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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

BookExpo Preview, 2012

BookExpo 2012 is right around the corner, so I spent some time this weekend compiling my wish list. For this post I am limiting myself to adult books that have potential teen appeal. Please keep in mind that I haven’t seen most of these yet, so I am working off of instinct. That being said, these are the books and authors I am looking forward to encountering at the event.

First up, one of my favorite events every year, the Editors’ Buzz panel (Monday, 4:15pm). This is the chance for six editors to introduce the one upcoming book about which they are most excited. (Last year’s event, for example, included The Night Circus and Running the Rift.) This year’s titles with potential teen appeal:

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu (Hogarth, Sept.). The author is a National Book Foundation “5 under 35″ honoree. Her novel is about girls coming of age in the Israeli Defense Forces.

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner (Simon & Schuster, July). A novel told by a young girl coming of age among the Cambodian killing fields, fighting for survival.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (Free Press, Nov.). In her memoir Cahalan tells about her experience of waking up in a mental ward at age 24, unable to speak or move. Just weeks before she had been a newly minted cub reporter, enjoying her first serious relationship. She wakes up having lost weeks of her life. This is her struggle to be diagnosed and cured of a disease that attacks the brain. The suspense, and reportedly great writing, may interest teens.

A Million Heavens by John Brandon (McSweeney’s, July). From the author of Citrus County (an 2011 Alex award nominee). It’s hard to get a feel for this novel from its description, but it seems to be about a boy piano prodigy in a coma, and the ragtag assortment of people who keep vigil for him outside the hospital.

Both Ratner and Cahalan will be speaking on Tuesday at the Meet BEA Adult Buzz Authors 2012 panel at 11am on the Downtown Stage.

Another event to consider, unfortunately taking place at the same time (Tuesday at 11am) on the Uptown Stage, is the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction event, featuring Barbara Kingsolver, founder of the prize, and two of its winners, Hillary Jordan, author of the Alex Award winning Mudbound (and When She Woke) and Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (a 2011 Alex Award nomination). All three are wonderful to listen to.

Books & Authors of note (in no particular order):

The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen (Norton, Sept.). A 12-year-old girl tries to figure out why her mother left their small island a year before. Norton will also be featuring Heft by Liz Moore at their booth.

Albert of Adelaide by Howard Anderson (Twelve, July). I am intrigued by this one, in which a duck-billed platypus escapes from Australia’s Adelaide Zoo and embarks on a journey through the outback. The publisher is particularly enthusiastic.

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Little Brown, Sept.). This novel of young men at war in Iraq has already gathered impressive buzz. The author will be autographing on Wednesday at 3pm.

Zoo by James Patterson (Little Brown, Sept.). We all know teens who flock to James Patterson. This one has the appeal.

Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday, July). Even though I don’t see any obvious teen hook in its description, this novel about the Armenian genocide sounds interesting, and teens enjoy his books.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (Grove, July). Hard to resist trying a novel considered by the publisher to include “shades of Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, and The Thousand and One Nights.

Canada by Richard Ford (Ecco, out now). The author is autographing on Wednesday at 2pm. We have a review of Canada coming up soon here on AB4T.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin (Ballantine, Oct.). I can’t wait to enjoy this sequel to The Passage, which dominated last year’s BEA.

The Prophet by Michael Koryta (Mulholland, Aug.). Kirkus calls this thriller “Friday Night Lights meets In Cold Blood.” Koryta will be autographing on Thursday at 9am, and participating in a mystery writer’s panel on Wednesday at 2:30pm on the Downtown Stage along with Michael Connelly and Brad Meltzer.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (Random House, June). This dystopian novel could easily have been published YA. A 12-year-old girl relates the end of the 24-hour day.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub (Riverhead, Sept.) features a teen who runs off to Hollywood in the 1920s.

An Echo Through the Snow by Andrea Thalasino (Forge, Aug.). This one is for animal lovers and historical fiction fans.

It’s Fine by Me by Per Petterson (Graywolf, Oct.). The author of Out Stealing Horses is back with a 1960s coming of age set in Oslo.

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Harper, July) includes characters from his previous novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game.

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand (Little Brown, June). What begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver of the car dead, and her twin brother in a coma. The author is signing on Wednesday at 3:30pm.

The Elephant Keeper’s Children by Peter Hoag (Other Press, Oct.). The latest by the author of Smilla’s Sense of Snow is narrated by a 14-year-old boy. He and his siblings must cope when their eccentric parents go missing.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (St. Martin’s, Aug.) is drawing comparisons to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Room.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott (Little Brown, July). A novel that takes the reader into the dark heart of high school cheerleading.

Heading out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin, June). The author of A Reliable Wife will be autographing on Wednesday at 2pm. This one is a coming of age.

Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (Little Brown, Aug). This reportedly hilarious novel is about a 15-year-old’s search for her mother, who has disappeared. The author is autographing on Tuesday at 11:30am.

And finally, two tried and true teen appeal favorites from 2011:

Alex Award winner (not to mention National Book Award winner) Jesmyn Ward, will autograph Salvage the Bones on Wednesday at 10am.

Laura Harrington will be autographing Alice Bliss, an AB4T Best of 2011, on Tuesday at 11:30am.

My favorite thing about BookExpo is the chance to talk with fellow librarians, publishing folks, and authors, sharing our excitement about upcoming books. Will my summer to-read list be completely different by the end of next week? Undoubtedly!

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. Diane Colson says:

    I’m very excited about Matthew Dick’s “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.” I read a excerpt, and I’m hooked!