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The 2022 Annual Conference will be held in person this year for the first time in two years, this time in Washington, DC. On Friday, June 24, at 8:00 p.m., join us for the Michael L. Printz Awards, administered by the ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) division and sponsored by Booklist. The top prize this year goes to Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter, while Honor Book status is awarded to Angie Thomas’ Concrete Rose, Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Kekla Magoon’s Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People, and Lisa Fipps’ Starfish. More teen readers will be finding these five outstanding novels; here’s how to extend their reading with similar titles.
Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley (Holt)
Daunis, already caught between her father’s Ojibwe people and her mother’s French heritage, is further tested when she becomes inadvertently involved with a drug investigation tied to a prominent family in her father’s tribe. Unenrolled Daunis can let the cycle of pain continue or protect her community in this story that’s equal parts thriller and journey of self-discovery.
Apple: Skin to the Core. By Eric Gansworth. Illus. by the author. 2020. Levine Querido/Arthur A. Levine, $18.99 (9781646140138). Gr. 10–12.
Gansworth, a tribally enrolled Onondaga, offers an illuminating memoir in verse and lyric prose that confronts the racism facing Native peoples. Like Daunis, Gansworth grapples on the page with the complexities of his Indigenous identity and ways to navigate the white world.
The Marrow Thieves. By Cherie Dimaline. 2017. Dancing Cat, $14.95 (9781770864863). Gr. 8–11.
Francis “Frenchie” Dusome, one of a dwindling number of Métis, tries to survive on the run from the Recruiters, whites who are harvesting the bone marrow of Indigenous members and selling it as a remedy for the lost ability to dream. Readers hooked by the thriller elements of Firekeeper’s Daughter will be drawn to this dystopian tale from an Indigenous author.
Overturned. By Lamar Giles. 2017. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545812504). Gr. 9–12.
After Nikki Tate’s casino-owning father was convicted of murder, Nikki learned illegal card games to survive Vegas. But when her father’s conviction is overturned and he returns home—another wrongly convicted Black man—her life, too, is upended. Giles investigates another area in which race and the justice system are inextricably linked, making this a key companion read for Boulley’s novel.
Concrete Rose, by Angie Thomas (HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray)
This prequel, set 17 years before Printz Honor book The Hate U Give (2017), follows Starr’s father, Maverick, who sells drugs for the King Lords while his dad is in jail, until he’s abruptly confronted with sudden fatherhood and with the murder of someone close to him. Through Maverick, Thomas explores what it means to be a father and part of a family as he evolves into the person readers already know.
Allegedly. By Tiffany D. Jackson. 2017. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062422644). Gr. 9–12.
At nine, Mary B. Addison, a Black girl, was convicted of murdering a white infant. Now almost 16 and in a group home, she’s expecting a baby she’ll have to fight the state to keep. Ultimately both bleaker and more unsettling than Concrete Rose, this no-holds-barred mystery examines race in the justice system and the obligations—and failures—of family, making it a compelling companion read.
American Street. By Ibi Zoboi. 2017. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062473042). Gr. 9–12.
Haitian Fabiola moves to Detroit for a better life with her aunt and cousins, but her mother is detained at the border and her new neighborhood is as dangerous as the one she left behind. Like Concrete Rose, this is ultimately a story of becoming, and of holding on to self and family in a world that asks you to be something else.
Tyler Johnson Was Here. By Jay Coles. 2018. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316440776). Gr. 9–12.
Though police inform Tyler Johnson’s family that the Black teen was killed in a gang-related incident, a video shows him dying at the hands of a cop. Tyler’s twin brother, Marvin, grapples with his grief while also dealing with social and racial outrage. Readers who are as intrigued by the exploration of familial loyalty and grief as they are by social justice will want to follow Concrete Rose with this.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo (Dutton)
In 1950s San Francisco’s Chinatown, 17-year-old Chinese American Lily Hu comes to terms with her attraction to women as she connects with Kath, a white would-be pilot, at the lesbian bar the Telegraph Club. But McCarthyism grips the country tightly and makes their love dangerous. With beautiful, tender writing, Lo balances Lily’s unease and courage as she makes hard decisions.
The Downstairs Girl. By Stacey Lee. 2019. Putnam, $17.99 (9781524740955). Gr. 9–12.
In 1890 Atlanta, Chinese American Jo Kuan is the anonymous author of a popular but polarizing agony aunt column. Like Last Night at the Telegraph Club, this is a thrilling historical novel that examines the reality of being Chinese American at a specific point in America—this time, the Reconstruction South—and Lee offers sharp commentary on that history of racism.
Like a Love Story. By Abdi Nazemian. 2019. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062839367). Gr. 9–12.
It’s 1980s New York and Judy and Art’s deep friendship is tested when Art falls for Judy’s boyfriend, Reza—and Reza falls for Art in return. Where Last Night at the Telegraph Club addressed the lingering effects of the Lavender Scare, Like a Love Story digs into another point in history that was especially frightening for the gay community: the height of the AIDS crisis.
The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin. By Kip Wilson. 2022. HarperCollins/Versify, $18.99 (9780358448907). Gr. 9–12.
In 1932 Berlin, Hilde searches for her lost girlfriend and finds instead Café Lila, a cabaret for gay men and women where she feels safe even as Hitler begins his rise to power. Readers hungry for more stories of queer romance in historical periods will be well served by this ultimately hopeful tale of affirmation.
Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People, by Kekla Magoon (Candlewick)
This candid, comprehensive history looks at the Black Panther Party and its often-overlooked role in the fight for civil rights. Magoon dispels violent misconceptions about the party without ignoring its problems, and the attention she pays to contributions made by teenagers and women will strike a chord with today’s youth.
Black Birds in the Sky: The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. By Brandy Colbert. 2021. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $19.99 (9780063056664). Gr. 8–12.
In a volume that takes another piece of long overlooked Black history and places it against the wider context of a racist society, Colbert examines the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which resulted in the destruction of Black Wall Street. Colbert includes primary documents and writes confidently about the importance of accountability.
The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History. By David F. Walker. Illus. by Marcus Kwame Anderson. 2021. Ten Speed, $19.99 (9781984857705). Gr. 9–12.
Through its engaging, dramatic comic-book format, this graphic novel provides an alternate entry point into the history of the Black Panther Party. Told mainly through portrayals of people at the organization’s heart, the book sticks closely to the facts—even the unflattering ones—and offers insight through quotes and statistics.
Rise Up! How You Can Join the Fight against White Supremacy. By Crystal M. Fleming. 2021. Holt, $19.99 (9781250226389). Gr. 7–10.
Fleming’s thoroughly researched book zooms out to define racism, its history, and its pervasiveness in a wide range of areas. Fleming describes white supremacy and focuses on how the system has affected all people before offering steps young readers can take to become antiracist advocates. This action-oriented text is a good companion for readers who have recently delved into more in-depth histories.
Starfish, by Lisa Fipps (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)
Ellie is okay with being fat but she’s not okay with the treatment she receives for it—from her peers and, worse, from her mother. In this novel in verse, Ellie navigates the difficult map of knowing she deserves better treatment while struggling with the conflict that’s necessary to achieve it.
Dumplin’. By Julie Murphy. 2015. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062327185). Gr. 8–12.
Willowdean loves herself, but her fatness bothers her beauty-queen mother. So Willowdean enters the pageant her mother now runs, determined to make a splash. Like Starfish, this seminal YA title traverses the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship and embraces self-love.
How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe. By Raquel Vasquez Gilliland. 2021. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (9781534448667). Gr. 9–12.
The summer after high-school graduation, fat and insecure Moon gets roped into working the merch table for her social-media influencer twin sister Star’s cross-country tour. She slowly learns her own worth in a gorgeous coming-of-age story that will appeal to readers who appreciated Ellie’s similarly tender, sometimes painful journey toward self-acceptance.
Thirty Talks Weird Love. By Alessandra Narváez Varela. 2021. Cinco Puntos, $18.95 (9781947627482). Gr. 8–12.
Like Starfish, this is another poignant novel in verse that circles mental health and personal trauma. Thirteen-year-old Anamaria lives in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in 1999. During one of the darkest periods of her existence, her 30-year-old self appears to her and forever alters her life.
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