Upgrade U begins with Seven Wright getting involved with her new life as a freshman college student. She attends Stiles University with her boyfriend and her friends. She is excited until her boyfriend acts suspiciously. The story revolves around her dysfunctional relationship with her long time boyfriend, Josiah Whittaker. She discovers she deserves love and appreciation. But her troubled relationship sends her on a rollercoaster and readers learn she is developing trust issues. The twist at the end of the story helps Seven realize what she needs in life.
With that being said, the first person narrative is too unrealistic. Seven’s thoughts contradicted with her actions. Teens might not appreciate a story that says one thing and does another. It was hard to finish and I can imagine some teens will not find it to their taste. But if teens like an urban story with relationship issues as well as identity issues they can read this book to be introduced to these types of issues.
I have created two pathfinders for titles, My Book of Life by Angel and Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass. Both books are compelling and emotional reads. They represent a real issue in life with prostitution in My Book of life by Angel and bullying in Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass. These scary topics can be explored more or allow teens to just have a fun new read. To find these titles I used NYPL Catalog and Amazon. You can find them too by clicking each title. It is a link to nypl.com or amazon.com Enjoy!
Did you enjoyMy Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt? Do you want to find new material for you to enjoy? Look no further!
For Topics of Prostitution:
“How they can eat and laugh and carry on as normal when soon the men will come is so perplexing that, while they laugh, I fight back tears.”
Sold by Patricia McCormick. Lakshmi’s life is interrupted when she has to help support her family and her stepfather tells her she has a job as a maid. But her stepfather lied and in fact sold her into prostitution. Like Angel,Lakshmi is mistreated and trapped in her new way of living.
Traffick By Ellen Hopkins NYPL This is the second story in a series called Tricks. Tricks begins the tale of child prostitution while Traffick is about how five teenagers deal with recovery and new beginnings. If you like your stories to have a realistic feel to it try this one as Hopkins explores the topics with vivid details.
Were you interested in reading more on missing persons like Angel’s friend?
Paper Towns by John Green Together Quentin and Margo begin their revenge as they spend all night on this journey. He is shocked when he wants up the next morning to find she is nowhere to be seen. He tries to find her with clues. If you like fun stories that have a missing person then this might be what you are looking for.
Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly Emma’s old friend Abby mysteriously disappears and Emma may have been the last one to see her. In a state of curiosity and despair Emma tries to come to terms with what it could mean. Instead she finds herself reliving her past and her friendship with Abby.
Do you want to read similar novels in verse?
The Crossover This novel in verse follows twin brothers who play basketball at their high school. Readers learn about their father, who used to play basketball as well. If you like novel in verse that are emotional and focus on the changing aspects of a teenage’s life. Twin brothers are changing and it is told in an interesting way.
Street Love by Walter Dean Myers This free verse urban story follows Damien as he falls in love for the first time. He is expected to go far but Junice has too much on her plate. An unlikely pair almost like Romeo and Juliet.
Crash Course is a YouTube channel created by YA author John Green and his brother Hank. Together they and their friends tackle subjects like History or Astronomy. With 4,365,676 subscribers this YouTube Channel reaches teens everywhere. There is a vast amount of topics to choose from and they are very informative. Teachers are showing this in this classroom so librarians can also benefit from sharing this with their teen population.
It is a 10 minute or more video that can be watched along with reading material to give teenagers a better understanding of subjects like science and physics.
The Fosters appeals to foster teens, families with two moms and teenagers who want to be adopted. I tuned into this show when I heard it was going to be about the foster care system.
Callie, a troubled girl in juvie meets the Fosters family. She is a foster kid along with her little brother Jude. When they meet the Fosters: Stef, Lena, Brandon , Mariana, and Jesus their life changes. They go through adoption proceedings and they learn new things along the way. The Fosters is a family drama that is open minded and creative to watch.
Some teens appreciate a voice that is realistic and deals in real life issues. The Fosters uses Callie to put a voice to how scary the foster system is. This show is full of drama at every turn and it may feel too predictable at times but it is unique and perfect for a teen audience. Callie makes a lot of decisions that turn out to be mistakes this teaches teens that it’s okay to make mistakes but you have to learn from them. I would recommend for teens in the foster care system as well as teens who grew up with parents because it has universal issues like forbidden love, growing up, making mistakes and finding yourself by what you like. It can appeal to a broad audience and teach a perspective most teens don’t get to see.
An article called Multicultural Young adult literature as a form of counter story telling gives readers a understanding of how we can make Multicultural materials better represented. “Culturally relevant literature allows teens to establish personal connections with characters, increasing the likelihood that reading will become an appealing activity (Heflin and Barksdale-Ladd 2001, 818). It helps them identify with their own culture, and it engenders an appreciation for the diversity that occurs both within and across racial and cultural groups.” Multicultural literature is more than just a story about a culture, it is a way of communicating and connecting with readers who are from this culture and understand the stories that are being written. Teens can learn more about themselves and not feel so alone in the world. It is like their own voice through the pages and this can lead to inspiration.
Some works give one stereotype to a race or culture not realizing this will affect all kinds of people of that race or culture. For instance if a young black male is written as a scary, gangster type then the other types of young black males are ignored. What about the hispanic woman who are depicted as teen moms in literature? These kind of stories do not inspire hispanic women or young black males to read. As stated in the article, “It also allows teens in the majority culture to see how the world looks from someone else’s perspective. It challenges their assumptions, jars their complacency, and invites them to action.” Although this is about more than just getting teens to read, books are how a lot of people like to escape from reality or get lost in a good story. They like to curl up with a book but can just as easily put it down if it is does not feel real.
Books like El deafo by Cece bell and Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass offer fresh perspectives that feel real as the story progresses. Knowing there is a book out there about being deaf that can one day reach the hearts of new readers is a good feeling. As a future librarian, I hope to inspire readers by bringing people together by the multicultural literature that should surround us.
Hughes-Hassell,Sandra. (2013). Multicultural young adult literature as a form or counter storytelling. The Library Quarterly 83. No 3. Pages 212-228.
Intellectual Freedom is the right of library users to read any book and access any the information that they want to. But there will be people who challenge books and request to have them taken out the library. So in response to a challenge of the Looking for Alaska by John Green I wrote this letter:
April 21, 2016
To Whom It May Concern,
On behalf of Aguilar Library, a branch of NYPL libraries I would like to address your concerns on the book, Looking for Alaska, by John Green. We want you to understand that we support your decision to monitor what your teen reads, but we are not removing this book from our library. Every user has the right to choose what they read or have access to information and this is a right that cannot be taken away from them.
Intellectual Freedom allows library users to use the information and materials provided in a library without judgments. It is our goal to protect each library user right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted as in the ALA code of ethics. We as a believer in our community rights will strive to uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
Also Library Bill of Rights states Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. It also states a person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. While Looking for Alaska has offensive language and sexual explicitly it teaches morals and has themes that are scary but a part of reality.
Looking for Alaska gives teenagers a perspective on a young male who is trying to make sense of his own world. It can make teenagers feel like they relate to the characters due to the reality of how death affects people. We chose this for our library collection because it targets Young Adults ages13 and up, is written by a popular Young Adult writer John Green and it belongs in our community with other books that are open to audiences.
Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass builds a story around a young 15 year old Hispanic girl named Piddy Sanchez. She lives with her mother as they move to a new neighborhood. Which means a new school for Piddy. Piddy has barely begun school when she learns of a girl gang leader wanting to beat her up. As she struggles with this she maintains her job at the Sazon salon and her sisterly relationship with Lila. Piddy wants to ignore Yaqui but learns that girls like her like to create trouble. She feels trapped in her new school and trapped with her mother because she wants to learn more about her father. Her world changes and slowly so does she. A good student starts to feel too distracted to do her work and takes her anger out on good natured people who are just worried about her and want to help.
Bullying is one of the most scariest things that kids in school go through and it changes the kids. This novel showcases this through the story of Piddy Sanchez. I recommend this for teens who are being bullied, are scared of the bully in their lives, or teens who see others being bullied. The novel can offer confidence to speak out and bring in readers who want a reality like bullying in their reading material. It can also be for teens who live in a neighborhood where there are gangs. I would recommend for tweens due to the fact that its a great first novel to the dangers of bullying from the perspective of a victim.