Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

The Gold Rush, Best Books, and Street Lit

The New York Times announced its Ten Best Books of 2010 yesterday, and there are two books with teen appeal on the list: Room by Emma Donoghue and Cleopatra: a life by Stacy Schiff.

Speaking of Best Books lists: The Early Word site compiles links to ALL of the Best Books of the Year lists — scroll down the right side column until you see it. First on the list is another aggregator, Largehearted Boy. Their page is somewhat overwhelming, but taken in small gulps, very enjoyable.

But which celebrated titles have appeal to teens? That is the question!

We will be releasing our very own Best Adult Books 4 Teens 2010 list, right here, next Monday. Look for it!

Next, a colleague has an important book coming out at the end of the month: Urban Grit: A Guide to Street Lit by Megan Honig (Libraries Unlimited). Megan is a Young Adult Collections librarian at the New York Public Library. She is writing a blog, 30 Days of Street Lit, to promote and celebrate her book and the genre. Street Lit is popular with teens, and a genre I hope to add into the mix of reviews on this blog in the new year.

Today’s review is of an historical fiction/western debut novel about the Gold Rush. I cannot resist the chance to recommend two of my favorite titles, both Alex Award winners, that are not exactly readalikes for Crown of Dust, but do share a genre. First, The Night Birds by Thomas Maltman (Soho, 2007). The main character, Asa, is 14 years old in 1876 when his Aunt Hazel comes to live with his family in Minnesota. She tells stories of a Dakota uprising in 1862, and the loss of her first love. Second, The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers (Houghton Mifflin, 2004). This one is contemporary, set on a ranch in South Dakota, involving a love story and the rescue of abused horses. The writing sets it apart.

VOLMER, Mary. Crown of Dust. 288p. Soho. 2010. Tr $24. ISBN 978-1-56947-861-5. LC number unavailable.  Crown of Dust

Adult/High School–Young Alex shows up, bruised and bloody, in a small Gold Rush settlement called Motherlode. One of his many secrets is that he is actually a girl, fleeing a past that is too terrible to remember. When Alex discovers a gold nugget, he/she finds a new identity as the “Golden Boy,” blending in with the rough and tumble cast of characters inhabiting Motherlode’s Wayside Inn. The inn is owned by the indomitable Emaline, a woman who creates an unexpected sense of family in the remote hills. Yet she has a secret past of her own. When Motherlode attracts the attention of new settlers, which include lawyers, lawmen, and their gentile women, the past violently re-emerges for both women. Volmer brings the danger and wonder of wild California to life in this vivid re-creation of the Gold Rush era. Readers get a real sense of the tensions surrounding the gold miners: unpredictable nature, vicious rivalries, and the intrusion of laws made by “men in small rooms.” The third-person narration passes casually from one character to another, sometimes shifting from one paragraph to the next. This increases the mystery of Alex, who is alternately referred to as “him” or “her,” depending on the character’s perspective. Teens will be seduced by the slow revelations of Alex’s past, and the collision of her past with those she has come to love in her present.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SchoolLibraryJournal, LibraryRemix. LibraryRemix said: RT @sljournal: The Gold Rush, Best Books, and Street Lit « Adult Books 4 Teens […]