Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

On this day in 1847, the town of Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco, to bring it in line with what everyone was calling it. In honor of this, today we feature books that take place in that fabled city.


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Everything in Lola's life comes crashing down when the Bell twins move back next door. Lola and Cricket may or may not have had a thing before they left, and Lola's moved on. Or so she thought. When her birth mother shows up on her doorstep and moves in with Lola and her dads, things get that much more complicated.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman. Jade Moon is a girl that no one wants, too willful, too stubborn, too outspoken. in 1923, she travels to America, which she thinks is a new chance, but ends up detained on Angel Island where she discovers the truth. She up disguising herself as a boy, escapes the island, and ends up working for a Chinatown gang.

Love and Haight by Susan Carlton. In 1971, best friends Chloe and MJ go off to San Francisco for New Year's Eve, but Chloe is secretly pregnant and wants to terminate it. California and New York are the only places to do so legally, but it's still not easy--emotionally, mentally, or logistically.

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. Originally a newspaper serial, this adult novel chronicles the lives or the residents of one kooky apartment building in the 1970s. Part love letter and part satire, it's the first in a long running series and a favorite of mine as a teen. Follow it with More Tales of the City.


Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. When hacker Marcus is caught near the site of a terrorist attack, he and his friends are swept into the shady world of DHS interrogations. When they're finally released, San Francisco is a police state, so Marcus and his friends are going to take DHS down.

family by Micol Ostow. Told in verse and loosely based on the Manson family, Ostow offers a chilling tale of Melinda, an abused girl who runs away to San Francisco. Once there, she meets Henry, who offers her a family that shares everything. Mel has finally found a place to belong, if only she goes along with everything they do.

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs. Three girls with different lives are haunted by monsters. When they meet, they're shocked to discover that they're triplets, and descendants of Medusa, and are destined to fight monsters to keep the streets of San Francisco face. The action really picks up Sweet Shadows.

Miss Fortune Cookie by Laura Bjorkman. Erin is a white girl born in China, and now living in San Francisco's Chinatown. She's also the anonymous voice behind the advice blog, Miss Fortune Cookie. When she gets a letter from her ex-best friend, she sees an opportunity to fix their broken relationship, but her advice just makes things worse.


Fresh Off the Boat by Melissa de la Cruz. Vicenza Arambullo and her family have recently immigrated from Manila to San Francisco. In the Philippines, they were rich, and now they're struggling. Vicenza has a scholarship to an elite girls school. She has to navigate a new culture, boys, mean girls, and teenage life.

Earth Shook, the Sky Burned, the ; 100th Anniversary Edition: A Photographic Record of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire by William Bronson. Sadly out of print, this is a book well worth tracking down. This is a beautiful and moving photographic chronicle of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Published for adults, I spent countless hours pouring over this as a teen.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. The recession causes Clay to lose his web job and he ends up at a bookstore where the few customers they have never seem to buy anything. Clay realizes something fishy is going on, and starts to investigate and is thrust in a world of secret societies. Published for adults, this was one of this year's Alex winners.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Told in interlocking short stories, Tan follows four Chinese women and their American-born daughters. Spanning time and continents, it's a look at multiple mother/daughter relationships and immigrant experiences. A modern classic, it was a teen favorite of mine.

What are your favorite books that take place in San Francisco?

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