YA Saves Sunday – Sex

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Let’s face it, more and more teens are having sex today, at much younger ages than a decade ago or even a year ago.  One can point the finger at music, movies, the media, technology, or even books.  And while yes, all of these things bombard us everyday with images of and the topic sex, it does not deter from the fact that teens are having and experimenting with sex.

** Before I go on, let me make something clear – I am not sharing my opinion here on if it is okay for teens to have sex.  I am simply looking at facts, articles, and  offering information for teens (any one else for that matter) to use for their own end **

Peer Pressure
According to Psychology Today teens are 2.5 times more likely to have sex if they think their friends and others are having sex, all by the 9th grade. Can ‘assumption‘ be considered a form of peer pressure?? It can be for some.  Even for adults, peer pressure can be a struggle.  And while I said I wasn’t going to point fingers, we are only human beings and we do in fact look to what is considered ‘popular’ in our society – being sexual, having sex, etc.  Unless you have a one-of-a-kind amazing and outstanding self-esteem, it is only natural to feel pressure from things in our everyday life.

Look at some of the TV shows today:  Teen Mom, Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl.  While not every episode may focus on sex (well, except Teen Mom), these shows promote sexuality to some level.  It’s hard to not admit that these promos are not hot – they are! Am I saying that these promos are promoting that Sex is alright? No – but I am also not saying the opposite (remember I am neutral!!).  All I’m saying is that it is hard to not think about sex when you are surrounded by it everyday.

The Statistics & Consequences/Affects
There has always been a debate about the exact number of teens having sex today.  Are teens having sex? Yes.  Is there a large number of teens of having sex? You bet.  But how much exactly?  According to the Center for Disease Control the number of sexual active teens has actually dropped significantly in 2011 to 42% (males) and 43% (females). Is this the final say? By no means! And neither does this mean that these number are 100% correct.

The partner for girls who start having sex at a much younger age, typically are much older than the girl.  For girls that wait until they are a little older (but not an adult) tend to have partners who are closer to their age range. 

The number of consequences of sex in general are almost endless: STDs & pregnancy (both of which have numerous consequences in themselves), and not to mention how sex affects a person emotionally.  One person gets attached while the other may not, it can ruin a relationship, it can create a relationship unexpectedly.  If adults have a hard time handling this one could only imagine how teenagers handle this (if at all).  The list can go on and on.  

So what does this mean for YA Novels…
I will admit that it is hard to not pick up a YA novel today without it having some form of sex or mention of sex in it (anything beyond a kiss).  Is this bad? NO! It really depends on the person reading the novel.  Maybe its me and maybe I just haven’t read enough YA novels, but I can count on one hand the number of YA novels that present sex in a “good” light (i.e. its all happy-go-lucky without any negative side affects/consequences).  Most that I have read present at least some ‘consequences’.  There are even some that help promote celibacy. 

One of the most common themes I have found when reading a YA novel with sex in it is the struggle the main character has with sex in general.  For example, in Sticky Fingers by Niki Burnham, Jenna struggles with the pressure to have sex – pressure from her boyfriend, pressure from the knowledge that her best friend has started to have sex and even pressure from her boyfriend’s past sexual relationships.  In the end Jenna comes to the conclusion that she does not need to have sex, and in fact she wants to wait, knowing that sex in general complicates things; this alone makes this novel a rare gem in the way it presents sex: it is okay to NOT have sex.  But what about those novels that does the opposite?

Novels such as Kerry Cohen’s Easy and Ellen Hopkins’ Crank have their female characters having sex but under unattractive circumstances.  Jessica in Easy starts to have sex at the age of fourteen in an attempt to feel wanted, to fill in the whole from her parents’ divorce.  Crank‘s Kristina finds herself struggling with one of the many consequences of sex: pregnancy.  While her adventures with sex stem from drugs, one could use this novel as a source of information, emotions and understanding, especially for those that may be experiencing the same things or thinking about doing so. 

My thought on this is that if teens want to teens are going to have sex, whether parents want them to or not – they will find a way.  Especially in a sexually-charged media world and if parents are not talking their children about this, YA novels that present the topic of sex in many different lights can serve as resources for teens (and adults as well) to explore such sensitive topics.

“Sex” YA Novels
* A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
* Easy by Kerry Cohen ** suggested read
* Doing It by Melvin Burgess
* Forever… by Judy Blume
* Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen ** suggested read
* Lost It by Kristen Tracy
* Rainbow Party by Paul Ruditis
* Sticky Fingers by Niki Burnham  ** suggested read
* Giving Up the V by Serena Robar  ** suggested read

YA Saves Sunday – Banning Ethnic Books in High Schools

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There has been a bit of a resurgence of #yasaves on twitter – and I’m not talking about the normal tweets about tshirts and book reviews (which are all wonderful, don’t get me wrong – – a few of those are mine).  I am talking about one article in particular that caught my attention right away:

Tucson Schools Bans Books hits home, literally – I live in Tucson! So beware this is not going to be a ‘short’ post…

But first a little background: there has been a long debate about changing the curriculum of the Mexican American Studies within the Tucson Unified School District schools (ignited by the superintendent) starting in 2006.  His reasoning for this: they create segregation instead of individualism, they promote the overthrow of the US Government, and they promote resentment.  Having not been in high school for a very long time, and in a different city, I cannot tell you if these findings are 100% accurate.  But that is not the point.  To make a long debate short the schools were under so much presser that instead of changing the curriculum to “fit” what the superintendent deemed appropriate, on January 10th they abruptly shut down ALL Mexican American Studies within the TUSD.  In a place you live right next to the Mexican border, this just doesn’t make sense to me…. but before I go on a tirade about the schools’ decision I should get back on track…. the banning of books.

After these programs were ‘shut down’ all the schools literally SEIZED all books written by Chicano and Native American authors.  And if this couldn’t get worse… IT DOES!  There are numerous reports of these books literally being taken out of the students’ hands!!  

 (one of the books that have been “banned”)

According to The Sun, here are some books that have been banned (even though they are supposedly still in the schools’ libraries [saying this with sarcasm] and/or the “district storage facility”:

  • Rethinking Columbus by Bill Bigelow
  • 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Frire
  • Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by F. Rosales – – he was one of my professors in my undergrade!!

Speaking Out

Students been speaking out, hosting their own rally on Martin Luther King Day.  Many respected authors and poets have been speaking out as well:

  • Simon Ortiz, poet and regents professor at Arizona State University’s English Department and American Indian Studies said:
    “I am very stunned and very shocked and very pissed off the Tucson Unified School District would ban Mexican American Studies and books like Rethinking Columbus: The Next Five Hundred Years that includes works by Indigenous (Native) authors Leslie Marmon Silko, N. Scott Momaday, Winona LaDuke, Buffy St. Marie, Joy Harjo, Wendy Rose, Joseph Bruchac, Jimmie Durham, Peter Blue Cloud, Luther Standing Bear, Gail Trembly, Jose Barreiro, Phillip Martin, Suzanne Shown Harjo. The banning explicitly and pointedly shows it is not only Mexican American Studies and people and so-called illegal immigrants that are targeted but Indigenous studies and people as a whole”
  • One of the nation’s top Chicano authors and professor at University of Arizona (in Tucson), Roberto Rodriguez, said:
    “The attacks in Arizona are mind-boggling. To ban the teaching of a discipline is draconian in and of itself.”

Ripple Effects

It is hard to not believe that this is going to, if it has not already, have ripple effects within schools, libraries, communities and homes.  If Mexican American Studies can be banned, what about other cultural studies? What about topics such as feminism and Black History Month?  Already you can see how students are being affected NOW:  “Students, describing the trauma, said it was as if they were in Nazi Germany (source).  But it is not just books that have been “banned”: “It’s everything…ever created.” This means posters, slide shows, and those fun things that help bring more students into such programs (source).  The same teacher that said this also said that she was “told that she cannot teach the Aztec Calendar to her students. ‘Nothing related to Mexican history or culture.’ “

Final Thoughts
There are soo many things to be said about this….I could go on a never-ending tirade about this.  But to make sure I stay on track I’ll break it down:

  • Restructuring the programs – Instead of getting ride of such programs, why not restructure them!! Put in the work.  As I’ve said, its been a very long time since I was in high school, and if some of these programs are promoting un-civil things then restructure the program so it promotes peace and understanding (I know how cheesy that sounds but seriously!)
  • School Libraries – because of budget cuts today most schools NO LONGER have libraries… so I’m curious how many schools actually have their own libraries today? According to TUSD Spokeswoman these books where moved to the libraries…. but if the schools do not have their own library, are they staying on site or have they been completely removed from the school site??
  • Deleting History – I personally see all of this as taking out a large part of American (and Arizona) history out of the curriculum for schools.  I am not sure if related historical events that were taught in these Studies have been or will be taken out as well.  Honestly, I would not be surprised if this did happen.
  • Defining “Ban” is not important – it doesn’t matter if these books were “banned” or placed in a different location; they have been removed from the classrooms, thus making it less likely for students to read them let alone know of their existence (especially as the program is now non-existent).   In the end THIS IS A FORM OF CENSORSHIP!! (ironically, the superintendent is supposidely against censorship… umm doesn’t that contradicts itself??…)

“For us here in Tucson, this is not over. If anything, the banning of
books will let the world know precisely what kind of mindset is
operating here; in that previous era, this would be referred to as a
reduccion (cultural genocide) of all things Indigenous. In this era, it
can too also be see as a reduccion.”

 
Make sure to come back tomorrow for a List of Native American & Chicano Books!

YA Saves Sunday 9

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The Holidays are well under way and Christmas is literally in just one week!!  While many of us are excited for the holidays and are in the Christmas spirit, there are still many that are not.  For many, the Holidays bring sad memories and heartache, for many reasons.  For me, personally, I am torn between being filled with the Christmas spirit and being burden by sadness.  Four years ago I lost my mother to cancer (January 15, 2007).  I spent my 2006 Christmas Eve in the ER with my mother, being told by the doctor that my mother literally only had days left.  To say the least, that Christmas was not the best.  However, as time as progressed I have found the joy of Christmas again; this is not to say that I am not sad about loosing my mother, who was my best friend – I am! but I have also been able to find joy in the sadness.  I married a wonderful man and spend Christmas with his amazing family every year.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. There are those that cannot let go of sad memories and become more depressed over the holidays, as it is a time to spend with loved ones.  Experts have even given a name to those that become depressed over the holidays:  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD does not just affect people during the holidays but during every season (winter, summer, fall, etc.).  Basically, people will feel content during the rest of the year but during one particular season feel depressed and have a mood changes. 

As always books are a great source to explore depression, to gain a better understanding of what someone is going through and/or even what you are going through.  Below is are two lists: YA Saves Depression Books and YA Saves Christmas Books.  Both lists are just a short list of books.  Please comment on any to add!

YA Saves Books on Depression

Part of the “Cutting Edge” series, “Stained” is a gritty, honest and hard-hitting quick read for teens and young adults who find conventional fiction irrelevant to them or too hard to read. In a poor district on the outskirts of Cape Town, Grace lives with her adoptive mother. Of mixed race, Grace dreams about what her birth mother is like and is plagued by a deep sense of not belonging. Rebelling against her adoptive mother’s smothering influence, Grace turns to close friend Shardonnay and her sister, Crystal. Crystal is a teenage mum and has had to drop out of school, bitter that her future has been decided by one mistake.Through Grace as observer, “Stained” explores themes of incest, child abuse, and post-natal depression, culminating in Crystal’s murder of her own baby. The fast-moving, character-focused narrative delves right to the heart of a tougher side of life. Packed with drama and emotion from one page to the next, readers will be truly compelled by this gripping and satisfying story. Carefully chosen fonts, simple layout and controlled vocabulary help carry readers from beginning to end without any hint of chore-factor creeping in.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Troy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout guitar genius, the stuff of which Lower East Side punk rock legends are made. Never mind that Troy’s dad thinks Curt’s a drug addict and Troy’s brother thinks Troy’s the biggest (literally) loser in Manhattan. Soon, Curt’s recruited Troy as his new drummer even though Troy can’t play the drums. Together, Curt and Troy will change the world of punk, and Troy’s own life, forever.

YA Saves Books Celebrating the Holidays
Here is a short list of Christmas-themed books perfect for the Holidays and to keep our spirits high!!

The Princess Present by Meg Cabot

Mia would give all the jewels in Genovia for the perfect present
Every year, Princess Mia spends the holidays in Genovia with Grandmère. This year, she’s looking forward to the most perfect Christmas ever: her boyfriend, Michael, and her best friend, Lilly, are coming to Genovia, too.
But even a princess’s plans can go awry. Lilly has a lot to learn about palace protocol, and with all the state holiday functions Mia must attend, there’s no time to linger under the mistletoe with Michael. Worst of all, Mia hasn’t been able to find him the perfect gift.
Can Mia stop her (bah-hum)bugging long enough to see that the perfect present has nothing to do with international express courier — and everything to do with real love? (Though some shiny silver ribbon never hurts …)

Mistletoe by Hailey Abbott, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman & Nina Malkin

Glittering white snowflakes. The handsome blond ski instructor. The sparkle on a cashmere skirt. Hot cocoa and kisses in front of a crackling fire. The holiday season is the ESSENCE of magic…and romance. Four of today’s bestselling teen authors — Melissa de la Cruz (THE AU PAIRS), Aimee Friedman (SOUTH BEACH), Hailey Abbott (SUMMER BOYS), and Nina Malkin (6X) — bring us delectable tales of love and lust and holiday cheers (and tears) in this one-of-a-kind collection that teens will devour faster than a plate of Christmas cookies.

A tale of love, romance, confusion, and Christmas perfectly timed for the holiday season.

Noelle, a hopeless romantic, just knows that her gifts have to be from her senior crush! And geeky Froggy thinks the game is the perfect way to get super-popular Celia to fall for him…except she thinks his gifts are from Jake, the school’s resident bad boy, and starts to crush on him! Romantic mishaps abound, but all is revealed the night of the Winter Dance, where there’s more than one surprise waiting under the mistletoe!

Again, if you can think of any books I have not please leave a comment!
Also, don’t forget to check out my ever growing list of YA Saves books HERE

I would like to end with a few inspiring #YASaves Tweets!


YA Saves Sunday 8 – Cheryl Rainfield Special

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I am very honored to have Cheryl Rainfield today as a Special Guest for YA Saves Sunday.  Cheryl’s literature has not only touched thousands of teens, adults, and readers but has touched me on a very personal level.  Her literature is one of the reasons why I started YA Saves Sunday.  Not only is her literature and writing timeless, but she is gracious, honest, and never afraid to speak her mind and the truth – all qualities we all should have.  So enough of me gushing about Cheryl, without further ado I give you the amazing 

Cheryl Rainfield on her new novel Hunted and using real life in fantasy literature

I love being a writer. I can use fiction and fantasy to draw out real truths that some people might not be able to hear otherwise. I think fiction and fantasy are powerful ways to talk about things that can be painful.

I’m a ritual abuse survivor; my parents were part of intergenerational cults. I know what it’s like to be tortured and exploited, to have mind control used against me, to have my life repeatedly threatened. I wove fragments of those experiences into HUNTED. I drew on my experience with cults, as well as societal oppression such as homophobia, sexism, racism, and made them a part of Caitlyn’s world. For me, the government ParaTroopers and the renegade Paras are like forms of cult and oppression–and I hope even if readers  don’t see that, that they will understand the oppression and root for Caitlyn to get free.

For me, HUNTED is a story of overcoming oppression (and cults), of breaking free, of finding your own inner strength and learning to trust others, and of creating a life for yourself where you like where you are and you feel good about it. It is a story of hope.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can find Cheryl Rainfield at her Website / Her Blog / Twitter / Facebook

“I love to read. Books nurture me, helped me survive the abuse I endured as a child and teen. I also love to write. I write fantasy books and edgy, realistic fiction for teens.
My fantasy books often hold hope that I need, and feel others might need, too, while my realistic fiction is gritty, intense, and emotional. All of my books have fragments of the abuse I experienced. I write about some of the harsh things teens go through…things that I think shouldn’t be hidden. But I also write about healing, hope, and love, and finding courage and strength.
In SCARS (WestSide, 2010), Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself before it’s too late. It’s my arm on the cover. There’s a lot of me in SCARS; like my main character, Kendra, I am an incest survivor, I used self-harm to cope, and I’m queer. In my teen paranormal fantasy, HUNTED (WestSide, Oct 2011), Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where that is illegal, and she must choose between saving herself or saving the world. Like Caitlyn, I know what it’s like to have my life threatened, to face oppression, to experience torture, and to break free from cult or from a group of oppressors. And I know what it’s like to have to decide between hiding my true self or being who I am, even if that means danger to myself. I drew on my experience with cults and ritual abuse in creating the world that Caitlyn lives in.
Books were my survival during my childhood, and my journey into myself. Books give me hope. I hope mine will give you hope, too, or something that you need.”

YA Saves Sunday 7 – Finding Retreat in the Paranormal with Strong Leading Characters

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To keep in theme with the Halloween season this week’s YA Saves Sunday post includes paranormal books and how they, in their own way, can be welcomed into the YA Saves movement.
One of the many reasons I absolutely love Paranormal YA Books are the strong leading characters (I gushed and gushed about this with Buffy a few weeks ago).  Many of these characters are normal, who are placed in unnormal situations and usually given unnormal gifts – which they surpass, and even grow from.  
Rosemarie “Rose” Hathaway
One of my favorite series is Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy.  Rose fits this to a tee – even though she is not human, being a Dhampir in her world is normal.   It is impossible to list the number of times she stood her ground, continued, on, or faught against wrong/evil while others pushed back against her.  
Once Lissa brought Rose back from the dead, unknowingly, Rose becomes “Shadow-Kissed”, given unique gifts of which she doesn’t shy away from but in fact embraces and allows it to make her stronger  (and not just in her friendship with Lissa).   Her strength and perseverance is both obvious and subtle.  Let’s just face it… Rose kicks major butt! She’s witty and sarcastic, while at the same time strong willed and honest – she always speaks her mind.  Physically, she can kick just about any Strigoi butt, and even does so with Dimitri.  But it is her emotional strength that makes her serve as a perfect example for a strong YA Saves character.  
Despite Rose’s tough exterior she is extremely vulnerable and most of the time alone.  After having literally been carried back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, Rose faces being ostrisized in many ways while trying to maintin her ‘bad girl’ reputation who does nothing but flirts and sleeps around. Right away you she tells you that this is not who she really wants to be.  She wants to be respected and taken seriously, which she finds in Dimitri.  If ever there were a mordern-day Romeo & Juliet, Rose and Dimitri would be it.  Rose maintains her strength, despite a few obvious and understandable set backs, in her love for Dimitri, even after he is turned into a Strigoi.    I mean come on! She goes off to kill Dimitri, despite her love for him – – how much stronger can one girl be!?  Like I said, while Rose clearly is outwardly a very strong character, it is her strong will and her inner strength that makes her, in my eyes, a leading character worthy of being considered a YA Saves Paranormal Character.  
Kaylee Cavanaugh
Just as with Rose Hathaaway, Kaylee Cavanaugh is one of the strongest leading Paranormal YA characters I have come across.  Imagine yourself walking in the mall, or anywhere public, and out of the blue you start screaming.  I am not talking about a little scream as if someone jumped out from behind but bloody murder screaming, uncontrollably, very very loud, and you can’t stop even when your throat is on fire… This is Kaylee’s life.  When Kaylee finds out she is a bean sidhe she embraces her new role, even though understandably she has a few little breakdowns – – who wouldn’t?!
Even with her bean sidhe powers, why is Kaylee Cavanaugh a YA Saves character in my eyes?  Kaylee puts others first no mater what.  How many times has she risked her life to save others? How many times has she faced her fears, demons, and everything that scary to help others, even her annoying selfish cousin? 
In My Soul to Save (2nd installment) Kaylee travels to the Netherworld to save a life and soul of someone she doesn’t even know.  Now if you haven’t read this series, and you don’t know about the Netherworld, it is one scary place – I personally was terrified of the creatures that inhabit the Netherworld.  While Addison is selfish and annoying, Kaylee sets out to save her soul so she doesn’t have to spend the rest of her life being tortured by one of the scariest Netherworld creatures.
Lastly, I won’t go into too much detail for those that have not read If I Die, but in this installment, Kaylee Cavanaugh proves why she is a YA Saves Character in every way. In If I Die Kaylee literally faces death in more ways than one, once again putting the lives and troubles of others before hers, even though her own troubles are eternally deadly. 
Nora Johnson
 Nora Johnson is probably one of the most pure human characters that I have every personally read.  Right away she fits all the ‘criteria’ (if there ever was any) of a YA Saves character – her mother died, her father left her when she was a child, and she lives with a an older woman who becomes more of a mother than anyone.  Even after finding out she is essential for the survival of an entire world she remains true to who she is, not matter what. Nora finds the pure honesty and joy through fighting evil and the human emotions that plague many humans: selfishness, dark thoughts, and fear. Even when she fears that she is forever separated from the love of her life, Gavin, she fights on against the evil that is threatening to kill her and her new home.   

In the second installment, The Secret of the Keepers, Nora continues to push forward and fights against evil, but this time her choices affect her loved ones even more – the weight on her shoulders has grown tremendously.  Once again Nora is left to her own devices, but she finds the necessary strength to move forward and do what is right, no matter how much she is personally hurting.  Nora, to me, is an amazing leading character who is one that anyone can look to when they might feel they cannot move forward or ever wonder if they are making the right choices because they are afraid of the affect that it may have on themselves and others.  Remaining true to your heart and beliefs is what Nora Johnson does best.  

Aden Stone
Its not very common for YA novels to feature male characters as the leading character, but Aden Stone from Gena Showalter’s Intertwined series is one of the rare ones that not only does this but also does so in a way that everyone, not just males, can look to when they are having troubles, in a Paranormal setting.  While Aden Stone is anything but normal, all he wants to be is normal – something I think we all want.  We all want to be accepted just as we are without fear of people thinking we are different in the wrong ways.  This is what Adan struggles most with.  For Aden though, it takes a Vampire, a Shape Shifter, a Drainer, and a entire paranormal world full of witches, goblins, fairies, and lord knows what else, for him to find acceptance and to finally be who he is really.

Aden Stone is no stranger to being alone, even with voices in his head.  Having spent time in psych wards, half-way houses, Adan has learned how to take care of himself.  Unfortunately, there are many out there that experience such things everyday.  There are too many that have experienced this.  Aden Stone presents a hope that despite such a past you can find a place to belong, while at the same time finding that you are ‘right’ just the way you are. 

YA Saves Sunday – – Building Up A List of Titles

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Due to a cold I didn’t unfortunately have the brain power to come up with a great YA Saves Sunday post this week.
However, I think this makes it an excellent opportunity to add some more books to the ever growing bibliography I am working on for YA Saves books!

~ This serves as the Master List for YA Saves books ~

** Titles that are linked are to my reviews **
* Each book also is linked to GoodReads & Amazon for purchase *
– A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
After by Amy Efaw    – – teen pregnancy & baby dumping   
Annie’s Baby edited by Beatrice Sparks   – – teen pregnancy
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block     – – glbt  – banned book
Between Mom & Joe by Laurie Halse Anderson
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown    – – spousal/relationship abuse  
Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters    – – suicide
Candy by Kevin Brooks
Clean by Amy Read
Crank by Ellen Hopkins    – – drugs    
Cut by Patricia McCormick
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu    – – hoarding
Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger     – – glbt   – banned book
Glass by Ellen Hopkins
Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks    – –  banned book
grl2grl by Julie Anne Peters    – – glbt
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
I Loved You First by Reena Jacobs
If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins    – -suicide, cutting (self-mutilation), glbt   
Jay’s Journal by Beatrice Sparks
Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen    – – steroids (drugs), bullying, rape, suicide
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
– Muchacho by Louanne Johnson
Nicholas Dane by Melvin Burgess
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins    – – body image, self acceptance, drugs, sex
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez     – – glbt
Rainbow High by Alex Sanchez     – – glbt
Rainbow Road by Alex Sanchez     – – glbt
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield    – – cutting (self-mutilation), abuse  – a challenged book

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
– Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson    – – rape
Stained by Joanne Hichens   – – depression    [GoodReads | Amazon]
Stay With Me by Paul Griffin 
Stop Pretending…  by Sonya Sones     – – mental disease
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan     – – glbt
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Wertin
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Tricks by Ellen HOpkins
Try Not To Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard
– Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson    – –  banned book
– Want To Go Private? by Sarah Littman    – – online predators
What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson
– Willow by Julia Hoban
Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson
You Against Me by Jenny Downham

YA Saves Sunday 5 – Finding Retreat in the Paranomral, Buffy Style

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There are many reasons why I personally love literature in general.  One of the most important reasons for myself is that I can get lost in an entire new world, full of possibilities and endless adventures.  While it is still important to read YA Literature that sends a message of hope and survival it is almost just as important to have it serve as a retreat from the real world, no matter how easy or hard things might be at the moment.
One of my all time favorite YA Paranormal Series to get lost in has to be Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  Now I know that Buffy novels can be considered ‘old school’, but growing up in the 90s I loved the books and the show.  What more can you ask for: action, hotties, love interests, vampires, werewolves, evil, and witty banter and timeless one-liners.
One major aspect of this show that really helped me in hard times of any kind (from large to small) is  
If Buffy can deal with the Hellmouth and live on the edge of danger and death everyday, and still have family and friends and be happy, then maybe my problems aren’t that bad!

While of course Buffy’s world and the Hellmouth is not real, it was the way that she dealt with the extremeness of her life that really spoke to me.  I mean, she even died and came back – and yeah while she was ‘a little off’ for a bit, she came back full force (and even sung about it in the show).  It is the fact that she knows she and her friends could die literally every day, and yet she still gets up every morning to fight the big good fight (both figuratively and literally).  Imagine what kind of life that would be like, how alone you would feel, especially since you know others would think you were crazy if you told them you were a Slayer of demons.
Another aspect of the Buffy novels that I find appropriate to be a part of YA Saves is that while they deal with the Paranormal they also deal with human nature itself – and in a way the aspects that are Paranormal heighten and make more aware of the human aspects. So, let’s disregard the fact that all the lives in these books are in mortal danger everyday, just for a moment…..
Friendships are a key to life – I’m not talking about quantity but I’m talking about QUALITY.  Buffy, Willow and Xander (better known as the Scooby Gang) serve as a perfect example of what true friendship means.  While I’ll admit, I was more than once jealous of how close these three were, I looked to them when dealing with my own ‘friendship’ issues. We’ve all experienced the cattiness, and the gossip and the popularity issues that make up High School (and even in adulthood) – these are some of the many things that we have problems with while in High School.  The Scooby Gang was no different – – you have Willow, who is the bookworm, and Xander the cool-wanna-be, while Buffy fits all the physical attributes of popularity but associates with those that are considered “uncool” (and lets not forget the constant weirdness that surrounds her alllll the time).  These three are not popular at all.  But despite this, they realized what was important: Friendship.  Through thick and thin, disagreements, fights, deaths, these three manage to hold onto what is important. Even when Willow becomes “Dark Willow”, Xander stands by here no matter what, looking beyond the evilness (and the scary hair and spells on her skin).

Growing Up is something we all have to do, and while Buffy had to do this much more quickly than real humans, you can still see her falter on her way to becoming an adult.  You see this both in her relationships with men (including vampires) and in her actions of just growing up.  Despite the fact that she is the Slayer she can only see the man she loves in front of her, ignoring the future that they may not have together.  I am of course talking about Angel.  In this regard she is just like any normal teenager in love.  At the same time she finally comes to terms with what she must do and lets Angel leave Sunnydale, growing up.  For me, again, looking at all the Buffy had to deal with made what I had to go through growing up a bit more bearable.

Death is another aspect of reality the Buffy The Vampire Slayer dealt with perfectly, and I’m talking about going beyond staking vampires and killing demons.  The perfect example that I can think is the death of Buffy’s mother.  While not all of us have been unfortunate to loose a parent, when I lost my mother this was one of the resources that helped me understand what I was going through.  The death of her mother brought Buffy down to a real human level, knowing there were no special Slayer powers or witchy spells that could be used to bring her back – things I am sure we all wish we could do.

To make a long post short, Paranormal Literature offers more than just the paranormal, it offers a world for retreat, normal characters put in extraordinary situations, the extremity of reality and the world, and just plain fun! Paranormal literature is nice break from the hum drum of reality.  And what better way than do it Buffy Style!

I wanted to leave you with an amazing video I found that summarizes many of the Buffy Books and Episodes beautifully:

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