The Bluford Series
|Author||Ben Alirez |
Karyn Langhorne Folan
edited by Paul Langan
|Original title||Bluford High Series|
|Genre||Young adult, teen fiction|
|Published||2002–2015 (more titles forthcoming)|
|No. of books||21|
The Bluford Series is a widely read collection of contemporary American young adult novels set in the fictional inner-city high school of Bluford High in Southern California. The series was created and published by Townsend Press and is co-distributed by Scholastic. As part of an effort to promote reading in underfunded school districts, Townsend Press originally made the Bluford Series available to schools for a dollar each. As of 2016, about 11 million Bluford Series novels were in print.
The Bluford Series is set in Bluford High School, the fictional school all the main characters attend. Each novel features a teenage protagonist facing difficult challenges in and out of school. Topics explored in the books include bullying, school violence, teenage pregnancy, divorce, peer pressure, and substance abuse. Despite these gritty topics, the Bluford Series has been praised widely for its engaging stories and responsible handling of difficult subject matter, earning positive reviews in Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. While each novel in the Bluford Series can be read independently, the books are interconnected and represent a span of about 2 years at Bluford high.
Reception for The Bluford Series has been positive, with the ALA picking many of the books in the series as "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers."  The ALA also selected Bluford titles as "Popular Paperbacks". Educators in many states, including Florida and New York, have noted that the series has been well received by their student population.
Of Brothers in Arms (Bluford Series #9), the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy wrote that the book's themes were applicable to struggling teens." Kirkus Reviews called Survivor (Bluford Series #20), "a brave young-adult novel" and said the Bluford Series "offers unflinchingly honest plot situations to engage and educate readers." Similarly, School Library Journal called Promises to Keep (Bluford Series # 19), "compassionate, insightful, and educational, along with being action-packed, realistic, and emotionally and psychologically accurate." Favorable reviews for many Bluford titles can be found in Kirkus Reviews. In addition, The Horn Book singled out the Bluford Series as "perennially popular among urban teens" and listed three Bluford titles as "Good YA Urban Novels."
Facts About The Bluford Series
- Survivor was selected by the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) as a 2014 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. It was also chosen as a "Top 10" for 2014 by In the Margins, a publication that seeks books suited to the interests and challenges of marginalized teens.
- Search for Safety was selected by the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) as a 2013 Popular Paperback.
- The Bluford Series was part of a 15-week study on the effectiveness of young adult literature as a therapeutic approach to students with emotional and behavioral disorders. This study was published in the April 2012 edition of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and showed the Bluford Series to be a powerful catalyst to help students learn constructive behaviors in and out of the classroom. Full citation: Verden, C. E. (2012), Reading Culturally Relevant Literature Aloud to Urban Youths With Behavioral Challenges. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55: 619–628. doi: 10.1002/JAAL.00073
- Breaking Point, The Test and Pretty Ugly were selected by the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) as 2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
- The Gun (published by Scholastic as "Payback") was chosen by the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) as a 2012 Popular Paperback.
- No Way Out and Schooled were selected by the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) as 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
- Blood Is Thicker was selected by Mayor Daley’s Book Club for a citywide reading initiative in Chicago in 2009.
- The Bully has been chosen by districts in multiple states for school-wide reading programs. It is also featured in Books That Don't Bore 'Em by James Blasingame, associate professor of English at Arizona State University and a former editor of The ALAN Review. Blasingame currently edits the "Books for Adolescents" pages of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.
- In 2009 and 2010, Accelerated Reader listed the first 15 titles of the Bluford Series in the “top 40” books for both middle and high school struggling readers.
- Over 43,000 reviews for Bluford Series titles are available now on Goodreads.
- More than 10 million Bluford novels are in print as of 2015.
- The Bluford Series has been credited with helping to popularize "Street Literature" as a genre for young adults. While the Bluford Series lacks some of the explicit content found in adult "Street Lit," its focus on urban life and the challenges of inner city teens has earned it a mention in Dr. Vanessa Irwin Morris's The Readers' Guide to Street Literature and on the website, http://www.streetliterature.com.
|1||Lost and Found||2002||Anne Schraff||Darcy Wills is the main protagonist in the first book in the series.|
|2||A Matter of Trust||2002||Anne Schraff||This is a sequel to Lost and Found.|
|3||Secrets in the Shadows||2002||Anne Schraff||Features Roylin Bailey, who first appeared in A Matter of Trust.|
|4||Someone to Love Me||2002||Anne Schraff||Features Cindy Gibson from "Lost and Found".|
|5||The Bully||2002||Paul Langan||Introduces the characters Tyray Hobbs and Darrell Mercer.|
|6||The Gun/Payback||2002||Paul Langan||The sequel to The Bully, this book is about Tyray Hobbs and Darrell Mercer.|
|7||Until We Meet Again||2002||Anne Schraff||Sequel to A Matter of Trust with Darcy Wills and Hakeem Randall.|
|8||Blood is Thicker||2004||Paul Langan and D.M. Blackwell||Sequel to Until We Meet Again, featuring Hakeem Randall after his move to Detroit.|
|9||Brothers in Arms||2004||Paul Langan and Ben Alirez||Features Martin Luna, a student.|
|10||Summer of Secrets||2004||Paul Langan||Sequel to Until We Meet Again, with Darcy Wills.|
|11||The Fallen||2007||Paul Langan||Sequel to Brothers in Arms, with Martin Luna.|
|12||Shattered||2007||Paul Langan||Sequel to Summer of Secrets, featuring Darcy Wills.|
|13||Search for Safety||2007||John Langan||Search for Safety introduces Ben McKee.|
|14||No Way Out||2009||Peggy Kern||No Way Out features Harold Davis from The Bully, Someone to Love Me, The Gun/Payback, and Search For Safety.|
|15||Schooled||2009||Paul Langan||In this book, Lionel Shepard, a freshman, is introduced.|
|16||Breaking Point||2011||Karyn Langhorne Folan and Paul Langan||Breaking Point features Vicky Fallon, who was also in Brothers in Arms and The Fallen.|
|17||The Test||2011||Peggy Kern||The book features Liselle Mason, who appeared in Until We Meet Again.|
|18||Pretty Ugly||2011||Karyn Langhorne Folan||This book follows Jamee Wills the little sister of Darcy Wills, who has appeared in many titles including Lost and Found, A Matter of Trust, Someone To Love Me, The Bully, The Gun/Payback, Until We Meet Again, Summer of Secrets, Shattered, "Search For Safety", Schooled, and The Test.|
|19||Promises to Keep||2013||Paul Langan||This book follows Tyray Hobbs, a sequel to The Gun/Payback.|
|20||Survivor||2013||Paul Langan||This book follows Tarah Carson, a character who has appeared in many Bluford novels like Lost and Found, A Matter Of Trust, Secrets in the Shadows, Until We Meet Again, Blood is Thicker, Summer of Secrets, Shattered and Pretty Ugly.|
|21||Girls Like Me||2016||Tanya Savory||This book explores the backstory of Angel McAllister, a character who first appears in Pretty Ugly.|
Reading order of the series
The Darcy Wills and Classmates Sequence:
- Lost and Found (Darcy Wills-sophomore-October)
- A Matter of Trust (Darcy Wills-sophomore)
- Secrets in the Shadows (Roylin Bailey-sophomore)
- Until We Meet Again (Darcy Wills-sophomore-June)
- Blood Is Thicker (Hakeem Randall-Darcy's boyfriend-June)
- Summer of Secrets (Darcy Wills-July)
- Survivor (Tarah Carson-August)
- Shattered (Darcy Wills-junior-September)
The Martin Luna Sequence:
- Brothers in Arms (Martin Luna-sophomore-July–September)
- The Fallen (Martin Luna-sophomore-October)
- Breaking Point (Vicky Fallon-Martin's new girlfriend-sophomore October)
The Jamee Wills and Classmates Sequence:
- Girls Like Me (Angel McAllister-eight grade-June)
- Pretty Ugly (Jamee Wills-freshmen-September)
- Schooled (Lionel Shepard-freshmen-October)
- Someone to Love Me (Cindy Gibson-freshmen-October)
- The Bully (Darrell Mercer-new freshmen-November to January)
- The Gun (Payback) (Tyray Hobbs-freshmen)
- Promises to Keep (Tyray Hobbs-freshmen-)
- No Way Out (Harold Davis-freshmen-March)
- Search for Safety (Ben McKee-new sophomore-August and September)
- The Test (Liselle Mason-January)
- Allen, C. Ron. NOVEL IDEA: PROGRAM GIVES STUDENTS AN INCENTIVE TO READ South Florida Sun – Sentinel. Nov 17, 2004
- How a book club for reluctant readers proved the naysayers wrong. School Library Journal
- Grades 5 & Up Archived 2012-05-27 at the Wayback Machine School Library Journal
- 2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers ALA
- 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers ALA
- 2012 Popular Paperback ALA
- Mobley, Amber. Book series creates reading craze Tampa Bay Times. April 16, 2007 Archived September 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- Behind Books for Urban Students, an Unlikely Author New York Times
- Blasingame, James. "Reviews-Books for Adolescents." Journal of Adolescents & Adult Literacy. December 2004. p. 4
- MultiCultural review. Volume 16, Issues 1–4. GP Subscription Publications, 2007.
- A Washington Post listing of recommended summer reading for teens from June 2, 2015.
- Bluford Audiobooks
- Brief description of the books in the Bluford Series
- Publisher's website
- A New York Times article from March 29, 2011
- A review of a Bluford novel from Kirkus Reviews
- A review from School Library Journal from May 13, 2013
- A Horn Book article from October 24, 2013
- An article from School Library Journal on February 19, 2014 mentioning that Survivor was chosen as a 2014 Top 10 for teens "living in the margins."