Over the last week or so, I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of promoting teen depression and suicide awareness to my readers. Many of you have left comments: Sometimes about your own experiences or those of people you knew. It definitely took some courage, and I really appreciate that you were willing to be part of this really important conversation now and hopefully, you’ll continue to do so in the future.
In addition, Lesley Anne Cowan, Matt Beam, and Nina LaCour were able to come up with great guest post pieces. Lesley’s experience teaching and writing about at-risk teens is invaluable for speaking about the way teens hide the truth of their feelings from friends, peers, and adults as well as the need for parents to be involved in the recovery process. Similarly, Matt Beam’s post really touched me, not only because he was honest about his own experience with depression and suicidal thoughts as a teen, but also because he spoke to common stereotypes about the type of people who seriously think about suicide. As he said, had he allowed the stress and pressure of being a teen get the better of him, his best friend would probably have said, “no one saw it coming.” Finally, Nina LaCour wrote about her personal experience of having a classmate commit suicide when she was a teen, and how the questions she was mulling over about him found their way into her debut novel, Hold Still. Each of these posts are different from one another, reflecting not only the authors’ distinct writing styles, but also the different types of teens and adults who’ll be touched by their words. Here’s a big thank you to all of the authors who took the time to contribute to this important awareness week.
Now some of you may have also followed along with the giveaway and reviews I posted already, so you might have some idea of books that fit the theme, which I would recommend. However, I’ve done a bit of research along with the help of some of my Twitter friends. Check out this list of books about suicidal teens and/or the suicide of a friend or family member:
* Books in bold are ones I’ve already read.
If you know of any other books about teen depression and suicide or suicide of family members, please feel free to leave the suggestions in the comment box below. Also if you’ve read any of the one’s that aren’t bolded yet, please let me know what you thought of them. Want some more recommendations about which ones I should read first, etc. Thanks again to everyone who participated and enjoyed Suicide Awareness Week – your help made it even better than I could’ve imagined. Perhaps next year I’ll have a similar week, but expand the project to include other bloggers and blogs. If you’re interested…let me know and I’ll make a list of people to contact next year!
Over the last few months, like you, I’ve heard the news reports about teen suicide as a result of bullying and other causes. At the same time, I’ve watched a number of the heart-felt, “It Gets Better” messages of hope by celebrities and YA authors and have read several books featuring teens suffering from depression, considering suicide, and/or dealing with the loss of someone they really cared about to suicide. With all of these elements coming together in my life, I knew that I had to break the silence about this taboo subject matter, so I took the It Gets Better Pledge and today and for the next week or so, I’m going to bring you a series of reviews, commentaries, guest posts, and giveaways of related YA books for Suicide Awareness Week on YABookShelf.com.
Some teens face bullying for any number of reasons from the way they dress, their sexuality, or their reputations, as Hannah Baker from Jay Asher‘s page turner, Thirteen Reasons Why, did. Other teens have experienced a nearly life long battle with depression, like Ingrid from Nina LaCour‘s brilliant novel, Hold Still. Still others find that their lives have become overwhelmingly dark and stressful, like Steven from Last December by Matt Beam and Melissa from Something Wicked by Lesley Anne Cowan. Whether these characters find a way through their depression over the course of the novel or take their own life before the story even begins, these novels – and others I’m sure – all have one major thing in common, they speak to what it is like for depressed and suicidal teens as well as for the families and friends who are affected by the suicide of someone else.
So why have a Suicide Awareness Week here on YABookShelf.com? There are several reasons. I hope that by spreading the word about books like these ones, someone will read them and find the courage to get the help they need. Perhaps someone will use the knowledge they learn from them to help their friends or family members before it’s too late. Finally, I know that there are people out there, who have had the unfortunate experience of losing their friend, their sister, their brother, their mother, their father, their favorite aunt, or anyone else to whom they were close to suicide. And for those in this latter situation, I hope that books I mention or the theme-related articles that I post will help them get through the terrible loss that they’ve suffered.
While I already have a number of guest posts and other articles planned for the coming week, if you would like to write something in conjunction to this theme, then I’m certainly open to all ideas. Leave me a comment on my site, send me an email from my About YA Book Shelf page, or a message on Twitter between now and Friday, December 3, 2010, and I’ll see what I can do to fit you in as well. Also, feel free to use the Hashtag: #suicideawareness. Thanks in advance for everyone who participates – you’re help is invaluable!
Have you ever stopped to consider why it is that you like YA novels? Maybe you’re a teen yourself and the books in the young adult section speak to your real life experiences or give you an escape from them. Maybe you’re like me, an adult who thoroughly enjoys the experience of reading books aimed at a younger audience or who just wants the occasional break from the adult fiction to which you’ve grown accustomed. Earlier this week, I had to think long and hard about this and other questions related to the YA reading experience. Why? Well, as you may have heard on Twitter, I was interviewed by the CBC Book Club, along with two other bloggers, this past Monday in conjunction with their month long YA book club feature.
In the interview, I discuss not only what attracts me to teen novels in the first place, but also who are my fave YA characters (hint: me thinks that Nina LaCour and Gayle Forman will like this part) and who I think should win the CBC Book Club’s main feature for the month, the YA Death Match. If the feature was called anything else, then I think the winner would be pretty obvious – the main character of the most popular, crossover YA book and movie franchise – if you can’t guess who I mean from that than maybe the hint that tonight at midnight the second last movie installment will be released at movie theaters all over North America.
However, I think you can guess that this isn’t my fave character to win the contest on CBC. I can’t help it – when CBC said it was a death match, there was only one character, who I think has the intelligence, the survival skills, and the ability to push the envelope in ways that the competition could never imagine. She’s the only character who has actually fought and won a real, gritty, violent death match against actual human beings. If you agree with me that Katniss Everdeen ought to win this, then take the time to check out this other article where she’s in the third round of the tournament against the one and only Harry Potter and vote for her today. (Voting ends tomorrow, so hurry!) And once you’ve voted, take the time to check out my interview in case you haven’t already. Enjoy!
What do you think: How awesome was my interview? Does the underdog, Katniss Everdeen, really have the chance to beat out Harry Potter in the third round of the YA Death Match? Can she do it all and win the entire competition? Would love to know what you think!
Today, as you’re reading this post in fact, you’re joining in the celebration that I have on YABookShelf.com. As the title of article suggests, you’re currently reading the 100th post ever published on my site, and I couldn’t be happier to share this momentous occasion. Over the last three months and (nearly) two weeks, I’ve consistently offered you, dear readers, a look at some of the latest and greatest YA books to end up on my bookshelf. Often you’ll find reviews here. Other times, you’ll read interviews with some of my favorite YA authors, and frequently, I’ve got some amazing giveaways to share with you. However, no matter what I take the time to share with you, I do it with a passion and dedication that I hope comes through to my readers.
As I was writing this post, one of my Twitter followers/followees sent me a few comments out of the blue about how much she likes my site. Ezra went on to say in under 140 characters, “Your passion and commitment def comes through in your work, one of the many reasons why I love reading your posts, so so great!” I was floored. It’s not that I haven’t received positive feedback about YA Book Shelf before, but it was sent at the perfect moment, just as I was mulling over everything that I’ve done with it so far, and of course, thinking about where the future will take my site. Her comment really made my day, which is why, rather than talk about another book I love, I’m going to do my *happy dance* and share with you all, for the first time on my site, my requisite *happy dance* song:
So, what did you think of the song and video by Lykke Li?
Not ready to answer that? No worries, how about the following questions about my site? Like, do you have any comments, whether they’re completely positive, constructive criticism or otherwise? I’d love to hear what you think of the first 100 posts and what you hope to see for the next 100 because though this site is a labor of love, it’s a labor also for you, my readers.
Today is the Book Birthday of Mitali Perkins latest teen novel, Bamboo People, which I reviewed earlier this week. Feel free to check out the review if you missed it. However, there is also something else that I want to mention I think will have at least one person from either the United States or Canada celebrating (I know that I am).
You see, a few weeks ago, I announced a contest on my site. The lucky winner gets to have a brand new hardcover copy of BambooPeople for their personal reading collection and hopefully, we’ll see an additional review of Mitali’s latest book on the ‘Net sometime soon. Before I announce the winner, I’d like to thank everyone who entered and remind you that if you didn’t win, there are a couple other contests currently on my site with which you might have better luck. You should also take the time to go to your local bookstore and buy this book or request that they carry it if they aren’t already.
Now, without further ado, I’d like to congratulate the winner: jpetroroy is going to receive Mitali’s latest release on it’s book birthday! YAY! You have 48 hours to respond with your address, so the book can be sent to you before I have to select another winner.
Of course, the winner was selected from Random.org’s random number generator, but she was also one of the entrants who left a comment on the post concerning what she’d do if she was forced into the army and couldn’t say goodbye to her family. Her response was: “God, I don’t even know what I would do. Letters, phone calls if I could, just some way to try to stay/get in contact.” Many people had a similar response to the question, either that or they said that they would cry, so I think that it’s safe to say that people want to ensure that their families still have hope that they’re alive and safe. Sometimes we might not even know that our messages have actually been received, but the fact that we try (or that we think we would) suggests good things about the human spirit. And I think this spirit and the fact that a great book with two teen boys as the main characters has just been released are too great things to celebrate!
While I don’t have as many new titles to report in this week’s edition of What’s In My Mailbox? as last week, I’m really excited about what I do have to share. First, Marina Cohen sent me a signed copy of her 2009 book Ghost Ride. I have a couple signed books now, including my copy of When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris and Possessions by Nancy Holder. However, Marina is the first author to give me a copy with a really personal message since we talk quite frequently on Twitter, and I have to admit that it really made my day. Thanks again Marina!
Sam, Cody and Javon decide to go ghost riding, a practice in which the driver and passengers of a car get onto the roof to dance while the car is still speeding down the road. You might not be too surprised that something goes horribly wrong with a stunt like this, but the decisions made in secret by the surviving two teens don’t seem to have gone unnoticed. Who is leaving these alarming messages for Cody and Sam and what do they know? Check out GhostRide to find out!
There was only one other book that I received in the mail last week – Gayle Forman‘s best selling book, If I Stay. If it seems a little like déjà vu, like you’ve heard me talk about the same book last week. Well, you’d be correct. I got a second copy this week, so stay tuned for an impromptu contest on my blog tomorrow!
This past week, I only received one physical book in my mailbox, but my inbox was stuffed with ebooks to check out on my Sony eReader. Therefore, in today’s installment of What’s In My Mailbox?, which is a weekly meme on my site, I’m going to give you a rundown of both types of books that I’m excited to be checking out.
First on my list is Gayle Forman‘s debut novel and New York Times bestseller, If I Stay, which USA Today assures “Will appeal to fans of Stephanie Meyer’s TWILIGHT.” I’m really excited about reading this novel, not only because I’ve heard such good things about it, but also because I recently checked out a video in which the author reads from this novel and answers questions. Of course, I couldn’t find it on YouTube to post it here, but needless to say, she kinda blew me away. Read this book to learn about what happens when a girl who has everything, suddenly finds it all taken away.
Next, I’m really looking forward to jumping into The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. From June 1st till July 31st, you can download a short novella in this series, entitled Winter’s Passage for free in a bunch of ebook formats. Who knows, maybe if enough of us with eReaders download this book, Harlequin Teen will come out with a physical copy as well (hint, hint). In addition, I received a galley copy of The Iron Daughter, so now I just need to get my copy of The Iron King, and I’ll be ready to begin reading them all. This trilogy is about the secret destiny of 16-year-old Meghan Chase. Unlike a normal human father, she was born the daughter to a mythical faery king. Can she save her little brother? Find out by getting in on the Iron Fey trilogy.
Two of the other galley copies that I was able to receive include Manifest by Artist Arthur and Wildthorn. Both of these books sound pretty amazing. Manifest is the first novel in a series of paranormal romances; when 15-year-old Krystal is forced to move to her mom’s hometown in Connecticut, she can’t imagine anything good coming of it. She does, however, start to see a cute dead boy named Ricky, who wants help finding his killer, and then meets up with two other teens with special powers and the same mysterious birthmark that she has. Sounds like a great summer read. By contrast, Wildthorn‘s premise is one about a 19th century woman, who gets locked away in an insane asylum, which is something that happened to a lot of women in that time period as men could legally declare their wives crazy to get them out of their way. In this story, the main character is stripped of her clothing and even her name, so she would seem to be mentally ill if she insisted that she didn’t belong there or that she was called something else. Since this phenomenon is always something that interested me, I’m definitely looking forward to reading the fictionalization of it.
Finally, I also have the opportunity of checking out the new book by a local YA author named Lori Weber. In If You Live Like Me, is the story of Cheryl – a girl who loves the concrete and bright city lights of Montreal and who is therefore, dreading the family movie to St. John’s, Newfoundland. In a new novel that explores the bonds that keep family and community together, I can’t wait to see whether Weber’s rep as a “masterful storyteller” holds true.
If you’ve already checked out any of these books or are looking forward to reading them as much as I am, then please, take the time to let me know. I have a feeling that an extra copy of at least one of these novels will be arriving in my mailbox soon, which could mean a new, unplanned contest!
One of my greatest joys is running and writing the content for YA Book Shelf. However, I have to admit that there is a special place in my heart for the two distinct events that I get to announce today: an upcoming interview where the author pops by my site to answer your questions and comments AND posting the results of a contest that just concluded yesterday. Perhaps it may not sound like a lot to you, but it makes it happy to know that other people are going to share in the awesome experience of a book (or in this case books) that I really loved.
Since some of you have been waiting almost two weeks to find out whether you’ve won Nonna’s Book Of Mysteries or not, I figure you can wait a couple more seconds while I announce something new and exciting on my site. This weekend (that’s Saturday and Sunday), I will be posting a new YA novelist interview with the author of a few books that you have to check out, entitled Break On Through and Rhythm And Blues . If you haven’t checked out these books or the author, Jill Murray, then as I said in my review, you’re definitely missing out. If you stop by on either Saturday or Sunday to post your comments and questions, Jill will be popping by every once in awhile to read and respond to what you have to say.
If you couldn’t tell that I was seriously excited about my upcoming interview, then I’m not sure if you’ll realize what a pleasure it is to announce the two lucky winners of Mary Osborne‘s newly released book Nonna’s Book Of Mysteries, which is Book One of the Alchemy Series. This book will transport readers to the studios and homes of the Renaissance world, where questions of art, faith and doubt pop up all the time.
So now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the first winner selected via the random number generator on Random.org is Protagitron or @msprotagitron.
And the second winner is Jackie or @teenbookguide.
Winners will have 48 hours to respond to me by email with their mailing addresses, so I can forward them on to the publisher.
I want to give a big thanks to everyone who entered the contest: it is only with your continued support that I can make these YA giveaways possible. If you didn’t get the chance to win this time around, then please keep in mind that I will be having at least two more contests this month alone, and you can still buy your own copy of Mary Osborne’s great book, Nonna’s Book Of Mysteries, and at the same time, you’ll get a sneak peek at the next book in the Alchemy Series, Alchemy’s Daughter!
Although tampering with someone’s mail is an offense that must be punished in some way, you won’t risk getting a day in court if you’re just checking out What’s In My Mailbox? (Believe me…I tried). Rather than a stiff punishment, you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing what may be coming up on my blog sooner or later.
I read a lot of different types of books – from mashups, like Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin and paranormal to contemporary and historical narratives, but they all have one thing in common, they’re written either for the YA audience or with a teen voice. The vast majority of the novels that made it into this week’s What’sInMyMailbox are comprised of contemporary issue-related subject matter. Whether it is a story of an at risk teen like As She Grows and it’s brand new sequel Something Wicked or narratives of guilt and loss about a friend’s suicide like Thirteen Reasons Why and Hold Still or from complications of anorexia, like Wintergirls, many of these novels are, I imagine, hard-hitting looks at the situation. While I don’t expect any of them to be easy reads, if only because the emotional quotient will be rather high, I am definitely looking forward to reading each of them.
One of the things that I’m really looking forward to is the fact that three of the novels that made their way into my mailbox are written from a male’s perspective, including Thirteen Reasons Why, Last December, and Looking For Alaska by Jay Asher, Matt Beam, and John Green, one of the authors of this year’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Although I have reviewed a few novels already with male leads, and there is at least one more review coming, the majority of the novels I’ve featured have a female protagonist. I love reading books with female characters, but given the fact that there are fewer novels geared toward teen boys, I think it’s important to review them when I have the chance as well. Of course, it’s even better when, like these novelists, they are writing a compelling story: whether you’re interested in narratives about a high school boy crush as in Looking For Alaska or a narrative about what happened Last December to make the possibility of a new younger sister necessary, I don’t expect you’ll be disappointed.
Left to be discussed in this post, you’ll find a mix of a realistic contemporary novel, a memoir (the first one I’ll be reviewing her), a horror story and a few pieces of book swag. The first book I mentioned is called After by Amy Efaw (the irony of this situation isn’t lost on me). Efaw presents the narrative of a teen, who after giving birth, dumps the body of the baby in a trash can, which leads to the it’s death. I’m quite curious as to how she portrays the psychology of a teen who is willing to go to this extreme. Second, Susan Juby‘s memoir, Nice Recovery, about her struggle with alcoholism is, I think, an important book to read. Just because someone is young doesn’t mean that they can’t have a substance abuse problem, so I think this book should be required reading. Next, a few weeks ago I received an ARC of Nancy Holder‘s second novel in the Possessions series, and last week, I finally received the first book in the series. As a long time horror movie and book fan, I’m really looking forward to checking out these offerings.
Now for the book swag…*rubs my hands together in mischievous delight.* Since I just mentioned Possessions, it makes sense to start with the Wicked Apple Mints that I received along with this book. What a great piece of swag, which matches one of Holder’s earlier horror series a little better than this one, but is still extremely cool. Last but not certainly not least, I got some awesome pieces of swag from Sherri Browning Erwin last week, including a few magnets and keychains with the cover image from Jane Slayre on them. My favorite item, however, was the Jane Slayre postcard, and it’s personalized message to me with Sherri’s signature; it’s something I’ll definitely be holding on to for a long time to come!
Feel free to leave me a comment if you’ve read any of these books already or if you’re just as excited as I am to read them in the future. Now, go out and have a great day!
Normally, I post What’s In My Mailbox? on Mondays, but I had a previous commitment to post the review and start the Nonna’s Book Of Mysteries contest yesterday, so it couldn’t be helped. If you haven’t already checked this great little contest out, then you should. It lasts until June 10, 2010, and there is a lot of opportunity to earn extra entries so enter sooner rather than later to have the greatest chance to refer multiple people to the contest.
This week was a little slower than usual for receiving forthcoming packages. However, I did receive three great books that were all written by some up-and-coming Canadian writers for the young reader and middle grade market. Yes, that’s right…I’m going to take a stab at some books that are geared towards girls and boys of a slightly younger age bracket-I’m not sure if it will be a regular thing, but I’m certainly looking forward to the first few attempts in this area.
First on the list are two recent releases from Nimbus Publishing called Keep Out! and The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. KeepOut! is a mystery featuring twin boys named André and Lucas, who are planning to spend a lot of their summer body boarding in the local national park. Some of the beach is closed to allow the piping plover a chance to nest, but when the boys notice that someone has been sneaking onto the closed off section. With the help of the boys in Hélène Boudreau’s chapter book, young readers have the chance to solve the who-dunnit type of mystery and admire the lovely illustrations at the same time.
The second recent release, TheFossilHunterOfSydneyMines by Jo Ann Yhard, follows a group of tweens turned detectives, who are trying to solve the case of what REALLY happened to Grace’s recently deceased father. If dealing with her own grief and that of her mom’s wasn’t enough, then she will definitely have a little more to contend with now. Was her dad’s death an accident like she’d thought? If not, then Grace and her friends need to act quickly to get to the bottom of this mystery before it’s too late. Not surprised that Yhard won first prize in the Young Adult category in the 2006 Atlantic Writing Competition, but seems like she must have even harder to finally get it into print.
Finally, Kate Inglis‘ first MG book called The Dread Crew, which actually came out awhile back in hardcover has just made it into the paperback edition, and I have to say that I’m really stoked about it. Everything from the beautifully embossed and colored front cover and the illustrations throughout the novel to the premise itself have me all a jitter. Perhaps it’s brings me back to last summer when I went to a museum exhibit related to pirates, which I really loved. Whether the MG reader on your list is an antsy boy, adventurous girl, or a thoroughly pleased adult, you’ll be looking forward to this book (and the other two I mentioned above) as well.