It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader

278p. VOYA. 2014. pap. $50. ISBN 9781617510311.
A comprehensive look at contemporary YA fiction. The book is divided into three parts: "Real Tools," "Real Reads," and "Real Talk." In "Real Tools," Jensen walks readers through the multiple layers of contemporary YA fiction and explains the importance of the genre. She shows readers how to seek out contemporary YA titles by relying on nontraditional review sources and award and selection lists. She also explains how to evaluate books for eight critical elements such as appeal, voice, and pacing. Readers' advisory is highlighted through a thorough look at what it is and how to best conduct it. In "Real Reads," 150 titles are annotated covering 10 topics. Each annotation includes read-alikes and reasons the book is appealing. The 10 topical lists include additional titles relevant to that category. "Real Talk" presents five chapters of "conversation starters" for discussing books and their common themes. The conversation starters include a few books on the topic and cover areas such as bullying, sex and sexual abuse, and unlikable female characters. Rounding out this section are additional ideas and tips for how to advocate for contemporary YA fiction. This title includes an appendix of books and blogs to continue one's study, as well as author, title, and topical indexes. The volume's strengths lie in its book lists, where Jensen chose to focus on selections that "are less likely to be found in other resources outside of this book."
VERDICT An additional purchase for those looking to beef up their professional collection

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