Tag Archives: Matt de la Pena

New Releases – May 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh (Putnam Juvenile)

“A reimagined tale based on One Thousand and One Nights and The Arabian Nights. In this version, the brave Shahrzad volunteers to marry the Caliph of Khorasan after her best friend is chosen as one of his virgin brides and is summarily murdered the next morning. She uses her storytelling skills, along with well-placed cliff-hangers, to keep herself alive while trying to discover a way to exact revenge on the Caliph. … A quick moving plot and sassy, believable dialogue make this a compelling and enjoyable mystery, with just the right amount of romance and magic. … The rich, Middle Eastern cultural context adds to the author’s adept worldbuilding.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Cut Off by Jamie Bastedo (Red Deer Press)

Book Description: A topical tale of one teen’s addiction to the Cyber World – and the Northern adventure that saved his life. Born into a Guatemalan-Canadian family, Indio McCracken enjoys sudden stardom as a classical guitar prodigy after his father posts a video of his playing “Flight of the Bumblebee” in record time. But Dad has a dream of raising the world’s next Segovia and locks the boy in his room to practice his art. Indio is now literally held captive by his musical gift. But here in his home prison Indio attempts escape into the cyber world, where he creates his own magnetic virtual identity and in the process develops a digital obsession that almost kills him. Facing school expulsion, or worse, unless he kicks his Internet habit, Indio is shipped off to an addictions rehab center in northern Canada where the adventure of a lifetime awaits him.

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum (Viking Juvenile)

“This powerful, well-researched work examines the Stonewall riots, which took place in 1969 in New York City when members of the gay community fought back in response to a police raid on a gay bar. … Quoting from a variety of firsthand sources (journalists, bar patrons, cops, and others), Bausum paints a vivid picture of the three nights of rioting that became the focal point for activists … Bausum describes the growth of gay and lesbian activism, setbacks, the impact of HIV/AIDS, and issues such as gays in the military and same-sex marriage, bringing readers to the present day and expertly putting these struggles into historical context.” — School Library Journal, starred review

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger (Knopf)

Book Description: Part Homeless Bird and part Matched, this is a dark look at the near future told through the alternating perspectives of two teens who dare to challenge the system.

In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa, though, doesn’t want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Kiran’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.

Undertow by Michael Buckley (HMH Books for Young Readers)

“In his first YA novel, Buckley delivers a solidly entertaining adventure with the perfect amount of romance and danger. … Lyric Walker used to be a ”wild thing.“ At 14, she and her friends ruled the dilapidated beach community of Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. Then one night, Lyric witnesses the arrival of the Alpha, strange creatures from the depths of the ocean, and learns a terrible secret her family has been keeping from her. … Sharp political commentary and strong parallels to the treatment of minorities in the U.S. ground the world in reality, while the well-rounded and ethnically diverse supporting cast will cause readers to root for them.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (HarperTeen)

“Gigi, June, and Bette are aspiring ballerinas attending the cutthroat feeder academy for the America Ballet Company in New York City. … African-American Gigi is the sweet dancer no one saw coming, nabbing roles that vicious, blond Bette and eternal understudy June (who is half-Korean) would kill for. Maybe literally. Shifting among the girls’ alternating points of view, first-time authors Charaipotra and Clayton skillfully craft three distinctive, complex characters; even amid moments of cruelty and desperation, the girls are layered with emotion, yearning, and loss.” — Publishers Weekly

Vanished by E. E. Cooper (Katherine Tegen Books)

“Two popular girls disappear unexpectedly, leaving their closest friend behind. Kalah plays second fiddle to Beth and Britney in every way. She’s the new girl; they’re an established duo. She’s a junior; they’re seniors. She’s Indian; they’re white. Beth and Britney have always had dimensions to their relationship that Kalah hasn’t understood, but now, Kalah and Beth have a secret too. Even though Kalah has a caring and dependable boyfriend, she and Beth have been kissing. Kalah thinks she might be in love. … What follows is both the emotionally nuanced story of Kalah’s loss and a genuinely chilling mystery.” — Kirkus

Vessel by Lisa T. Creswell (Month9Books)

Book Description: On April 18, 2112 the sun exploded in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen. They had nineteen minutes. Nineteen minutes until the geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, every satellite in their sky. Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun. Generations after solar storms have destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth and humans have reverted to a middle ages like existence, all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents and books are burned as heresy. Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs.

The Hunted by Matt de la Peña (Delacorte)

“Previously, in The Living (Delacorte, 2013), Shy Espinoza’s cushy summer job aboard a cruise ship was short-lived. A tsunami sunk the luxury liner, and Shy survived harrowing moments at sea, after learning that some of the passengers were working for Laso Tech, an evil biotech company responsible for Romero’s Disease, a deadly contagion ravaging Southern California. In this episode, Shy and three friends survive in a dinghy for a month with some stolen vials of the precious Romero’s vaccine, only to wash ashore and see the California coast devastated. … Readers will be drawn to the raw and gritty setting, fast-moving plot, and diverse characters worth rooting for, such as Carmen, Shy’s feisty Mexican coworker and romantic interest, and the philosophical Shoeshine, an older black man who sees Shy as more than just a resilient and steadfast kid, but a larger-than-life hero.” — School Library Journal

Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes (Philomel)

“Teenagers Erik and Thorn are descending into madness on converging paths, heading toward a ruinous first encounter with each other. Both highly intelligent boys, their lives are filled with tragedy and abuse—real, imagined, or exaggerated. … Downes brilliantly plays with language and metaphor, and he explores the dualities of sanity/insanity, beauty/ugliness, voice/voicelessness in a chilling echo of real incidents of school violence. A stunning debut novel that offers sophisticated readers a glimpse into the psychological disintegrations of two distinct characters.” — Kirkus, starred review

Dime by E. R. Frank (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

“Thirteen-year-old Dime is a product of the foster system. She finds an escape in the books she reads, but she struggles academically because she is called on to help out with the younger foster children at home. One day she meets a girl who takes her in. Dime finds acceptance here, but is slowly groomed into becoming a prostitute. The book takes the form of a note that Dime is trying to write, whose purpose is unclear until the last chapters. … The conditions in which Dime and the other trafficked girls live are horrendous and difficult to read about; however, this novel serves to illustrate that small acts of kindness can make a difference.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Endangered by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins)

Book Description: The one secret she cares about keeping—her identity—is about to be exposed. Unless Lauren “Panda” Daniels—an anonymous photoblogger who specializes in busting classmates and teachers in compromising positions—plays along with her blackmailer’s little game of Dare or … Dare.

But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn’t know what to do. And she may need to step out of the shadows to save herself … and everyone else on the Admirer’s hit list.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Book Description: Given the way love turned her heart in the New York Times bestselling To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which SLJ called a “lovely, lighthearted romance,” it’s no surprise that Lara Jean still has letters to write.

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever. When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Konigsberg (Openly Straight) eloquently explores matters of family, faith, and sexuality through the story of 17-year-old Carson Smith, whose therapist mother has dragged him from New York City to Billings, Mont., where his alcoholic father is dying. After Carson meets Aisha, whose conservative Christian father threw her out of the house when he discovered she is a lesbian, the teens embark on a multistate road trip, chasing down fragmentary clues that might lead them to find Carson’s long-absent grandfather. … Bouts of humor leaven the characters’ intense anguish in a story that will leave readers thinking.” — Publishers Weekly

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

“Intrepid sleuth Scarlett has tested out of the last years of high school, founding a detective agency instead of going to college. Ever since the deaths of her Egyptian father and Sudanese mother, Scarlett’s insisted on taking care of herself. Her older sister, a doctor, is too busy to spend much time at home, so Scarlett is proudly independent. When she takes a case from a frightened 9-year-old, Scarlett discovers a terrifying conspiracy that’s endangered her own family for generations. … This whip-smart, determined, black Muslim heroine brings a fresh hard-boiled tone to the field of teen mysteries.” — Kirkus, starred review

The First Twenty by Jennifer Lavoie (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Humanity was nearly wiped out when a series of global disasters struck, but pockets of survivors have managed to thrive and are starting to rebuild society. Peyton lives with others in what used to be a factory. When her adopted father is murdered by Scavengers, she is determined to bring justice to those who took him away from her. She didn’t count on meeting Nixie.

Nixie is one of the few people born with the ability to dowse for water with her body. In a world where safe water is hard to come by, she’s a valuable tool to her people. When she’s taken by Peyton, they’ll do anything to get her back. As the tension between the groups reaches critical max, Peyton is forced to make a decision: give up the girl she’s learned to love, or risk the lives of those she’s responsible for.

Occasional Diamond Thief by Jane Ann McLachlan (Hades Publications)

Book Description: 16-yr-old Kia is training to be a universal translator, she is co-opted into travelling as a translator to Malem. This is the last place in the universe that Kia wants to be—it’s the planet where her father caught the terrible illness that killed him—but it’s also where he got the magnificent diamond that only she knows about. Kia is convinced he stole it, as it is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond.

Using her skill in languages – and another skill she picked up, the skill of picking locks – Kia unravels the secret of the mysterious gem and learns what she must do to set things right: return the diamond to its original owner.

But how will she find out who that is when no one can know that she, an off-worlder, has a Malemese diamond? Can she trust the new friends she’s made on Malem, especially handsome but mysterious 17-year-old Jumal, to help her? And will she solve the puzzle in time to save Agatha, the last person she would have expected to become her closest friend?

Kia is quirky, with an ironic sense of humor, and a loner. Her sidekick, Agatha, is hopeless in languages and naïvely optimistic in Kia’s opinion, but possesses the wisdom and compassion Kia needs.

The Merit Birds by Kelley Powell (Dundurn)

“First-time author Powell traces a Canadian teenager’s reluctant trip to Laos, alternating among his perspective and those of two Laotian teenagers. With a bad temper and worse attitude, Cam sulks amid the unfamiliar customs of the village he and his mother will be calling home for his senior year. His attitude softens as he gets to know a smart, kind girl named Nok, a practitioner of traditional fa ngum massage. … the story offers an insightful window in Laotian life, history, and traditions while reminding readers that redemption can carry a heavy cost.” — Publishers Weekly

Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (Bloomsbury)

“Seventeen-year-old Penny Landlow was born into the ‘family business’; her dad oversees a vast empire of illegal organ donation. … She has limited interaction with the outside world, which is compounded by her disease; Penny suffers from a rare condition called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Her body destroys its own platelets for no known reason, and the only treatment is healthy blood infusions every few weeks. … Her brother, mother, and father are brutally murdered, and Penny is forced into a heart-pounding, adrenaline-fueled race to discover the true murderers and survive … A crime narrative that satisfies a craving for suspenseful romance, entertaining adventure, and edge-of-your-seat survival drama.” — School Library Journal

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton (Push)

“Tretch Farm’s best friend Matt may have two dads—far from common in small-town Warmouth—but Tretch has a secret: he’s gay and in love with Matt. Debut author Walton offers a mostly upbeat alternative to accounts of tormented teens in the closet: 15-year-old Tretch is teased a bit at school (largely due to his close friendship with Matt), but he never doubts his family’s love. In fact, his biggest worry about coming out to them is that they’ll be so supportive that they’ll become socially isolated themselves.” — Publishers Weekly

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (Greenwillow Books)

“Alex is starting her senior year at a new high school, making a clean start after an incident at her previous school. She just wants to keep her grades up and perform her mandatory community service so she can get into college. But Alex knows she’ll have a hard time achieving these goals, since she has paranoid schizophrenia. … This is a wonderfully complicated book. Adolescence can be absurd, breathless, and frantic on its own. Combine it with mental illness, and things get out of control very quickly. Zappia sets a fast pace that she maintains throughout. … Zappia tackles some big issues in her debut, creating a messy, hopeful, even joyful book.” — School Library Journal

New Releases – November 2013

He Said She Said by Kwame Alexander (Amistad)

“Claudia and Omar, with their entertaining and distinctive narrative voices, are a couple worth rooting for in this lighthearted, socially conscious romance.” — Horn Book

The Missing Juliet by Sam Cameron (Bold Strokes Books)

Book description: Summer’s sizzling in the Florida Keys and Robin McGee should be planning for college. Instead, she’s passionately in love with beautiful movie starlet Juliet Francine. Too bad it’s a one-way crush shared by millions of others. Robin’s better off sticking to her summer job and fighting for the equal treatment of GLTBQ teens everywhere. But when Juliet is kidnapped from a film set in Key West, Robin turns amateur sleuth and recruits her friends to help in the search. Soon the FBI, police, and paparazzi are hot on the case as well. As time ticks down and the ransom notes grow dire, Robin will get just one chance to pull off a Hollywood happy ending—and maybe a shot at true love after all.

The Living by Matt de la Peña (Delacorte)

“A  straight-up tour de force, a breathless, horrifying dash into the void…the fun of de la Peña’s latest is how unexpectedly he blends genres, making this, in a sense, four books in one: a finely observed social-class drama, an on-the-sea survival adventure, a global-disaster book, and a contagion thriller.” — Booklist

Foul Trouble by John Feinstein (Knopf)

“Two prominent high school basketballers navigate college decisions amid a throng of unscrupulous coaches, agents, shoe-company representatives and other hangers-on vying for their attention. … Thorough and suspenseful; a must-read for those interested in basketball and the dealings surrounding the sport.” — Kirkus, starred review

Tune: Still Life by Derek Kirk Kim and Les McClaine (First Second)

Book description: In the second installment of the TUNE series of graphic novels, our hapless hero Andy Go is settling into life in an alien zoo…as one of the exhibits. It’s not so bad: the food is good, and his environment is a perfect copy of his house back on Earth. But everything falls to pieces when Andy realizes he’s been tricked: there will be no weekend visits back to Earth, as he was promised, and his contract doesn’t last one year…it lasts a lifetime.

Afterglow by Karsten Knight (Simon & Schuster)

Book description: Teenage volcano goddess Ashline Wilde discovers that her former love, Colt Halliday, has an evil plan to kill the Cloak, the benevolent beings that oversee the gods. And that’s not all—he also wants to merge Ash and her two sisters back into a single, too-powerful goddess, Pele. Ash must stop her trickster-god ex-boyfriend once and for all…and to do it, she’s going to have to feed a few flames.

Champion by Marie Lu (Putnam)

“This exhilarating finale to the dystopian Legend trilogy delivers on the promises of the genre without ever being predictable about details. … Ever respectful of the capacity of its readers, this series offers a satisfying conclusion of potential rather than a neatly wrapped denouement.” — Kirkus, starred review

The Seventh Pleiade by Andrew J. Peters (Bold Strokes Books)

“A gay Atlantean prince combats gossip, a creepy priest and throngs of serpents in an attempt to deliver his ill-fated city from annihilation. … Varied, vivid landscapes will entice discerning fantasy readers, and beefy vocabulary keeps the narrative hearty. A marriage of equality among fantasy, mythology, action and same-sex romance.” — Kirkus

True Story by Ni-Ni Simone (K-Teen Dafina)

Book description: What’s a girl to do when love has her caught up?

That’s the plight of eighteen-year-old Seven McKnight. Her freshman year at Stiles University turned out to be a tug of war for her heart and her sophomore year promised more of the same. Just when she’d sworn off her ex-boyfriend, Josiah Whitaker, and thought she’d never love him again, he boldly stepped back into her life, with no regard that she’d moved on with Zaire St. James, her new boyfriend.

Caught off guard and thrust into a whirlwind of emotion, Seven no longer knows if she should stay or go… All she knows is that old feelings won’t die, her new love is being ruined by lies, and the fairy tale she once dreamed of may never become her true story.

The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa (Little, Brown)

Book description: The two storylines from The Disassociation of Haruhi Suzumiyacontinue, introducing a new inductee into the S.O.S. brigade who may be more than just the eager freshman she appears to be. As the two realities converge, the SOS Brigade learns that the new member may have the ability to bring the two story “timelines” together… and save the world in the process.

The Chronology of Shy

By Matt de la Peña

image

I steal a lot. Especially from real life. Sometimes I don’t know if I write books or just plagiarize the world. It’s the same for a lot of artists, I think (check out this great Ted Talk called Everything is a Remix). I swipe ideas from other writers, too. From musicians. From Jerry Springer episodes and NPR programs. I lift scenes from movies and picture books and overheard subway conversations. Sometimes I even steal from myself. That’s how I came about the main character of my new novel, THE LIVING.

Back in my LA days – wow, it’s been almost ten years now! – I had a boring job doing subtitles for movies and TV shows. Best part of the gig? There was a ton of downtime. We had to be there eight hours a day, but I could usually knock down my workload in four. This left me half the day to read and write and throw stuff at people sitting around me (on the clock!). I had just finished writing my first novel (BALL DON’T LIE), and I’d signed with an agent, which meant I was knee-deep in the waiting game. “Don’t cross your fingers,” my new agent said, “it makes it hard to type.” This made a lot of sense, except for the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to type next. So I mostly read. And threw stuff.

I was on a big Russian kick at that time, so I read a ton of fat, epic stories that followed a huge cast of characters. After reading about five or six of these in a row I had an epiphany. What if I wrote an American version of a Russian novel, set in LA? I started taking notes immediately. I sketched out the seventeen main characters and opened up a new file and typed away. Over the next seven months I produced over five hundred pages. The tone was dark. The characters were all sad. I loved it. There was one problem, however. I was almost two hundred thousand words into the thing and the story hadn’t quite started. My agent at the time put it more bluntly: “The problem, Matt, is that I really have no idea what this manuscripts about. Shouldn’t we at least know that much by page 521?”

I re-read the pages. He was right. There wasn’t even a hint of a plot. It was all energy and no function. I decided to start the book over following only one of the seventeen characters. His name was Shy, and he was from a tough, working-class family. He was twenty-six years old and half Mexican (like me!). He dreamed of being a singer-songrwiter, but because of nerves he had trouble playing in front of people. Which was a problem. He was desperate and alone and crazy about the females. He played pick up hoops in his downtime. He closest buddy was an older black kid who was an aspiring director. I renamed the novel SLIGHTLY OUT OF TUNE. It had more direction this time. And I liked that it was racially conscious without being about race.

When I found out BALL DON’T LIE sold to Random House I damn near lost my mind. “It’s going to be released as a young adult novel,” my agent told me. “That’s sick!” I kept shouting at him over the phone, jumping up and down. “That’s completely sick!” When we hung up I dipped into a nearby bar, solo, and downed a double shot of Patron (a nod to my old man). Then I went home and googled “young adult.” I’d never heard of it before.

I was only three fourth of the way through SLIGHTLY OUT OF TUNE when my new editor at Random House started asking me about ideas for a second YA book. I pitched her the book I was working on, but she said it was too old. I then pitched a book about a half-Mexican kid growing up near the border who was a good baseball player. He believed his dad had left the family because his son wasn’t Mexican enough. He was whitewashed. My editor acquired this story, and I immediately started working on what would ultimately become MEXICAN WHITEBOY.  I was a working writer now. A dream comes true. But I had also abandoned poor Shy (for a second time).

After every book I’ve finished since, I’ve flipped through the pages of SLIGHTLY OUT OF TUNE, trying to figure out how I might make it work. But in all honestly, the book isn’t as good as I once believed it was. It has heart. I’ll give it that. And there’s a LA-specific desperation I still like. But the plot wasn’t strong enough. And I was trying too hard to be a “writer.” I still loved the character, Shy, though. I promised him I would one day find him a home.

When I finished my fourth novel, I WILL SAVE YOU, I decided it was finally time. I swiped Shy out of the music book and put him in a short story about a kid and his sick dad. The machismo vibe in their relationship made it hard for them to communicate their feelings about the situation. So they didn’t communicate at all. I found that the seventeen-year-old version of Shy was a better character than the twenty-six-year-old version. (The story was eventually published by One Teen Story.) After writing the shorter piece about Shy, which I viewed as a trial run, I started brainstorming a novel-length story for him. It had to be big this time. The quieter stories I tried hadn’t work. Then it hit me. The “Big One.” The massive earthquake we Californian’s were all secretly worried about. To force Shy to interact with extremely wealthy folks for the first time, I had him land a job working on a luxury cruise ship. He’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when the earthquake actually hits. This creates havoc on the ocean. And he’s forced overboard. It’s bad.

On November 12, 2013, THE LIVING hit book stores. Shy finally exists in a published work. He’s in the world. It’s been a ten-year journey for me and my guy, Shy. But we never gave up on each other. I’m excited for readers to meet this kid out on his fateful cruise.

imageI still remember when the name first hatched in my head. A girl I was dating back in LA (a half Mexican girl from a family very similar to mine) told me a story about her dad and her brother. Sometimes when her brother screwed something up, her old man would lash out at him with this old-school saying: “Look at you, boy! Don’t know shit from Shynola, do you!” Eventually her dad started calling her brother Shynola for short. He thought it was funny. And then he shortened it even further, to Shy. I still remember exactly where I was when she told me that. We were at a place called Temple Bar in Santa Monica. A band was about to play, and the musicians were tuning their instruments. “He really said that to his own kid?” I asked. She nodded and told me, “That’s my dad.” Shy, I thought. Shy. Before the band finished their first song, I knew I had to steal that name. And the story that went along with it. I just didn’t know it would take me ten years to finish the play.

* * *

Matt de la Peña is the author of five critically-acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and The Living. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (illustrated by Kadir Nelson). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.