Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
All American Boys

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Give Me the Sun

This will be mercifully brief as I’ve written at some length in previous posts on two of our three finalists. The one that was new to me this round was Nazi Hunters and it was an interesting book, detailing a chapter of world history that I think would be intriguing for young adults, regardless of whether or not they had some background on the topic. Nazi Hunters was exactly what I expected it to be: a well-written and well-researched book that would be accessible to a range of young people, and I think most adults would read it with interest as well. That being said, I read a lot of non-fiction, ranging from full-length books to many a feature length article and can’t really say that I see anything exceptional about this text. It’s good, and I’m glad I read it, but Smackdown winner? I don’t see it.

The Night Gardener is a book that does a lot of good, and even occasionally great things, and despite the fact that I didn’t think it should have emerged from that last round, I’m not too displeased to see it being discussed at this late stage and getting some well earned recognition. It is a book that I think would engage a really wide range of students, but for me, I think it has to come a distant second to I’ll Give You The Sun. When I think about how broad the YA literary landscape has become during my time as an educator it’s really inspiring and while I’ll Give You The Sun is more reminiscent of the typical “teen” novels that used to dominate YA, I think it takes that form to a different level. When I look at the depth of the character development and the way the book invites its readers into some really difficult and important discussions, I see a novelist who wants to change some lives and that, for me, is really what I’m in the game for. Looks like a fittingly tight race, but give me the sun, please.

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