My panelists are amazing:
Justina Chen (formerly Justina Chen Headley), Brent Hartinger, Sara Ryan and Sarah Stevenson! (And yes, to not show favoritism, that order is alphabetical!)
So since I have four incredible authors on the panel, I thought I'd do a countdown this week, highlighting one of each of their books and their blog presence, to help all of you do your homework as I do mine.
It's all in preparation for a great discussion, and even if you can't be at the conference and panel, it's a wonderful opportunity to talk about these authors and their work.
So to kick off our Diversity Countdown, let's explore the work of author Justina Chen!
I'd previously read (and loved) the gorgeously written "North of Beautiful," Justina's third book, when it was a finalist for the Cybils Award. Justina's second book is "Girl Overboard," and last week I picked up her debut book "Nothing But The Truth (and a few white lies)."
I was surprised at how much I felt in common with Nothing But The Truth (and a few white lies)'s main character, Patty. She's a half-white-half-Taiwanese-American girl in high school, and though my life experience is worlds away from hers, I felt for Patty so deeply! And the book, especially Patty's snarky voice, is really funny. It opens with a scene where Patty's missing her Freshman dance because her mother dragged her to a fortune-teller... who is digging into Patty's bellybutton with her finger to divine her future!
Her single mother will only admit to one mistake, marrying Patty's white father, who abandoned them. And Patty's older brother, Abe, is the 'perfect one' (he even looks all-Asian, while Patty is a mix. And he just got into Harvard.) Patty's 15 and subjected to lectures and Chinese herbal tonics to make sure she doesn't fall in love with a white boy, but all the while she's thinking she'd be better off if she were all white... Then she goes to summer math camp at Stanford, and everything starts to change!
It's a great book.
Justina is also a co-founder of the incredible "Readergirlz" - an online virtual author visit and book club community for teens which was awarded the National Book Award for Innovations in Reading. The project is endlessly inspiring, and has done so much for promoting literacy, highlighting great books for teen girls, and building community!
Justina also blogs at Wordlings by Justina Chen, where she shares visual collages and brief windows into her writing process.
I am delighted to have Justina on the Diversity Panel!
And now you know more about her and her books, too - so it's a win-win!