Now I'll hand this post off to Bonnie...
What I’d like to see in contemporary fiction…
Even if a book isn’t the most brilliant one I’ve ever read, as long as it has a powerful message, I’m more likely to remember that message looking back. Strong characterization is another way to make one book stand apart from the rest. If readers truly connect with the characters, they become invested, which leads to an emotional attachment long after the last page is turned.
That’s pretty broad, isn’t it? I don’t have any one theme/idea I’d like to see more of (and if I did, I’d be sick of it after a couple of entries, I’m sure). I just want that FEELING. You know the one. That “can’t eat, can’t sleep, must finish reading” feeling. That “can’t read another book for a few days because this one was so incredible” feeling. That “how did I ever live without you in my life?” feeling. Books you want to recommend to people again and again, or ones that were recommended to you that you’ve since passed on to others.
For example, last year, a co-worker read OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper, then read it and recommended it to another co-worker, who read it and recommended it to me. I’ve since gone on to share my love of this amazing middle-grade contemporary with so many people who might not have otherwise HEARD of the book, let alone read it. And now I’m telling all of you: Absolute must-read. It will finally be in paperback in 2012. Read it. Love it. Share it with your kids. Every kid should read this book!
The top three contemporary novels I read in 2011 that still remain with me now are:
FORBIDDEN by Tabitha Suzuma This is a book I never thought I’d read, let alone love so much. Tabitha Suzuma’s writing is incredibly powerful. She makes you root for the characters as she drags them through hell and back. She knows how to rip your heart into shreds and piece it back together like an incomplete puzzle. I will absolutely be reading her work again as more of her titles make their way (hopefully) Stateside.
DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS by C.J. Omololu I loved the inside look at the way a family member’s disorder can destroy an entire family. I feel honored to have been chosen to judge this book in the first round of Nerds Heart YA’s annual awards earlier this year despite it not making it on to the third round. Sure, there are parts of the book that aren’t perfect and the title made me not want to read this in the first place, but my heart went out to Lucy’s plight. She goes through things over the course of a day that no teenager should EVER have to face alone. If she hadn’t been hiding such a devastating family life, she never would have had to.
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins Another book I never thought I’d read or enjoy! That title! That COVER!! It looks like straight-forward rot-in-your-teeth romance. And while it does have its share of fluff, it’s also so much more. The relationship between the two main characters is well-developed and readers fall into friendship, then love, as the events unfurl in the book. I also loved the ambiance brought on by the Paris setting. There’s so much to love in this debut novel! In fact, ANNA is one of the very few books I’ve actually sat down and re-read this year…which is saying something since I read it for the first time this past spring…
In 2012, I’m sure there will be more books to add to this list. For example, I have yet to get around to reading FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Antony John, but every time I see a new review, I want to read it even more. Or every time Daisy Whitney talks a little bit more about recently-sold novel WHEN YOU WERE HERE, publishing in early 2013, I covet it to a greater extent than I already do.
What contemporary novels have impacted your life in ways you never thought to be possible?