Last Thursday (4/14) was one of my favorite days in the world of YA literature: YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten nominees were released!
Every year teen groups around the country nominate their favorite titles from the previous year. The finalists are released during National Library Week in April, giving teens plenty of time to start reading the selections before voting begins in August. After two months of voting, the Teens’ Top Ten winners are announced in October during Teen Read Week.
Every year I try to read as many of these books as possible (teens have great taste!). The library currently has 18 of the 26 nominees and has ordered the other eight! Click here for a list of this year’s nominees, and see below for a quick summary and review of one I just finished.
Con Academy by Joe Schreiber
Will is used to reinventing himself; his parents were con artists. It’s what he knows. So he lies his way into the esteemed prep school Connaughton Academy, but what he doesn’t expect is to find another student who did the exact same thing. After Andrea catches Will in the act, and Will catches Andrea’s bluff, they decide the school is a bit too small for both of them and agree on a final scam-off: whoever can extract $50,000 from the richest, most obnoxious student at Con Academy gets to stay while the other has to leave. But what begins as a small bet becomes one long con with twists and turns that keep the swindlers on their toes. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
This was a fun, engaging read that kept me surprised. Every character had a backstory and motive. There’s Will who’s been lying his whole life; Andrea whose story continues to unfold until the last chapter; the studious, bookish nerd Gatsby; Brandt Rush, a jock whose family practically owns the school and a fortune-500 company; a headmaster with a secret, and many more. Even the background characters were enjoyable. It would be a good selection for discussions covering ethics, identity, and character development. It’s also a relatively clean book with a moral. If you like books with memorable characters, secrets, and lots of mischief, this one’s for you!