novels / other writers / writing

The March 2013 Anticipated YA Debuts

Hello! I’m excited to share the two March 2013 Anticipated YA Debuts I’ll be featuring here on distraction no. 99 this month…


Coming March 5…


Evan Roskos cover 300The story:

This is James Whitman’s song of himself!

He hugs trees and tries to save animals. He talks to an imaginary pigeon therapist named Dr. Bird. He often hates himself, but loves to recite Walt Whitman because it can be recited with exclamation points! And it annoys his father, the Brute, who dislikes all things that seem fun. And even though his parents believe life is better since they kicked his sister, Jorie, out of the house, James feels her absence deeply. How can James continue to wake up with a celebratory YAWP, like his namesake poet-hero?

James tries to connect the dots around his sister’s mysterious expulsion, but his mission falters as he discovers that some of her secrets are not that different from his own. Secrets not even Dr. Bird can help with. Might it take something radical to intervene–like helping his best friend or talking to a beautiful girl–for James to help his sister and truly celebrate himself?

The opening lines:

The perfect poet for me. I’m a depressed, anxious kid.

I hate myself but I love Walt Whitman, the kook. I need to be more positive, so I wake myself up every morning with a song of my self.

Walt says:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good

belongs to you.

I say:

I am James Whitman.

I define myself and answer the question that was asked with my momentous birth!

I am light! I am truth! I am might! I am youth!

I assume myself and become what you assume!

I leap from my bed, bedraggled but lively! Vigorous, not slowpoked and sapped with misery (despite my eyes and aching teeth, which grind all night)!

I bathe, washing the atoms that belong to me but are not me.

What people are saying:

“A powerful, brave, and important debut that will make you eager to celebrate yourself. A beautifully authentic yawp.” —Matthew Quick

“A poignant, funny, and bighearted novel about the power of saving oneself.” —Nina LaCour

“If you are someone who yawps, read this book. If you know someone who yawps, read this book. If you’ve been looking for a book that detonates the one incredible word yawp and spatters every molecule of its joy and grief and laughter across the New Jersey landscape, then you’ve found that book. If you are standing around reading this and thinking, ‘I have no idea what yawping is,’ then–come on. What are you doing? Read this book.” —Jesse Andrews

The author:

Evan Roskos @evanjamesroskos

Visit him online at

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets comes out on March 5 from Houghton Mifflin! Pre-order or add to your shelf on Goodreads.

Coming March 26…


If You Find Me coverThe story:

There are some things you can’t leave behind…
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes, and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

The opening lines:

Mama says no matter how poor folks are, whether you’re a have, a have-not, or break your mama’s back on the cracks in between, the world gives away the best stuff on the cheap. Like, the way the white-hot mornin’ light dances in diamonds across the surface of our creek. Or the creek itself, babblin’ music all day long like Nessa when she was a baby. Happiness is free, Mama says, as sure as the blinkin’ stars, the withered arms the trees throw down for our fires, the waterproofin’ on our skin, and the tongues of wind curlin’ the walnut leaves before slidin’ down our ears.

It might just be the meth pipe talkin’. But I like how free sounds all poetic-like.

What people are saying:

“Within two pages, I was so hopelessly hooked, I felt like the story had attached itself to me. The storyline is original and suspenseful, but most of all, it was Carey’s voice that had me flipping the pages. This is one of those books you devour.” —Jennifer Brown

If You Find Me grabbed me by the heart on page one and didn’t let go till the very last word. Murdoch’s language is lovely, her storytelling gripping.” —Carol Lynch Williams

“Searing . . . hurt my heart and will probably haunt my dreams – a beautiful book about survival, identity, family, love and so much more.” —Jenny Downham

The author:

Emily Murdoch @LeftyWritey

Visit her online at

If You Find Me comes out on March 26 from St. Martin’s Griffin! Pre-order or add to your shelf on Goodreads.

There you have it: The 2013 YA Anticipated Debuts for March. Stay tuned this month for more from the authors and chances to win these books!