We love reading classics as much as the next person but there are a whole bunch of recent YA novels that we could easily swap in for a fresh perspective. We’ve made some suggestions below but we also recommend checking out the Complementing the Classics brochure put together by Penguin Classroom.
In addition to Lord of the Flies, read:
By Rory Power
400 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525645610 | Delacorte BFYR
This fresh debut about three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school is a mind-bending novel unlike anything you’ve read before. But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence.
In addition to The Outsiders, read:
Patron Saints of Nothing
By Randy Ribay
352 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525554929 | Kokila
Jay plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to university in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to learn the truth.
In addition to The Great Gatsby, read:
A Sky Painted Gold
By Laura Wood
384 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593127223 | Random House BFYR
It is the summer of 1929 and budding writer Lou meets the Cardew siblings: the bubbly Caitlin and her handsome brother, Robert. Lou is swept into their glittering whirlwind of moonlit parties, unrivaled glamour, and whispered secrets. As she falls deeper into the world of high society, Lou must find a way to stay true to herself…and her heart.
In addition to Little Women, read:
Jo & Laurie
By Margaret Stohl and Melissa De La Cruz
384 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812018 | Putnam BFYR
1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration. But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo turns him down. Until Laurie comes home with a girlfriend…will Jo risk losing the love of her life forever?
In addition to Anne of Green Gables, read:
Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M Montgomery
By Melanie J. Fishbane
400 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780143191261 | Penguin Teen Canada
Lucy Maud Montgomery has a dream: to go to college and become a writer. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father until she discovers her stepmother’s plans for her which threat Maud’s future happiness.
In addition to Dracula, read:
By Renée Ahdieh
448 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524738174 | Putnam BFYR
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. For Celine, it’s a safe haven – until she becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien. When a body is found in Sébastien’s lair, Celine battles her attraction and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own secret.
In addition to The Scarlet Letter, read:
He Must Like You
By Danielle Younge-Ullman
336 Pages | 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265691 | Penguin Teen Canada
After dumping a pitcher of sangria on an overly handsy customer, Libby has to navigate the fallout of her outburst, plus deal with her rage at the guys who’ve screwed up her life – and her increasing crush on the one guy who truly gets her. A story about consent, rage, and revenge, and the potential we all have to be better.
In addition to The Giver, read:
By Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher
320 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984815712 | Putnam BFYR
It’s 2032, and in this near-future America, all citizens are chipped and everyone is tracked. It’s almost impossible to survive as an undocumented immigrant, but that’s exactly what sixteen-year-old Vali is doing. Then Vali’s mother’s counterfeit chip starts malfunctioning and the Deportation Forces raid their town, forcing them to flee.
We live in a golden age where all sorts of books are being adapted into movies or TV shows and we’re living for it. We’ve rounded up some of the more recent adaptations (including one that’s coming soon!) – how many have you watched?
By Louisa May Alcott
816 Pages | All Ages | Hardcover
ISBN 9780147514011 | Puffin
Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?
Jo & Laurie
By Margaret Stohl and Melissa De La Cruz
384 Pages | 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984812018 | Putnam BFYR
1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration–museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself! But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?
Looking for Alaska
By John Green
272 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593109069 | Dutton BFYR
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green’s arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction.
All the Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven
416 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593118924 | Knopf BFYR
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself–a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
The Golden Compass
By Philip Pullman
432 Pages | 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593178553 | Knopf BFYR
A war is brewing in Lyra’s world–a battle between those who would keep people in ignorance and those who are willing to fight for true freedom. Lyra is thrust into the middle of the conflict when her uncle Asriel comes to Oxford, fomenting rebellion, and when her best friend, Roger, suddenly disappears. Lyra learns that Roger was kidnapped by a shadowy organization that steals children and, it is rumored, experiments on them. To find him, she will travel to the cold, far North, where armored bears and witch clans rule . . . and where her uncle Asriel is attempting to build a bridge to a parallel world.
By Krystal Sutherland
368 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593109670 | Putnam BFYR
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the love that he’s been expecting just hasn’t been in the cards for him–at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change. When Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, and Henry wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. But as Henry learns, what you want may not have anything to do with what you get.
The Kissing Booth
By Beth Reekles
448 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385378680 | Ember
Meet Rochelle “Elle” Evans: pretty, popular—and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile—and a total player. When Elle decides to run a kissing booth at her school’s Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer. This romance seems far from a fairy tale. Is Elle headed for heartbreak or will she get her happily ever after?
The Kissing Booth #2: Going the Distance
By Beth Reekles
336 Pages | 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593172575 | Ember
Elle Evans seems to have finally tamed hotter-than-hot bad boy Noah Flynn, but now they’re facing a new challenge. Noah’s 3,000 miles away at Harvard, which means they’re officially a long-distance couple – and it’s tough. When Elle sees a post which suggests Noah’s getting friendly with someone else, she’s devastated. On top of that, it’s hard to ignore new boy Levi. He’s gentle, sweet, cute – and definitely interested in Elle. With her heart on the line, what’s a girl to do?
By Jerry Spinelli
208 Pages | 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593179048 | Ember
Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’ s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first. Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal.
The Last Kids on Earth
By Max Brallier
Illustrated by Douglas Holgate
240 Pages | 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780670016617 | Viking BFYR
Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, Jack Sullivan has been living in his tree house, which he’s armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat. But Jack alone is no match for the hordes of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg. So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and Jack’s crush, June.
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
By Stephan Pastis
320 Pages | 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780763669270 | Candlewick
Take Timmy Failure—the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total, and what you have is Total Failure, Inc. From the offbeat creator of Pearls Before Swine comes an endearingly bumbling hero in a hilarious caper accompanied by a whodunit twist. With perfectly paced visual humor, Stephan Pastis gets readers snorting with laughter, then slyly carries the joke a beat further—or sweetens it with an unexpected poignant moment—making this a comics-inspired story that truly stands apart from the pack.
BONUS: A classic movie just got a brand new translation!
Kiki’s Delivery Service
By Eiko Kadono
Translated by Emily Balistrieri
208 Pages | 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984896667 | Delacorte BFYR
Half-witch Kiki never runs from a challenge. So when her thirteenth birthday arrives, she’s eager to follow a witch’s tradition: choose a new town to call home for one year. Brimming with confidence, Kiki flies to the seaside village of Koriko and expects that her powers will easily bring happiness to the townspeople. But gaining the trust of the locals is trickier than she expected. With her faithful, wise-cracking black cat, Jiji, by her side, Kiki forges new friendships and builds her inner strength, ultimately realizing that magic can be found in even the most ordinary places.
If you’re looking for the perfect distraction this summer, may we suggest catching up on some of our favourite series? Most of them are complete (or almost complete) so you’ll be able to binge the whole adventure in one shot. We’ve just posted details for the first book, but click the link to find out the rest of the books in each series!
START WITH: An Ember in the Ashes
By Sabaa Tahir
480 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595148049 | Razorbill
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
START WITH: The Knife of Never Letting Go
By Patrick Ness
512 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780763676186 | Candlewick Press
Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.
START WITH: The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim
By Shane Peacock
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263116 | Penguin Teen
Edgar Brim is a sensitive orphan who, exposed to horror stories from his father as a young child, is afraid of almost everything and suffers from nightly terrors. His stern new guardian, Mr. Thorne, sends the boy to a gloomy school in Scotland where his dark demons only seem to worsen and he is bullied and ridiculed for his fears. But years later, when sixteen-year-old Edgar finds a journal belonging to his novelist father, he becomes determined to confront his nightmares and the bullies who taunt him. After the horrific death of a schoolmate, Edgar becomes involved with an eccentric society at the urging of a mysterious professor who believes that monsters from famous works of literature are real and whose mandate is to find and destroy these creatures. With the aid of a rag-tag crew of friends, the fear-addled teen sets about on his dark mission, one that begins in the cemetery on the bleak Scottish moors and ends in a spine-chilling climax on the stage of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in London with Henry Irving, the infamous and magnetic actor, and his manager, Bram Stoker, the author of the most frightening and sensational novel of the day, Dracula. Can Edgar Brim truly face his terror and conquer his fears?
START WITH: Earth & Sky
By Megan Crewe
416 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780143190943 | Penguin Teen
Seventeen-year-old Skylar has always been haunted by fleeting yet powerful feelings that something around her has gone wrong. Those impressions have never seemed to reflect anything real and have only earned her stares and whispers behind her back. But after she meets a mysterious boy named Win, she learns an unsettling truth: we are not alone on Earth. In fact, visitors from beyond the stars are manipulating our planet and the essential fabric of our world; life as we know it is starting to unravel. And Skylar–and her heightened awareness–just may be the key to our salvation.
START WITH: Falling Kingdoms
By Morgan Rhodes
448 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595145857 | Razorbill
Princess Cleo of Mytica confronts violence for the first time in her life when a shocking murder sets her kingdom on a path to collapse. Once a privileged royal, Cleo must now summon the strength to survive in this new world and fight for her rightful place as Queen.
The King of Limeros’s son, Magnus, must plan each footstep with shrewd, sharp guile if he is to earn his powerful father’s trust, while his sister, Lucia, discovers a terrifying secret about her heritage that will change everything.
Rebellious Jonas lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Witches, if found, are put to death, and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world, have been almost entirely forgotten. A vicious power struggle quickly escalates to war, and these four young people collide against each other and the rise of elementia, the magic that can topple kingdoms and crown a ruler in the same day.
START WITH: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Ransom Riggs
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781594746031 | Quirk Books
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
START WITH: Illuminae
By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
608 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780553499148 | Knopf BFYR
Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
START WITH: Eragon
By Christopher Paolini
528 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780375826696 | Knopf BFYR
Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire. Perfect for fans of Lord of the Rings, the New York Times bestselling Inheritance Cycle about the dragon rider Eragon has sold over 35 million copies and is an international fantasy sensation. Don’t miss the latest book from the author of Eragon, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia!
START WITH: The Dark Days Club
By Alison Goodman
544 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780143188797 | Penguin Teen
London, April 1812. On the eve of 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the Queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears–and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap? The first book in New York Times-bestseller Alison Goodman’s critically acclaimed Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!
START WITH: The Alchemyst
By Michael Scott
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385736008 | Delacorte BFYR
The truth: Nicholas Flamel’s tomb is empty.
The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives.
Nicholas Flamel is the greatest Alchemyst to ever live. The records show that he died in 1418, but what if he’s actually been making the elixir of life for centuries?
The secrets to eternal life are hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed, and in the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it.
There is one hope. If the prophecy is true, Sophie and Josh Newman have the power to save everyone. Now they just have to learn to use it.
START WITH: Julia Vanishes
By Catherine Egan
400 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385684675 | Penguin Teen
Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.
It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned—crime pays.
She’s being paid very well indeed to infiltrate the grand house of Mrs. Och and report back on the odd characters who live there and the suspicious dealings that take place behind locked doors.
But what Julia discovers shakes her to the core. She certainly never imagined that the traitor in the house would turn out to be . . . her.
Murder, thievery, witchcraft, betrayal–Catherine Egan builds a dangerous world where her fierce and flawed heroine finds that even a girl who can vanish can’t walk away from her own worst deeds.
START WITH: The Young Elites
By Marie Lu
400 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780147511683 | Putnam BFYR
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.
Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.
Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society.This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
START WITH: Vampire Academy
By Richelle Mead
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595141743 | Razorbill
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
Given all the news over the past few weeks, we want to take this opportunity to amplify Black voices with some incredible books by equally incredible authors. This list is by no means comprehensive, so let us know if we missed your favourite title or author. And we encourage you to pick up one or more of these books from your local bookstore if you’re able to!
1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change
Edited by Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti
208 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780763689933 | Candlewick Press
Nineteen sixty-eight was a pivotal year that grew more intense with each day. As thousands of Vietnamese and Americans were killed in war, students across four continents took over colleges and city streets. Assassins murdered Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. Demonstrators turned out in Prague and Chicago, and in Mexico City, young people and Olympic athletes protested. In those intense months, generations battled and the world wobbled on the edge of some vast change that was exhilarating one day and terrifying the next. To capture that extraordinary year, editors Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti created an anthology that showcases many genres of nonfiction. Some contributors use a broad canvas, others take a close look at a moment, and matched essays examine the same experience from different points of view. As we face our own moments of crisis and division, 1968 reminds us that we’ve clashed before and found a way forward — and that looking back can help map a way ahead.
A Phoenix First Must Burn
Edited by Patrice Caldwell
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984835659 | Viking BFYR
Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic. With stories by: Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Patrice Caldwell, Dhonielle Clayton, J. Marcelle Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, L. L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.
Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.
By Nnedi Okorafor
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780142420911 | Speak
Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.
Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them combat a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
All the Days Past, All the Days to Come
By Mildred D. Taylor
496 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780399257308 | Viking BFYR
In her tenth book, Mildred Taylor completes her sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century. Cassie Logan, first met in Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, is a young woman now, searching for her place in the world, a journey that takes her from Toledo to California, to law school in Boston, and, ultimately, in the 60s, home to Mississippi to participate in voter registration.
She is witness to the now-historic events of the century: the Great Migration north, the rise of the civil rights movement, preceded and precipitated by the racist society of America, and the often violent confrontations that brought about change. Rich, compelling storytelling is Ms. Taylor’s hallmark, and she fulfills expectations as she brings to a close the stirring family story that has absorbed her for over forty years. It is a story she was born to tell.
Date Me, Bryson Keller
By Kevin Van Whye
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593126035 | Random House BFYR
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new–the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he’s never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn’t expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there’s more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he’s awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this “relationship” will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
By Nic Stone
240 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781101939529 | Ember
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
By Camryn Garrett
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984829955 | Knopf BFYR
Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.
Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.
If You Come Softly
By Jacqueline Woodson
192 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525515487 | Nancy Paulsen
Jeremiah feels good inside his own skin. That is, when he’s in his own Brooklyn neighborhood. But now he’s going to be attending a fancy prep school in Manhattan, and black teenage boys don’t exactly fit in there. So it’s a surprise when he meets Ellie the first week of school. In one frozen moment their eyes lock, and after that they know they fit together–even though she’s Jewish and he’s black. Their worlds are so different, but to them that’s not what matters. Too bad the rest of the world has to get in their way.
It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime
By Trevor Noah
304 Pages | Ages 10+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525582199 | Yearling
Trevor Noah, the funny guy who hosts The Daily Show on Comedy Central, shares his remarkable story of growing up in South Africa with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child to exist. But he did exist–and from the beginning, the often-misbehaved Trevor used his keen smarts and humor to navigate a harsh life under a racist government.
This fascinating memoir blends drama, comedy, and tragedy to depict the day-to-day trials that turned a boy into a young man. In a country where racism barred blacks from social, educational, and economic opportunity, Trevor surmounted staggering obstacles and created a promising future for himself, thanks to his mom’s unwavering love and indomitable will.
Obviously: Stories from My Timeline
By Akilah Hughes
288 Pages | All Ages | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101998908 | Razorbill
In Akilah Hughes’s world, family–and life–are often complicated, but always funny. Through intimate and hilarious essays, Akilah takes readers along on her journey from the small Kentucky town where she was born–and eventually became a spelling bee champ and 15-year-old high school graduate–to New York City, where she took careful steps to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer and performer. Like Tiffany Haddish’s The Last Black Unicorn or Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? for the YA set, Akilah pens revealing and laugh-out-loud funny essays about her life, covering everything from her racist fifth grade teacher, her struggles with weight and acne, her failed attempts at joining the cheerleading team, how to literally get to New York (hint: for a girl on a budget, it may include multiple bus transfers) and exactly how to “make it” once you finally get there.
By Akwaeke Emezi
208 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525647072 | Make Me a World
There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist? Acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi makes their riveting and timely young adult debut with a book that asks difficult questions about what choices you can make when the society around you is in denial.
The Beauty that Remains
By Ashley Woodfolk
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781524715908 | Ember
Loss pulled Autumn, Shay, and Logan apart. Will music bring them back together?
Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.
But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who’s struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.
Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.
The Sun is Also a Star
By Nicola Yoon
384 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735267008 | Penguin Teen
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store–for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
By Junauda Petrus
320 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780525555490 | Penguin Books
Port of Spain, Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend.
Minneapolis, USA. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when Audre comes to dinner.
Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.
This is What I Know About Art
By Kimberly Drew
Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593095188 | Penguin Workshop
In this powerful and hopeful account, arts writer, curator, and activist Kimberly Drew reminds us that the art world has space not just for the elite, but for everyone. Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, arts writer and co-editor of Black Futures Kimberly Drew shows us that art and protest are inextricably linked. Drawing on her personal experience through art toward activism, Drew challenges us to create space for the change that we want to see in the world. Because there really is so much more space than we think.
By Tochi Onyebuchi
464 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780451481672 | Razorbill
The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.
Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.
Who Put This Song On?
By Morgan Parker
336 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525707516 | Delacorte Press
Trapped in sunny, stifling, small-town suburbia, seventeen-year-old Morgan knows why she’s in therapy. She can’t count the number of times she’s been the only non-white person at the sleepover, been teased for her “weird” outfits, and been told she’s not “really” black. Also, she’s spent most of her summer crying in bed. So there’s that, too.
Lately, it feels like the whole world is listening to the same terrible track on repeat–and it’s telling them how to feel, who to vote for, what to believe. Morgan wonders, when can she turn this song off and begin living for herself?
Loosely based on her own teenage life and diaries, this incredible debut by award-winning poet Morgan Parker will make readers stand up and cheer for a girl brave enough to live life on her own terms–and for themselves.
X: A Novel
By Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780763690922 | Candlewick Press
Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. X follows the boy who would become Malcolm X from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.