Every year after the main Convention of the National Council of Teachers (NCTE) is over, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE (ALAN) holds a two day workshop focused on Young Adult Literature. In large measure, the event is dependent on the generosity of the publishers who support the authors who attend and provide books. Upon arrival, each attendee is given a large box of books. Every year, I have so much to attend at the conference that I don’t have much time to read. I immediately walk my box down to the closest shipping office and send it home. (Of course, I hold on to a few books.) The workshop is a whirlwind of panels, speeches, breakout sessions, and great conversations with colleagues and new acquaintances. When I get home, I await the box, enjoy Thanksgiving with family, and when the books arrive I open it with the excitement of an early holiday present.
I sort through the books and pick my first ten post-conference reads. Often, I look forward to a new offering from familiar author, but, just as frequently, I reach for a book from an author that is new to me. Every year I am surprised that I wasn’t aware of a great author with several fantastic books under her belt. Oh, well, there is no time like the present to find another great author.
1. Hit Count by Chris Lynch grabs the first spot. I love the gritty reality of Chris Lynch’s fiction. I have a long relationship with his fiction. One of my favorite academic productions is an article I wrote for the ALAN Review in 2008 (V 35, N2) on his novel Inexcusable. I finished Hit Count right away. In this book Lynch continues to provide a rugged portrayal of an adolescent’s relationship to sports. This book not only explores Arlo’s relationship to his family, his girlfriend and his sport—football, but delves into the dangerous consequences of concussions. An issue that stays with us and shouldn’t go away. In fact, Will Smith will play Dr. Bennet Omalu in the upcoming film, Concussion. I love the way that Lynch present tough issues.
If you aren't familiar with these authors, you really should be. All of them have made a significant impact in the YA universe. The books I highlight here are fantastic, but, in addition, each one of these authors has other books that are terrific.
The ALAN Workshop is just around the corner and the list of authors is fantastic. If you have been before, you know what I am talking about. If you haven't been, figure out a way to get there. Until next week.