Top YA Fiction Title
Reynolds, Jason and Jason Griffin. Ain’t Burned all the Bright January 2022. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. $19.99. Hardback. 384 pages. 9781534439467. Young Adults.
Jason Reynolds teams up with his friend, visual artist Jason Griffin, to present a mix-media illustration of his 3-sentenced narrative poem that depicts the perspectives of a young Black boy and his family during the 2020 COVID pandemic. The collaboration between wordsmith and artist brilliantly portrays the heaviness of a pandemic quarantine that forces people inside glued to their digital screens while juxtaposed against the protests and violence committed against others on the outside.
This book encompasses family dynamics and interaction, COVID pandemic quarantine, protests and violence during quarantine.
Bush, Charles A. Every Variable of Us. February 2022. North Star Editions. $17.99. Hardback. 376 pages. 9781635830745. Young Adults.
When Alexis Duncan, a sixteen-year-old queer teen, tries to overcome the entrapment of her poverty-stricken Philadelphia neighborhood by keeping her stats up to earn a basketball scholarship to college. Her plans come o a standstill when she suffers permanent damage from a gang altercation. Now, all that’s left is the academic route, and for her new plan to succeed, Lex will have to shed every single trait of her old lifestyle to make it work.
This book encompasses gang violence, girls’ high school basketball, bullies, LBGTQ, STEM subjects, college scholarship plans, street life
Arango, Andrea Beatriz. Iveliz Explains It All. September 2022. Random House Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House. $16.99. Hardback. 272 pages. 9780593563977. Middle Grade.
In this novel-in-verse, seventh grader Iveliz is struggling to move past a devastating loss, and gets suspended due to her explosive bouts of anger in school. When her abuela arrives from PR with Alzheimer the stress Iveliz already feels rises even higher. Iveliz realizes she has got to start controlling her anger before she something critical happens.
This book encompasses grief, mental and emotional health, classroom behavior, extended families, anger management
Blank, Natalie. The Tangibles.March 2022. Fire & Ice Young Adult Books, an imprint of Melange Books. $13.99. Paperback. 246 pages. 9781955784757. Young Adults.
Seventeen-year-old Rachel has suffered with schizophrenia since middle school. While she doesn’t like to take her medicine on a regular basis, she knows how to avoid relapse. It seems no matter what she does to look normal, however, she’s still treated as an outcast by her classmates, and her new boyfriend doesn’t help with matters.
This book encompasses mental illness, learning disabilities, bullying, popular acceptance, self-esteem
Booth, Coe. Caprice. May 2022. Scholastic Inc. $17.99.. Hardback. 224 pages. 9780545933346 Middle Grade & Up.
Eight years ago, when Caprice was four, she lived with her maternal grandmother. What she hasn’t shared with anyone is how her mother’s brother, who is her uncle, repeatedly raped and molested her without being found out by others in the house. Now her grandmother is gravely ill and her mother says they’re going back to that very place that has haunted her ever since, and Caprice doesn’t know what to do or who to turn to for help.
This book encompasses child sexual assault, dysfunctional families, survivors of abuse
Coles, Michelle. Black Was the Ink. October 2021. Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books. $18.99. Hardback. 400 pages. 9781643794310. Middle Grade & Up.
With the growing violence in Malcolm’s DC neighborhood rises, he starts to show a regressive nature in his personality and is sent Down South to spend the summer in Mississippi. Shortly after his arrival, he discovers the diary of a relative who worked as a state legislature in Congress in the Reconstruction Era and through time travel, meets famous historical Black American figures who played important roles in the building of this nation, but are rarely mentioned in K-12 curriculum.
This book encompasses time travel, Black American historical figures, equal rights race struggles, urban crime, disengagement with school, acting out, miseducation of Black American youth, cultural erasure
Ehrlich, Brenna. Killing Time. March 2022. Inkyard Press. $18.99. Hardback. 309 pages. 9781335418678. Older Teens & New Adults.
Natalie Temple, a freshman in college, is obsessed with true crime. When she hears that her favorite teacher from high school has been murdered, there is nothing that anyone can do to keep her from involving herself in the investigation, especially when it can be used as fodder for her secret podcast of which she uses to update listeners on her most recent developments. The deeper she digs, however, the darker things become, even to the point of self-endangerment.
This book encompasses podcasts, true crime investigation, social media threats
Goodman, Juliana. The Black Girl Left Standing. June 2022. Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers. $18.99. Hardback. 376 pages. 9781250792815. Young Adults.
In the aftermath of her sister’s death by a White policeman, Beau knows her sister Katia was innocent of what she was being accused of in the police report. Katia’s boyfriend is the only witness to the incident, but cannot be found. So to help her with this dilemma, she creates an anonymous Twitter account to collect clues on the case. Things however turn south when she starts receiving threats against herself. This story is so much more than the tragedy of loss, emphasizing the importance of family and friends, the realities of poverty, and the power of forgiveness.
This book encompasses Chicago projects, grief, police aggression, false arrests, funerals, juvenile detention, poverty, queer romantic interest, social medial communications
Jackson, Kosoko. Survive the Dome. March 2022. Sourcebooks Fire. $18.99. Hardback. 352 pages. 9781728239088. Young Adult.
In this contemporary dystopian tale, Jamal having hopes that his photography skills can lead to a college scholarship, attends a Black Lives Matter protest to take some pictures for his portfolio. Unfortunately, before the protest starts, the city implements a new safety mechanism and activates the Dome, trapping all within to function in a militarized shutdown with crooked police. As unrest grows inside the Dome, Jamal has no one he can trust, until he meets Marco, a computer hacker, and they become inseparable.
This book encompasses queer love, protest movements, police violence and corruption, Black and Latinx teen males, near futurism
Keys, Alicia, Andrew Weiner, and Brittney Williams. Girl on Fire. March 2022. HarperAlley, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. $19.99. Hardback. 224 pages. 9780063029569. Middle Grade & Up.
Super heroes come in all shapes and sizes. When Lolo’s brother is wrongfully accosted by a police officer who knocks him to the ground and pulls his service revolver out, she uses her mind to throw both the officer and his partner off her brother’s back…and this is only the beginning. As time passes, her powers get even stronger and she eventually learns why from someone she and her family hasn’t seen in ten years. Based on co-author Alicia Keys’ award-winning song of the same name, this story lives up to the song’s lyrics, “she’s just a girl, but she’s on fire…and she’s not backing down.”
This book encompasses school bullying, gang violence, sibling rivalry, orphan and fostered teens, Black male role models, police brutality; super powers, multi-generational families
King, Thomas and Natasha Donovan. Borders. January 2022. Little Brown Ink, an imprint of Little Brown Books for Young Readers. $18.99. Paperback. 192 pages. 9780316593052. Middle Grade.
Adopted from a much-anthologized short story, this gripping semi-biographical graphic story shows the importance of identity and nationhood when a Blackfoot boy and his family whose tribally enrolled citizenship should allow them easy passage from Canada to the United States, is thwarted by border patrol, leaving them in limbo between Canada and the States.
This book encompasses Indigenous nationhood, cultural erasure, white privilege, border patrol culture, family dynamics
McCarthy, Cory. Man O’War. May 2022. Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. $18.99. Hardback. 336 pages. 97800593353707. Young Adults.
River McIntyre is a questioning trans-nonbinary Lebanese-American High school swimmer who has been forced to follow societal rules and codes all their life. When they meet Indy, a white bisexual agender love interest, they learn how to navigate their journey of toxic homo- and transphobia hysteria to live their truth. Told in verse form, the reader is privy to River’s growth and development as a whole person, instead of the shell they were at the beginning of the book.
This book encompasses queer romance, varsity swim teams, nonbinary identities, body dysmorphia, transphobia, mixed-race teens, high school, outing someone, homophobia
Packebush, Nina. Three Queerdos and a Baby. December 2022. YesYes Books. $22.00. Paperback. 290 pages. 9781936919901. Young Adults.
In this sequel to the groundbreaking award-winning Girls Like Me, after the death her nonbinary partner and the birth of her daughter, readers are witnesses to Banjo, a queer teen mom, as she continues to navigate through the experiences of grief, motherhood, and new love. Both heartbreaking and laughable, author Nina Packebush doesn’t hesitate to offer readers a glimpse into what it looks like to navigate through all of this as a queer teen living at the dawn of a new kaleidoscope of sexual and gender identity.
This book encompasses queer teen parenthood, nonbinary identity, teen mothers, grief, mental health needs, family dynamics
SLMN. Race: A Black Lives Matter Thriller. May 2022. Kingston Imperial. $14.95. Paperback. 208 pages. 9781954220140. New Adults.
As a journalist, Caleb Moon wants to change the world, but realizes that journalism and news reporting is not the answer, he starts working with a Black candidate’s mayoral campaign whose opposing candidate is the White incumbent, and is exposed to the lengths a politician will go to maintain power.
This book encompasses hood politics, national and local political campaigns, behind-the-scenes politicking, social justice protests, police aggression, disinformation
Reyes, Sonora. The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School. May 2022. Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. $18.99. Hardback. 400 pages. 9780063060234. Young Adults.
Sixteen-year-old Yamilet and her younger brother have transferred to Catholic school from public school, where no one knows of her queerness and to stop the anti-queer gossip in her neighborhood. Then she suddenly can’t keep her eyes off Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, and she has to ask herself “What would straight girls do” (WWSGD)?
This book encompasses teen romance, lgbtq, the Southwest, illegal immigration, absentee fathers, outing someone, homophobia gossip, gender and sexual identity, Catholic school, out of culture adoption, Mexican American culture
Stewart, Tanisha. Everybody Ain’t Your Friend: An Urban Romance Thriller. September 2021. Self Published. $20.00. Paperback. 243 pages. 9788478494582. Young Adults and Older Teens.
Mia is flying high from her engagement with Tray. Then her world is turned upside down when she finds out that she’s expecting twins and her best friend Loryn announces that she’s pregnant, too…and Tray is the father. Top this off with the sudden untraceable threats on her life and the reader is wrapped up in a crazy set of events that has the story spiraling towards an ever-after wrap up, but the question is if it’s happily or unhappily?
This book encompasses hood relationships, honesty, unmarried pregnancies, revenge seekers, jealousy
Tahir, Sabaa. All My Rage. March 2022. Razorbill, and imprint of Penguin Random House. $19.99. Hardback. 384 pages. 0593202340. Young Adult.
Salahudin and Noor are friends who attend the same high school and share a common Pakistani origin. In alternate stories, they share the struggles that confront them when relatives force them to forsake college and pick up the reigns of their families’ businesses. Faced with the dysfunctional struggles of misogynism, parental health scares, and alcohol addiction, each share their own truths and hidden dreams.
This book encompasses domestic abuse, sexual abuse, immigration, alcohol addiction, Pakistani Americans, incarceration, grief over loss of parent, traditional vs. modern expectations
Troncoso, Sergio. Nobody’s Pilgrims. May 2022. Cinco Puntos Press, an imprint of Lee and Low Books. Young Adult Books. $16.95. Paperback. 264 pages. 9781947627413. Older Teens and Emerging Adults.
In this suspense-filled dystopian adventure, three diverse teen runaways are chased by a drug cartel across the east coast from the Texas frontera to New England, experiencing the dangers and real problems of homelessness and being illegal during an epidemic health crisis that has a pandemic effect throughout the world.
This book encompasses homelessness, runaways, Mexican drug cartels, illegal border entry, dysfunctional families, domestic child abuse