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Find more Best Fiction for Young Adults
The Best Fiction for Young Adults list is compiled annually by a committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and comprises fiction appropriate for ages 12 to 18. All titles were published in 2020 unless otherwise noted. The committee’s top 10 choices are identified with an asterisk (*).
Agnes at the End of the World. By Kelly McWilliams. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316487337).
White eldest daughter Agnes has always been a faithful, obedient follower of the Prophet, but when her diabetic brother’s life is at stake, she is forced to leave home, only to discover the world outside is battling a deadly plague. A 2021 Batchelder Honor Book.
All These Monsters. By Amy Tintera. HMH, $17.99 (9780358012405).
Clara (white, 17) flees her abusive father to join a cadre of monster-hunters fronted by a Kardashian-like celebrity. There she finds friends, empowerment and training, romance, and a better sense of self, all while fighting off freakish monsters.
All-American Muslim Girl. By Nadine Jolie Courtney. 2019. Farrar, $17.99 (9780374309527).
After her Circassian Muslim father endures a racist interaction on an airplane, white-passing Allie decides to dig deeper into her faith and background and to embrace her culture.
Ashlords. By Scott Reintgen. Crown, $17.99 (9780593119174).
Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa each have their own reason for wanting to win the The Races—personal vindication, triggering a revolution, or setting up a new, desperately wished-for life. The three riders will be pitted against one another, the other riders, and the elements in the fight of their lives.
*Be Not Far from Me. By Mindy McGinnis. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062561626).
Ashley Hawkins (white, 17) has spent a lot of time learning survival skills, but they may not be enough when she takes off on her own during a camping trip and suffers a nasty fall that leaves her alone with a broken foot and nothing but the clothes on her back. A 2021 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
Before the Ever After. By Jacqueline Woodson. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780399545436).
ZJ’s pro-football-player dad is everyone’s hero. But ZJ’s reality is different; his dad has become forgetful and grumpy due to multiple concussions sustained while playing. Can his dad remember the good days, much less get back to them? The 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award winner and a 2021 Notable Children’s Book.
The Black Flamingo. By Dean Atta. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $18.99 (9780062990297).
A Greek Jamaican gay teen living with a single working mother in London, Michael is an outsider in his own life. But when he goes to university, Michael discovers the Drag Society. Reborn as “The Black Flamingo,” Michael has the chance to showcase all the unique aspects of his identity.
Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard. By Echo Brown. Holt, $17.99 (9781250309853).
In this novel based on the author’s life and brimming with magic realism, Brown takes readers through her journey with depression and introduces the coping skills she developed to survive as a Black girl in America. A 2021 Morris Award finalist.
The Black Kids. By Christina Hammonds Reed. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (9781534462724).
In 1992 Los Angeles, wealthy Black teen Ashley is barely aware of the ongoing Rodney King trial. But when the cops involved are acquitted and riots rock her city, Ashley is forced to rethink everything she thought she knew (or could ignore or tolerate) about race, privilege, and protection. A 2021 Morris Award finalist.
Blood Moon. By Lucy Cuthew. Candlewick, $18.99 (9781536215038).
Astronomy buff Frankie has her first intimate encounter with her crush Benjamin (both white)—and gets her period. They agree that it’s only blood, but then a cruel meme goes viral, and what was a tender experience becomes a sordid joke. As the online shaming intensifies, who can Frankie trust?
Break the Fall. By Jennifer Iacopelli. Razorbill, $17.99 (9780593114179).
A comeback success, Audrey Lee is on the cusp of making the Olympic gymnastics team when scandal breaks, tearing the team apart. Now training with a new coach mere weeks before competition, Rey and her teammates must stay focused while in a pre-Olympics media whirlwind.
Burn Our Bodies Down. By Rory Power. Delacorte, $18.99 (9780525645627).
When Margot discovers the grandmother her mother has kept hidden from her, she runs away in search of the one thing she wants most—a family. But things are not as they seem at Fairhaven Farm, and now that Margot has found her family, she may never be able to leave.
Call Down the Hawk. By Maggie Stiefvater. 2019. Scholastic, $19.99 (9781338188325).
Ronan Lynch and Jordan Hennessy are dreamers, having the unique ability to pull objects from their dreams into reality. When a prophecy reveals that a dreamer will cause the apocalypse, government agents begin to hunt dreamers like Ronan and Jordan in order to stop it.
*Cemetery Boys. By Aiden Thomas. Feiwel and Friends/Swoon Reads, $17.99 (9781250250469).
When trans teen Yadriel accidentally summons the wrong ghost while trying to prove to his family that he is a real brujo, he must find a way to help Julian get what he wants so he can release him to the afterlife. A 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Teens.
Charming as a Verb. By Ben Philippe. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $18.99 (9780062824141).
Charming and popular Henri Haltiwanger has a smile that can dazzle anyone. But when fellow classmate Corinne Troy blackmails him into helping her increase her social standing at school, Henri may lose everything he has been working toward.
*Clap When You Land. By Elizabeth Acevedo. HarperTeen, $18.99 (9780062882769).
Camino Rios waits at the airport for a flight that never arrives, while Yahaira Rios finds out that her father has died in a plane crash. Little do these girls know, they are sisters sharing a father who lived a double life with families in both the Bronx and the Dominican Republic. A 2021 Rise: A Feminist Book Project Top 10.
The Cousins. By Karen M. McManus. Delacorte, $19.99 (9780525708001).
Cousins Aubrey, Jonah, and Milly have never met the reclusive grandmother who disinherited their parents. Now they’ve been invited to work at Gran’s Gull Cove Island resort. Secrets start to spill, and the cousins’ attempts to solve the mystery of their grandmother may lead them into grave danger.
Darius the Great Deserves Better. By Adib Khorram. Dial, $17.99 (9780593108239).
Things have been better since Darius’ family trip to Iran. He has a best friend—halfway across the world. He has friends and teammates—and a bully. Darius even has a boyfriend—and a lot of confused feelings for classmate Chip. Things are better, but is “better” really good enough? A 2021 Stonewall Honor Book.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. By Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite. 2019. Harlequin/Inkyard, $18.99 (9781335777096).
The Haitian equivalent of political royalty, Alaine Beauparlant has a life that is not what it seems. After acting out in class in the States over an assignment about family history, she is suspended and sent to Haiti to stay with family, which is an education in itself.
Dear Justyce. By Nic Stone. Crown, $21.99 (9781984829672).
After a cop is shot and killed, Quan is grilled into making a false confession and sent to prison. Quan is no snitch, but maybe his childhood friend and college prelaw student Justyce is his way back to freedom.
*Deeplight. By Frances Hardinge. Abrams/Amulet, $19.99 (9781419743207).
The gods are gone, but pieces of them remain. When Hark finds the still-beating heart of a dead god, he uses it to save his friend Jelt’s life. As Jelt slowly transforms into a monstrous version of himself, Hark must decide if the consequences are worth it.
Don’t Read the Comments. By Eric Smith. Harlequin/Inkyard, $18.99 (9781335016027).
Divya has a small but faithful cadre of followers who game with her on Reclaim the Sun. But when she gets heat for being a girl gamer, even being doxed in real life, she must decide if and how to fight back.
Early Departures. By Justin A. Reynolds. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062748409).
When Jamal’s estranged best friend, Quincy, dies and then is temporarily reanimated, Jamal sets out to make things right between them and help Quincy live his last days to the fullest.
Elatsoe. By Darcie Little Badger. Illus. by Rovina Cai. Levine Querido, $18.99 (9781646140053).
In an alternative modern world filled with ghosts, vampires, and fairy rings, Lipan Apache teen Elatsoe “Ellie” Bride, faithfully accompanied by her ghost dog, Kirby, must use the powerful legends of her sixth-great-grandmother and her own paranormal investigative skills to solve the murder of her beloved cousin. A 2021 Notable Children’s Book and a 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Teens.
The Enigma Game. By Elizabeth Wein. Little, Brown, $18.99 (9781368012584).
Fifteen-year-old Louisa, a Jamaican orphan, gets embroiled in a dangerous game of espionage when she finds a German code device, known as the Enigma machine, smuggled into Scotland by a German pilot.
Fable. By Adrienne Young. St. Martin’s/Wednesday, $18.99 (9781250254368).
After Fable’s parents’ ship sinks, her father abandons her on an island of ruthless traders and fishermen. She must find a way off the island and travel across the Narrows to prove to her father and herself that she has what it takes to survive.
The Faithless Hawk. By Margaret Owen. Holt, $18.99 (9781250191946).
Fie, the new Crow Chieftain, knows that it’s a long road before Prince Jasimir is crowned king and doesn’t expect him to keep his promise to protect the Crows. Meanwhile, as Queen Rhusana makes her move for the throne, things are more dangerous than ever for Fie and her people.
The Falling in Love Montage. By Ciara Smyth. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062957115).
Saoirse won’t risk falling in love, not with her dad’s remarriage and her mom’s early-onset dementia. But now she’s bent her rule for Ruby and a rom-com cliché–filled summer fling with no strings attached. Will Saoirse end up with a broken heart or a happy ending?
Felix Ever After. By Kacen Callender. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $18.99 (9780062820259).
In the aftermath of a transphobic attack by an anonymous bully, Black queer trans Felix must redefine his relationships with friends, family, enemies, and most importantly, himself. A 2021 Stonewall Honor Book.
Furia. By Yamile Saied Méndez. Algonquin, $17.95 (9781616209919).
“Furia” is 17-year-old Camila Hassan, an Argentinian teen whose dream of playing fútbol is hampered by a number of obstacles, including poverty, cultural opposition to girls playing sports, her abusive father (a former fútbol player himself), and even romance with the boy-next-door turned celeb footballer. The 2021 Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Award winner.
Ghost Wood Song. By Erica Waters. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062894229).
White bisexual Shady Grove inherited her father’s skill with the fiddle and his love for bluegrass, but that’s not all she inherited. When her brother Jesse gets arrested for murdering a man, Shady uses her fiddle to raise the dead in hopes of clearing her brother’s name.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn. By Melissa Bashardoust. Flatiron, $18.99 (9781250196149).
The princess Soraya has spent her life hidden away because her skin is poisonous to the touch. After betraying her family, she must find a way to save them from the terrible demon who has taken control of the kingdom.
Girl, Unframed. By Deb Caletti. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $18.99 (9781534426979).
Sydney (white, 16) learns the hard way what it’s like to be a girl in a man’s world while spending the summer with her celebrity mother and her mother’s controlling new boyfriend in a situation that spins dangerously out of control.
Girls Save the World in This One. By Ash Parsons. Philomel, $17.99 (9780525515326).
Fangirl June and her besties Imani and Siggy will let nothing stand in the way of a good time at ZombieCon—not the end of high school, not ex-BFF Blair, not overly enthusiastic cosplayers, not even—wait a minute!—the real, actual zombie apocalypse itself!
Golden Arm. By Carl Deuker. HMH, $17.99 (9780358012429).
Lazarus “Laz” Weathers’ greatest dream is to pitch for the major leagues. An affluent, white school on the other side of town offers him a chance to be seen by scouts, but it may mean leaving behind his family and friends. A 2021 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
*Grown. By Tiffany D. Jackson. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062840356).
Enchanted feels like she is in a dream when big star Korey Fields mentors her singing career, but the dream quickly turns into an obsessive, violent nightmare.
He Must Like You. By Danielle Younge-Ullman. Viking, $18.99 (9781984835710).
White high-school waitress Libby has had a rough year. Her brother absconded with his college money, her volatile dad plans to kick her out after graduation, and she’s confused about a hookup with a coworker, but it gets worse when she publicly insults a handsy but important customer.
The Henna Wars. By Adiba Jaigirdar. Page Street, $17.99 (9781624149689).
When Nishat enters a class business competition as a henna artist, someone attempts to sabotage her by outing her as a lesbian in a school-wide text. Things become even more complicated when she discovers another henna business is being run by her crush and her sworn enemy.
Here the Whole Time. By Vitor Martins. Tr. by Larissa Helena. Scholastic, $18.99 (9781338620825).
Awkward, insecure, and fat, Brazilian teen Felipe pins all his hopes on school break to forget his problems. But Felipe’s neighbor and childhood crush, Caio, will be staying with him. Felipe can’t relax now, when all his anxieties and body issues are on full display to charming, adorable, perfect Caio.
Horrid. By Katrina Leno. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316537247).
After Jane’s father dies, she and her mother must move from California to her mom’s childhood home in Maine. Jane can tell from the moment she arrives that there is something wrong with North Manor, and it isn’t just that roses are growing in the middle of a frozen fall.
The How and the Why. By Cynthia Hand. 2019. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062693167).
Adopted, white, 18-year-old Cass struggles with searching for her biological parents. Eighteen years earlier, a pregnant teen named S writes her unborn baby a series of letters. Their stories intersect as Cass looks for answers and S explains her how and why.
I’ll Be the One. By Lyla Lee. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062936929).
Skye Shin has been told her whole life that fat girls can’t dance. But when she competes in an international K-Pop television competition, Skye is determined to slay the competition with her talent and confidence and win the hearts of all the haters. A 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Teens.
The Inheritance Games. By Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9781368052405).
When broke, white teen Avery suddenly inherits billions from a complete stranger, she’s shocked and immediately thrust into the world of the wealthy Hawthorne family. Now Avery must contend with furious disinherited heirs (including four hot grandsons) and a mansion full of games, codes, and deadly secrets.
Kent State. By Deborah Wiles. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338356281).
Told in multiple perspectives, through sparse free-verse poetry, Wiles’ novel explores the events that led to the 1970 Kent State massacre. Haunting and compelling, this work invites readers to connect to the different voices involved and mourn the victims of this tragedy.
King and the Dragonflies. By Kacen Callender. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338129335).
King is full of grief. First, his brother Khalid overheard King’s friend Sandy confide a secret and pushed King to end the friendship. Then, Khalid unexpectedly dies, and King is left trying to cope with the loss and the realization that he has the same secret as Sandy. A 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, a 2021 Notable Children’s Book, and a 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Younger Readers.
Kingdom of Souls. By Rena Barron. 2019. HarperTeen, $18.99 (9780062870971).
Dark, dangerous Black girl magic abounds in this fantasy inspired by voodoo and West African folktales that embodies the old adage “be careful what you wish for,” as Arrah, the non-magical daughter of powerful witch doctors, trades years of her own life for magic to save her kingdom.
The Last True Poets of the Sea. By Julia Drake. 2019. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9781368048088).
In this novel loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, white, free-spirited Violet is sent to live with her uncle Toby in Lyric, Maine, after her brother, Sam, is hospitalized after a suicide attempt. Once there, Violet develops new friendships while searching for the lost shipwreck that her great-great-great-grandmother mysteriously survived.
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London. By Garth Nix. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $19.99 (9780062683250).
In an alternative 1983, Susan Arkshaw arrives in London hoping to find the father she’s never met and instead finds herself in a weird London underworld where magical booksellers are tasked with policing the mythical beings living among them.
Legendborn. By Tracy Deonn. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $18.99 (9781534441606).
After her mother’s death, Black 16-year-old Bree stumbles upon a secret society of the descendants of King Arthur’s knights. Now she must navigate a world of magic, demons, and long-dead kings to find answers about her mother and her lost family history. A 2021 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner.
The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly. By Jamie Pacton. Page Street, $17.99 (9781624149528).
White, impoverished Kit wants to be a knight at her medieval-themed workplace, but the outdated, sexist corporate policy has relegated her to “serving wench.” Kit must prove that gender inequality should stay in the medieval period—if she doesn’t get fired first.
Light It Up. By Kekla Magoon. 2019. Holt, $18.99 (9781250128898).
The community of Underhill—friends, neighbors, community activists, police officers, family members—reacts after an unarmed 13-year-old girl is shot and killed by police while walking home.
Lobizona. By Romina Garber. St. Martin’s/Wednesday, $18.99 (9781250239129).
Manu has never been able to truly exist in the world due to her undocumented status and her unusual, unforgettable eyes. After her mother is arrested by ICE, she unexpectedly uncovers the true history of her father’s Argentinian family and the magic she didn’t know she possessed.
The Loop. By Ben Oliver. Scholastic/Chicken House, $18.99 (9781338589306).
Luka expects to spend the rest of his life in the Loop, a juvenile prison run by artificial intelligence, but when a strange virus causes chaos outside, the prisoners must join together to survive against an unknown foe. A 2021 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre. By Robin Talley. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062409263).
Stage manager Melody McIntyre’s high-school theater is cursed. To appease her superstitious crew, she promises to stay single during the spring musical. But Mel didn’t expect to fall head over heels for the lead actress. And Mel didn’t expect the curse to be quite so real, either.
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know. By Samira Ahmed. Soho Teen, $18.99 (9781616959890).
Khayyam, an American French Indian Muslim on vacation in Paris, is being ghosted by her boyfriend and lost her shot at her dream school. When she meets Alexandre Dumas IV, she can’t resist the allure of the Dumas family letters and artwork and makes a discovery that may change everything.
Miss Meteor. By Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062869913).
Former BFFs Chicky and Lita reunite when Lita has a wild idea: despite being a curvy Latinx girl facing a history of skinny blonde winners, she’ll win the annual Miss Meteor beauty pageant. A 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Teens.
*More than Just a Pretty Face. By Syed M. Masood. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316492355).
Danyal is a pretty face but not much of a student. Then he gets a chance to be recognized academically at school and impress the girl of his dreams. But Bisma, the book-smart girl who helps him with his project, keeps edging into his heart.
My Calamity Jane. By Cynthia Hand and others. HarperTeen, $18.99 (9780062652812).
After receiving a bite during a fight with werewolves, Calamity Jane may be turning into the very creature she has been fighting for years in this hilarious alternative history from the authors of My Lady Jane.
The New David Espinoza. By Fred Aceves. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062489883).
After a humiliating video of David being bullied and slapped goes viral, he decides he will do anything he can to change his life. Although steroids and bodybuilding give him the physique he desires, the new David has just as many problems as the old one.
A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope. Ed. by Patrice Caldwell. Viking, $18.99 (9781984835659).
Sixteen beloved Black authors share spectacular fantasy and sf short stories, running the gamut from retold ancient folktales to accounts of the far future of human civilization. Complex, layered Black girls and gender nonconforming people are centered in each of the pieces.
Poisoned. By Jennifer Donnelly. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338268492).
In this feminist retelling of Snow White, things are not what they seem: a spider is a gentle chef, a charming prince may be a heartless opportunist, a wicked queen is a ruler trying to hold her own in a world dominated by men, and a princess tries to prove that kindness is not a weakness.
Punching the Air. By Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $19.99 (9780062996480).
Locked up, shut down, oppressed, and used by an unjust system that was designed to enslave him, wrongfully incarcerated Black teen Amal must find hope in the darkness and break free of the boxes that a biased society has forced him into. A 2021 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
*Raybearer. By Jordan Ifueko. Abrams/Amulet, $18.99 (9781419739828).
When Tarisai is chosen to be a member of the Crown Prince’s Council of Eleven, she must fight against the magical wish to which her mother, The Lady, has bound her: gain the prince’s trust and then kill him. A 2021 Notable Children’s Book.
Sanctuary. By Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher. Putnam, $17.99 (9781984815712).
In 2032, everyone has a chip embedded in their arm to track undocumented immigrants. Increasing governmental oppression and the ever-present danger of the capture of her family send Columbian Vali and her little brother on a dangerous cross-country journey to the new Sanctuary State of California.
The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep: Voices from the Donner Party. By Allan Wolf. Candlewick, $21.99 (9780763663247).
Based on true events, this novel in verse tells of the 80-person Donner Party, traveling west from Illinois. Narrated by Hunger as well as the adults and children of the party, this story gives readers an unforgettable rendering of a band of people struggling for their survival and their humanity.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. By Roseanne A. Brown. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $18.99 (9780062891495).
When Malik’s sister is taken by a wrathful spirit and Princess Karina’s mother is killed, Malik and Karina will stop at nothing to get them back. As their paths of destruction intersect and their attraction grows, they must dig deep to find what it takes to save the ones they love.
Super Fake Love Song. By David Yoon. Putnam, $18.99 (9781984812230).
Sunny Dae meets Cirrus, a new girl he really likes. Unfortunately, he meets her while “wearing” the persona of his older rocker brother, Gray. As things go better and better with Cirrus, he risks being uncovered as a fraud.
These Violent Delights. By Chloe Gong. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $19.99 (9781534457690).
Romeo and Juliet in 1926 Shanghai—with monsters! Juliette Cai and Roma Montagov are rival heirs to the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers, but they must work together to stop the madness overtaking their city.
They Went Left. By Monica Hesse. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316490573).
Zofia and her brother Abek are the only two family members to be sent to the right, to the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. All others go left, to the gas chambers. Now Zofia is searching for Abek in ruined Europe as she recovers physically and mentally. A 2021 Sydney Taylor Silver Medalist.
*This Is My America. By Kim Johnson. Random, $17.99 (9780593118764).
With the clock ticking on her father’s death-row sentence and her brother accused of killing a white classmate, Tracy has just 267 days to uncover the racist secrets of her small Texas town and prove her family’s innocence.
Three Things I Know Are True. By Betty Culley. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062908025).
After Liv’s brother Jonah accidentally shoots himself with his best friend’s father’s gun, he requires round-the-clock medical care to live. A hospital bed in the living room becomes their new normal as the family navigates grief and forgiveness.
Tigers, Not Daughters. By Samantha Mabry. Algonquin, $17.95 (9781616208967).
After Ana falls from her bedroom window and dies, the remaining four Torres sisters abandon their dream of escaping their controlling father. Strange things begin to happen in their house, and they must each follow their own path to find out what happened to Ana and what her spirit is trying to say.
Today Tonight Tomorrow. By Rachel Lynn Solomon. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $18.99 (9781534440241).
On the last day of senior year, Rowan Roth, competitive overachiever and secret romance reader very nervous about life after high school, teams up with her academic nemesis Neil McNair to win a grade-wide scavenger hunt. As it turns out, maybe Neil isn’t so bad after all.
Tweet Cute. By Emma Lord. St. Martin’s/Wednesday, $17.99 (9781250237323).
Pepper’s parents started the famous Big League Burger restaurant, while Jack works in his family’s deli. A Twitter war between Big League Burger and the family diner ensues, but aren’t you supposed to dislike your enemies?
Unscripted. By Nicole Kronzer. Abrams/Amulet, $17.99 (9781419740848).
When Zelda Bailey-Cho attends improv comedy camp, she little expects the culture of toxic masculinity that overwhelms the 5 girls (out of 200 campers) in Gilda Radner cabin. Everyone seems determined to make her the butt of all their jokes, but Zelda is done laughing along.
The Voting Booth. By Brandy Colbert. Disney/Hyperion, $18.99 (9781368053297).
Teen activist Marva has been waiting her whole life for her first Election Day. And it’s her civic duty to help hapless Duke cast his vote, too, even though he’s an unregistered voter at the wrong polling station. Sparks fly as they rush around the city trying to get Duke’s vote counted in time.
Watch Over Me. By Nina LaCour. Dutton, $17.99 (9780593108970).
When white, 18-year-old Mila ages out of foster care, she’s looking for a safe place. A homeschool farm, run by a hippie couple and their adopted children, seems perfect. But the farm is haunted, and Mila will have to make peace with her ghosts before she can truly belong in the world.
We Are Not Free. By Traci Chee. HMH, $17.99 (9780358131434).
Fourteen teenagers are growing up in California during WWII. Their ordinary lives are interrupted by a government order that forcibly incarcerates their Japanese American families because of their ethnicity. Now, these teens must navigate questions of war, peace, citizenship, and loyalty to a nation that doesn’t want them. A 2021 Printz Honor Book.
*We Are Not from Here. By Jenny Torres Sanchez. Philomel, $17.99 (9781984812261).
Pulga and Pequeña are at a crossroads. Life in their town is ruled by violence, and gang leader Rey has his hooks in them both. If they want to live, Pulga, Pequeña, and Pulga’s friend Chico must flee Guatemala to the U.S. border aboard the dangerous trains known as “La Bestia.” A 2021 Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Honor Book.
*What I Carry. By Jennifer Longo. Random, $17.99 (9780553537710).
White 17-year-old Muir has spent her entire life in foster care following strict rules for herself to prepare for surviving in the real world. As she begins her last foster placement before she ages out, Muir struggles to keep her distance and protect her heart.
When You Were Everything. By Ashley Woodfolk. Delacorte, $17.99 (9781524715915).
Cleo and Layla used to be BFFs, but as their middle-school friendship gives way to the complexities of high school, everything changes. Now Cleo must navigate life without its most defining relationship and figure out who she is without her best friend.
The Year of the Witching. By Alexis Henderson. Ace, $26 (9780593099605).
Immanuelle’s birth in a cursed wood to a mother accused of witchcraft unleashes plagues of blood, blight, darkness, and slaughter that she must attempt to forestall with the help of the Pastor’s son and heir.
Yes No Maybe So. By Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $18.99 (9780062937049).
Painfully shy Jamie and change-averse Maya spend the summer canvassing for a local political candidate. As Jamie plans his sister’s bat mitzvah and Maya fasts for Ramadan, misunderstandings abound—but so does attraction.
You Know I’m No Good. By Jessie Ann Foley. Harper/Quill Tree, $17.99 (9780062957085).
Just as Mia is starting to open up, she discovers that her murdered mother’s life insurance policy is funding her involuntary commitment at Red Oak Academy. In her desperation to escape the control of her father and stepmother, she quickly learns that you can’t escape yourself.
You Should See Me in a Crown. By Leah Johnson. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338503265).
Queer, Black Liz Lighty hates the spotlight. But when the music scholarship she was counting on falls through, she dives into the race for prom queen in hopes of winning the $10,000 scholarship that comes with the crown. Unfortunately, Liz soon realizes she is falling for the competition. A 2021 Stonewall Honor Book, a 2021 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and a 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Teens.
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