Book Expo America 2014: Young Adult Buzz Books

Every year for the annual Book Expo America, a committee of booksellers, librarians and other industry professionals select a number of books as BEA Buzz Books. This year, the Young Adult selections represented a variety of characters and genres, ranging from humorous contemporary fiction to dark dystopia. The featured books were Amy Ewing’s The Jewel, Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves, The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, Cynthia Wiel’s I’m Glad I Did and Frank Portman’s King Dork Approximately. On Thursday, the editors spoke about the books while the authors took the stage on Friday. Here’s what you might’ve missed:

L-R: Cynthia Weil, Ryan Graudin, Robin Talley, Frank Portman and Amy Ewing

The Jewel by Amy Ewing, edited by Karen Chaplin (Harper Teen, September 2, 2014)

  • Chaplin said, “From the first page, I was completely hooked” and that one of the highlights of the story is how “[Ewing] truly explores the bounds of friendship.”
  • On Friday, Ewing said she hopes readers see the “importance of ownership of your body” through reading the book.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, edited by T.S. Ferguson (HarlequinTEEN, September 30, 2014)

  • When talking about reading Lies as a submission, Ferguson said, “It’s one of those books [where] I knew I was reading something special.” He also added that it’s “fearlessly realistic” and the kind of book that “lingers with you”.
  • Talley said her research process was “epic” and that she spent three months researching before writing a single word of the story. She added, “It was such a fascinating time to crawl into” and that one of the book’s heroines, Sarah, is “braver than I’ll ever be”.

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, edited by Alvina Ling (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 4, 2014)

  • In her speech, when talking about the book and its characters, Ling said, “The heart of the story … is about sisterly and brotherly love”, an element she found particularly moving. She also told the audience that they contacted a reader who grew up near the real Walled City (Kowloon City) to provide cultural insight.
  • Graudin said she first learned about the city through a woman who had worked there for twenty years. She added that she hopes readers empathize with the characters and appreciate their survival despite the dark setting.

I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil, edited by Daniel Ehrenhaft (Soho Teen, January 27, 2015)

  • Having grown up listening to Weil’s hit songs co-written with Barry Mann, Ehrenhaft has always loved Weil’s “ability to weave social commentary into songs” and knew she’d make a great YA author. He also loved how she “really captured the summer of 1963” in the book.
  • Weil called Ehrenhaft the “most inspiring thing about [the] book” and wants readers to know that “when you have the craving to do something … you have to do it.”

King Dork Approximately by Frank Portman, edited by Krista Marino (Delacorte, December 9, 2014)

  • Marino said Portman has an “amazing voice that is so funny and authentically teen”. She talked about the first book and how the original submission had no plot. She said, “There was no story. So what did I do? I bought it … I bought it for voice.”
  • A former musician, Portman told the audience that “becoming a novelist took [him] by surprise” and that it was a long learning curve. One of his goals for the first and second book was to put a joke on every page “to reward the reader for turning the page.”

Overall, the BEA Young Adult Editors’ Buzz panels were insightful and definitely left attendees desperate to get their hands on the books. For more YA authors, books and buzz, visit our Everything Young Adult page!