I’m at home today reading and re-reading books the Magazine loved this year, in preparation for our final Fanfare meeting next week where we will determine that these, yes these, are the very best books of 2015. And without giving anything away I want to comment (again!) on just how different the young adult literature of today […]

Review of The Emperor of Any Place

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The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones High School   Candlewick   328 pp. 10/15   978-0-7636-6973-7   $17.99 “So much of grief is unlearning,” observes Wynne-Jones in this perceptive and 
multi-layered page-turner. When Evan’s single father, Clifford, dies suddenly, the high-schooler must work through his own grief while dealing with Clifford’s estranged father Griff, a military man […]

Five questions for Tim Wynne-Jones


At the start of Tim Wynne-Jones’s The Emperor of Any Place (Candlewick, 14 years and up), Evan, reeling from the death of his single father, has no choice but to contact his paternal grandfather, Griff — whom Evan’s dad called a murderer. A gripping story-within-the-story unfolds about a WWII Japanese soldier stranded on a haunted […]

Boys to remember

reynolds_all american boys

Four novels featuring teenage boys — in both contemporary and historical settings — take on big issues, with memorable results. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a ripped-from-the-headlines story written with nuance, sharp humor, and devastating honesty. When a quick stop at the corner store suddenly escalates into a terrifying scene […]

Review of All American Boys

reynolds_all american boys

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely High School   Dlouhy/Atheneum   316 pp. 9/15   978-1-4814-6333-1   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-6335-5   $9.99 Teens Rashad (who is African American) and Quinn (who is white) are high school classmates and not much more — neither even knows the other’s name. But when a quick stop at the corner […]

The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated)

hogarth_boy meets girl massacre annotated

I was initially drawn to Ainslie Hogarth’s The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) because it’s almost Halloween, and I was in the mood for something spooky or unsettling. I was also intrigued by the nonlinear format. This gross-out YA paperback original did turn out to be unsettling…but not quite in the way I had hoped. […]

Review of The Trouble in Me

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The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos Middle School, High School   Farrar   208 pp. 9/15   978-0-374-37995-7   $17.99   g By the summer before eighth grade, young Jack Gantos didn’t think much of himself. He had the “milky physique of a very soft boy” and looked like a “boneless squid.” His “mouth bully” of a father called […]

Review of The Rest of Us Just Live Here


The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness High School   HarperTeen   320 pp. 10/15   978-0-06-240316-2   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-06-240318-6   $10.99 Ness’s latest offering is a fantasy novel — and simultaneously a fantasy-novel send-up — whose true focus is on its cast of innocent bystanders. Mikey’s town is “just like your town,” except […]

Come fly with me


This coming Saturday evening, I’ll be interviewing Gary Schmidt about his new novel, Orbiting Jupiter, at the Peabody School in Cambridge, sponsored by Porter Square Books. It’s a very different kind of book from this author, and I am eager to talk with him. I hope you can join us!

Pick your poison

tucholke_slasher girls & monster boys

A chilling short story collection, two suspenseful novels, and one book that’s a bit of both: there’s something here for every young adult horror fan. Each of the fourteen short tales of horror in Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, selected by April Genevieve Tucholke, is inspired by at least one other story, film, or song: […]