Ah, a fresh new year and a Best of the Month shelf clear of books. Certainly the only shelf clear of books in my life, but let's not go there. What are the first books that will begin to clutter that pristine space, you ask? Why, it's these--my favorite January YA books.
- Hollow City by Ransom Riggs: So loved this! It's always hard with a sequel, and this one was two years in the making, but totally worth the wait. Returning to Jacob and the other peculiar students, we find them trying to save themselves and their beloved Miss Peregrine in World War II-era London. Riggs writes fabulous descriptive sentences so it's like watching a movie in words, and, as in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, there are incredible vintage photos deftly woven into the story. Check back next Wednesday for a Ransom Riggs exclusive.
- The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: Wow. Timely, fearless, and solid gold Laurie Halse Anderson. Hayley is a teenager living alone with a father torn up by serious PTSD. As a result, Hayley has to take on the role of watchful parent, face a myriad of scary uncertainties on a daily basis, and deal with her own painful memories. But Hayley also meets someone who cracks her shell, and falling in love can make everything a little less ugly...
- No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale: Quirky and fun with a nice streak of dark and twisted. The story starts out with the gruesome murder of a teenage girl living in a small town. Our narrator is the murdered girl's best friend, socially awkward and kind of weird Kippy, who takes it upon herself to find the killer after it becomes clear that the local police are idiots. Many of the folks in Friendship, WI demonstrate some bizarre--and funny--behavior, and hardly anyone is who they seem, making this a perfect blend of dark humor and good whodunit.
- The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely: Kiely tackles a big subject: abuse in the Catholic church. His protagonist, 16-year-old Aiden, lives in an affluent community where things look perfect on the outside, but the truth is not so pretty. When his already absent father leaves for good, things fall apart and the local priest is there to pick up the pieces. The Gospel of Winter raises questions of love, betrayal, and what it takes to shut out the things we don't want to acknowledge or risk it all and tell the truth. Kiely does a great job creating complex characters and a story that kept me on edge, wondering how it was all going to end.