Monday, July 28, 2008

My Favorite Books of 2007

Nothing prompts a favorite books of last year post like July.

Seriously, I was going thru some drafts of things that didn't get posted and found this. Better July than never, right? So I revised this a little so it wouldn't' say stuff like "As 2007 draws to a close."


2007 was a year of great books. And it must be a law; no matter how many books I read (over 200 in 2007), there are still so many books I haven't read yet really, really want to. To catch up on my reading would require an isolated cabin, no Internet (and severe blogging withdrawal!), and a personal chef. And even then…

Without further ado, here are some of my personal favorites and why I like them.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, 2007. Alexie's first book for teens mixes humor and tears as Junior leaves the Spokane Indian reservation for high school. A few miles in terms of geography; a million miles in terms of lives and expectations.

Alice in Sunderland, by Bryan Talbot, 2007. I love this mix of history and art, and how the story of one town is so rich and full. I googled my way through this book, wondering "is that real? Did that really happen?"

Beige by Cecil Castellucci, 2007. Dad's a punk rock musician; his daughter could care less about him and about music. Great story of a girl trying to figure out who she is, especially since she didn't realize she didn't know she didn't know.

Bloodsong by Melvin Burgess, 2007. A retelling of the Volsunga saga, set in the future. Bloody, violent, honest, heartless, breathtaking.

Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb, 2007. Is there a cure for heartbreak? How do you go on when your mother dies?

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi, 2005. Daisy is a fantastic heroine. Combine Veronica Mars and Kiki Strike and set her in a Serenity-type Old West world. I want a sequel, and I want it NOW.

Dramarama by E. Lockhart, 2007. Drama loving teens go to theatre camp, fall in love and struggle with friendship and the realities of having talent and lacking talent. I kept on thinking, what if the lead character in Dramarama had been the daughter in Beige? Imagine if a punk rock Dad had a musical loving kid?

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande, 2007. A book about religion and faith and being strong; about questioning and being true to oneself.

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce, 2007. If I had a crush on a book, it would be this one. "Love is all we Desire. Will is all that we must Do." Flora Segunda reveals only a fraction, only a shadow, of a complex alternate world and society.

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex, 2006. Poetry for all ages; but especially for fans of classic horror movies. The Phantom of the Opera being driven crazy because of the songs that are stuck in his head? Classic.

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison, 2006. Gilda continues to be confident enough to wear wigs and costumes as she solves mysteries. Nothing gets in her way, not even ghosts.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, 2007. What can I say, Schlitz had me at "medieval." Poetry and prose tells the stories of everyone from beggar to knight's son. Plus, a map!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling, 2007. Team Rowling. That's all I'm saying.

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, 1943. I’m as shocked as you at my love for this book, and for obnoxious, arrogant Johnny.

Lessons From A Dead Girl by Jo Knowles, 2007. What hurts more than being bullied and abused? Realizing the bully has been just as hurt by life.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, 2006. Asteroid takes out the moon. I'm thinking of stocking up on staples and putting in a wood burning stove.

Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White, 2007. No one does dialogue and humor like White. The 700 plus pages are not enough; you finish wishing for 700 more.

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, 2007. I cannot afford to live in NYC; so instead, I read Naomi and Ely and pretend I'm cool and hip and young and know something about music.

New Policeman, The by Kate Thompson, 2007. I thought I was running out of time because of a move and a new job and writing deadlines; after reading this, I suspect it may be something else. A slow, dreamy Irish tale of time and gods and music.

Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell, 2007. Art saves lives. Also, sometimes it's a good thing to break up with friends.

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger, 2007. Grady McNair, born Angela; brave enough to come out as transgendered in the middle of the school year.

Professor's Daughter, The by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert, 2007. A Victorian professor's daughter falls in love with one of her father's mummies. Favorite part? No explanation as to how or why the mummy is alive.

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, 2007. Deanna has been "that girl" for longer than she'd like; the slut who had sex. At 13. And was caught by her father. Deanna struggles with the questions of whether she was victim or not; and whether she can move beyond that moment in her life.

Talented Clementine, The by Sara Pennypacker, 2007. Ah, Clementine, how I love thee. I didn't read the first book and I'm told it's even better than this one.

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher, 2007. Hannah leaves behind 13 cassette tapes; 13 reasons why she committed suicide. By the end, we know there is no reason why. Just the loss of a depressed, confused, hurting child.

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. La Fevers, 2007. Picture the movie the Mummy; imagine the adventurer and the librarian had a daughter. That's Theodosia.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt, 2007. This has everything from Shakespeare to baseball. A turn of the page brings laughter; and quiet pain at the desperation found in 1960s suburbia.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, 2006. Who doesn't love zombies? First thing I did in my new house was figure out what to do when the zombies attack here.

One thing you may notice; about half of these books haven't been reviewed in full on this blog. Guess what just got added to my to-do list?


Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who liked a$%-hole Johnny Tremain. :)

ilefkowitz said...

Thanks for the great list Liz. I've already put a request in for Story of a Girl .

Abby said...

I totally had a crush on Johnny Tremain when I was, like, 11 or so.

Tasha said...

I've read a couple of these, but will definitely have to check out the rest. Thanks for the great list!!

Charlotte said...

I never had a crush on Johnny, but he sure has zing to him...

Mary Lee said...

How about that gold mine buried in the dark recesses of the Blogger Dashboard! Makes me want to go back and see what we've got lurking there!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list, I pulled a few recommendations off it. Especially about Daisy Kutter. I needed a positive review to push me to purchase.

However, I'll have to dissent with Lessons from a Dead Girl, for me it was one of the most problematic novels of last year. I think it presented some really skewed images of sexuality/desire and perpetuated some really old and unwelcome YA tropes about LGBTQ characters (i.e. the predatory "lesbian" who has been abused.) Anyway, I am working on a paper for the YALSA symposium (yikes!) and I will cover this, and a few other books I think are problematic, in more depth (with citations, etc.) then.

As to Mr. Tremain ... Thousands would die. But not the thing they died for. A man can stand up. Now who wouldn't have a crush on that fella? :) What I love (and have loved, lo these many years) about Johnny is that he is a dynamic character. He learns and changes and grows: like a REAL person. How exciting as that when you're a kid? A character who grows up, makes mistakes, and is all the better for it. Enchanting, I say!

Thanks again for this, I am making use of it!

Liz B said...

I cannot believe all the johnny tremain lovers!

Angie, I am so, so, so looking forward to the symposium and the papers. I hear what you are saying re Lessons. My reading was that the abuse etc was more about confused, abused kid acting out rather than lesbian kid, so that trope didn't spring to mind. I can't wait to hear / read what books you examine.