6 Young Adult Books by Oregon Authors to Read This Summer

School’s out, sun’s out. From tales of resistance to interplanetary travel to a trailer park in Eugene, this crop of local young adult writers has summer reading covered.

By Fiona McCann June 12, 2017 Published in the July 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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Make your summer reading list now.

Image: Michael Novak

You’re Welcome, Universe

Whitney Gardner (Knopf, March 2017)
A deaf street artist navigates her new, hearing high school while struggling with her own isolation and a betrayal by her best friend. Her refuge is her art, but when that too becomes tainted she finds herself in an all-out graffiti war. This Portland author’s debut introduces a feisty, fierce protagonist, as well as a window into deaf culture and the chest-thumping thrill of her chosen art form.

Arabella of Mars

David D. Levine (Tor Books, July 2016)
Arabella, a human living on the colony of Mars in an alternate 19th century, is transplanted back to an England of harpsichords and frilly dresses, complete with strict expectations regarding the behavior of young women. But when bad news comes from her old home, she finds herself on an adventure of airships and automata, sailing through space and smashing through stereotypes apace. Steampunky, swashbuckling stuff.

Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark

Deborah Hopkinson (Scholastic Inc, Aug 2015)
On April 9, 1940, German troops entered Denmark, which had remained neutral in World War II. Within hours, the government surrendered. But over the years, a strong resistance emerged, and it’s the true stories of everyday human courage that Hopkinson explores in this Oregon Book Award winner. Her real-life characters find ways to subvert and resist their German occupiers while protecting many of the country’s Jews from persecution and death.

Strange the Dreamer

Laini Taylor (Little, Brown, March 2017)
At the center of this acclaimed fantasy epic—the first in a planned duology—is the antihero orphan Lazlo Strange, who dreams of the lost city of Weep until one day he finds a way there. In a carefully constructed world of gods and humans, floating citadels, and bloody wars, Taylor explores the concept of good versus evil, all in lyrical, evocative language with a helping of young romance for good measure.

This Is the Part Where You Laugh

Peter Brown Hoffmeister (Knopf, May 2016)
Summer in Eugene should be a time of release, but for Travis and his friends the obstacles to a carefree youth seem insurmountable. He lives in a trailer park with his grandparents while searching for his heroin-addicted mother in the city’s homeless camps. Things aren’t going much better for his friends, but they find connection and hope in this contemporary novel that tackles weighty themes with deftness and moments of real levity.

Pointe, Claw

Amber J. Keyser (Carolrhoda Lab, April 2017)
Two close friends were separated at age 9. Some eight years on, Jessie is studying at the prestigious Ballet des Arts in Portland, pushing her body to perform amid increasingly intense competition. Meanwhile, Dawn is struggling with her own physicality, amid blackouts and body alterations. Keyser’s novel explores all things corporeal, through the two protagonists’ journey toward self-discovery and metamorphosis.

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