Len Vlahos dropped out of NYU film school in the mid-eighties to play guitar and write songs, but after the band broke up he followed his other passion, books. He is the author of The Scar Boys, a William C. Morris Award finalist and a #1 Indie Next pick, and Scar Girl, the book’s sequel, as well as the darkly humorous and deeply moving Life in a Fishbowl – head here to learn more about the book, or to read our full interview with Len.
He also owns the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colorado, and told us about the YA books he loves to recommend to teens:
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon — A pitch-perfect, beautifully written love story between a Jamaican girl, on the day her family is being deported, and a Korean-American boy.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof — Another beautiful love story, this one set in space. It’s an adventure, it has sentient AI, and it has the most fascinating book design…ever. Must be read in print, and better in hardcover.
Winger by Andrew Smith — Laugh out loud and very touching coming of age story about a rugby-playing boy at a sleep away prep school.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – An honest and difficult look at police treatment of African American men in the U.S. If ever a book was a conversation starter, it was this one.
The Bombs that Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan — Two teens in a fictional war-torn country; one a local who is caught up in the war, the other a refuge who battles bigotry and violence. This is Kurt Vonnegut meets City of Thieves.
Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas — I listened to the audiobook of this one, and I’m not sure how to describe it. On the face of it, it’s two teen pen pals separated by an ocean, each with unusual disabilities. But that doesn’t do it justice. It’s part X-MEN prequel, part love story, and really a story about triumph over adversity. Love it.
Honorable mentions — Noggin by John Corey Whaley, When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson; Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff; and Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely.