putnam, $23.95 (0-399-15231-8).
An average high-school boy describes his search for an alluring Goth student who disappeared. Suspense builds as the young, affecting narrator sifts through clues and cryptic signs for answers.
Hemingway, Amanda. The Greenstone Grail. 2005. Ballantine, $16.95 (0-345-46078-2).
In this lyrical, intriguing variation on the archetypal quest story, young Nathan finds himself responsible for rescuing the grail when it falls into the wrong hands. Ancient, modern, and mystical elements blend together smoothly in this rousing adventure.
Johnson, R. Kikuo. Night Fisher. 2005. Fantagraphics, paper, $12.95 (1-56097-719-1).
Loren, a high-school senior on Maui and a former straight-A student, falls into a circle of friends who use drugs and commit petty crimes. Johnson’s first graphic novel offers a visceral sense of the Hawaiian setting and a convincing portrait of mildly disaffected teens at a turning point.
Lee, Marie Myung-Ok. Somebody’s Daughter. 2005. Beacon, $23.95 (0-8070-8388-7).
After Korean-born adoptee Lee Soon-Min learns that her biological parents were not killed, as she’d always thought, the young woman travels from Minnesota to Korea in search of the truth. Alternating narrators tell the bittersweet story.
Rawles, Nancy. My Jim. 2005. Crown, $19.95 (1-4000-5400-1).
In this trenchant novel, Rawles revisits Jim, the slave who escapes down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn, and imagines the life of the wife he left behind. An unforgettable view of American slavery and enduring love.
Sittenfeld, Curtis. Prep. 2005. Random, $24.95 (1-4000-6231-4).
Seventeen-year-old Lee, a scholarship student, feels like an outsider at her New England prep school. Sittenfeld includes shrewd, subtle insights into adolescence and the school’s privileged world.
Stemple, Adam. Singer of Souls. 2005. Tor, $22.95 (0-765-31170-4).
Douglas tries to quit drugs by moving in with his grandmother in Edinburgh. Then he meets a beautiful musician who lures him into a chilling alternate state. A grim, powerful fantasy for older readers.
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