by Heather Love Beverley
Looking to get revved up for ALA Annual in Chicago? How about spending some time immersed in some deliciously good YA novels, all by extremely talented Chicago authors? Here’s a sampling of some of the literary YA wonders of the Chicago-land area:
Lisa Jenn Bigelow: First-time YA author Bigelow’s novel Starting From Here is captivating readers with its poignant, charming and compelling coming-of-age storyline, and has been named a 2013 Rainbow List Top Ten book.
Franny Billingsley: Billengsley has written a masterpiece of rich imagery and sensual language with her beguiling historical novel, Chime.
Fern Schumer Chapman: Chapman’s novel Is It Night or Day? is a heartwrenchingly beautiful account of a young Jewish girl’s journey from WWII Germany to America. This novel is a fictionalized account of Chapman’s mother’s own journey, which is also chronicled in her memoir Motherland.
Simone Elkeles: Elkeles’s novels range from intense and steamy- the Perfect Chemistry series, Leaving Paradise series, and her newest Wild Cards series- to comical and sweet- the How to Ruin series. All are delightful and engaging.
Nancy Grossman: A Kirkus Review Best Books of 2012, Grossman’s A World Away is a fascinating glimpse into another life as it follows an Amish teen’s rumspringa, a summer spent exploring the difficult choice between keeping the Amish life or leaving it.
Julie Halpern: Helpern’s novels- Don’t Stop Now, Get Well Soon, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder are full of delightful teen protagonists, clever wit and humor, and endless entertainment, and have landed on many best-of lists
James Kennedy: Kennedy is the author of the delightfully quirky and inventive fantasy novel The Order of Odd-Fish, as well as the creator of the 90 Second Newberry Film Fest.
James Klise An ALA Stonewall Honor Award book for 2011, Klise’s Love Drugged is the story of one teen’s struggle to hide and deny who he really is, told with honesty and humor.
Stephanie Kuehnert: Kuehnert’s two novels, I Want to Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia, feature intense, realistic plotlines with a musical pulse.
Patricia Malone: Get swept away into the distant past of sixth century Britain with Malone’s The Legend of Lady Ilena and its sequel, Lady Ilena: Way of the Warrior. Both feature a strong and heroic female main character.
Jenny Meyerhoff: A modern retelling of the Book of Esther, Meyerhoff’s Queen of Secrets places the biblical story in a high school setting and follows a year in the life of Essie as she deals with secrets both at home and at school.
Veronica Roth: Take a spin on the dystopian-side by reading Roth’s Divergent series. Not only does Roth call Chicago home, but her action-packed trilogy is set in a dark, dystopian version of Chicago- you’ll never look at Navy Pier the same way again.
Kristina Springer: Springer’s novels- The Espressologist, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, Just Your Average Princess, The Paparazzi Project– feature delightfully engaging characters and storylines laced with humor and charm.
Happy Chicago Reading! See you at Annual!
Thanks for the shout-out! But no list of Chicago YA authors would be complete without DANIEL KRAUS, of “Scowler,” “The Monster Variations,” and in particular “Rotters,” about a father-son graverobbers, which is an incredible read (don’t trust me; Michael Grant called it “profoundly affecting and deeply disturbing”). And let’s not forget Chicago’s ADAM SELZER, of many middle-grade and YA novels, who won a Stonewall Honor for “Sparks” (under his pseudonym S.J. Adams) and would be Chicago’s answer to Daniel Pinkwater if Pinkwater hadn’t already been raised in Chicago.
There’s also Molly Backes and Kat Falls! And, er…me!