Ravenna Koenig

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald grew up on Vashon Island in Washington State. It's a small town of about 10,000 people — many of whom commute by ferry to jobs in nearby Seattle. It's green, it's beautiful, it's the kind of place where you can't walk into the grocery store without seeing someone you know.

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald says that when she lived there, a lot of the families were farming families, including hers. Her high school experience was pretty typical, until one Sunday in 1941.

Canadian singer-songwriter Simone Schmidt, who performs under the name Fiver, undertook an ambitious project with her latest album. Audible Songs From Rockwood is Schmidt's way of telling the stories of real people committed to Rockwood Asylum, a 19th-century institution near what's now Kingston, Ontario.

It's a pivotal moment in any young person's life — that point at which you turn from the home you've known all your life, breathe in deeply and leap into the vast unknown of the world beyond.

It's a moment that young adult authors know well, and not just because they write for these young readers. They've experienced it themselves, and they've come out the other side, pen in hand.