I know I had to give my five favorite YA books, but that’s so hard! I feel like I am introduced to new books each day, and there are still so many out there that have the potential of becoming a favorite. But here are a few I love with the caveat that this list may have to be amended at a second’s notice. :-
1. “Dreamland” by Sarah Dessen: This is the first novel I read by Dessen, and while I have enjoyed all her books, this one remains my favorite. I love stories that delve into serious issues, focus on character development, and have beautiful language. This book accomplished all that and more.
2. “Identical” by Ellen Hopkins: What Ellen Hopkins does with words is amazing. I have read and adored all of Hopkins’s books, but this one was my first. The words and format are so gripping, as are the characters. You feel for both the girls, and the ending blew me away.
3. “If You Come Softly” by Jacqueline Woodson: The writing in this novel is so gorgeous. The language holds and carries you, and the exploration of romance and race is depicted so beautifully. When I pick up any of Woodson’s novels, I know I will be reading about something meaningful and beautiful at the same time
4. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak: I cried for days after finishing this novel, and—4 years later—still think about the characters. Not only did the words captivate me, but the relationship between Liesel and Rudy was sweet, and soft, and heartbreaking. Just remarkable.
5. There are so many more I’d like to add. So many that are just fun and hilarious (like “The Deathday Letter” by Shaun Hutchinson) or heartfelt and beautifully written (like”Harmonic Feedback” by Tara Kelly) or the soft, quiet books that pull you in and suddenly you realize you’re in the midst of something amazing (like “Jumpstart the World” by Catherine Ryan Hyde). But, for this last one, I’ll just mention two authors whose work make a HUGE impact on me: Norma Klein and Norma Fox Mazer. Their books were the ones I devoured as a teenager. I lived for their stories and the struggles their characters faced. Growing up, I always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I read the Normas’ books that I realized the kind of writing I wanted to do, and I am so grateful for the novels they produced.
Margie Gelbwasser is the author of “Inconvenient,” and the upcoming novel, “Piece of Us,” which hits bookstores in March, 2012. Stay tuned for a Q&A with Margie later in the month.