The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Mary E. Pearson (Square Fish)

Set in a world like our own in the not-far-off future, this book asks compelling questions: What makes a person a person? How far should we go to preserve a beloved life? I love Pearson's spare and poetic voice.

American Born Chinese
Gene Luen Yang (Square Fish)

This award-winning work turned me on to graphic novels. The three interwoven stories about race and identity are engaging and often funny, and Yang speaks deeply to a fundamental human dignity through his words and art.

Sorta Like a Rock Star
Matthew Quick (Little, Brown and Company)

To be honest, I resisted the voice of the relentlessly hopeful Amber Appleton at first. But Quick won me over with this story, which is full of hope and despair, beauty and ugliness, all inextricably inter-twined--and perhaps interdependent.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Between this and his Marcelo in the Real World (2009), Stork is becoming one of my favorite writers. Here, complex and conflicted (and funny) teen boys deal with faith, doubt, anger, and friendship in the cultural and physical landscape of New Mexico.

A Wrinkle in Time
Madeleine L'Engle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

I grew up with L'Engle's characters, came of age with them, and wrestled with identity alongside them. Most important to me as a young reader, these books (unlike my peers) made me feel like being smart was not only okay but also desirable.

Related Elsewhere:

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, American Born Chinese, Sorta Like a Rock Star, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, and A Wrinkle in Time are available from and other book retailers.

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