Is there a good resource online for reviews of literature geared towards early-teens?
March 22, 2010 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good resource online for reviews of literature geared towards early-teens?

I took my 13-yr-old daughter to the corporate bookstore tonight so she could buy a few books and was absolutely overwhelmed with all of the crappy fiction geared towards teen girls. What's worse is most of it seemed inappropriate for my daughter who just recently entered her teens.

Unfortunately there isn't a good indy bookstore within a short distance of our home and my daughter has $70-$80 worth of gift cards to B+N. I've had great luck talking to the folks at Books and Books in Miami about age-appropriate books for my daughter but I only make it to S FL once a month or so.

Is there an online resource for teen literature that has solid recommendations but isn't akin to the PMRC?
posted by photoslob to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Sure--the search term you're looking for is 'young adult' or 'ya.' Here's one I look at regularly.
posted by box at 7:08 PM on March 22, 2010

Visit your local library's website or give them a call. They can point you to online (and maybe hard copy) reader's advisory resources that they subscribe to (and that you'll have access to) like NoveList. Also, you could go through Bookmarks Magazine's back issue archive.
posted by cog_nate at 7:10 PM on March 22, 2010

Teenreads is another.
posted by box at 7:11 PM on March 22, 2010

Your local library may have access (even remote access) to an electronic resource called NoveList, which contains plot summaries, reviews, reading levels, content warnings and "search similar" tools. It's put together by non-ideological (well, at least as far as I can tell) readers. I recommend it to parents and teens who want to be able to do more detailed searching and see more in-depth reviews than Amazon gives.

That said, Amazon is a pretty decent resource in and of itself - it has licensed the right to reprint some of the major reviewers of childrens'/teen lit (Booklist and School Library Journal, which is great for stepping back and evaluating the message the book is sending as well as the quality of writing) and I find Listmania to be an interesting way to find some good stuff (Listmania search for teen girl), if you don't mind poking around.
posted by clerestory at 7:19 PM on March 22, 2010

  • School Library Journal
  • The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
  • The Young Adult Library Services Association's Booklists and Book Awards

    You can also Ask an Indie on Twitter- just post your question on Twitter with the hashtag #askanindie.

  • posted by headspace at 7:20 PM on March 22, 2010

    Man, and I see you're in FL - I used to know a kick-ass teen librarian in the Orlando area who I'd send you to in a heartbeat, but I think he's moved on.

    But you might try your local library - or the closest branch large enough to have a teen/young adult specialist - to get a reader's advisory session with him/her.
    posted by clerestory at 7:24 PM on March 22, 2010

    I often review YA books on my blog, which is geared towards the parents of teens and tweens. Rather than link to any of my reviews (my website's in my profile anyway), I have some suggestions.

    The Lightning Thief. This is the first in the series that the movie Percy and the Olympians is based on (though I hear the movie isn't that great). Classical mythology meets modern-day tweens in a nice mix.

    The Artemis Fowl series. Great villain and surprisingly well-written for a YA series. They need to make movies of THESE books.

    I always read the books my kids are interested in and feel that it really opens up a dialog. My son, who is very mature for his age, read Night when he was just 13. I read it first, and really hesitated to give it to him. It is, of course, EXTREMELY dark and graphic, based as it is on the author's experience in Nazi Germany concentration camps. But it is also a truthful account of a stark reality. My son is a WWII buff and we visited the Holocaust museum last year, so I felt that it was appropriate in his case. Still, I was glad I had read it, so we could talk about it together.
    posted by misha at 8:07 PM on March 22, 2010

    As a teen librarian and YA author I would recommend, off the top of my head, for realistic girl-centered fiction that isn't too dark, racy, or glitzy:

    E. Lockhart -- her Boyfriend series (starts with The Boyfriend List) is actually a non-GossipGirly series about a girl who has panic attacks. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, about a girl who wants to join an all-male secret society at her boarding school, is wickedly smart and such a devastating take-down of patriarchy that I think all girls should read it.

    Sarah Dessen -- writes about romances and family relationships in a way that's tender and realistic and not just "boyfriend boyfriend boyfriend."

    Maureen Johnson -- "Devilish" is one of the best looks at girl friendship I've ever read. "Suite Scarlett" and the new "Scarlett Fever" are about a girl living in her family's run-down boutique hotel in New York. These are the books I'd give to someone who loves chick lit but wants something a little more substantial.

    Jacqueline Woodson -- "Tupac and D Foster" had me breaking down and crying in the laundromat.

    Justina Chen Headley -- I highly recommend "North of Beautiful," about a birthmarked girl with an abusive father who bonds with a boy over geocaching, but I'm not sure if it might be too dark?

    Cecil Castellucci -- writes beautifully about freaks and geeks and nerds trying to find their place in the world.
    posted by Jeanne at 8:46 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

    Hmm. Another YA writer/writer of YA reviews here. Sure are a lot of us on metafilter! Actually, you might want to look for "middle grade" fiction (which is what Percy Jackson and the early Harry Potter books are) rather than "young adult." YA runs slightly older, and may have more adult content.

    That being said, 13 is old enough to start picking one's own books, really; by that age, I was already mixing my Judy Blume with stuff from the adult section. Make sure you're letting your daughter's tastes dictate her book choices--books that go unread, especially $80 worth of books, are no good for anyone.

    As for resources--you're in FL. Are you a Gator? I'm in Gainesville, and the Alachua County Library's main branch has an incredible children's/YA section with very, very helpful librarians.
    posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:28 PM on March 22, 2010

    yet another YA author here! I love when people I recognize consolidate. Thirteen is very much a crossover age between MG & YA -- what's age-appropriate varies from teen to teen. My book is 14-up, but I absolutely would have read it at 13.

    Many great resources above. Coming at it from a different direction, nowadays there are numerous quality book review blogs written by teenagers & teen librarians. They're great resources not just for parents, but for teen readers to network with other readers & authors, and to determine what they want to read themselves. ( a few popular ones: In Which a Girl Reads, Steph Su Reads, Story Siren (here she lists many others).) Goodreads is a great resource for reviews from the masses when you're looking for popular opinion.

    And lastly, I have to shout out to When You Reach Me. So good.
    posted by changeling at 12:27 AM on March 23, 2010

    Dang, where's ocherdraco? Then we'd have 4 YA authors and an editor on post!

    And now, I'll make some actual book recommendations!

    Fortune's Folly by Deva Fagan is a charming twist on fairy tales- the protagonist has to rescue herself after she makes up a false fortune that she's forced to make come true.

    Wings by Aprilynne Pike is about a girl who turns sixteen, sprouts wings, and oh yeah, discovers she's from Avalon.

    The Season by Sarah MacLean is a regency mystery about fiesty Alexandra Stafford, who's about to have her debut into society- as soon as she gets done solving a murder.

    As You Wish is about a girl who accidentally summons up a djinn- who wants her to hurry up and wish her wishes so he can get back to Caliban.

    The Gallagher Girls Series by Ally Carter is about a teen who's a legacy spy, going to an elite spy school, doing awesome spy stuff while struggling with the usual teen challenges as well.

    Marcelo in the Real World is about a boy with Asperger's, whose father decides it's time for him to give up his sheltered job at a horse farm, so he can live and work in the real world.

    Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith is about a young African-American woman who must pass as white, so she can fly with the women's flying squad in WWII.
    posted by headspace at 6:21 AM on March 23, 2010

    (As You Wish is by Jackson Pearce, Marcelo in the Real World is by Francisco X. Stork.)
    posted by headspace at 8:35 AM on March 23, 2010

    Thank you so much for all the great replies.

    To answer a few questions - I'm in St. Pete which has Haslams but it can be a bit musty and overwhelming for a teenager. My wife is a teacher and generally has some insight on books that are appropriate but I like going to bookstores and my daughter frequently tags along while my wife stays home. I'm always afraid of being the bad father who allows his daughter to come home with a bunch of Gossip Girls books. Thankfully my daughter is a good judge of what we'd think is appropriate.

    Also PBWK - I am a Gator and we frequently visit Gainesville. Maybe I'll stop in next time I'm in town.
    posted by photoslob at 10:35 AM on March 23, 2010

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