I think for the last four years the books on the lists have held up quite well. Take a look and see if you agree.
I know it has been tough year for all of us. The trials of living in and around COVID-19 have been a challenge. At times, I have been extremely productive and then there are days that move like molasses. On the positive side, I have ridden my bike over 2,700 miles. Not bad for 65 year old man. When I started the early morning rides the roads of Las Vegas were nearly empty. It was fairly safe and easy for me to transition from my exercise bike to finding my outside pedal legs after several years neglecting my old bikes. Next, I found myself reading even more. This year it is well over 100 young adult novel and quite a few picture books and a return to some of the adult detective fiction series that I have needed to catch up with.
I think the list of new YA books for 2020 was strong. It was fairly easy for me to find at least ten books that I could enthusiastically support. The difficulty was narrowing it down. So, this year, at the end of the post. I have some honorable mentions.
I will try not to go on and on about these books. Most of them were selected as Weekend Picks during the course of the year. If you want larger annotation visit the weekend pick page for 2020 here or click on the images below to see what some of the Amazon reviewers have to say.
Again, the list is in no particular order.
Wow! just wow! Tiffany D. Jackson has not had a miss among her four novels. When I finished Grown. I had to just sit and replay the book in my mind. It is a significant tour de force. Please take a look.
I had the pleasure to chair a panel a few years ago that included Adriana Mather. Her book at that time was Haunting the Deep. She has stayed on my radar and Killing November was a great find. Maybe the best news is that there is a sequel.
Bill just gets better and better. The Bridge is stunning. Bill has grapple in fiction with an issue that he openly acknowledges that he has struggled with throughout his life. This novel develops two strong characters through four distinct narratives.
I am sad to say that it took me so long to get to this book. It sat on my shelf for several months. When the long list for the National Book Award was announced I wondered what I was missing. It turns out I was missing a great deal. This is an historical novel with multiple voices; each with a compelling story. It was my favorite among the ten and I was sad to see that it didn't make the final five. I like all of the books in the National Book Award list, but this one struck me especially hard.
I have to admit that Julie Berry had me with her nod to the Olympic gods. I also found that the way Berry comments on race and war throughout the novel is both insightful and engaging. It isn't surprising that this books shows up on so many award lists and among readers best of the year selections.
For awhile now I have been an Eric Gansworth fan. If I Ever Get Out of Here rocked me in so many ways. I love the insider view of reservation life and the flawless connections to music. The arrival of Apple Skin to the Core and its multi-genre approach to memoir is a stunning accomplishment.
First, I loved the cover. Then, from the beginning, I was drawn by how the author was able to create such empathy for the characters.
This book deserves more attention. To be frank, it isn't an easy read. More importantly, however, it just might be an essential read. Polisner delivers a punch to the gut. She covers female relationships with boys and men and especially with mothers and daughters. If you haven't read a Polisner novel yet, this is as good a book as any to get an introduction to this fine author.
I find myself reading more and more none fiction. With this book, Fleming provides a first rate discussion of the triumphs and faults of one of America's most notable pioneers of the air. If you don't know anything about Lindbergh, this is a great place to start. If you think you do know about Lindbergh, then you might really want to dive into this book.
Few books have influenced my reading, my teaching, and my disposition about society over the last year that I'm Not Dying With You Tonight. I met Gilly and Kimberly at a Source books dinner at NCTE 2019. I was captivated by their energy. I planned to bring them to the UNLV 2020 Summit. Then, COVID-19, George Floyd, and an astonishing contentious election era fraught with racist comments, voter suppression, and a host of fantasy accusations, this book continues to give me hope that we can talk with one another, that we can work together, and that we can make progress.