Amy Chen is a youth librarian at a detention center, and she has a great column at the Rumpus today about what books incarcerated young people are reading: biography and autobiography, mostly, as well as popular African American teen fiction, because these predominantly African American and Latino kids want to read about people like themselves. (They'd be reading Latino teen fiction too, if there was much of it, Chen says.)
"With over 70,000 youth in lockdown across the country, books of interest to this population and those that care about them—which should be all of us—are extremely important," she writes.
She goes on to singles out three new(ish) titles of potential interest to "those of who live on or are interested in the margins and the marginalized," the first of which is by Portlander Jerry McGill.
When McGill was 13, he was shot in the back and paralyzed; he didn't see or know who shot him, and the shooter was never caught. He tells his his life in the epistolary memoir Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me. The book—originally self-published, and then picked up by Spiegel & Grau—got a great review from the brilliant Lorrie Moore in the New York Review of Books, but I gotta imagine having it recommended by a librarian who serves poor kids in prisons must feel pretty good too.