One of the best parts of being on Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) is the opportunity to hear from teens who have read the nominated books. In my school, this is an ongoing process throughout the year where kids fill out a bookmark-sized review form about nominated and eligible titles. As part of the committee meetings, this happens during the "Teen Session," a time where local teen book groups are brought in to give their opinions about the nominated titles.
I LOVE this two hour session at each conference, and am always madly taking notes on my iPad, trying to get down each and every word. Teens speak about their favorite books from all the nominated titles (you can find the current list here). One of the curious things this time were the books that the teens did not speak about: "What Happened to Goodbye" (Dessen), "The Last Little Blue Envelope" (Johnson), "Cryer's Cross" (McMann) are just a few top authors that none of the teens spoke about. After being surprised by this for a little while, I realized that it was probably because of the last minute publication date/nomination date of most of these titles. Students probably hadn't had the opportunity to read the books before the conference. I look forward to hearing teen comments on these titles at Midwinter in Dallas.
Here are some of the teen comments, as close to word-for-word as I could get. I have not included every book that the teens stood up to talk about, but the ones which teens were clearly passionate about. (Exclamation points are included where the decibal lev)el increased). As near as I could tell, all the teens that spoke were in high school.
"Strings Attached" (Blundell): This book stirred up emotions, had love, drama, suspense, and a heartbreaking ending. One of the best books they had ever read. (I'm actually glad to hear this comment, because while I personally enjoyed this book, I was really worried about teen appeal and who the audience for this book would be).
"Beauty Queens" (Bray): Really liked, funny, interesting, wasn't girly, hilarious, comedic, great one-liners. (Yeah! This is one of the books on my Summer Reading suggestions).
"Iron Thorn" (Kittredge): Had nightmares after reading this, dark, interesting, amazing, characters, full of secrets, good gothic fantasy.
"Absolute Value of Mike" (Erskine): Discusses big ideas, loved comedy throughout the book, strive to be your own person. (There was also discussion about how this book is shelved in the children's section of some libraries and the young-looking cover, which does not help with teen appeal).
"Where She Went" (Forman): Author tapped into emotions, lived up to expectations, well-written, different perspective from the first book, perfect ending.
"Exposed" (Marcus): Loved it, accurate description of relationships, not a cheesy ending, loved the poems and only the words necessary were used.
"False Princess" (O'Neal): Loved it!
"Anna and the French Kiss" (Perkins): Classic romance, really like the book. Liked the details about Paris, which helped shape the book. You feel like you are part of the book while you are reading.
"Delirium" (Oliver): Different, unique, shocking ending, stayed up late reading, amazing.
"This Dark Endeavor" (Oppel): Good twist on the Frankenstein story!
"Between Shades of Gray" (Sepetys): Wonderful, good flow, believable characters, loved this book, another side to the World War II story, making you a character through the protagonist, emotionally rattling.
"Running Dream" (Van Draanen): Really liked!
"Blink and Caution" (Wynne-Jones): Liked points of view, really liked book.