The Adult Books 4 Teens blog was created to replace the School Library Journal print column, Adult Books for High School Students, last seen over 9 months ago. I’m sure many of you shared my dismay when we realized the column had come to an end.
The adult book publishing world releases thousands of general and special interest titles every year. This blog is here to help librarians who work with teens find out about the best books published for the adult market that also have appeal to teen readers. The plan is to provide daily recommendations and reviews, including books in all genres and formats: narrative nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, thrillers and mysteries, memoirs, fantasy and science fiction, contemporary realism, arts and crafts and more.
With very few exceptions, only positive reviews will be published, so you may take the appearance of a review here as a recommendation.
Planning and reviewing for this blog began in January, and there is a large group of talented reviewers behind it. Eventually, the goal is to release reviews as close to publication date as possible. But for now, we have a collection of reviews from throughout the year waiting to be revealed.
That being said, how to choose the very first book review?! Perhaps I should feature a book being released this week. Instead, I am going to kick it off with one of my favorite books of the year. Not only a personal favorite, but a book I predict will become a contemporary classic, and one with curricular potential for schools.
Come back tomorrow and see what’s next. Meanwhile, hope to see you in the Comments area!
Adult/High School–Rachel is the dark-skinned, blue-eyed daughter of Nella, a Danish white woman, and Roger, an American black man, who meet and fall in love while he is stationed in Europe. After their first son dies, Nella leaves Roger for another man, moving Rachel and her younger siblings to Chicago. Readers meet Rachel when she is 11, living with her grandmother in Portland following a horrible tragedy of which she is the only survivor. There she becomes aware of racism for the first time. Her classmates remark on her coloring and her white way of talking, while Grandma brushes off her blue eyes as a recessive gene.
Jamie is the only witness to the tragedy in Chicago. In the aftermath, at age 12, he changes his name to Brick and runs away from home. Years later, he connects with Rachel on the west coast when they are teenagers. Moving back and forth in time, Durrow tells the story in the third person, giving Rachel and Brick separate chapters. She also tells the story from the perspective of Laronne, Nella’s boss, while selected entries from Nella’s diary fill in pieces of the puzzle. This is a complex, layered story about people with whom it is easy to empathize because they are trying to survive the intolerable. The words flow easily; short chapters and direct prose, combined with depth of meaning and truth, add up to a compelling book that will engage teenagers. The mystery of the tragedy will also attract them. Every library should own a copy of this novel, and it could easily find a place in school curricula.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City