In today's YA novels, recurrent themes include disability, sexual assault, obesity, body positivity, and so much more. Come hear from four YA authors on the importance of these topics in their bestselling novels and how you as a reader can translate these themes into your every day thoughts and actions.
J. Albert Mann is the author of Scar: A Revolutionary War Tale, What Every Girl Should Know, The Degenerates, and Fix, among other books for children and young adults. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults.
In verse and prose, Fix paints a riveting picture of a teen struggling to find herself and move forward with her life in a sea of opioids, regret, grief, and hope. It explores themes of disability, pain, belonging, loss, addiction, and friendship.
Emma Kress is a graduate of Vassar College, Columbia University’s Teachers College, and the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program. She is a long-time teacher and was one of four finalists for New York State Teacher of the Year. She loves to write about fierce girls. Emma lives with her family in Saratoga Springs, NY. Dangerous Play is her debut novel.
Dangerous Play is "[A] contemporary feminist debut... A timely and absorbing character study of a sexual assault survivor." ― Kirkus Reviews
Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, was a Cosmopolitan Best New Book and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her next novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age — and the lies we tell to ourselves and others. By day, Crystal is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra. Her work has also been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant. She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.
A sensitive, funny, and painfully honest coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.
Pamela N. Harris was born and somewhat raised in Newport News, Virginia — also affectionately known as “Bad News.” A former school counselor by day, she received her BA in English and her master’s in school counseling at Old Dominion University, her MFA in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in counselor education and supervision at The College of William & Mary. When she isn’t writing, Pam is rewatching Leonardo DiCaprio movies, chasing after her two kiddos, and pretending to enjoy exercising. When You Look Like Us is her debut novel. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.
When You Look Like Us is a timely, gripping novel about a boy who must take up the search for his sister when she goes missing from a neighborhood where black girls’ disappearances are too often overlooked.
Theresa Burton is a writer, editor, educator, and manuscript reviewer at Blackstone Publishing. A candidate for an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Theresa has spent much of her studies exploring how women's bodies are treated in young adult literature and how authors can create positive messaging around body image.