Teen Guide to the Bay Area Book Festival

The Bay Area is teeming with readers, writers, creators, and thinkers. We have harnessed the power of this community to create one of the premier literary festivals in the world. The Bay Area Book Festival is a two-day event complete with literary sessions presenting top authors from this region, the nation, and the world, along with an outdoor fair with hundreds of literary exhibitors. They also offer events for teens and a mini film festival — a series of ten films on literature — with BAMPFA. Downtown Berkeley will be transform into a vibrant literary utopia where readers of all ages and interests can find kindred spirits.

Teen Events Saturday, April 28

Life as We Know It: Realistic Young Adult Fiction, 11:45am-1pm, Jesse Andrews, Alexandra Ballard, Annie Barrows, Maurene Goo, Krystal Sutherland, Berkeley City College - Auditorium

Readers of all ages can see themselves in YA characters who face real-life questions about budding love, friendships, powerlessness, and the process of finding one’s place in the world. What do these YA characters have to teach readers about themselves? Join Jesse Andrews, author of “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl”; Alexandra Ballard, who masterfully depicts one girl’s struggle with an eating disorder in her new book “What I Lost”; Annie Barrows, author of the new novel “Nothing,” which proves that every life is a story worth telling; Maurene Goo, who presents a “richly-drawn portrait of multicultural LA” in her new novel “The Way You Make Me Feel”; and Krystal Sutherland, whose “bewitching” new book addresses mental illness in a fresh, honest way. (Remember, anyone under age 18 is let in free—no wristbands necessary!)

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Nina LaCour Up Close and Personal, 1:30-2:45pm, The Marsh - Theater

Nina LaCour’s characters look a lot like her readers. The characters are easy for readers to relate to: living in worlds readers recognize, suffering the same kinds of uncertainties, experiencing the same sorts of tiny life-changing moments. LaCour has devoted her life to young adults: first as a teacher, then as a writer. Her new novel, “We Are Okay,” follows a college-aged girl as she deals with trauma, isolation, coping, and change. It was called “a moving portrait of a girl struggling to rebound after everything she’s known has been thrown into disarray” by Publisher’s Weekly and was named the best book of the year written for teens, winning the Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, a leading award for teen fiction. (Remember, anyone under age 18 is let in free—no wristbands necessary!)

Melissa de la Cruz Writes It All: History, Fantasy, Modern Life, 3:15-4:30pm, Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Melissa de la Cruz never met a genre she didn’t like. The versatile author (with a penchant for villains) has written more than 45 chart-topping books—from the historical love story of Alex and Eliza (Hamilton, that is) to the fantastical prequel to the Disney Channel movie “The Descendants.” Her books have graced the charts of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times, and now she graces our stage. Come learn from this Jack of all Trades as she talks the challenges of risky writing and how she finds her groove.


Teen Events Saturday, April 29

What Makes a Family? Nidhi Chanani, Chris Crutcher, Abdi Nazemian, Mitali Perkins, 11:45am-1pm, Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

There are those with whom we share blood and childhoods, and those we choose as adults: These are the beautiful, sometimes ill-fitting puzzle pieces that make up a family. These panelists discuss what makes a family (and what makes a family difficult to write): Nidhi Chanani, graphic novelist who delves into the immigrant experience; Chris Crutcher, novelist and family therapist; Abdi Nazemian, whose newest novel raises the question of personal identity and unknown heritage; and Mitali Perkins, who tells multigenerational stories of family and the Indian-American identity. (Remember, anyone under age 18 is let in free—no wristbands necessary!)

Writing the Truth: Fiction and Non-Fiction, Dashka Slater, Anne Nesbet, Sara Saedi, 1:30-2:45pm, Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Boiler Room

Young readers have an intense curiosity about the world, and sophisticated books based on real-life events can help them navigate the complexities they find. The authors on this panel will discuss how they incorporate difficult real events into their books while keeping them enjoyable for young readers. Slater, who has written several children’s books, has a new nonfiction book geared toward young adults that deals with the burning of a cross-dressed teenager on an Oakland bus. Nesbet’s historical fiction follows an 11-year-old orphan in 1941 America. Saedi presents her true story of her family’s undocumented history (Remember, anyone under age 18 is let in free—no wristbands necessary!)

A Free Trip to Another World: Fantasy in Young Adult Literature, Shea Ernshaw, Lexa Hillyer, Anna-Marie McLemore, Laura Sebastian, Leslye Walton, 1:30-3pm, Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

It’s a popular sentiment, wanting to escape the drudgery of everyday life in favor of new worlds—worlds where fairy tales take on new life, where gardens and witches have the power to enchant people, where young princesses and budding witches seek to find their place. You won’t want to miss these authors as they discuss the intricate worlds they’ve built and where they find the inspiration for the fantastical in this world. Hear from bewitching novelist Shea Ernshaw, Founder and President of Publishing at Glasstown Entertainment Lexa Hillyer, magical realist author Anna-Marie McLemore (who incorporates multicultural magic into her literary worlds), debut fantasy writer Laura Sebastian, and best-selling author Leslye Walton. (Remember, anyone under age 18 is let in free—no wristbands necessary!)

The Empire and the Resistance of Sabaa Tahir, 3:30-4:45pm, Hotel Shattuck Plaza - Crystal Ballroom

Here’s one reason why young adults today are so outspoken: They’ve been exposed to powerful political heroes since a young age—via their fiction. Pakistani-American young adult fiction writer Sabaa Tahir’s characters, no older than their teen readers, face despotism, oppression, and daily threats to their lives. In the face of the ruthless Martial Empire, our heroes risk everything to resist. These young heroes show us what’s right, what’s possible, and what sorts of governance need not be tolerated. (Remember, anyone under age 18 is let in free—no wristbands necessary!)