Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Hey friends, we've got 3 hot books to giveaway. Want one?

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1) As Long as We Both Shall Live: Two Novels
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis
PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White
AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE by Lurlene McDaniel

To enter, all you have to do is follow us on Twitter, and then tell us (using an @ reply!!) why you "heart" YA. Examples:

@WeHeartYA because... the friendships make us smile, the dialogue makes us laugh, and the romance makes us swoon.

@WeHeartYA because... the covers are so cool.

@WeHeartYA because... it tastes better than chocolate ice cream with cherries on top!

Whatever your reason, let us know, and you might win one of these exciting books. We'll also post a round-up of our favorite answers.

3 winners will be drawn at random and announced on Fri, Jul 8th. Must have a US mailing address. (Sorry, international friends!) No extra entries this time, but we'd still love if you would spread the word!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Growing up, my role models were Anne Shirley, Pippi Longstocking, and Elizabeth Bennet. I wanted to be like them — bold, ahead of their time, perhaps a bit eccentric, but strong. This image was constantly at odds with the other women I was reading about. I had to wade through a sea of damsels in distress who seemed to just let the world happen around them while they waited for Prince Charming to come sweeping in.

What makes someone strong?

Lately, we’ve seen a lot of the painfully shy, self-loathing martyr. Or the callused, takes-no-prisoners warrior. But sometimes tenacity isn’t so obvious or extreme.

Strength comes in many different forms — bravery, conviction, self-sacrifice, loyalty, audacity, compassion, endurance. It can be knowing who you are, or having a willingness to change. It can be the ability to see the bigger picture. Sometimes strength is something as simple as being aware of your own faults.

Cathy Earnshaw has never been my favorite protagonist. But even she isn’t without her merits. While her brother Hindley saw only a homeless gypsy boy that didn’t belong, Cathy was able to look past that and love Heathcliff. She saw him for who he was, not where he came from. That’s a strength, isn’t it?

When I say strong female character, who comes to mind? What do you think entails strength?

Steph

Ps. I just started my own blog. Take a look.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
By now you’ve probably heard all about the Wall Street Journal opinion piece that claims Young Adult literature is dark and depraved and trying to “bulldoze” misery into young people’s lives. We Heart YA spent much of our weekend reading the amazing #YAsaves tweets, and we gathered a long list of fellow bloggers’ responses on our Facebook page. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. We were moved, many times to tears.

Now we’d like to share our thoughts with you.

Kristan

I wrote a longer response on my personal blog, but what I want to say here is simple: YA lit is a mirror. Pleasant or not, it reflects our own realities back to us. That means there is as much variety on YA shelves as there is in a high school hallway.

But hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s look at the evidence:



Yeah, out of about 10 shelves, there were a few that looked like the one on the left here. Lots of black (whatever that means). But take two steps to the right, and what do you see? A giant yellow smiley face. Ooo, scary. Two more steps right, and you have tons of uplifting non-fiction -- books that are positive AND real.

Personally I like to sample from each of the shelves. Like I said, variety. That’s life.

Sarah

Because I am from a generation where young adult books were scarce, and just not as "shiny" as adult ones, I feel a real kinship with what's being offered on the YA shelves these days. AND I'm quite proud at how passionate the YA community has been in response to the Wall Street Journal article. My thoughts? We finally get a massive section of books for adolescents, and one well-intentioned parent can't find an appropriate novel for her child? Um, yeah, I don't buy that... Maybe twenty years ago.

What I will accept is that there are a TON of paranormal romance novels being bought by teens. It's popular. It's an escape. It's what they want right now. That's okay. I would LOVE for contemporary to make a come-back in a big way -- I mean, this is what I'm writing at the moment. It's really up to the teens buying the books. As well as this, so-called "tough stuff" novels have been around for a good while and have been improving the lives of children who unfortunately have to find a way to deal with darkness. Thank you, authors, who have the guts to write these kind of stories. It's not easy and it's saving lives. Thank you for the message being sent--that nearly always, the light will follow the darkness.

Stephanie

The darkness in fiction teaches us about the darkness that humanity is actually capable of. Schindler's List, for example, is shown in high schools all over the world, and it’s full of graphic images, but it’s also a vital part of education. We all know that history repeats itself, and the only way to prevent genocide is to remember tragedies like the Holocaust.

Issues such as violence and eating disorders don't disappear if we refuse to talk about them. They get worse. I would argue that popular media is perhaps the best way to educate teens about hard topics, because they’re more likely to pick up a book about anorexia than ask a guidance counselor for help.

Everyone seems to be focusing on the bad stuff, but what about all the good? YA literature is making statements — life is sacred, compassion and faith are worth standing for, suicide is not the answer — and teens are eating it up.

Ingrid

I am thankful that teenagers today have access to “issue books” that address topics like self-image, suicide and bullying. Books that might help them or their friends. Books that increase their empathy and tolerance. The variety of books prevalent today were not nearly as accessible when I was a teenager. When I did stumble upon books that reflected the realities of teen life (S.E. Hinton, Cynthia Voigt) I gobbled them up -- everything I could find that addressed real issues, that didn’t try to paint the world as something false, that made me think and question. Here’s what readers learn from contemporary YA literature: to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, and to stand up for those who are being mistreated. To know that you are worthy of respect, love, safety and peace. To empathize with others and to forgive yourself when you mess up. The fact is: Growing up is hard. YA lit makes things a little easier for a whole lot of teens -- both by allowing them to escape real life and by reading about how others deal with it. Take that away? Now that's crazy.

~

If there's one good thing that came out of the Wall Street Journal's "Darkness Too Visible," it's the discussion it began. The YA community rose up to defend its beloved books and proved itself a force to be reckoned with. What was your response to the article? How has Young Adult literature impacted your life?

Love,
The WHYA girls
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Last night, my dog Riley curled up on my legs while I was in bed trying to figure out what to blog about today. As I lay there, feeling his heartbeat against my skin, an idea hit me: animal sidekicks.


Some of the best and most overlooked characters in fiction are the animals. They create comic relief, like Pascal in Tangled. They provide companionship, like Narknon in The Blue Sword. And they offer a sympathetic ear, like Hedwig in Harry Potter.


Just as in real life, animals in fiction are often the best friends a person can have. They don't judge, gossip, backstab, or really have any agenda at all. (Besides being fed, of course!) Sometimes they even save your life, like Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon. Or ride into battle with you, like Talat in The Hero and The Crown. Or set you free, like Rosie in Water for Elephants.

Okay, in case it isn't totally obvious by now, I'm a big animal lover, and today's post is a tribute to our furry, feathery, scaly, and otherwise strangely skinned friends. If I could, I would adopt all of these beasties straight out of the pages I met them on.

What about you? Who are your favorites? Which animal sidekicks would you curl up with at night?

KH
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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.


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on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Transparent
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
Bitterblue
The Fault in Our Stars
Pretties


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