I’m a sucker for journalism about teens’ lives; whether it’s photo essays like Adrienne Salinger’s In My Room: teenagers in their bedrooms, interviews like Sydney Lewis’s A Totally Alien Life Form: Teenagers, or books like Brooke Hauser’s, which tell teens’ stories in the context of an institution that’s shaping their lives — in this case, The International High School in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
New Kids grew out of an article Hauser wrote for the New York Times in 2008, “This Strange Thing Called Prom,” about how students at the International High School — many of whom had no idea what a prom was or why they might want to attend — planned one. You’ll find out more about the prom in the book. You’ll also learn more of the individual stories of several students — how they arrived at the school, what their lives are like outside it, how the school staff supports them, and the limits of that support.
School stories in YA often take place in particularly privileged settings — fancy boarding schools in contemporary realistic (for some) novels, equally fancy schools of magic in fantasy. I’d like to see more stories set in schools like the International High School.