February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Class of 2014: YA Debut Novels | JLG’s Booktalks to Go Teen

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

Breaking into the young adult publishing world is no easy feat. With thousands of submitted manuscripts every year, few make it to print. The class of 2014 includes debuts by amazing novelists who are surely more than one-hit wonders. From current issues in society to murder and reality TV to Cold War Russia, the following selections from the editors at Junior Library Guild are sure to leave their mark on the readers and on YA literature.

On an exciting note, this column’s accompanying online resource, JLG’s Booktalks to Go LiveBinder, recently won a spot in Livebinder’s Top 10. You’ll see it on their featured shelf with the award-winning logo for 2014. Thanks to everyone who voted and spread the word about these online resources.

Andreu, Maria E. The Secret Side of Empty. Running Press. 2014. ISBN 9780762451920. JLG Level: Y+ : Young Adults (Grades 9 & Up).

Secret Side of EmptyIf you looked closely into M.T.’s life you might see many problems: a father who hits her, bills that aren’t paid, beans for supper, or an embarrassingly shabby apartment. Her worst concern, however, is not being able to go to college. Oh, she has excellent grades. She’s taking the highest level of courses in her senior year. Sure, money is an issue, but it’s another kind of paper that puts the brakes on her future. M.T. is undocumented. She has no legal documents to show college registrars. If she tried to get into higher education, there is a chance her entire family could be deported to Argentina. What kind of life would they have there? Her life in the United States is the only one she’s ever known.

Follow the author on Facebook and Twitter. Read a CBC Diversity interview about how Andreu’s personal experiences as an undocumented immigrant influenced the plot of her story. Read a letter that she wrote to herself as a teen on Dear Teen Me. Andreu has posted many videos on her YouTube channel. To learn more about immigration issues and related topics, visit The Center for Immigration Studies or the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department. To read about citizenship and the amnesty act that gave the author her own legal papers, see the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Hale, Kathleen. No One Else Can Have You. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2014. ISBN 9780062211194. JLG Level: YM : Mature Young Adults (Grades 11 & Up).

No one else can have youThey don’t lock their doors in Friendship, Wisconsin. A little graffiti or toilet papering is the worst that the residents of this quiet town ever see. Until the day when Ruth Fried is found hanging from a tree in the middle of a corn field. Her mouth is stuffed with scarecrow straw, her lips sewn together with red thread. Now no one feels safe. When the local juvenile delinquent is arrested for the murder, everyone breathes a sigh of relief―until Ruth’s brother casts a shadow of doubt. What if Colt is not guilty? What if the killer is still out there?

Because a picture paints a thousand words, the photographs on the book’s website may shed light on the author’s imagination. It’s a must-see. Follow the author on Twitter and Instagram. Check out HarperCollins for resource links. Watch a video interview called 7 Things You Don’t Know About YA Author Kathleen on YouTube. On Epic Reads, you’ll see more information about the book with pictures, videos, and other extras.

Hattemer, Kate. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. Knopf. 2014. ISBN 9780385753791. JLG Level: Y : Young Adults (Grades 9 & Up).

VigilanteA reality show at their artsy high school rubs some of the student body the wrong way. How to rise up against it? What if we write a poem that exposes the program for what it is―a sell-out. “But now we walk the halls awaiting the latest, greatest Neilson rating.” Leaking the poem to the student body would be easy online, but getting it into print is the best way to stick it to the administration. Take them down with their own equipment in true Ezra Pound tradition. It’s perfect. That is, until one of the protesters lands a part on the show.

Read about Hattemer, who is currently working on her next book, on her website and follow her on Twitter. You can also read an interview on Talking the Walk. Readers are bound to be interested in Pound and his poetry, so encourage them to visit the Academy of American Poets or The Poetry Foundation.

SMITH, Lindsay. Sekret. Roaring Brook. 2014. ISBN 9781596438927. JLG Level: Y+ : Young Adults (Grades 9 & Up).

SekretAn empty mind is a safe mind―especially if you are trying to survive in Communist Russia among people who can actually read your thoughts. Yulia can also read minds, particularly if she can touch their belongings. Forced to work for the KGB to thwart the US Space Program, she quickly learns there’s no one she can trust. Danger surrounds the girl at every turn, escalating when an American spy sets her sites on Yulia.

Read about the versatile debut author on her website and follow her on Twitter. You can read an excerpt on Macmillan’s website where you will also find a discussion guide. For background information on the KGB, visit The Cold War Museum.  Readers can learn about the CIA, including its history and how to get a job, at their website.

VITELLO, Suzy. The Moment Before. Diversion. 2014. ISBN 9781626811676. JLG Level: PBH : Paperbacks High School (Grades 10 & Up).

Moment BeforeEveryone knows that Conner is a stoner. No wonder he’s being blamed. He should have caught Sabine instead of letting her fall to her death in a cheerleading stunt. But younger sister Brady has even more drama with the fallout of recovery. Legal issues. Politics. A drunken abusive father. A mother who never has anything nice to say. Then Brady learns a secret about her sister―about the moment before. A secret that could change everything.

Follow the author on Twitter or Facebook. Read her blog on her website. View the book trailer on her publisher’s website or on YouTube. Answers to your burning questions for the author may be found in an interview on Lit Reactor.

Additional Resources

Check out our award-winning LiveBinder which organizes all of the above resources. All websites are posted within the LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Simply go to JLG Booktalks to Go where you will see the LiveBinder main tabs. Each tab is a book title. Under each color-coded tab are gray subtabs with links to media, websites, and other related documents. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)

SLJTeen header

This article was featured in our free SLJTeen enewsletter.
Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a month.

Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.

Diversity and Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA

Do you want to ensure that your library’s collections are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and well-read?

Do you want to become a more culturally literate librarian and a more effective advocate for your community?

We've developed a foundational online course—with live sessions on February 28 & March 14—that will explore key concepts essential to cultivating and promoting inclusive and equitable collections.
Building Literacy-Rich Communities
Hosted by Library Journal and School Library JournalStronger Together is a national gathering of thought leaders and innovators from across the country who will share where and how partnerships between school districts and public libraries are having success. Join us May 10–12 at the University of Nebraska Omaha, as we explore the impact these collaborations are having on the institutions, communities, and kids they serve.