Spoofy Brilliance + the Anti-Anti-YA Book List, Compiled

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 13, 2014

Earlier this week, I posted a call to gather titles to counter one writer’s Slate article dismissing YA books as not suitably literary or complex reading for adults. Suggestions poured in, and I’m posting the list of books below.
First, however, I wanted to share the first bit of my favorite response to the Ruth Graham article. Titled “A Young Adult Author’s Fantastic Crusade to Defend Literature’s Most Maligned Genre,” it was posted on Nerve.com by YA writer Kathleen Hale, and it begins this way:
Last week, I read Ruth Graham’s article “Against YA.” In it, Graham contends that adults should be embarrassed to read YA novels. Instead, grownups should focus their attention on serious, “literary fiction” that grapples with “big ideas about time and space and science and love.”
As a YA writer myself, I was understandably offended. I’m not some schlocky trash-peddler. I’m a serious author, capable of far more than maudlin plot twists and clichéd dialogue. That’s why I decided to confront Graham in person.
I picked her up outside the graveyard before nightfall.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said, as we stepped into my father’s beat up Chevy. We were going 70 miles an hour, two girls with different colored hair.
“Why did you say that about YA?” I asked, as tears streamed down my face like rain.
“Because it’s true!” she hissed. And I saw in the moonlight that her anger made her beautiful. This was before the war, when the oceans still had water, and the moon was still visible in the sky.
Hale’s post continues, hilariously, in this vein. It is clever, spooftastic fun, but also a glorious, smart reply to the issues raised in Ruth Graham’s article.
And now for the Anti-Anti-YA Book List of complex, rewarding young adult reads no one should be ashamed of reading and enjoying. The aim was to include only realistic YA, but a few fantasy, alternative reality, and graphic novels sneaked in. Thanks to all of the ShelfTalker readers who contributed:
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma.
33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler
anything by Sarah Dessen
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
Bone Dance by Martha Brooks
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson
Candy by Kevin Brooks
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Confessions of a Hater by Caprice Crane
Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos
Deerskin by Robin McKinley
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Downriver by Will Hobbs
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Every Day by David Levithan
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak
Finninkin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
For the Win by Cory Doctorow
Gil Marsh by A.C.E. Bauer
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
Heart’s Delight by Per Nilsson
how i live now by Meg Rosoff
How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Hush by Eishes Chayil
I Am J by Cris Beam
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan.
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
In Darkness by Nick Lake
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal
The Kings Are Already Here by Garret Freymann-Weyr
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking trilogy) by Patrick Ness
Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Life as We Knew It (Mooncrash series) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel
The List by Siobhan Vivian
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaria
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt
My Soon-to-be Sex Life by Judith Tewes
No Safe Place by Deborah Ellis
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
the perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt
The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Since You Left Me by Allen Zadoff
Sister Mischief by Laura Goode
Skim by Mariko Tamaki (graphic novel)
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
Sorta Like a Rockstar by Matthew Quick
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Stick by Andrew Smith
Stoner and Spaz by Ron Koertge
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Suckerpunch by David Hernandez
Tamar by Mal Peet
Taste of Salt by Frances Temple
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky
Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
The Tyrant’s Daugher by J. C. Carleson
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Whale Talk (and other novels) by Chris Crutcher
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Winger by Andrew Smith
With or Without You by Brian Farrey
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

4 thoughts on “Spoofy Brilliance + the Anti-Anti-YA Book List, Compiled

  1. Lia Keyes

    Happy to see Andrew Smith and Meg Medina on this terrific list, and I’m so glad you didn’t exclude fantasy and graphic novels, as that would be a bad message to send out into the world. Speculative fiction has always had much to give to debates on important questions (Bradbury, Orwell, etc).

  2. Sophie

    Quote from the Against YA article : “YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering.”
    As if anybody was satisfied with the end of Allegiant… and the end of The Fault in Our Stars… and the end of The Hunger Games… and the end of Delirium… I was angry at the end of each of those books, only to mention these. I was certainly not satisfied. It took me two weeks to start another book after Allegiant, in fact.
    I don’t think this person knows anything about YA, since she only talked about what’s on the surface of all the books she mentionned. There’s so much more to a book than the story itself, let alone the themes. Are all the adults comfortable with the subject of cancer? I believe not. And yet, The Fault in Our Stars helps us getting accustomed to this subject so it won’t be taboo anymore. What about a totalitarian government as seen in the Hunger Games? How will we react to this if it happens? Have you ever thought about it? After reading the Hunger Games, I actually did this reflection because it COULD happen, one day ; it’s plausible.
    Thinking YA is only for teens only means that adults know everything and are above all the reflections you do while reading YA. Is any adult here a perfect human being? Nope. Then, I guess ever adult needs to read at least one YA novel in his/her adult life because we learn everyday, regardless of our age.


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