I read an interesting article awhile back on the YALSA Hub about race in YA, and it got me wondering, is YA too white-washed? Certainly, there are a LOT of YA books about Caucasian protagonists, especially girls, but this could be said of many literary genres. Annie Shutte, the article’s author, comments that, too often, when a protagonist is an ethnic minority, the image on the cover is a silhouette, the character’s race cannot easily be discerned, or the cover model is Caucasian. I can’t help but agree that this is a problem in publishing and is in no way limited to YA. Look at the cover of any Harlequin romance novel about a sheikh and the model you see is most likely a white guy with a really nice tan. But what should we do? Should we stop buying books like this? Should we write to the publisher and express our concerns? And what do teens think about this? Do they have trouble finding stories with characters who “look like them”? Do they want to read stories about characters of other ethnic backgrounds and if not, why not? I wish I were running a TAG group. I think this could be an interesting topic of conversation.
Cinders & Sapphires
*Reviewed from galley via http://www.netgalley.com*
Rose Cliffe is a housemaid to Lady Ada Averly at the lavish Somerton house. As the housekeeper’s daughter, she seems to be a favourite of the master of the house, which doesn’t exactly endea her to the rest of the staff. But could there be another reason for Lord Averley’s interest? Meanwhile, Lady Ada must marry a wealthy man in order to erase the hint of scandal that has followed her family from their decade spent in India. But on her voyage to England, Ava meets an enchanting stranger and finds herself falling in love with someone she can never marry.
I wanted to read this book because it sounded very Downton Abbey-esque, although I don’t know if that will matter to teens. Lady Ada being in love with an Indian scholar was a nice twist on the typical unrequited love story. I also liked having the story told from multiple perspectives, as this helped gain insight into the minds of both the characters upstairs and those serving below stairs. Otherwise, the writing was a bit cliché at times and the story line dragged a little. Still, I’m a fan of historical novels and will probably check out the next book in the series.
The Raven Boys
Blue Sargent has grown up in a household of clairvoyants. Each year, she and her mother go to the churchyard on St. Mark’s Eve to see the progression of those who will die within the coming year. Blue, whose presence makes others’ psychic powers stronger, has never seen the dead herself, until this year when she sees a boy named Gansey, a wealthy student at nearby Aglionby Academy. Blue typically sees such boys as trouble and to be avoided at all costs, but something about him and his friends and their quest to find a long-buried king intrigues her. Blue has always been warned that she may kill her true love with a kiss. She’s never worried about this before, but the more time she spends with the Raven Boys, the less sure she is.
I really wanted to love The Raven Boys given how much I loved Stiefvater’s other books, but it didn’t quite measure up for me. I don’t mind a bit of paranormal fiction but I feel all the talk of ley lines and spirit worlds was perhaps a bit much for me. I was much more interested in learning more about the Raven Boys themselves and their backgrounds, such as Adam the scholarship student and hotheaded Ronan. Stiefvater’s ability to create compelling characters is where this book shines. I do want to know if Gansey is indeed Blue’s true love despite her burgeoning romance with Adam. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.