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Books That Make You Go "Hmmm..."

Posted by Mel Schuit on

I got a chance to catch up with Monica Perez, Executive Editor of CharlesbridgeTEEN about her experience launching a new imprint with us at Charlesbridge. Check out charlesbridgeteen.com to check out the books!

When the Charlesbridge team first started discussing a young adult imprint, everyone was excited. Up to that point, our house had published a handful of middle grade fictional titles, including the much-lauded Samurai Rising, which had pushed the boundaries of its age category. It seemed only logical to continue expanding into the teen and crossover markets. In terms of topics and genres, the sky was the limit!

Monica Perez (l) and Editorial Director Yolanda Scott (r)

But being open to any story under the sun turned out to be perhaps a little broad when it came time to sign up new titles and to start publicizing them. . . We needed a mission statement. But first we had to examine why we were acquiring certain books.

One way to think about different kinds of stories, and why they work for some readers, is the mirror and window analogy. For example, some teens will look for books that touch on topics they already know and like, and which may reflect their own selves or lives—like a mirror. Other teens are open to or actively seeking books that expand their worldview or present a reality very different from their own (including fantasy)—a veritable window to peer through. What could these diverse books have in common? After some consideration, we gleaned that both kinds can inspire their readers to think deeply, to question, and to read further.

And so we landed on this official goal:

CharlesbridgeTEEN features storytelling that presents new ideas and an evolving world. Our carefully curated stories give voice to unforgettable characters with unique perspectives. We publish books that inspire teens to cheer or sigh, laugh or reflect, reread or share with a friend, and ultimately, pick up another book. Our mission—to make reading irresistible!

Each one of our Fall 2017 launch titles fits very nicely into this description.

Blood and Ink, by Stephen Davies, is a book about two teens who get caught up in a life-of-death situation during an invasion of modern-day Timbuktu by Islamic fundamentalists.  Ali and Kadi are on opposite sides of the conflict but they find common ground in a shared love of the written word—a small connection that might be key to saving lives. We can’t think of a better time to be publishing a book that encourages people to move beyond their differences and discover common elements of their humanity.

Running Full Tilt, by Michael Currinder, is a semiautobiographical debut novel about two brothers who have a complicated relationship. Leo is a high school junior who discovers he has a talent for running after he must consistently run out the back door and away from his older brother Caleb’s fists. There’s no easy solution for repairing their relationship, partly because Caleb is autistic and developmentally-delayed. But their lives have also been interrupted by a recent move and marital troubles between the boys’ parents. It doesn’t mean that Leo won’t find hope and support from classmates, a new girlfriend, and his success on the track—proving the old adage that when one door closes, another opens. We are champions of this book for its authentic voice, thrilling race scenes, and the fact that it tackles tough subjects with sensitivity.

Select, by Marit Weisenberg, the first book in The Select series, is an atmospheric debut novel that can best be described as speculative fiction. What if humans could evolve into something. . . more? For Julia Jaynes and her extended family, they’ve made such a leap. They are strong, athletic, beautiful, strikingly perceptive, and able to affect their world in ways that seem practically supernatural. They are also arrogant, powerful, calculating, ruthless, and ultra-secretive. Julia has never felt like she fit in, most especially when she falls for high school tennis star and outsider John Ford. If Julia rejects the prejudices of her family to be with a normal human, she will also have to leave the group forever. What attracted us to this story of otherness versus belonging is that Julia’s journey of self-definition is a universal one—the quest to be loved, respected, and understood by those around you.

We hope you enjoy discovering these new and new-to-Charlesbridge authors and their unique, thoughtful stories. And we sincerely hope you come back for more!

Purchase Blood & Ink, Running Full Tilt, and Select for your readers today by visiting charlesbridgeteen.com!


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