In Praise of Untidy Endings

By Amy Fitzgerald, Editorial Director, Carolrhoda

One question I consider when I’m deciding whether I want to publish a book is “Does it have a satisfying resolution?” Satisfying can have many different meanings, but in general I want readers to walk away from a book feeling that they had a complete experience—that they weren’t left hanging or cheated out of the climactic moments they anticipated.

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Ever After: The Perfect October Read

By Greg Hunter, Editorial Director, Graphic Universe

Vivi and Eva are two travelers in a countryside filled with the undead. The survivors of their world live behind barricades—and live in fear of the next attack. After a train breaks down, stranding Vivi and Eva between safe zones, the young women partner up to stay alive. Vivi is struggling with grief—and guilt—over the loss of her sister. Eva is hiding the start of a horrifying transformation. Together they’ll face intense heat, zombie hordes, and their own inner demons, searching for signs of life in a land of the dead.

Full of vivid, colorful artwork, Olivia Vieweg’s YA horror graphic novel Ever After is a poetic take on an enduring genre. Vieweg’s multidimensional characters are vulnerable but resilient, and the story of their uneasy friendship will stay with readers long after they have finished the book. Be sure to grab a copy before it’s time for Halloween reading!

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Lizard in a Zoot Suit: A Graphic Novel For Our Time

By Megan Ciskowski, Assistant Publicist

Los Angeles, 1943. It’s the era of the Zoot Suit Riots, and Flaca and Cuata have a problem. It’s bigger than being grounded by their strict mother. It’s bigger than tensions with the soldiers stationed nearby. And it’s shaped like a five-foot-tall lizard. When a lost member of an unknown underground species needs help, the sisters must scramble to keep their new friend away from a corrupt military scientist—but they’ll do it in style.

This diverse sci-fi graphic novel reimagines a lesser-known moment in history, and takes young adult readers on the adventure of a lifetime! Discover what others have to say about Lizard in a Zoot Suit and enjoy an excerpt below.

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How to Live on the Edge of Past, Present, and Future

I’m an anxious person. So are a lot of the teen characters in the novels I’ve edited. It makes sense; the teen years are fertile ground for anxiety. So much is beyond your control, even as you feel a pressure to take on greater responsibility. The present is a mess; the future is a terrifying unknown; and if you’re paying attention to history, the past is distressing too!

This summer, as our present continues its spiral of chaos and the future threatens even more upheavals and the past rears its head with reminders of unhealed wounds, I’ve often thought about my teen self. High school was when I first began to grapple semi-constructively with uncertainty, with the limits of what I could control, with the reality that horrible things happen in the world, and with fears that one of those horrible things was about to happen to me or to a loved one. I continue grappling with all this, much more constructively, as an adult, but my teen experiences are still vivid in my memory.

That’s why I find Sarah Scheerger’s young adult novel How to Live on the Edge so compelling. Cayenne, the eighteen-year-old protagonist, is nothing like Teen Me (and nothing like Teen Sarah, she’ll be quick to tell you). She deals with her fear of dying young—as her mother did—by courting danger and making light of risks. She treats her anxiety like an enemy to be spited, even imagining a personification of death whom she names Lorelei and takes great satisfaction in baiting.

Her younger sister, Saffron, is much more like Sarah and me: eager to pin down her anxiety with plans and information and backup plans and caution and even more backup plans. In one of my favorite moments in the novel, they both drag their father for alluding to the serenity prayer—Cayenne because she hates the idea of taking responsibility for what she can control, and Saffron because she hates the idea of letting go of what she can’t control.

But gradually, each sister is forced to reconsider her outlook. Cayenne realizes that to truly live her life to the fullest, she has to do what she can to protect her life by making safer, healthier choices. Saffron accepts that no matter how carefully she makes her decisions, she can never guarantee a good outcome or eliminate all risk.

And so it goes. Today’s teens are standing on their own precipices, weighing the choices they have, mourning or raging against the ones they don’t. They’re shaped by the past, navigating a complex and often painful present, and bracing for a future full of question marks. I hope some of them will find Cayenne and Saffron to be welcome company.

Seven YA Books for Music Lovers

I asked Kris to dig through our books and come up with recommendations for young adult novels that feature music and music makers. Here are the fun results! – Lara

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