They were kind enough to ask me to write them a guest post, too. And it’s up! The mission was to talk about random things I like and make recommendations based off those things. So I talked about things like books about people’s day jobs, movies about werewolves, music about girls, and bok choy. Go check it out. It would make my day, too, if you left a comment over there. Even if you lie about how great those recommendations are.
Over the last year or so, there have been an exceptional number of YA stories about siblings published (or ones that will be published soon). Besides just stories of brother-sister, brother-brother, and sister-sister relationships, there have also been a number of stories about twins published/to be pubbed soon. What makes these stories engaging is that, despite tackling sometimes similar subject matter, they still show the differing dynamics that occur within these family bonds. These sorts of stories fascinate me to no end because I didn’t grow up with my siblings so these are stories about experiences I’ve never had nor never will have.
The bulk of these stories explore somewhat standard sibling relationships, so I would love any suggestions you might have of stories about siblings which aren’t as common. I’d love stories about step/half siblings, about sibling bonds that don’t necessarily form naturally or smoothly. Some of these books tackle the sibling relationship as the plot while others make use of that relationship as a major subplot — it’s more than just a relationship that exists but one that advances both the character and the story in some way. All descriptions are from WorldCat and all of these are titles published/publishing in 2011 and 2011 (I snuck in a couple late 2010 titles, too). These are YA titles only, as I think the sibling relationship trend is much less prominent in YA than it is in middle grade or younger titles. I know I’m missing a bunch, so as always, feel free to add any others you can think of in the comments.
For extra fun, I’ve starred titles that feature twins.
Irises by Francisco X Stork: Kate, eighteen, and Mary, sixteen, must make some adult decisions about the course their lives should take when their loving but old-fashioned father dies suddenly, leaving them with their mother, who has been in a persistant vegetative state since an accident four years earlier.
Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill: When a new glassblower arrives to help in the family business, the attraction Maria feels for him causes a web of conflicting emotions to grow even more tangled.
Split by Swati Avasthi: A teenaged boy thrown out of his house by his abusive father goes to live with his older brother, who ran away from home years ago to escape the abuse.
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: Two years after sixteen-year-old Chloe discovered classmate London’s dead body floating in a Hudson Valley reservoir, she returns home to be with her devoted older sister Ruby, a town favorite, and finds that London is alive and well, and that Ruby may somehow have brought her back to life and persuaded everyone that nothing is amiss. (Review)
The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt: Although they have never gotten along well, seventeen-year-old Levi follows his older brother Boaz, an ex-Marine, on a walking trip from Boston to Washington, D.C. in hopes of learning why Boaz is completely withdrawn. (Review)
Never Enough by Denise Jaden (July 2012): Sixteen-year-old Loann admires and envies her older sister Claire’s strength, popularity, and beauty, but as Loann begins to open up to new possibilities in herself, she discovers that Claire’s all-consuming quest for perfection comes at a dangerous price.
*All These Lives by Sarah Wylie (June 2012): Convinced that she has nine lives after cheating death twice as a child, sixteen-year-old Dani tries to forfeit her remaining lives in hopes of saving her twin sister, Jena, whose leukemia is consuming their family.
Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown (July 2012): Seventeen-year-old Kendra, living in the shadow of her brother’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, takes a life-changing road trip with him.
Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John: Sixteen-year-old Luke Dorsey is sent on a cross-country tour to promote his bestselling spiritual self-help guide accompanied by his agnostic older brother and former girlfriend Fran, from whom he learns some things about salvation. (Review)
* Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis (May 2012): In alternating chapters, sixteen-year-old twins Ysabel and Justin share their conflicted feelings as they struggle to come to terms with their father’s decision to dress as a woman.
* Bumped by Megan McCafferty: In 2036 New Jersey, when teens are expected to become fanatically religious wives and mothers or high-priced Surrogettes for couples made infertile by a widespread virus, sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony find in one another the courage to believe they have choices. See also Thumped. (Review)
Brother/Sister by Sean Olin: Told in alternating perspectives, Will and Asheley relate the events of the summer and explain how their lives became violently out of control.
Rock On by Denise Vega: High school sophomore Ori Taylor, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter in a nameless rock band, has always been known as the easily-overlooked younger brother of Del, a high school sports star, but when Del suddenly returns home from college just as Ori is starting to gain some confidence in himself, Del expects everything to return to the way it used to be.
Stick by Andrew Smith: Thirteen-year-old Stark “Stick” McClellan’s brother has always defended him against those who tease him for his thinness and facial deformity, so when Bosten, having admitted he is gay, must leave home and their abusive parents, Stick sets out to find him.
Without Tess by Marcella Pixley: Fifteen-year-old Lizzie Cohen recalls what it was like growing up with her imaginative but disturbed older sister Tess, and how she is striving to reclaim her own life since Tess died. (Review)
Zen and Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan: Two teenaged sisters try to come to terms with the death of their mother in very different ways.
* Pretty Bad Things by CJ Skuse: When they were six years old, twins Beau and Paisley were famous for surviving on their own after their mother died of a drug overdose, and now, at sixteen, they escape from their abusive grandmother to look for their father, who is out of prison and, unbeknownst to them, has been writing them letters since he was put away.
Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser: Four teenagers from two families–sisters Katie and Julie and brothers Alex and Kyle–meet every summer at a lakeside community in upstate New York, where they escape their everyday lives and hide disturbing secrets. (Review)
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott: When her older, “perfect” sister Tess has a car accident that puts her in a coma, seventeen-year-old Abby, who has always felt unseen in Tess’s shadow, plans to bring her back with the help of Eli, a gorgeous boy she has met at the hospital, but her plans go awry when she learns some secrets about both Tess and Eli, enabling her to make some decisions about her own life.
The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez (October 2012): Seventeen-year-old Amelia feels like her life might be getting back on track after a bad break-up when her younger sister’s pregnancy gets them both banished to Canada, where new relationships are forged, giving Amelia a new perspective.
Personal Effects by EM Kokie (September 2012): Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, seventeen-year-old Matt Foster feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, and the worst part is, there’s nothing left of him to hold on to. Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on T.J.’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death.
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma: Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan tell, in their separate voices, of their confusion and longing as they fall in love with one another after years of functioning as parents to three younger siblings due to their alcoholic mother’s neglect. (Review)
I’m Not Her by Janet Gurtler: Brainy Tess Smith is the younger sibling of the beautiful, popular, volleyball-scholarship-bound Kristina. When Kristina is diagnosed with bone cancer, it drastically changes both sisters’ lives. Sometimes the things that annoy us the most about our siblings are the ones we’d miss the most if we lost them.
Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso: Summer Stetson has always lived in the shadow of her dead sister, knowing she can never measure up in any way, but on her seventeenth birthday her aunt gives her Shannon’s diary, which reveals painful but liberating truths about Summer’s family and herself.
Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler: Unlike her romantic sister, Gabby is down-to-earth and does not put her trust in relationships, but when the richest boy in school befriends her, she discovers that emotional barriers might actually be getting in the way of her happiness.
Saving June by Hannah Harrington: After her sister’s suicide, Harper Scott takes off for California with her best friend Laney to scatter her sister’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean.
The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Tera Elsa McVoy: When teenaged sisters Daisy, Violet, and Calla spend their last summer together at Camp Callanwolde, the decisions they make–both good and bad–bring challenges to their relationship as well as opportunities to demonstrate their devotion to one another.
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks: After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and three older brothers, Maggie enrolls in public high school, where interacting with her peers is complicated by the melancholy ghost that has followed her throughout her entire life.
* Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan: When their parents announce they are taking in a fellow student for a month, 16-year-old twins Kyle and Judy sit up and take notice. Kyle has just come out of the closet to his family and fears he’ll never know what it is like to date a guy. Judy is pretending to be born-again to attract a boy who heads a Bible study group. And Garret Johnson is new in town– a mysterious loner who claims to be a vampire. Both twins are intrigued.
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood: In an alternate New England of 1900, where the Brotherhood dominates and controls society, sixteen-year-old Cate Cahill has struggled since her mother’s death to keep secret that she and her younger sisters are witches, but when a governess arrives from the Sisterhood, everything changes.
* Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman (August 2012): Eighteen-year-old identical twins Alice and Rachel have always shared a very special bond, so when one is abducted the other uses their connection to try to locate her.
“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” — John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley
A lot of people give Jack Kerouac credit for the road trip novel — he wrote his well-known travelogues when America was building highways to allow for cross-country travel. And without doubt, On the Road is one of those books that is a classic (I would go as far as to call it a classic, not just a cult classic). But Kerouac’s novel is nothing compared to Steinbeck’s road trip book, Travels with Charley. My dog-earned, spine-bent copy of Steinbeck’s work is marked up like crazy with great lines and observations that happen when one takes a cross country journey — he cuts to the heart of people and places in a way that sort of defines the purpose of a road trip all together.
The idea of the road trip is all about the idea of change and growth, of observation and discovery. More than that, it’s about freedom, which is why I think it’s such a huge trend in the YA world. It’s a trend I dig quite a bit as a road trip junkie myself.
Here’s a list of road trip books that have been published in the last couple of years, along with a handful of titles to be published in 2012 that incorporate a road trip as a key element to the story. I’m certainly not going to hit them all, and they’re in no particular order, though I’ve noted the publication dates on the titles not out yet. You’ll see reviews of a few of these in the next few weeks, too.
If you can think of other recent titles, leave a comment. I’d be particularly interested in road trip novels that don’t take place in the States or more than feature male main characters. And I urge anyone who loves a good road trip novel to read Steinbeck’s book if you haven’t, and I think without doubt, both it and Kerouac’s books have teen appeal — I know I read them both for fun when I was in high school.
All descriptions come from WorldCat.
Take Me There by Carolee Dean: After violating his parole, seventeen-year-old, semi-literate Dylan Dawson drives from California to Texas to try to see his father on death row in an attempt to figure out how his own life has gone so terribly awry.
Crash Into Me by Albert Borris: Four suicidal teenagers go on a “celebrity suicide road trip,” visiting the graves of famous people who have killed themselves, with the intention of ending their lives in Death Valley, California.
Saving June by Hannah Harrington: After her sister’s suicide, Harper Scott takes off for California with her best friend Laney to scatter her sister’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean.
In Honor by Jessi Kirby (May 8, 2012): Three days after she learns that her brother Finn died serving in Iraq, Honor receives a letter from him asking her to drive his car from Texas to California for a concert, and when his estranged best friend shows up suddenly and offers to accompany her, they set off on a road trip that reveals much about all three of them.
Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston: Eighteen-year-old Polly and impulsive, seventeen-year-old Odd survive an deadly outbreak of flesh-eating bacteria, but resulting wounds have destroyed their plans for the future and with little but their unlikely friendship and a shared affection for trout fishing, they set out on a road trip through the West.
The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg: A novel based on the true story of seventeen-year-old Clara Estby’s walk across America with her mother Helga in 1896, to win a ten thousand dollar prize and save their home from foreclosure.
Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown (July 10, 2012): Seventeen-year-old Kendra, living in the shadow of her brother’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, takes a life-changing road trip with him.
Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern: Recent high school graduates Lil and Josh leave Illinois for Oregon seeking Lil’s sort-of friend Penny, who faked her own kidnapping to escape problems at home and an abusive boyfriend, but Lil also wants to find out if she and Josh are meant to be more than friends.
Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John: Sixteen-year-old Luke Dorsey is sent on a cross-country tour to promote his bestselling spiritual self-help guide accompanied by his agnostic older brother and former girlfriend Fran, from whom he learns some things about salvation.
Pretty Bad Things by CJ Skuse: When they were six years old, twins Beau and Paisley were famous for surviving on their own after their mother died of a drug overdose, and now, at sixteen, they escape from their abusive grandmother to look for their father, who is out of prison and, unbeknownst to them, has been writing them letters since he was put away.
Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith: When her boyfriend Zan leaves high school in Utah a year early to attend Pitzer College, a broken-hearted Joy and Zan’s best friend Noah take off on a road trip to California seeking “closure.”
Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole (April 1, 2012): The summer after high school graduation and one year after her mother’s tragic death, Anna and her long-time best friend Kat set out on a road trip across the country, armed with camping supplies and a copy of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, determined to be open to anything that comes their way.
Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger: Determined to set an old horse free, sixteen-year-old Hattie and eighteen-year-old Delores head west in search of range land on a road trip that takes unexpected turns as the girls get their own taste of freedom and confront the reasons they left home.
Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham (June 12, 2012): Alice, Summer, and Tiernan were best friends who broke up at the same time as their favorite band, but four years later, just before they are preparing to go off to college, the girls reluctantly come back together, each with her own motives, for a road trip from Massachusetts to Austin, Texas, for the band’s one-time-only reunion concert.
Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler: Ever since V’s mom dumped her with her grandparents, she’s bounced from guy to guy. That is, until a fateful hockey puck lands her in the lap of Sam Almond, who is different from the start. But V makes an irreversible mistake at her graduation party and risks losing Sam forever, spurring her on a cross country road trip to visit her mom in hopes of putting two thousand miles between herself, Sam, and the wreckage of that night.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Having been recently dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, recent high school graduate and former child prodigy Colin sets off on a road trip with his best friend to try to find some new direction in life while also trying to create a mathematical formula to explain his relationships.
Going Bovine by Libba Bray: In an attempt to find a cure after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s (aka mad cow) disease, Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old boy, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital.
Nobody but Us by Kristin Halbrook (January 2013): Two teenagers who, in search of a better life, run away to Vegas, but realize they can’t run fast enough when they end up wanted by the police, out of money, and out of options, pitched as a YA Bonnie and Clyde.
I think it’d be neat if someone manipulated a Google Map and actually included all of the trips through these books on it. That was my original plan in writing this, but I haven’t read enough of the titles/remember all of the journeys. But it’s there for the taking if someone wants to give that project a go.
This isn’t usually a topic I’d talk about on STACKED — I’d take it over to my library-related blog — but this is such an important issue and one that impacts anyone who loves and advocates for ya books, so I’m going to talk about it here.
You know I am fired up this year about making sure books I care about are nominated for any of YALSA’s award and selection lists. And you know I’ve talked about how anyone can nominate books they think are worthy of consideration for those award and selection lists. That’s a huge deal and something not many people knew about. I think I’ve beat this horse pretty well.
Wednesday night, I went to go look at a book list on YALSA’s site and came across something that bothered me (click to enlarge):
What was once an open and freely accessible resource of YALSA book award and book list information was suddenly requiring me to log in to my YALSA account to access. I clicked around for quite a while without logging into my account and realized that not only could I not see any of the award or selection lists without signing in, but I couldn’t even see what the award or book lists were without logging in. That means, I had no idea how many awards there were, what they were called, what the criteria were for books to be considered for any of the lists, nor anything else related to any of YALSA’s award or book lists. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, accessible about the award nor book lists without logging into my account.
Part of my professional responsibility as a librarian, at least in my head, is belonging to my professional association. It’s very pricey, especially since I pay for the membership on my own and don’t have an organization that pays it for me. To be a member of YALSA, you must also be a member of ALA — you can’t just be a member of YALSA. Yearly membership into ALA for me costs $100, and my membership into YALSA costs $50 (I’m also a member of PLA and ALSC, which are also additional costs). I think it’s a steep price to pay each year, but it’s one I make. Paying means I’m a member and I help support the creation and development of these award and selection lists, among a host of other things. It gives me the ability to have a say in the organization, as well. It’s $150 I spend because it supports many things I am passionate about and allows me to have a say in many of these arenas.
When I hit the fire walled screen on Wednesday night and found out I needed to log in to my account to access, I was at first confused. Why would my professional organization hide information about one of the biggest things they do? Why would they require me to log in to see something that’s always been openly accessible and available? I passed along the link to a non-member to see whether it was just me, and I came to find out that no, it wasn’t just me.
No one could access these lists from YALSA’s site without logging into an account of some sort.
For me, this means another couple of clicks on the screen to log in to my account. It’s not the biggest deal in the world on a practical level. And non-YALSA members can also access the lists and information about the awards by filling out a short form that asks for a name, email address, and what products or services they might be interested in from YALSA. It also opts them into being signed up for YALSA email.
Let’s step back a second here. To access even information about what awards or selection lists YALSA makes each year, you have to log into either your YALSA account or provide your personal information to the organization and be opted in to an email list. No longer can you access these freely from the YALSA site without information being collected about you. No longer can you hop onto YALSA’s site to look at what books were Alex Award winners last year. No longer can you look at the criteria for Printz Award books. No longer do you even know how many award or selection lists there are without logging into some kind of account. No longer can you nominate a book for a list without breaking through the fire wall.
I’m disturbed by this because it chokes access to information. More than that, though, I’m bothered that nothing was said about this change in access. Librarians strive to prove access to information and our goal is always to make it as painless as possible. But here, YALSA, the biggest professional organization for young adult library services, has put up a barrier to information about the biggest honors they bestow upon ya literature each year.
And they did it without telling anyone.
After a little investigation, it was discovered that there was a Board of Directors document discussing a potential change in access to information about these award and selection lists. The document suggests that there should be a change in access so that due-paying YALSA members can access privileged information. More specifically, annotated lists would be put behind a fire wall and made members only, but general information about the award and selection lists, as well as the non-annotated lists, would still be freely accessible for anyone. This change makes sense to me — as someone who pays the dues, getting the benefit of an annotated list, one that not everyone can access, seems fair. It’s a small perk for paying the money each year to keep the organization going.
However, that is not what happened. Rather than hide simply the annotated lists behind a log in screen, YALSA has hidden everything behind a log in screen, and this change in policy was never discussed. It is not in any Board document, it was not discussed with membership, it was not put to vote, and it was certainly not shared on their website nor in any of their communications. This was a decision made behind closed doors somewhere.
Accessing any information about book award and selection lists is now a privilege.
For me, this means another couple of clicks on the screen to log in to my account. It’s not a big deal, but it’s an extra step in accessing information I need. And people who aren’t members of YALSA can still access the lists by filling out a small form on the website. The problem is, YALSA’s now collecting your information and it’s now forcing you into their email list. This isn’t an opt-out situation but an opt-in. You can’t choose not to be forced into their mailing list.
Think about it this way: say you’re a library patron whose library has always allowed anyone to use the computers in the building. You don’t need to log into them with a library card, since you can just use one if it’s open. One day, though, there’s a change in the policy. It’s not written down anywhere but you find out when you go sit at a computer and discover you need some kind of ID number and password to sign in. You’re a little frustrated because no one told you there was a change, but you go to the librarian and sign up for a library card to get your log in information. Not a huge deal, but an extra step in the process.
Except in this scenario — with the YALSA list access — you aren’t even allowed in the building without some sort of ID. You aren’t even allowed to see what the library can offer you because you have to have the log in information before you walk inside.
I’m deeply bothered by this change in access to information by YALSA, and I am frustrated that as a member, I wasn’t told about this change. When YALSA was asked about this, their response was that the choking of access to all of this information was a technical glitch and that the Board’s decision about what information would be privileged would be the information fire walled when the glitch was solved.
But in my mind, besides sounding like a really bad excuse, the damage has already been done.
If we’re advocating for books and reading, if we’re advocating for the best of the best, and if the goal in having these awards and selection lists is to provide information, then there is no excuse for cutting it all out of public reach. Yes, I believe there is value in member’s only content — especially for something like annotated lists — but there is no value in blocking off everything about these award lists. What is the value in not letting anyone even see what the award and selection lists ARE? It’s locking out not only information, but valuable promotional opportunities. It puts barriers up to advocacy. Everything I told you about nominating books for awards because it’s important still stands, but now there are extra steps involved in making those nominations. How many people will go through the extra hassle? I know I wouldn’t.
Whether or not you are a YALSA member, you should have access to at least the basic information about these awards. That’s one of the reasons you’d consider joining the organization in the first place — you want to know what your money will be supporting. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the reason YALSA took these steps was so it could collect information about non-member behavior in hopes of growing their membership. And it makes sense. There’s money to be made through growing membership, but this is not the way to achieve it. In fact, by developing this fire wall and not telling anyone about it, YALSA’s pushing people away. It’s making it an exclusive club.
Fortunately, there are workarounds to this situation that allow you access to the information without logging in or creating an account with YALSA. The first? Google the lists. You’d have to know what lists you’re looking for, but a Google search of “YALSA Alex Awards” will take you to the information without forcing you to log in.
Now I don’t know about you, but it seems backwards that you should be able to access information available on YALSA’s site without restriction by going through Google, rather than YALSA, but I digress. You can do it this way.
The second means of accessing this information is by asking someone who is a YALSA member to log in and share the link to the list with you. I guess if you’re given a link from a logged in member, you can go directly to it. Again, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but it works.
What this long post is about is this: YALSA screwed up big time, and they didn’t bother telling any of us about it. Instead, we’re finding out when we’re being locked out of information that’s always been freely available. Information that’s always been freely available and accessible. We’re being forced to share our information with YALSA. We’re being forced to figure out workarounds so we can access and share this information with others.
We’re being pushed away from advocating and promoting these awards, these selection lists, and we’re being pushed away from spreading the information about why these things are important.
The organization which supports freedom of information and spreading of knowledge is breaking down those very ideas.
This is not okay.
Edited to add this: Liz has also blogged on the topic, and her post is worth thinking about as well.
Later edited to add that YALSA has responded to this issue. For the record, I do not equate collecting email addresses to access this information as any sort of nod toward value but rather a nod toward needing to access the information. I’m a little disappointed this wasn’t addressed with the membership nor was it in any Board documents, but there it is.
Abby and I were talking recently about the growth of performance as a theme in kid lit. There have been a ton of books exploring different forms of artistic expression in the last few years, and we thought it would be neat to highlight some of these books. It’s our hope these’ll offer ideas for book lists, displays, and maybe even a few holiday gift purchases. I’m tackling young adult titles, and you can hop over to Abby’s blog today and get a peek at picture books and middle grade titles.
Note these lists are in no way inclusive, and we’d love any other suggestions you have. All descriptions are via Worldcat.
When pulling together the titles, I noticed there are definitely holes in this area. Are there any recent titles featuring a male lead dancer? What about hip hop dancers? Jazz? The ones here are a nice mix of contemporary and historical novels.
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell: When she drops out of school and struggles to start a career on Broadway in the fall of 1950, seventeen-year-old Kit Corrigan accepts help from an old family friend, a lawyer said to have ties with the mob, who then asks her to do some favors for him.
Bunheads by Sophie Flack: Hannah Ward, nineteen, revels in the competition, intense rehearsals, and dazzling performances that come with being a member of Manhattan Ballet Company’s corps de ballet, but after meeting handsome musician Jacob she begins to realize there could be more to her life.
dancergirl by Carol Tanzman: A friend posted a video of me dancing online and now I’m now longer Alicia Ruffino. I’m dancergirl—and suddenly it’s like me against the world—everyone’s got opinions. My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And some stranger isn’t content to just watch anymore. Ali, dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you’ve seen me online, I’ve trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life. (Description via Goodreads)
Leap by Jodi Lundgren: Having just turned 15 and gone through her parents’ divorce, Natalie and her best friend Sasha are going to be practicing with their dance team all summer, but her friendship with Sasha goes on the rock, and her relationship with her boyfriend Kevin who is Sasha’s brother goes too far. Will she be taking on all these changes with confidence?
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe: When sixteen-year-old Sara, from a small Vermont town, wins a scholarship to study ballet in New Jersey, her ambivalence about her future increases even as her dancing improves.
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher: In 1940s Chicago, fifteen-year-old Ruby hopes to escape poverty by becoming a taxi dancer in a nightclub, but the work has unforeseen dangers and hiding the truth from her family and friends becomes increasingly difficult.
When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer: Soledad Reyes decides to dance Carmen as part of a drum and bugle corps competition, not knowing if it will help or harm her chance of becoming a professional ballet dancer but eager to pursue new options, including a romance with the boy who invited her to audition. Reviewed here.
This category has so many titles to pick from, though again, I find it’s heavy on female leads. I’ve included music in a variety of forms. I’d be interested in hearing more recent titles featuring male leads, non-traditional music, or other facets within music.
Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft: As Seattle sixteen-year-old Jonathan helps a dying man come to terms with a tragic event he experienced during World War II, Jonathan begins facing his own demons, especially the death of his twin brother, helped by an assortment of friends, old and new. Reviewed here.
Amplified by Tara Kelly: When privileged seventeen-year-old Jasmine Kiss gets kicked out of her house by her father, she takes what is left of her meager savings and flees to Santa Cruz, California, to pursue her dream of becoming a rock musician. Reviewed here.
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley: One Australian summer, two very different sixteen-year-old girls–Charlie, a talented but shy musician, and Rose, a confident student longing to escape her tiny town–are drawn into an unexpected friendship, as told in their alternating voices. Reviewed here.
Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer: Two high school rivals compete in a prestigious singing competition while reflecting on the events that turned them from close friends to enemies the year before. Reviewed here.
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez: Just before the most important violin competition of her career, seventeen-year-old violin prodigy Carmen faces critical decisions about her anti-anxiety drug addiction, her controlling mother, and a potential romance with her most talented rival.
Notes From an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne: French horn virtuoso Elsie Wyatt resents having to join her high school’s marching band playing a mellophone, but finally finds a sense of belonging that transcends the pressure she has always felt to be as good as her father, principal french horn player in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John: Eighteen-year-old Piper becomes the manager for her classmates’ popular rock band, called Dumb, giving her the chance to prove her capabilities to her parents and others, if only she can get the band members to get along. Reviewed here.
Rock Star Superstar by Blake Nelson: When Pete, a talented bass player, moves from playing in the high school jazz band to playing in a popular rock group, he finds the experience exhilarating even as his new fame jeopardizes his relationship with girlfriend Margaret.
Glitz by Philana Marie Boles: Sixteen-year-old orphan Ann Michelle runs away from her grandmother’s house in Toledo, Ohio, with a new friend who is intent on seeking her own fame while the teenagers follow a hip-hop musician to New York City.
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (series): Seventeen-year-old Bertie strives to save Theater Illuminata, the only home she has ever known, but is hindered by the Players who magically live on there, especially Ariel, who is willing to destroy the Book at the center of the magic in order to escape into the outside world.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green: When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet accidentally and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other’s best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both. Reviewed here.
Dramarama by E Lockhart: Spending their summer at Wildewood Academy, an elite boarding school for the performing arts, tests the bond between teens Sadye and her best friend Demi.
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison: Self-conscious about her knobby knees but confident in her acting ability, fourteen-year-old Tallulah spends the summer at a Yorkshire performing arts camp that, she is surprised to learn, is for girls only.
My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff: While working backstage on a high school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” sixteen-year-old Adam develops feelings for a beautiful actress–which violates an unwritten code–and begins to overcome the grief that has controlled him since his father’s death nearly two years earlier.
Carter Finally Gets it by Brent Crawford (series): Awkward freshman Will Carter endures many painful moments during his first year of high school before realizing that nothing good comes easily, focus is everything, and the payoff is usually incredible.