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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Double Lives of Artists

Double LifeI’ve been calling this post “double life/art ladies,” which doesn’t quite flow off the tongue as a post title, but does hint at what these two have in common — two intense teenage girls who prefer a hidden or secret life so that they can make their art. And both of these titles have a lot to say about the power of creation, especially for people who might otherwise feel powerless. As luck would have it, though, they’re also pretty different, too — one is magical realism while the other is straight up realistic fiction.
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The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give cover imageIn a fairly rare occurrence, we all three read today’s book BEFORE the scheduled post date, so today’s post has all of us discussing it together, just like a RealCommittee might, if six people were missing.

Sarah: Friends. Friends. Is this the book to beat this year? To be honest, it’s hard to know where to start here. Is it with the critical acclaim? Because SIX STARS! THAT IS THE MOST OF STARS! ONE OF TWO TITLES WITH SO MANY! Or perhaps we should start with the pacey, plotty plot? (Because those types of reads are my favorite.) Is it with the fact that, yes, this book flows and moves, and still takes the time to develop the characters and write the heck out of a first person teen perspective? That voice, voice, voice. It’s immediate, it’s emotional, it’s self aware. It’s possible we could start with the fact that this is absolutely a book about the today and the now, and it’s also filled with universal questions about growing up, about life and death, and about our responsibilities to our communities, to our friends, to our families, and to ourselves.

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Sleepers

Slide1Today I’m talking about two books that are impressive, powerful, skillfully crafted reads. Both have received some minor critical acclaim (1 star for Maresi, 2 for Fire Color One), and both are books no one is talking about or name-checking, which is a damn shame. More similarities: Both are imports and both are unexpectedly short, which is both  refreshing. In this eternal age of doorstoppers, concise writing remains startling and welcome, and a tightly written book that packs as much in as each of these does is even more impressive.

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Intertwined Stories

Here’s a day of intertwined stories — stories told through multiple points of view, offering many perspectives on a single converging plot. Yay! I do love novels with multiple POVs; it can give the read a rhythmic, regular pace through to the end. Here we have straight up realistic, historical fiction and we have a mostly realistic but infused-with-magical-realism title for contrast. One is definitely for younger readers, the other is a read for an older audience. Both novels use the varying perspectives to allow their respective plots to build to their conclusions.  [Read more…]

Nonfiction Roundup Part One

Just as this has been a year of grief and tough topics in fiction, nonfiction has been similarly focused on emotionally draining subject. (Or perhaps it’s my personal exhaustion with the state of the world combined with the difficult reads? Hard to say.) Today Sarah and I are reviewing two very different books about the fight for racial equality. Ann Bausum’s book is a straightforward historical account of a protest that took on a life of its own while Loving Vs Virginia is narrative nonfiction using poetry and primary source material. What are the chances that either of these will turn up as contenders this winter?

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The Not Even Slightly Comprehensive List of Books We’re Looking at This Year

Ok, here it is — the longlist for Someday My Printz Will Come, which is actually the shortlist, or at least a shorter list. For context: currently, our reading list and calendar have us covering more than 90 books between now and late January. We’ll likely revise some books off the list and add some on as we go, but at least 80 titles will get reviewed in some form — that’s the true long list.

This is not that list. We shared the long longlist the first few years of Someday, but then as we read through the books we hadn’t gotten to when the list posted, we found duds and felt like we’d obligated ourselves to read them by putting them on the list and inviting you all to read them too, in order to have a better discussion. And it seems that some of you trust us enough that you were using our list for various reasons, which was CRAZY, because that long longlist is a lot like the kitchen sink of the year’s YA, and it always had some gems (like, you know, the books that eventually went on to win, because usually we’re pretty good about correctly identifying the eventual winners as, you know, books) but also some actually not good at all books. Starting last year, we decided to share a more trimmed down list, and be a little more transparent about the fact that some of it is really just shots in the dark.

The below list comprises books we’ve read already and stand behind pretty strongly as a contender, books we’ve already read and strongly want to discuss, and books we haven’t read yet but for reasons — of author or buzz or gut instinct — we think will be worth a conversation. Since we’re already a few weeks in, I’ve gone ahead and hyperlinked books we’ve already reviewed, and I’ll try to remember to pop back in and add links as we go so that this post can also serve as a partial table of contents.

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Haunted by the past

We’ve got two solid contenders up next, both realistic fiction, both with characters haunted by the past. It’s not entirely fair to pair titles up like this, and it’s not really how RC talks about books at the table — they are trying to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each title individually, after all. But we have a blog schedule to keep and a lot of books to cover, so while it’s not exactly legit, this is done in the spirit of “make it work,” and thus we get these two books and two haunted characters, working through past violence and trauma.

And while I keep using this word, haunted, I want to be clear: these are realistic titles and not in any way supernatural. But they both depict people shaped by, tortured by, painful pasts. They’re both first person narration, and they’re both thematically ambitious titles, talking about major social issues through the lens of their protagonists’ experiences. [Read more…]

The 2017 National Book Award Shortlist

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 10.39.17 PMThe National Book Award shortlist is here and across all of the categories 15 of the 20 nominated authors are women and in the category we really care about here at Someday, all of the finalists were written by women!

Here are the five nominees:

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

We were already planning to cover the Benway and Zoboi. With this announcement I’m excited to move Elana K. Arnold and Erika L. Sanchez’s books on to our review schedule. The description of Clayton Byrd sounds like a middle grade so I’m not sure if it has any young adult crossover appeal, but I’d love to hear from someone who has read it. Personally, I’m surprised and a bit disappointed that Angie Thomas’s brilliant The Hate U Give didn’t make the shortlist, which was my favorite of the ten longlisted novels but this is a great group of books. Of the five finalists, which book are you most excited about? Tell us the in the comments!

 

Retold Epics, Part 2: Bull

Bull coverFull disclosure: Yvain and Bull were meant to be one post, only then Sarah had a LOT to say about Yvain, which meant it got its own post, leaving poor Bull all alone. Like Yvain, it’s a retelling that plays with form. Unlike Yvain, it’s a straight up critical darling — 5 stars! Sarah argues that Yvain should be a contender. Should Bull?

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Unexpected Mysteries

We’ve been calling this post “unexpected mysteries” which is an intriguing title that I quite enjoy. I wonder if it’s more accurately, “slow, detail-laden, explorative mysteries,” though. Mysteries aren’t always the big movers and shakers in YA fiction, although there are quite a few to be found in the middle grade realm. While one of the titles does skew younger for audience, these two titles share main characters living on the fringes of society, and meticulous scrutiny of the past. [Read more…]