Kelly from YAnnabe emailed asking me to post my favorite YA books that aren't well known. I'm calling this the Best Kept Secrets list.
At the same time, I've been working on my best 2009 reads by people of color for the Diversity Roll Call. Astoundingly, but not surprisingly, all but one of my favorites for this list are also on my Best Kept Secrets list. (I've starred the books written by authors of color). The only one that didn't qualify as a Best Kept Secret was Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead*, which isn't a YA book and is more well-known.
I compiled my list, with Kelly's help, by looking at my Library Thing collection to see how many other members claimed my favorite YA reads in their collections. The list below links to my review and includes the number of members claiming the book, and the average rating out of 5 stars.
The Brothers Torres by Cooert Voorhees*. I called this The Outsiders with cajones, and it was one of my favorite 2009 books. 77 members, 4.11 stars.
When the Black Girl Sings, by Bil Wright*. I loved the backdrop of transracial adoption and music in this one. 48 members, 3.55 stars.
The Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins*. Two Indian sisters adjust to life with relatives in Bengali. 48 members, 4.27 stars.
Flygirl, by Sherrie Smith*. Amazing historical fiction about a black girl in the 1940s who's always yearned to be a pilot. She has her opportunity with the Women Airforce Service Pilots . . . as long as she's willing to pass for white. 132 members, 4.32 stars.
Incognegro, by Mat Johnson*. Speaking of historical fiction and blacks passing as white, this graphic novel is a gut-wrenching treatment of two black men who pose as whites in order to report on lynchings that took place in the deep south. This isn't YA but older teens would get a lot out of it. 91 members, 3.81 stars.
Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury. My boys and I enjoyed this virtual trip to Hawaii as we followed a troop of boy scouts who get caught in a natural disaster. 107 members, 3.99 stars.
Tallulah Falls, by Christine Fletcher. Tallulah is an unforgettable character who stumbles into a new life when she rescues a lost dog. 48 members, 3.46 stars.
The Speed of Light by Ron Carlson. I wrote that this beautiful coming-of-age book should have been marketed to adults as well as teens--I was sad that so many would overlook it. 29 members, 4.43 stars.
Ordinary Ghosts, byEireann Corrigan. I read this and the next two books pre-Worducopia, so my reviews are only on Library Thing. I said YA novels didn't get much better than this story of a boy grieving for his mom who recently died of cancer. 60 members, 4 stars.
10th Grade, by Joe Weisberg. I said, "This was my favorite book from the summer of 2006. I took it to a cabin in the San Juan Islands we were staying at with friends, and I laughed so much that every time I set the book down one of my friends had picked it up to read it." 101 members, 3.41 stars.
Trigger, by Susan Vaught. I wrote, "This book is intense. The author has worked with brain-injured teens and her character's story of recovery from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head is realistic and heartbreaking. Well, that doesn't make you really want to read it, does it?
Read it because the writing is brilliant. (Ever wondered what it would be like to think with a brain injury?) Read it because you'll connect with this character in a way that you might not have thought possible. Read it because you'll likely never forget this kid. One day you'll see someone acting a little odd, and you'll think of Jersey Hatch, and you'll see the person behind the odd behavior. Read it if you're a parent, and if there's a teenaged boy in your life, give it to him to read, too. 120 members, 4.35 stars.
Want to make your own list of Best Kept Secrets or check out some other bloggers' lists? Head over to YAnnabe for instructions and links.
*starred authors are those that I'm aware of being people of color.