For this preview of today’s YA Editors’ Buzz Panel, moderated by Sara Grochowski of McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., we asked each participant what it was about the book that first caught her attention and clued her in that it was special.
Jen Klonsky, president and publisher, Putnam Books for Young Readers and Razorbill, on David Yoon’s Frankly in Love
There’s such a rush when you’re reading a submission and it feels like a published work already. Worldbuilding usually signals fantasy, but David is a master of the craft in contemporary realistic fiction. From the start, there’s a solid sense of place and the fully realized characters who inhabit it. This is a lovely, warm, moving, unique novel that presents as light and funny, but becomes complex and heartbreaking, and takes an unflinching look at racism, classism, and loss. To me, this feels like the right novel at the right time.
Sara Goodman, editorial director, Wednesday Books, on The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
From the very first sentence, I knew that this novel was something special. Kim’s writing is visceral and gorgeous, capturing details in a way I hadn’t seen before, but there’s also a high-speed plot that totally gripped me. The feminist themes are, of course, near and dear to my heart, but truly it was Tierney James, the main character, who sealed the deal for me. She’s openhearted and strong, and her will to survive and figure out the true meaning of the “grace year” made this one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. This is a book that people will be talking about.
Laura Schreiber, senior editor, Disney Book Group, on Julia Drake’s The Last True Poets of the Sea
It’s easy to pitch a novel as being about one thing. The impossibility of doing so with Julia’s debut is what made me realize it was extraordinary. Like all the best novels, The Last True Poets of the Sea is an ocean—it contains everything. It is bottomless and brimming with unexpected treasure. When I turned the last page, I knew instantly that these characters would always be a part of me. And while I was already lonesome for my friends, I couldn’t wait for other readers to meet them and take strength from their journey in the same way I had.
Ava Ling, v-p and editor-in-chief, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, on Brandy Colbert’s The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
This is the third book Brandy and I worked together on (after Little & Lion and Finding Yvonne), and when she sent me the proposal, what pulled me in first was the vivid Chicago setting. The second thing that really hooked me was Birdie’s secret relationship with Booker, the boy she falls for. It’s such an authentic depiction of first love and lust. One of the many things I love about Brandy’s work is how well she depicts our real world, including intersectionality, complicated characters and relationships, and sex positivity.
Wendy Loggia, senior executive editor, Delacorte and Random House Children’s Books, on Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart
I read 100 pages of Erin’s manuscript at my desk and couldn’t wait to get home to finish it. It had that immediate turn-the-page quality I’m always on the lookout for, and although its heroine has suffered a terrible tragedy, it is not a dark book, but rather one that leaves you feeling hopeful and emotionally wrecked in the best possible way. Scars Like Wings offers an important message that teens will immediately connect with.
Today, 10–10:50 a.m. The YA Editors’ Buzz Panel will take place in Room 1E12/13/14.