Apr 7 2014 5:00pm

The YA Roundup: Sherman Alexie’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Welcome to the YA Roundup, giving you the inside scoop on bookish news, book deals, new releases and cover reveals for the YA genre!

This week covers the banning of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the upcoming film adaptation of Eleanor and Park, and the recipients of some literary prizes for children’s and YA fiction.


Meridian School Board Makes Horrible, Horrible Decision

The Meridian school board chose to ban The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the winner of at least twelve awards including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2007), from their tenth grade English curriculum. The two-to-one board decision upheld a stay placed on the book several weeks ago following parental complaints. The Idaho Statesman reports:

Trustees say they want school officials to look for a book covering Native American cultural issues, but written at a higher reading level than Alexie’s book. They also want the district to review its curriculum on cultural diversity, which has included the book.
Okay, you want a book that deals with Native American culture and that’s better written, at a higher level, than one that’s won at least twelve literary awards. That sounds unlikely, and difficult to achieve. Are there that many contenders that the removal of the book is justified by that reasoning?
The book makes reference to masturbation, contains profanity and has been viewed by many as anti-Christian.

Ahhhh. Now we get to the fire through the smokescreen. Jeez, because profanity and masturbation are issues that no teen could relate to in their own lives. Seriously, these people... Alexie’s book is no stranger to banning attempts; in 2012, it was ranked as the second most challenged book. Many within the Meridian School District, including students and teachers, challenged the banning, saying the book appeals to many teenagers.


DreamWorks Seduces Eleanor & Park

The popular contemporary novel by Rainbow Rowell has had its movie rights acquired this week. The story, set in 1986, relates the tale of two outcast school students who find comfort in each other and their own, private world. Eleanor, an impoverished, chubby, redheaded girl meets and befriends Park, a Korean-American comic-book nerd. The two end up sharing their passions and interests, building a relationship with each other.

Oh No They Didn’t reports:

The studio was drawn to the teenage love story for the same reason as its legions of fans. “It’s not the typical story where the ugly duckling is in love with the hot guy,” Bario says. “They’re both trying to find their way. They’re both outcasts.” Set in 1986, and following one school year in Omaha, the novel follows the tentative romance of two 16-year-olds: Eleanor, a somewhat heavy girl overwhelmed by insecurities and trying to survive an abusive household, and Park, the quiet, half-Korean kid who also doesn’t feel like he fits in, but finds refuge in music and comic books. After its publication in February 2013, the book spent 12 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and has inspired a passionate, devoted following.

Rainbow Rowell will be writing the screenplay for the movie adaptation. Carla Hacken and Matt Kennedy have signed on to produce the movie, though a director and casting decisions will have to wait upon Rowell, who is in the midst of writing another book.


Literary Prize Winners

The Aurealis Awards were given out this week, and there were some great winners in the Young Adult and Children’s book categories. The awards celebrate the achievements of Australian authors and since I’m Australian, so do I. Here are the winners:

Best Children’s BookThe Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie, Kirsty Murray

Best Young Adult Short FictionBy Bone-light, Juliet Marillier

Best Young Adult Novel (Tie)These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner; Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near

Another award given this week was the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, now in its 10th year. Katherine Rundell won the 2014 top prize for her novel, Rooftoppers. Other winners include Nicola O’Bryne for the picture book Open Very Carefully, and Holly Smale for the YA novel Geek Girl.


Book Deals

Our information comes from Publishers’ Weekly.

Cloudforest and Red Rocks by Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication: Spring 2016 and Spring 2017

A speculative thriller in which a teen overcoming a traumatic incident joins her mother at a healing center in a Latin American rain forest, only to discover a dangerous ability that will transform her life whether she wants it to or not.

Machine and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Publication: Winter 2016

A genre mash-up follows Westie, the adopted daughter of a local inventor, as she pursues her family’s killers through a gold-rush era California riddled with fantastical creatures, dark magic, and cannibals.

Red Moon Rising by K.A. Holt
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
Publication: Early 2016

Firefly meets Little House on the Prairie. In the novel, a feisty 13-year-old becomes an unwitting pawn in the standoff between her struggling colony and the enclave of aliens who may be something quite different than they seem.

Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication: Fall 2015

The series focuses on 17-year-old Zo, who after the murder of her parents by a warring clan, volunteers to infiltrate the clan, but soon discovers they are not at all what she expected. She finds herself falling in love with an enemy soldier and accepting the friendship of a boy who saves her life.

A Riddle in Ruby (Book #1 Key to the Catalyst series) by Kent Davis
Publisher: Greenwillow (HarperCollins)
Publication: Fall 2015

The series is set in an era called the Chemistral Age, when magically augmented alchemy and chemistry have thrust an alternate version of 18th-century colonial America forward into industrialization. The heroine, 13-year-old Aruba “Ruby” Teach, is a smuggler’s daughter and “picklock prodigy,” and in book one, A Riddle in Ruby, she and her servant, Cram, must “navigate a world filled with cobalt gearbeasts, alchemical automatons, and devilish secret societies.

Untitled Series by Gena Showalter
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication: Unknown

About a “dangerous rivalry for souls and star-crossed love” that is “set in a world where real life begins after death.”

Untitled Series by Rosmund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Publication: Spring 2016

Romeo and Juliet meets Sabriel,” re-imagines Shakespeare’s story of feuding families and doomed lovers in a city threatened by necromancers and protected by “the Juliet,” a girl born in every generation with powerful magic.

Last Year’s Mistake and Untitled Novel by Gina Ciocca
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication: Summer 2015

In the first book, Kelsey is given the chance to start over: move to a new city, shed her old reputation, begin afresh. But a year later, the boy she desperately wanted to forget—the one who’d confessed his love for her—shows up and changes everything.

Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House)
Publication: 2016

A girl apprentices at a summer theater festival hoping she’s finally found a place to belong, only to learn that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.


New Releases


Cover Reveals


Kat Kennedy and Stephanie Sinclair are the bloggers behind Cuddlebuggery, the Young Adult book blog dedicated to corrupting the reading community with sinister shenanigans.

Ryan Henrie
1. Coldmist
WRT the 'Horrible, Horrible Decision', the book was on a supplemental reading list, but teachers were requiring it instead of the required books. And, the vocabulary is at the 6th grade level, but this was for 10th grade English. And, the book hadn't been read/reviewed by some of the administration (which has to be done for required reading materials, for this district), so several administrative rules were not followed. The ruling was based mostly on these technical problems. Do you want to call a ruling that preserves/honors the districts own rules a 'horrible' decision?

About the book itself, I was not impressed with it. I agree with this review on Goodreads:
It's too shallow for high schoolers and too vulgar for junior highers. And the vulgarity is gratuitous. It didn't strike me as having any purpose other than to shock some teens and get them to think, "This book is cool, man! Shakespeare never uses the f-word!!" Is anyone edified by reading about the nocturnal addictions of a teen boy? Has our culture really become so debased?
And she continues:
Adamant supporters of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian insist that this novel, and young adult literature in general, provides accessible and relevant platforms for teenagers to grapple with their most pressing existential issues---issues relating to identity, sexuality, longing, and loneliness. As an educator who is now also a parent, I would never discourage young people from engaging in close examinations of themselves and the world around them. But, why must this be done in the most irreverent, flippant, "Bevis and Butthead" kind of way? Aren't teenagers capable of more? As a young reader, some of my darkest and most enthralling forays into the human condition were made possible by classic literature, which also exposes young people to beautiful writing and complex characterization.
Genevieve Williams
2. welltemperedwriter
Trustees say they want school officials to look for a book covering Native American cultural issues, but written at a higher reading level than Alexie’s book.

They could try Sherman Alexie's Flight. :D
Joe Monti
3. JoeMonti
The sexuality is not the major part of Alexie's novel, it's about being poor; so poor, and surrounded by poverty that you can't even begin to imagine a better way of life. It's about being a sickly kid who has to overcome his own body to just acheive status quo. It's about being an outsider in your own country, your own community, your own family and friends, and yet finding your way.

It explores Native American cultural issues in a stark way many don't want to face.

It explores teenage male sexuality in a way many do not feel comfortable with.

It challenges your perceptions and broadens your experience. 1. and 2., try reading it again.

Also, Kat, Rachel, you have a typo here:
"...and befriends Park, a Japanese American comic-book nerd." As you know, Park is not Japanese American.
4. Ilex
I miss seeing the agents' names in the Book Deals section. But I'm nerdy that way. :-)

I love this Roundup -- I look forward to it every week!
5. Linda Cohen
They should at least get things correct---Park, a Japanese American--he is a Korean-American and it's right there in the next section of the article!! Doesn't anyone proofread these things----sheesh!!!! I know it's a little thing but it's just sloppy.
6. Sallie M.
I agree with welltemperedwriter - Flight was a fantastic story and it wasn't so long that you lose interest, but it wasn't so short that it didn't have substance.
7. AcatalepticNow
I'm kinda ashamed to be an Idahoan right now, although to be fair every other school in the treasure valley has the book in their libraries. The school I went to much more "indecent" books in their library.

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