Amidst the big author names in YA, such as Maureen Johnson, Suzanne Collin, and Sarah Dessen, are dozens of other authors I love that notably less people know about. Whether I've read two or a dozen of their books, here are ten authors that I would sincerely love to see get more recognition. (The reason I'm not including authors I've only read one book of -- or that only have one out so far -- is because this list would end up looking more like a list of 10 books that need more recognition instead of authors. Trust me, there are so many debut authors and novels that I love.)
Also, for those of us that regularly read YA and MG and are fairly involved in the online community, a lot of these are no-brainers, but they are the authors that I'd love to see get more recognition out there in the real world. In short, these are ten under-recognized authors that I wish everyone knew about.
In no particular order...
- Sara Zarr (Story of a Girl, Sweethearts, Once Was Lost) -- I could talk for ages about the depth of my love for Sweethearts. It's one of my all-time favorite books, contains my absolute favorite quote, and is just so incredible. Sara Zarr is a brilliant writer and storyteller. Her characters and their relationships (in Sweethearts and Once Was Lost especially) are amazingly real and well-written.
- Kristina Springer (The Espressologist, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours) -- Springer's middle grade novel, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, is honestly one of the cutest, funniest, and refreshing books I've read. Though I generally have a harder time finding great MG than I do YA, this one was a slam dunk. Additionally, her YA novel The Espressologist is also so cute and awww-worthy.
- Courtney Summers (Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are, Fall for Anything) -- There's a part of me that doesn't even know what to say about Courtney Summers. Her books are amazing, of course, and Some Girls Are is one of those books that has affected me more than many many other books. But more than that is the fact that Courtney Summer manages to write so well about anger and emotions and the different ways that girls can be messed up. Her books are dark but hopeful with dysfunctional characters that you (or at least I) just can't help but root for.
- Gayle Forman (If I Stay, Where She Went) -- Gayle Forman has such a way with words. She writes about trauma, loss, heartbreak, and the most difficult choices ever with such beauty and ease that you'd think the words just fell onto the page. Any author with that kind of skill is one who deserves recognition.
- Lynne Rae Perkins (All Alone in the Universe, Criss Cross) -- Like so many of the writers on this list, I just don't even have the words for how great these books are. All Alone in the Universe is quite possibly the one book ever that I've wished I was the one to write. And Newbery Winner Criss Cross has such searing moments of truth in it that it's amazing. Perkins also has a recent YA out (As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth) that I really want to read but haven't yet.
- Robin Palmer (Geek Charming, Cindy Ella) -- I don't like Cinderella and I never have, but I absolutely adore Robin Palmer's retellings of fairytales. They're so cute! And the characters have winfaces! And I really want her to write more and more and then everyone know about them and read them and sorry for devolving into total spasms, but Disney Channel is making a movie of Geek Charming. This is incredibly exciting.
- Wendelin Van Draanen (Sammy Keyes, Runaway, Flipped, The Running Dream) -- I thought that Flipped was one of those middle grade books that just everyone had read, but I've asked quite a few people and apparently it's not nearly as popular as I thought. Most people know Draanen as the writer behind the Sammy Keyes mysteries, but her stand alone novels are just fabulous. Flipped in particular holds a very special place in my heart, but The Running Dream is her new book and I also definitely recommend it.
- Dana Reinhardt (How to Build A House, Harmless, A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life) -- It's been a while since I've read any of Reinhardt's novels, but her writing has a simplicity that I really love and though How to Build A House is a "quiet" book without a jump-out-and-grab-you hook, the story is wonderful. And I remember Harmless being a page-turner, though I haven't read it in years and years.
- Sarah Ockler (Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah) -- Just the premise of Ockler's debut novel, Twenty Boy Summer, inspired me. Eighteen pages in I was crying. Sarah Ockler is such a great author; she writes the sad-but-real stories with both hope and bittersweetness; I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
- AS ALWAYS, I KEPT ONE SPOT EMPTY TO SIGNIFY OUR HOPES AND DREAMS*
*Gavin Volure, 30 Rock.