Top 10 First Novels for Youth.
Cooper, Ilene (author).
FEATURE. First published October 15, 2013 (Booklist).
These first novels cover a lot of territory, from Iran to Russia, 1960s Spanish Harlem to the upper echelons of a Kabbalistic world. And yes, there are also zombies.
Crash and Burn . By Michael Hassan. 2013. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $18.99 (9780062112903). Gr. 9–12.
In this sprawling, vulgar, sexy tale of a decade-long antagonism between two boys destined to fulfill their yin-yang fate, Hassan constructs three of the most vividly alive characters in recent YA.
Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy . By Elizabeth Kiem. 2013. Soho Teen, $17.99 (9781616952631). Gr. 8–11.
Teenage Marya, a talented dancer, flees Russia for Brooklyn in 1982. But secrets follow her in this atmospheric and suspenseful story filled with deception, music, and coming-of-age.
The End Games . By. T. Michael Martin. 2013. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $17.99 (9780062201805).
Michael, 17, has managed to protect his little brother, Patrick, from flesh eaters by convincing him that the nightmarish scenario that they’re experiencing is all a video game. This fresh take on zombies rockets forth like single, exhaled breath, meshing action, intelligence, and emotion.
If You Could Be Mine . By Sara Farizan. 2013. Algonquin, $16.99 (9781616202514). Gr. 10–12.
Two Iranian teen girls love each other, but homosexuality is a crime in their country. So Sahar decides to have sex-reassignment surgery and become a man. A groundbreaking, powerful depiction of gay and transsexual life in a culture that forbids it.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds . By Cat Winters. 2013. Abrams/Amulet, $16.99 (9781419705304). Gr. 9–12.
This unconventional look at a dark period in history encompasses the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, WWI shell shock, national prejudice, and spirit photography, all told through a straightforward and welcoming teen voice.
Jinx . By Sage Blackwood. 2013. Harper, $16.99 (9780062129901). Gr. 4–7.
Orphan Jinx finds a home with the wizard Simon, but she loses some of the powers that he possesses. In this expertly paced book, Blackwood elevates familiar fantasy elements and introduces exquisitely credible characters who inhabit a world of magic and whimsy.
Paperboy . By Vince Vawter. 2013. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780385742443). Gr. 6–8.
Written in the tradition of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, this moving historical novel follows the trials of an 11-year-old boy who stutters. His hope fortifies and satisfies in equal measure.
The Path of Names . By Ari Goelman. 2013. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (9780545474306). Gr. 5–8.
Using the Jewish mystical practice of Kabbalah as a touchstone, this story is both thrilling and meaningful as it leads spunky Dahlia through a wondrous world, where she makes contact with a Talmudic scholar from the past.
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano . By Sonia Manzano. 2012. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545325059). Gr. 6–9.
Rosa, 14, growing up in East Harlem’s Puerto Rican barrio in 1969, wants to be more mainstream, but her activist abuela inspires her to join the Young Lords. Both wry and moving, this blends the personal and the political without denigrating either.
Uses for Boys. By Erica Lorraine Scheidt. 2013. St. Martin/s/Griffin, paper, $9.99 (9781250007117). Gr. 9–12.
A beautiful, honest story about a mother who seeks validation through men, causing her daughter to use boys to define her self-worth.