5 Faves (Holly Schindler)
I'm one of those writers who didn't grow up with much of a YA section in the library. Kids lit, then straight to adult lit I went (with some exceptions, as I talk about a bit more below). But while I was drafting my earliest manuscripts, I was also teaching music (piano and guitar lessons) and working as a private tutor with K-12 students on writing and reading skills.
I loved my students. I loved their sweetness and their humor. And I found myself wanting to write for them.
So off to the YA shelves I went. I immersed myself in the current YA reads. These are my faves (+ one fave from the past):
Speak - This book keeps showing up on lists this month. I loved this one for its bravery. In an ironic twist, the book about not being able to speak about something horrific that has happened to you, believing that no one really wants to hear what you have to say, is stuck in my head because it had such a memorable voice. It's a testament to Laurie Halse Anderson's ability to bring a teen character to life.
Blue is for Nightmares - This one is by our own Laurie Faria Stolarz. I snatched it off the shelf because I was interested in the publisher (Flux, which did wind up publishing my own first two books). I loved this twisty read. In a way, it brought me back to those Christopher Pike books I read (and loved) as a teen. Christopher Pike was my introduction to books that read like movies--and I had the same feeling when I read Blue.
Just Listen - You could not think about writing for teens in the early '00s and not read Sarah Dessen. She was everywhere--her work was in freestanding displays in my grocery store! This was by far my favorite Dessen read. I'm a lifelong music nut, and the obsession with music and discussions of music took me right back to my teen self.
Forever - I read this one really early. I mean....really early. I didn't know what it was, just that it was Judy Blume (and I had recently read a bunch of hers--I was somewhere between Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret in age. I was young enough that I didn't picture things right--I'll spare you the details of how I imagined "rolling on a rubber." I'm glad I had this book, though--I'm glad I got to live through a first relationship on the page. My favorite thing about it was always that the couple isn't together at the end--and that's okay.
Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin's book is it. My all-time favorite YA. I love so many things about this book--her explanation for talent and the detail of the disappearing tattoo. It's imaginative and lovely and unlike most anything else in the genre.
No matter how many years go by, and no matter what new YA I read, these are the first five that always pop immediately into my mind when YA is mentioned. They're definitely lifelong loves.
Holly Schindler is the author of the YA A Blue So Dark.