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Young Adult Fiction Nominees: Nineteen Heartbreakers & Four Heroic Teens Tempt Fate

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The LA Times has nominated five books in each of nine different categories for the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. In the weeks leading up to the Festival of Books where the winners will be announced, LAist will take a quick look at each category and will wax poetic on a few favorites (or least favorites) along the way.


The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson – Anderson’s book spans several genres and many literary traditions as it tells the story of Octavian, a young black boy who lives in 18th century Boston under the tutelage of his radical scientist & philosopher guardians. While he is given an excellent education, he soon learns that he isn’t free-–despite early illusions to the contrary—and he plots his escape. It would be too easy to call this science fiction. Too simple to call it fantasy or adventure. This novel is, dare we say it, uncategorizeable. It tackles the big subjects – freedom, patriotism, courage, racism and privilege – in a truly unique fashion, to devastating effect.

Why you might like it: It ends with a cliffhanger.
Why you might not: It ends with a cliffhanger.

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Tyrell by Coe Booth – Tyrell doesn’t have an easy life. His mother’s fraudulent welfare scheme has forced the family to move to a roach-filled homeless shelter, his father is in prison and at 15, he’s dropped out of high school. Between his mother pushing him to sell drugs to help the family get back on its feet and his girlfriend upset with him for dropping out of school, Tyrell is stretched thin. Too thin. He is faced with the difficult choice: easy money the wrong way, or slow money the right way. Booth’s treatment of this often-examined subject works because Tyrell’s story unfolds in unexpected ways.

Why you might like it: It’s tough and funny, with a few twists.
Why you might not: Familiar terrain, somewhat familiar refrain.


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – Colin Singleton has had many girlfriends in his short life. All of them were named Katherine. As he graduates from high school and ponders college (did we mention he’s a genius?), his latest Katherine flame dumps him & he’s a mess. Why? This latest dump means a total sum of 19 breakups in as many years. A road trip with his friend Hassan is deemed the perfect antidote and they set off to cure his broken heart. Through some nerdy math that involves a possible theorem of love, Colin & Hassan try to right the wrong of being dumped.

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Why you might like it: Consider it therapy for your own painful high school breakups.
Why you might not: The mere thought of revisiting painful high school breakups…