Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson
Viking / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Skye Murray has a reputation for being a party girl who will get with just about anyone–except Ben–the guy she REALLY likes. What no one knows is that her drug and alcohol use are helping her forget a secret about her mother’s fiancé and her fears about what he might do to her little sister.
Authors who write about sexual abuse walk a fine line between accurate description and gratuitous detail. Sibson has clearly done her homework. Though Dan, Skye’s mother’s fiancé is a fairly one-dimensional character, Skye’s relationship with him is complex and her confusion about his abuse of the “father figure” role and her mother’s seeming ambivalence toward the incident are well developed. Skye’s use of drugs, alcohol, and hook-ups are realistically drawn but not idealized and are placed within the context of a mother who is also using alcohol to cope with heartbreak. The weight of the plot is beautifully balanced with Skye’s use of art to find her voice and begin the process of healing.
Gritty and raw, this is a book that needs to come with a trigger warning. It is a title that is perfect for readers who liked Kathleen Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces or Sorry for Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley.
This Time Will be Different by Misa Sugiura
HarperTeen / HarperCollins
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
CJ Katsuyama is a dedicated underachiever. She has everything she needs in her best friend, Emily, and in her “volunteer” work at her aunt’s florist shop Heart’s Desire; however, there are some subtle shifts in CJ’s world. Emily seems to be falling for the popular girl who not only broke her heart, but also publicly mocked Emily’s sexual orientation. CJ’s super money hungry mother is brokering a deal for the sale of Heart’s Desire to the venture capitalist family who capitalized on its sale during World War II when her Japanese grandfather was being sent to an internment camp. The time is ripe for CJ to find her cause.
This is a book that tackles a number of current issues: racism, reparations, homophobia, sexuality, reproductive rights, and loyalty to family, friends, and causes. CJ’s character has depth, makes impulsive mistakes, and owns her baggage–she’s a character many teens who seek social justice will recognize. The supporting characters are equally nuanced. All this is wrapped in a plot that incorporates humor as well as pathos while moving at a pace that will encourage deep thought without dawdling.
This is an ideal title for readers who enjoyed Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, or Rebels Like Us by Liz Reinhardt.