Best of 2011: YA girls & boys

This post is part of Sarah Enni‘s Best of 2011 Blog Circus. Up today: the top five girls and boys to grace the pages of YA in 2011.

I think dimensional, realized, layered characters are a big deal. If I am unable to connect with a character while reading, the book will ultimately fall flat for me, regardless of how amazing the rest of the world/plot/premise is. These guys and gals leapt off the page for me this year — their voices, stories, personalities. Some are leads, some are supporting characters, but all snagged my heart.

The Girls

So spunky, and driven, and dedicated to her family and horse. She speaks her mind and follows her heart. If she were real, I’d take her to bars with me. She certainly knows how to deal with unwanted attention from guys (example of fabulous comeback to rude men: “What I need is for your mother to have thought a little harder nine months before your birthday.”)
Alannah Claire III


So creative and expressive and unique. She’s not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve and go against the grain. (Example of her undeniable awesomeness: “I don’t believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be same person every day.”) If she were real, I’d have her give me a makeover…just to see what sort of clothes she’d get me in and what color wig she’d pull over my blonde hair.


So bold, flirtatious, outspoken, and far too mature for her age. She’s see through the drama and crap that the rest of her dysfunctional family can not, and I loved her for that. (Example: “I’m not reading your goddam Camus. I live in the real world, thanks.”) If she were real, I’d give her a blanket and cover her up.
Soak up the Sun.


So mysterious and lost and determined to reunite with her family. She is a pile of secrets, a handful of teeth, and bundle of feathers. A wishbone of hope. (Example: Words she clings to after Brimstone shares them with her: “Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.”) If she were real I’d spend a few hours sketching with her in a crowded coffee shop.
Through the looking glass

So fiesty and determined and loyal and flawed and mean. Yup, mean. But I loved her anyway, because she grows during her search for her brother, softening and accepting others into her life, but never being any less bad-ass in the process. (Example of her stubborn self-sufficiency: “I can’t count on nobody but me.”) If she were real, I’d stay the hell away from her in a cage fight.

The Boys

Danny Greer, COLD KISS
So heart-breakingly sweet, and gentle, and patient. Artistic too. And incredibly in love with his girlfriend (Example of said love: “When you’re not here, I can’t think, Wren.”) If he were real, I’d give him a hug. And tell him to avoid that night, the drinking, the car…because I really, really, really wish things had worked out differently for him.


So not my type. I am still surprised that I fell in love with Adam the way I did. Yes, he’s a sweetheart, but he’s also — at least in my head — this angsty, hipster musician that wears skinny jeans and clings to overly dramatic lyrics and that is just no my thing. But his pain is so obvious it became mine (Example of heart-wrenching agony: “Tonight I won’t kiss her. Or touch her. Or even see her up close. Tonight, I’ll listen. And that’ll be enough.”) If he were real, I’d attend a concert and marvel from afar. I want to hear the melodies that go with his lyrics.
we're only the sum of atoms II


So adorable and sweet. Inventive and patient. Charming and tall and energetic. His pants always fall too short and he can’t help but tinker on/with something. He’s too sweet for his own good. (Example of said sweetness: “No more moving. I’m here. I’m wherever you are.”) If he were real, I’d ask him to fashion me something fabulous out of old skeleton keys and antique coins. I’m sure he’d make something lovely.
You'll Never Persuade Me.


So mysteriously quiet. Private. Distant. Compassionate. Fearless. His love for his horse, Corr, and his desire to carve his own little place out in the world for himself and that steed consumes him. (Example of his love for Thisby and why he stays on the island: “The sky and the sand and the sea and Corr.”) If he were real, I’d sit on the beach and watch him whisper in Corr’s ear.


So full of life and art and passion. He is obsessed with beauty, with trying to capture it with a paintbrush. He sees with his heart and feels with his eyes. (Example: “And I look at Harley, and the billions of stars are in his eyes, and he’s drinking them up, pouring them into his soul.”) If he were real, I’d ask him to paint a mural on my office wall.
Indigenous Heart

NOTE: These pictures are not all precise representations of the characters based on their descriptions within their respective novels. For example, Claudia is actually blonde. Harley definitely had darker skin. And if Saba’s hair even once looked as perfect as it does in the above picture over the course of the novel, I will give my copy to the person who finds the passage declaring this so.

They pictures are, however, images that spoke to me. Something in each of them felt like the characters. Claudia’s carefree smile and green bikini, for example. Saba’s intense and determined gaze. Harley’s look of vulnerability and the paint plastered around his eyes. All photos are embedded from flickr and click through to the talented photographer that shot each.

Tell me about some of your favorite boys and girls from 2011 YA novels, won’t you? Who did you connect with this year?

*What? You don’t remember this being Harley’s last name? That’s because it wasn’t in the book! But I wanted to be thorough in my naming, and Beth Revis confirmed his last name for me via twitter. :)

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