Tuesday, January 6, 2009

So... What Were the Best Books of 2008?

I realize this is late, and because of this there's one more add. I read a number of books last year-- large number-- and out of those, I've kept a list of those I believe represent the best of young adult fiction published in 2008. There are a few ARCs I've read that are promising, but they won't count for this year.

I have five.

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. This book was scathing and delicate and heartbreaking all at the same time. Last week I read one of Sara's essays in an anthology about weight loss; more and more, I think she's the YA author to watch.

A Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger. This one is responsible for my current obsession with old movies and the reason I love Lauren Bacall so much. It's the story of three unusual teenagers in Boston, and how baseball, musical theater and growing up make for a definitive year in Brookline. I read it three times in a week.

Undone by Brooke Taylor. This debut novel didn't cut any corners and cut straight to the core of teenage experience. Serena's relationship with her best friend was staggeringly real to what I see in my own hallways, and the devastation she felt once Kori left... I was so impressed by the writing and by the story that Taylor wrought, and can't wait to see what she writes next.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I am so proud of the fact that I loved this book the moment I read it, and that The Powers That Be agreed with me in making it a finalist for the National Book Award (and WHO did an interview with E. Lockhart earlier this year?) This book makes you laugh, cry, question female roles and the importance of the Ivy League and rejoice because life is life and P.G. Wodehouse exists.


Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I am a picky fantasy reader-- I mean picky. So it is with great joy that I announce that Graceling is by far the best fantasy I've read this year. It's beautifully depicted with strong characters and story, scary in its evil and gorgeous in its good. Although it was a long book, I didn't want the story of Po and Katsa and Bitterblue to end. Nighttime may find me drifting in the shadows of a Lienid city.

That's what I think. Thanks to all the authors and publicists who sent me novels and did interviews. We'll be reflecting in the next month and looking ahead to the fabulousness that awaits-- for after all, this is senior year.

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