Not What I Bargained For: Adversity and Joy in YA Storytelling

Sat, May 20, 2023

High stakes and quick pacing make these YA novels impossible to put down. Whether in the underground swing clubs of Nazi-occupied Austria, in a struggling modern-day family ice rink, or in the ivory towers of the Ivy League, these stories grapple with what it means to discover who you really are in impossible circumstances you never saw coming. Joy, after all, often shows up in the places you least expect.

About the authors

SARA FUJIMARA (Foo-gee-moo-rah) is the American half of her bicultural Japanese-American family and spends about a month each summer in Japan with her now-adult children. She started as a journalist, so it is no surprise that Sara’s young adult books contain a lot of facts to go along with the fiction. Whether you want to know about Japan (Tanabata Wish), the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 (Breathe), what it’s like to be an Olympic-caliber skater (EVERY REASON WE SHOULDN’T), or how unscripted television works (Faking Reality), Sara takes readers on swoony journeys to unusual places. She is a creative writing teacher and literacy advocate who is excited to support the next generation of authors. If you go to anime cons, you may also see Sara as her alter ego, The Obento Lady. She is an active member of SCBWI. Sara and her husband Toshi are proud UNCG alumni. They became fast friends--and bandmates!--thirty years ago when they lived in Shaw Hall, the international dorm. READ MORE ABOUT SARA

NITA TYNDALL is a queer author and translator of Who I Was with Her, Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken, and the forthcoming Have You Seen This Girl, all with HarperTeen. Their debut YA novel, Who I Was with Her, won the Bisexual Book Award in 2021, and their work has additionally been featured in Autostraddle and World Literature Today. They live in North Carolina and recently completed a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship in Austria. READ MORE ABOUT NITA

ECHO BROWN is a visionary storyteller from Cleveland, Ohio who strives to inspire and provoke. In addition to two books, Echo also wrote and performed in a one woman show to audiences around the world. For her books, Echo writes mold-breaking autobiographical young adult fiction novels that are infused with magical realism. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard, was released in January 2020 to rave reviews by Macmillan. Echo's sophomore novel, the Chosen One: A First Generation Ivy League Odyssey, was released on January 4, 2022 and published by the Hachette Book Group. Currently based in Cleveland, Ohio after re-locating from Paris, France, Echo is also a speechwriter and recently wrote a speech for Sunny Hostin of the View. READ MORE ABOUT ECHO

About the Host
Becky Quigley is a Media Specialist at Sumner Elementary School in Guilford County. She is currently a graduate student at UNCG in the Master of Library and Information Science program.