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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Pyrite Redux: What Doesn’t Kill You…

Today, let’s revisit two of our Pyrite 11 that both have at their cores events that forever change their protagonists. I am, of course, talking about Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun and Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles.

When Joy first covered I’ll Give You the Sun, she praised the dual narration (duality of voice and time, no small feat). Both voices are highly commendable if not uniformly excellent (I’m not sure there’s complete agreement on this, so I leave it open for all of you to weigh in on). The meditation on art and creation and the complex, flawed, but genuine family are two aspects that have both garnered praise; against that, there is the question of whether it’s a bit soapy (the ending certainly did me in) and whether Oscar is just too much lean and too much fantasy for a book that is otherwise so careful to be believable even with it’s larger than life characters. (If it’s some awesome composition turned up to 11, Oscar may have wandered in from a boy band.) Clearly this is this year’s feels book, and usually that doesn’t correlate well with Printz awards, but look at Rainbow Rowell. So what do you say? Pyrite, Printz, or pretender?

Speaking of twins… 100 Sideways Miles is like Grasshopper Jungle‘s more fit but probably less fun at a party twin. Taken on its own merits — although I have a very hard time being good about this, because there is a strong similarity of voice and some thematic overlap between the two books that really begs for a good comparison — this one has a lot to offer. But it seems to have some accuracy issues that this reader at least is really struggling with — it’s a pretty huge crack in my disbelief windshield, honestly, and makes this definitely fall out of top 5 for me. More than that, in our mock discussion we kept talking about ways that this novel came close, but in the end this one still struck us as a little rough around the edges. Editorial suggestions abounded — to make the themes come across more clearly, to deal with the epilepsy medication issue, to make Julia less problematic — but that’s all just for fun, because in the end we can only assess the book we have, not the one we wish we had. However, we haven’t talked about this at length here aside from the accuracy issue, and maybe our small group was way off. Won’t you tell us if that’s the case?

And finally, I leave you with an anthem that all of these characters are likely to hate (well, except secretly maybe Jude), but which so perfectly speaks to their stories. Sing it!

Pyrite Redux: Lifestyles of the Rich and Privileged

The ALA Youth Media Awards are just around the corner and that means that it’s redux time! Today we’re revisiting two 2014 favorites: Candace Fleming’s The Family Romanov and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. [Read more...]

Sex and girls and stuff

We’ve got another round up here and this time, it’s all about the complexities and frustrations and amazing moments related to gender, sex, identity, hook ups, heartbreak, and true love. And who couldn’t use a little love at this time of year, amirite? Well, to be honest, these three books aren’t all about wuv (twue wuv); they are more about all the messy parts — the hook ups and doomed romances, the figuring yourself out, and the murder mysteries you might find yourself investigating from your family’s vintage record store. Although I’m not convinced that these titles are in the running for Printz medals,  I’m excited to share these books here; they have some really great moments. [Read more...]

Morris Nominations

YALSA’s Morris Award (technically the William C. Morris Debut Award) is a great showcase of strong new voices in the YA literature field. Often there are a few books we have had on our speculation list that end up being Morris finalists, because good writing is good writing. And, of course, sometimes the best writing is a debut — from Looking for Alaska, 10 (TEN!) years ago (before the Morris, but still a debut) to Seraphina just two years ago.

But the thing is that the Morris pool is a LOT smaller. And often crowded with schools of commercial clone fish, against which the more original and/or literary novels tend to really shine. And we all know that a big fish in a small pond often becomes a small fish when the body of water is bigger.

The Printz is a pretty big body of water. [Read more...]

100 Sideways Miles

100 Sideways Miles, Andrew Smith
Simon & Schuster, September 2014
Reviewed from final copy

If you were a teenager who spent at least one long night with friends discussing the future, destiny, and the fear that you can’t control the course of your life, 100 Sideways Miles probably reminded you of those moments. Finn Easton, the novel’s narrator, is a teen deeply concerned about his place in the universe and whether or not he has any say in his fate. Some of the themes Andrew Smith is thinking about in Grasshopper Jungle recur here—specifically connection and friendship; however, while Grasshopper Jungle takes quite a cynical view of human nature, 100 Sideways Miles has the kind of hopeful ending that feels like a beginning.

I have a feeling that this book’s optimism is a factor in why Andrew Smith’s second novel of 2014 has five stars to its predecessor’s three. (And just for reference, last year’s Winger was a three star book in addition to being a BFYA top ten pick.) [Read more...]

Picture Books for … Teens?

It’s rare that there are true all-ages picture books.

This year, we have two of note.

Both are beautiful, thought-provoking, unusual, and skew way up. All the way to adolescence and beyond.

I’ll eat my hat if either receives a silver from the RealCommittee. Hell, I’ll eat all y’all’s hats. BUT. These are gorgeous books with appeal for older readers, so here’s me shining a bit of light on them.

[Read more...]

Mock Printzing the Night Away

Collecting data requires fancy equipment and complex mathematics.

Well, results are in for the Pyrite and for our local mock roster, and it’s interesting.

Also, we have a winner!

It will be interesting see if discussion knocks this one down in either final vote, but right now Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is the runaway winner.

The breakdown: Locally, our group of 9 voted a unanimous 9 “yes, let’s discuss this” votes (note that we had an actual poll for the local Mock, although write-ins are encouraged). Here on the blog, with 27 voters, it received 13 nominations, the highest number.

Popularity or prediction? Only time will tell…

(Insert portentous dun-dun-dun music here.)

Let’s see what other data can be gleaned from the compare and contrast and data gathered.

[Read more...]

Dreaming in Indian

Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices, edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy
Annick Press, July 2014
Reviewed from final copy

I’m a day late in getting to this one because I just finished it. With no digital copies available, and my usual source without it in stock, I had to wait on a delivery. It was totally worth the wait, and I’m so glad it’s a physical copy (I don’t often say that, to be honest, but this is one gorgeous book; I enjoyed poring over the pages). I’m guessing that this will be a somewhat short review as a result, as I’ll continue to process…in the comments. :-) [Read more...]

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

coverThe Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, Adele Griffin
Soho Teen, August 2014
Reviewed from final copy

A few weeks ago, I reviewed How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. It’s not immediately obvious, but that title shares remarkable similarities with Adele Griffin’s faux-nonfiction novel, The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. Both books focus on dead teens, using multiple voices to reconstruct the story of how they died. It’s an interesting structure for the examination of a single teenager and the multitudes an individual can contain.
[Read more...]

Was It the Timing?

Usually the Pyrite nominations bring all y’all out of the woodwork, because it’s the moment to champion the books you’ve loved this year.

So either we launched the 2015 Pyrite at a terrible time, right before the insanity of the holidays, or this year is a really dull year.

Which is it?

[Read more...]