Books recommended by Jordan B. Nielsen:
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (currently being read by ACHUKA)
Sophistication has never been a problem for Stead. Even when her writing was aimed at younger readers, she approached them with warm respect and commanding intelligence. She’s not the cool babysitter who lets you stay up late and stuff yourself with candy. She’s the favorite teacher who talks to you like an adult, and expects you to rise to the occasion. Stranger illuminates this strength of hers to glorious effect.
This is a landmark in literature on the friendships of young women, a shadowy twin to Anne Brashares’s transcendent Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. While similarly honest and compassionate with its protagonists, Stead’s work is decidedly less idealized—the barbs sharper, the falls more precipitous, the victories cloaked in ambiguity. Because of this, Goodbye Stranger packs a wallop of emotion that’s a true pleasure to be leveled by.
George by Alex Gino
… a tender, glowingly hopeful story about a little boy who knows in her heart that she’s really a girl. As both a story and an introduction to transgenderism for young readers, George is a triumph.
Told simply and earnestly, perhaps as a way to leave room for the bigness of the issue it highlights, George is every bit as courageous as its eponymous hero.
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
A shattering, wicked, and fiercely original novel, The Walls Around Us takes no prisoners in its ruthless exploration of guilt and justice. Author Nova Ren Suma has stated, “I don’t write for teenagers necessarily. I write books about teenagers,” and while it’s true that the content of Walls pushes the upper limits of what’s considered YA, this bracing, merciless dazzler is not to be missed.