Gr 7 Up–When the vuvv decide to colonize Earth, they come in peace, offering great advanced tech and miraculous medicines—at least for those who can afford them. Anderson employs his laser wit and gallows humor to give readers a sardonic glimpse at young people living a contaminated American dream and the choices they must make to survive. Sci-fi with an absurd and all-too-realistic dystopian twist.
Gr 10 Up–An unabashed and penetrating look at what it means to be a girl in a society that both objectifies and deifies women. When Nina is 14, her mother tells her that there’s no such thing as unconditional love. Years later, grappling with her first relationship and breakup, the teen struggles to figure out her worth. Sprinkled with flashbacks, creative writing assignment excerpts, and the violent histories of female saints, Arnold’s latest is an unforgettable tour de force.
Gr 7 Up–When Union soldiers travel through Georgia on Sherman’s March to the Sea, newly emancipated Mariah joins them for protection, aided by Caleb, a black man traveling with a Union army captain. However, when tensions rise, the Union soldiers pull up the bridge at Ebenezer Creek, with tragic and fatal results. Bolden skillfully delivers a shocking and haunting story of racism and betrayal that is based on true events.
Gr 9 Up–Deftly blending genres and references to classic literature, this stunningly written novel explores love, loss, and the multiverse. Readers will be swept up by the intrepid Jane as she uncovers myriad secrets within the grounds of the imposing estate Tu Reviens. Bound to be a fan favorite of gothic, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and romance readers for years to come.
Gr 8 Up–In a postapocalyptic North America, most humans have lost the ability to dream, and only the marrow from Indigenous peoples’ bones can cure this disease. Frenchie, 16, and his fellow travelers are on the run from Recruiters, who hope to harvest them for nefarious ends. A heartrending YA debut that expertly balances themes of colonization, first love, family, and survival.
Gr 9 Up–Part mystery, part romance, part friendship story, and all John Green. Aza Holmes, who has anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, has spent years in therapy and taking medication. When she reconnects with a childhood friend, the prospect of a budding relationship is too much to handle. This unwavering first-person narrative gives teens a window into the lives of those who grapple with mental health issues, offering insight and hopeful yet realistic expectations.
Gr 6 Up–Another genre-bending masterpiece from the incomparable author. Set in 17th-century England at the start of the civil war, this historical fantasy follows the recently orphaned Makepeace, an intrepid heroine who has discovered that her father’s family has the power to ingest spirits. A growing cast of “ghosts” inhabit her as she tries to save her half brother from destruction. Snappy dialogue, intricate character development, and themes of religion, identity, and class effortlessly come together in this “spirited” tale.
Gr 9 Up–Branded a murderer at age nine, Mary, now 16 and pregnant, has spent years in a grimly oppressive “baby jail” before joining a group home. A sliver of hope appears when potentially exculpatory evidence emerges. Both a darkly mesmerizing thriller and a chilling condemnation of a corrupt justice system, this powerful debut novel will simultaneously terrify readers even as it pushes them to stretch their capacity for compassion to its limits.
Gr 7 Up–Every man with whom the Nomeolvides women fall in love vanishes. But for the first time, a boy appears from the enchanted grounds that Estrella and her cousins tend. As the cousins try to unravel the mystery of the young man’s origins, readers will be swept away by the lush world that McLemore has created. Threads of history, familial ties, racism, and identity are knit expertly in this spellbinding work of magical realism.
Gr 7 Up–For Dimple Shah, attending Insomnia Con means getting one step closer to becoming a successful web programmer, but for her marriage-minded parents, it’s a way to introduce Dimple to the “Ideal Indian Husband”: Rishi Patel. Though initially the rebellious Dimple and the more traditional Rishi clash, attraction eventually blossoms in this joyous romantic comedy that thoughtfully examines culture, identity, gender, and privilege.
Gr 9 Up–When the Das family moves from London to New York City in the 1970s, daughters Tara (Starry) and Sonia (Sunny) strive to come into their own, often rebelling against their parents’ adherence to tradition. Perkins has crafted a poignant and lyrical journey through girlhood that crosses decades and generations. The insightful explorations of race, cultural assimilation, and gender roles will have readers thinking about the Das family long after the book is finished.
Gr 8 Up–The long-awaited companion/prequel to Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy proves worth the wait. A kindhearted and inquisitive innkeeper’s son teams up with a surly teen dishwasher to rescue baby Lyra from evil forces. Delicious details, multilayered characters, and an edge-of-your-seat adventure make this an enveloping read for die-hard fans and newbies alike.
Gr 8 Up–After his older brother is shot, 15-year-old Will must man up and shoot Shawn’s killer. Or at least that’s what he has been taught. Armed and determined to do his duty, he sets out from his apartment. Each time the elevator stops at a floor, individuals enter, including several of Will’s deceased relatives. In this haunting, suspenseful novel in verse, the ghosts relate their stories and participation in the cycle of violence, leaving readers to ponder Will’s ultimate decision.
Gr 10 Up–Julia Reyes is definitely not like her beloved older sister, Olga. Julia is the antithesis of all that her traditional parents, who are undocumented Mexican immigrants, value. When Olga suddenly dies, Julia and her parents are left to reckon with the social, political, and cultural conditions that shape their lives in the margins. Sánchez’s debut is a tale of language and survival—and of a girl, angry and thriving.
Gr 9 Up–Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio have been informed that they will die today. The two strangers connect via the Last Friend app and decide to spend their final day alive confronting their fears and having adventures—together. In alternating chapters, this work of speculative fiction about two queer boys in New York City celebrates life, death, and everything in between with pathos, joy, and humor, all the way to the bittersweet ending.
Gr 8 Up–The loss of a friend, murdered by a white police officer, sends Starr reeling. The teen, who is black, grapples with grief, fear of repercussions if she speaks out, and ignorance from white friends, all of which is tempered by the support of her close-knit family. Tapping into raw emotions and wrestling with systemic racism and perceptions of black masculinity, Thomas’s electrifying debut has already cemented its place in the YA canon.
Gr 7 Up–Jade commutes to her private school every day from her working-class neighborhood and is encouraged to participate in every “opportunity” that comes her way. But as she engages in activities that are supposed to “better” her circumstances, the black teen begins to question her place in these two worlds. Watson adeptly explores class, race, identity, and girlhood in poetic and nuanced prose.
Gr 9 Up–Fabiola’s mother is detained soon after the two immigrate to the United States from Haiti. Adjusting to life in Detroit with her aunt and cousins, Fabiola seizes a chance to save her mother, but her actions have potentially devastating consequences. Laced with magical realism and references to Vodou, this evocative novel captures the longing of a teen whose hopes soar amid a bleak reality.
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