Do you ever
kind of toothpaste angels
use in heaven?
I will tell you.
We use baking
on our tooth-
Adult Books for
Selected by the Books for Youth editors, the
following titles constitute the year’s best personal reading for teenagers among adult books
published in 2015. More on each book’s content and suggested audience can be found in
the full-length Booklist review.
Between the World and Me. By Ta-Nehisi
Coates. Spiegel & Grau, $24
In this brief book in the form of a letter
to the author’s teenage son, Coates comes
to grips with what it means to be black in
America today. In exceptional essays, furious,
judicious Coates lays out awesome beauty,
powerful prose, and vitally important truth
on every page.
A House of My Own: Stories from My Life.
By Sandra Cisneros. illus. Knopf, $28.95
Cisneros turns to nonfiction with a patch-work-quilt memoir resplendent with color
photographs. With striking detail and impish
wit, she chronicles her “American Mexican”
youth, sexuality, and yearning for self-understanding as both a woman and a writer.
I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in
the Age of the Internet. By Leora
Tanenbaum. HarperPerennial, $15.99
In this up-to-date look at slut shaming,
Tanenbaum shines a light on an all-too-common issue of contemporary life: the
bewildering and devastating treatment of
young women in our sexually conflicted society. A compelling, thoughtful investigation of
Plotted: A Literary Atlas. By Andrew
DeGraff and Daniel Harmon. 2015. illus.
Zest, $24.99 (9781936976867).
Illustrator DeGraff and editor Harmon
offer exuberantly inventive, dazzlingly engrossing feats of literary cartography. Each of
the 19 selected classics is summarized, then
distilled into a map that tracks characters,
places, and events. A superbly clever interpretation of classic tales.
The Soul of an Octopus: A Playful Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness.
By Sy Montgomery. 2015. Atria, $26
Naturalist Montgomery chronicles the
octopus’ phenomenal strength, dexterity, and lightning-quick shape-shifting and
camouflage abilities. This uniquely intimate
portrait of the elusive octopus profoundly
recalibrates our perception of consciousness,
communication, and community.
Armada. By Ernest Cline. Crown, $26
Cline’s follow-up to the massively popular
Ready Player One (2011) is another geek-coming-of-age saga involving a conspiracy
theory embedded inside popular sf novels,
movies, and video games. Does Zack’s skill at
the game Armada make him just the hero we
need when real alien ships descend? A zesty,
hard-charging, crowd-pleasing, adrenaline-pumping fanboy fantasy.
Boo. By Neil Smith. Vintage, $14.95
Boo awakens suddenly to find himself in a
mysterious afterlife exclusively for 13-year-
olds, called Town, and when he encounters
Johnny, a boy from his school, they gradually piece together the mystery of deaths.
Boo’s compelling, poignant matter-of-fact
journal entries are the perfect vehicle for this
The Country of Ice Cream Star.
By Sandra Newman. Ecco, $26.99
In a rich patois, Newman relates the story of Ice Cream Fifteen Star and her tribe,
who wander a decimated future America
scavenging old houses and avoiding posies,
the disease that kills off adults. A suspenseful dystopian tale provocatively laced with
elements of U.S. history, pop culture, and
Disgruntled. By Asali Solomon. Farrar, $26
High-schooler Kenya navigates racial poli-
tics and the difficult, changing dynamics of
her family, dealing with the volatile split of
her parents, librarian Sheila and radical John-
brown, in this bold and witty first novel.
Green on Blue. By Elliot Ackerman. Scribner, $25 (9781476778556).
Ackerman, who served five tours of duty in
Afghanistan and Iraq, writes with empathy,
authority, and integrity about Aziz, who joins
a U.S.-funded militia after his older brother
is injured in a Taliban bombing. But the war
Aziz finds is a “racket” all about profit, not the
future good. A thorny, illuminating, memorable modern war novel.
In the Unlikely Event. By Judy Blume.
Knopf, $27.95 (9781101875049).
Blume tells the story of three generations
of women in the 1950s through the eyes of
15-year-old Miri. It all begins when, over a
two-month period, three planes inexplicably fall out of the sky over their New Jersey
Kid Moses. By Mark R. Thornton. Arcade,
With the excitement of an archetypal perilous adventure, Thornton’s stark tale follows
Tanzanian street orphans Moses and Kioso as
they make their way to an old family farm. It’s
the grinding detail of wandering through the
bush, escaping abuse, scrapping for food, and
more that gives this unflinching story such
Make Your Home among Strangers. By
Jennine Capó Crucet. 2015. St. Martin’s,
In Miami’s Little Cuba, Lizet prepares
to leave for college, confounding her family with her career aspirations. Crucet crafts
Lizet’s character with such sympathy that
watching her evolve is utterly compelling.
Integrating topics of ethnicity, identity,
change, familial obligation, and leaving
home, this sumptuous tale will resonate
with many teens.
my family for
a trailer, and
soon discovered what I
had feared all
along: I was a