Posts Tagged ‘ NPR ’

YA Friday: NPR Tells Us Which Kid Lit is Best

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I’m kind of confused on why NPR is rating children’s literature, but rate they did. They came out with a “scientific” list of the top 100 young adult books of all time. I’m still scratching my head. Shouldn’t they be broadcasting the European debt crisis on BBC and pondering the makings of a gunman on All Things Considered? Whatevs.

Then all the book writers had something to bitch say about it. The Atlantic applauds the NPR list for being dominated by female authors and protagonists but manages to put down the reasons why we all love the genre so much. (It’s not that simplistic, and we’re not “adverse to nuance.”) The Guardian ponders why Diana Wynne Jones is all the way down at number 36. And one of my favorite websites, Forever Young Adult, complained that there was’t enough Meg Cabot while John Green got five nods–and why did NPR think Lord of the Rings is YA?

Best-of lists always stir controversy, and that’s probably what NPR intended. They got a lot of attention, and who doesn’t love getting some of that? But my point is that NPR’s opinion is this week’s big book story, and I’m not complaining. I’m always thrilled to see people–adults no less–obsess over young adult literature.

So, how many of the 100 have you read? I checked off 36.

Below, see NPR’s Top Ten YA Novels of all time (with links to Forever YA’s book reviews):

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‘The Next Best Thing’ by Jennifer Weiner

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

I adore author Jennifer Weiner. Her popular, best-selling novels are fun, quirky and revealing. Did you like Good in Bed or In Her Shoes? Weiner’s latest, The Next Best Thing, runs along those lines. It tells the story of Ruth, a young Hollywood TV writer who lives with her sparky grandmother. Ruth suffers the trials and tribulations of climbing the male-dominated ladder of TV. She finally gets her own show–a story about a girl and her grandmother, Golden Girls-style–and things go downhill from there. Will Ruth ever see her dreams come true? I know the answer, but it would be rude of me to give it away.

I connected to the vividness of the characters. Ruth lost her parents in a childhood car accident that severely scarred her face. Against all odds–she was bullied and lacked friends–she musters up the confidence to leave her small Massachusetts town and go to Los Angeles. Her vivacious, protective and well-dressed grandmother, Ruth’s caretaker since she was 8, comes along for the ride and finds exciting acting work as an elderly extra.

Romance and raciness ensues. Hearts are lifted and dropped and lifted up again. The most intriguing part of the story was the insider peek at how things go down in TV. Weiner knows from personal experience. Her show, State of Georgia, ran for 12 episodes on ABC Family in 2011. What I gathered from The Next Best Thing is that women have to navigate carefully in a misogynistic industry. The most popular female comedy in the book is written exclusively by men.

Women also have to face a double standard in real-life literature, Weiner has often said. ”If a man writes about a family, it’s like, oh, he’s really writing about America,” Weiner told NPR. “If a woman writes about a family, it’s just assumed that she’s writing about herself.” She points out that the New York Times reviews many more crime books than romances, and female writers often get relegated to the Styles section.

See, the author is cool. The Next Best Thing is too, especially if you love Hollywood, television and stories about making it and breaking it in Tinseltown. The writing and plot are both sharp and fast, proving why Weiner is a longtime bestselling author. I’ll be watching the lists, and I’m sure The Next Best Thing will take its rightful place soon.

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