Last year I attended the NoVa Teen Book Fest for the first time and wrote about it here. I had attended several festivals and readings of Young Adult fiction and what always frustrated and annoyed me was, there were hardly any actual teens or young adults in attendance. While I love that adults read YA books, I know that the authors of the books prefer to speak to teens and get their perspectives on the stories they tell and so do I.
When I arrived about halfway through the day to the NoVa Teen Book Fest, the first thing I noticed was that there were teenagers – everywhere and only a handful of weird adults like me in attendance. It was fantastic. I still have clear memories of talking to some girls in line to get their books signed. I asked them how the book was and they made a series of squeaks and groans and finally told me that it was the most amazing book ever. I then asked them what made it so great and their analysis and joy poured out of them as fast as they could speak! I couldn’t wait to read the book and was honored that they’d given me their unfiltered review of a story that was so precious to them.
This year’s festival is going to be amazing again. I am counting the days.
The author line up this year is terrific. Jason Reynolds will be there again this year. He writes the most amazing and moving books and is a fantastic human. I hope to see him on some panels because his manner and way of expressing himself is so compelling. I always come away with a new perspective when I hear him speak or read his books. You should really stop reading this and go get any/all of his books and read them. They’re all fantastic. Julie Murphy will be there, too. I loved Dumplin’ and I hope that teens at the festival have read it or will buy it and read it. Willow Dean is such a fantastic character and her friendship with Ellen is one of the most genuine female friendships I’ve ever encountered in fiction. I saw Julie in the lobby of the hotel I stayed in during the ALAN workshop and felt compelled to tell her how much I loved Dumplin’. She was nursing a badly hurt foot and invited me to share her cab to the workshop and we talked while we rode. It’s always reassuring when someone whom you admire turns out to be a spectacularly kind, personable and funny human in real life. I am looking forward to seeing her again.
So what I am trying to say is that you should absolutely come to the NoVa Teen Book Fest. I will be there. I will be volunteering. I will be fawning over authors and listening to conversations among teens about books that they love and watching them realize that they’re in a place where everyone gushes about books and characters as if they are actual stories they’ve lived and people they’ve known.
Pro-tip – Pre-order books for the festival. I will be doing this as soon as I finish this blog post. You can order all the books you want by the authors who will be there and then get them signed without having to shlep them all to the festival with you! Pre-order books here.