So, look who's chiming in two months on. Sorry for the delay, but now that I'm caught up, I'll just comment on a couple of things that have long since been addressed.
Part Time Indian
The most striking thing to me about Part Time Indian, what kept running through my mind as I knew I was reading it by the suggestion of this group specifically, was the role that sports played in this book. Remember the discovery and discussion we had years ago on the artistic outlet of all YA protagonists? Was it device or coincidence or both?
Well, I've always taken issue with the villification of sports in YA books, (which is one reason that I was so pleased with Tangerine, as a matter of fact.) I was particularly encouraged then to see it used more symbolically/realistically/therapeutically in Part Time Indian. Then to see Alexie make reference to Tangerine later in the book - well, it was refreshing.
Was I reading YA books when I was YA?
My response to this mirrors Leo's almost exactly - the hating to read things for school at that age and choosing to read Stephen King and such, instead. (I think it was my form of rebellion, so in some weird way I was motivated to read, if only to show that I was "too grown up" for what they were feeding us in high school.) The books to which I was introduced in junior high school were GREAT, but then the high school list came, and I definitely thought I was ready for more.
I'm sure that this was a reflection of the era, as well. Being a teenager in the 80's, the YA books were few and far between and, (as the person who mentioned the mud room placement of her local YA books,) physically marginalized, as well, in the libraries and bookstores where I lived.
I definitely think that the recent and current boom in YA publishing, though, is totally market-driven. There is certainly more readership, now, as well as the tactic to cross-publish/cross-market, creating and maintaining awareness and insistence on the genre. I also think that the content itself is more accessible and familiar than what was out 15 or twenty years ago.