Big Kids’ Table: YA/NA Authors Chat “Grown Up” Books

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

Happy Halloween, book lovers! Nothing too spooky going on around these parts, but I am so enthused to share this month’s Big Kids’ Table with you! (I’m down to the wire… on the last day of the month, but the wait is worth it, I swear!) Thanks to some brainstorming sessions with Cassie I decided to reach out to a few of my favorite young adult/NA writers and find out what grown up books they would recommend! Not only were the participants totally game but their final picks were as eclectic as their own books and that made me even more excited to share this feature with you!

Without further ado…

Tara Altebrando Author of Roomies Recommends Literature

author of Dreamland Social Club, The Best Night of Your Pathetic Life, and the upcoming Roomies (with Sara Zarr)

Big Kids’ Pick: One of the most breathtaking and heartbreaking books I’ve read about the adolescent experience is an “adult” book called “Wonder When You’ll Miss Me” by Amanda Davis. I read it in one day and at the end of the day I felt a sort of horrible sense of mourning that I hadn’t written it. I recommend it for older teen readers who like dark reads.

It will come as no surprise to readers of my novel Dreamland Social Club that I am fascinated with circuses and carnivals and the like, and “Wonder When You’ll Miss Me” sets the bar way high in terms of “running away with the circus” stories. It’s about 16-year-old Faith Duckle, who has been the victim of a brutal assault that caused her to attempt suicide. She loses a lot of weight while hospitalized but when she gets out nobody seems to notice how different she looks…except for the ghost of her former fat girl self who follows her around, taunting her. With no place to fit in, Faith joins up with a traveling circus, reinvents herself as Annabelle Cabinet, and finds a place among the misfits there while plotting revenge on her attacker and also trying to break free of the ghost of her former self.

The prose is electrifying, the story emotionally wrenching. And the reading experience made additionally bittersweet because the author, so very young when she published the book, died in a plane crash on her DIY book tour.

What’s next for Tara? As for what I’m up to these days, right now I’m gearing up to promote “Soundproof Your Life,” my story in One Teen Story magazine. And of course Roomies, which I wrote with Sara Zarr, comes out in December. My middle-grade debut, The Battle of Darcy Lane, follows soon after that in May. Busy times! In between doing website updates and Q&As and thinking about what to wear to book events I’m working on a new YA novel that is a sort of no-holds-barred thriller. It is not yet ready for prime time but hopefully I’ll share it with the world soon!

[ Follow Tara | My review of Dreamland Social Club | Add Wonder When You’ll Miss Me to Goodreads ]

Sabrina Elkins Author of Stir Me Up Recommends Adult Litauthor of Stir Me Up, October eBook release from Harlequin Teen

Big Kids’ Pick: The first book I’d recommend to anyone is Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. This novel, Hemingway’s first and widely considered his finest, follows the story of Jake Barnes, a man rendered impotent by an injury he sustained in World War I. The story is, at one level, about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from the cafes of Paris to a festival and bullfight in Pamplona. But it is also about Jake’s unrequited love for the beautiful, unattainable and promiscuous Lady Brett Ashley. The story is powerful, and the characters are unforgettable. The lean writing style has been an inspiration for generations of writers, most definitely including myself. My favorite book of all time.

What’s next for Sabrina? Find out in her recent podcast appearance on Meet Us at the Diner.

[ Follow Sabrina | My review of Stir Me Up | Add The Sun Also Rises to Goodreads]

Jessi Kirby Author of Golden Recommends Adult Litauthor of Moonglass, In Honor, and this year’s Golden

Big Kids’ Pick: My “grown up” book recommendation is Deb Caletti’s debut adult novel, HE’S GONE.  I love her YA novels, so I was really curious to see what she would do in the adult realm, and what she did was brilliant! The way she weaves the history of the main character and her husband together with the mystery of his disappearance is so gracefully done and kept me turning the pages long past my bedtime!

What’s next for Jessi? My next book, which will be out Summer 2015, is still in the draft stage, but what I can say is that it’s definitely more of a romance than I’ve written thus far, it has to do with the heart, in all of its definitions, and my theme song that’s been on repeat the entire time I’ve been writing it is Taylor Swift’s “Treacherous.”

[ Follow Jessi | Magan’s review of Golden | Add He’s Gone to Goodreads ]

Bill Konigsberg Author of Openly Straight Recommends Literature

author of Out of Pocket and this year’s Openly Straight

Big Kids’ Pick: Book: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin — When I was a teenager, I felt incredibly alone. I came out as gay as a teen, and it made me feel separated from my family. I picked up Tales of the City one day perusing a bookstore, and it changed my life. The makeshift family that comes together at 28 Barbary Lane felt like it became my family. They were straight and gay and old and young and they were accepted by each other. They were licking their wounds and having sweet and funny and dramatic adventures, and I was licking my wounds and doing the same. To this day, when I feel alone, I pick up that book and I don’t feel that way anymore. If you haven’t read this series yet, you need to buy the first book this very minute and start reading.

What’s next for Bill: Currently, I’m working on my third novel, The Porcupine of Truth. It’s an exciting departure for me, in that there’s a bit of a mystery at its core. It’s about two teens – a boy and a girl – who are thrown together and embark on a cross-country journey to solve a 30-year-old family mystery. Along the way, everything they’ve ever understood about family and friendship and the universe is tested. That may sound unlike my other books, but it is very much a Konigsberg novel in that it involves characters who feel isolated finding each other and finding ways to connect to others. It’s also funny, so if you enjoyed the humor in Openly Straight, you’ll like this one, too.

[ Follow Bill | My review of Openly Straight | Add Tales of the City to Goodreads ]


Big thanks to Tara, Sabrina, Jessi, and Bill for being so awesome! I’m so looking forward to picking up
these book recommendations and your new work!

What about you? Reading anything outside of young adult lately?

9 thoughts on “Big Kids’ Table: YA/NA Authors Chat “Grown Up” Books

  1. Cassie says:

    I seriously love this post, and the authors involved [that I’ve read!] I hope you do another like this eventually, such a great twist on Big Kids Table!

    Happy Halloween!

  2. Jamie says:

    What a fun way to switch it up this month! I love it! Definitely want to check out Wonder When You’ll Miss Me. I’ve had Ernest Hemingway on my shelf for years and have still not gotten to that book. EMBARRASSING. Totally didn’t know Deb Caletti wrote adult fiction also!

  3. Bookworm1858 says:

    Ooh excited about Kirby’s pick. I am intrigued about Caletti’s adult outing and then I’ve had Treacherous on repeat for a while now too so I really want to know how that will be reflected in her novel.

  4. katy says:

    I love this! I actually haven’t read any of these books except for Golden. I’ve been wanting to read Openly Straight for a while, and I need to check out some of the others and the adult picks! Wonder When You’ll Miss Me and Tales from the City sound really intriguing!

  5. Alexa Y. says:

    These reading suggestions are extremely eclectic, and I love that. You came up with such a brilliant spin on this feature, and I’m a HUGE fan of that. Great post, as always E!

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