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.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Hachette
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Seventeen year old Layla is growing up in America in the near future when she and her parents, along with other Muslim American citizens, are forced into internment camps. Once there, Layla forms an unlikely alliance with a guard and together, along with the help of fellow internees, they start a resistance movement inside the camp.
With fast-paced writing and an authentic teen protagonist, Ahmed presents an important and timely novel that shows the harsh realities of Islamophobia and what such hate and intolerance can cause. The what-if scenario of the book sheds light on the dangers of political rhetoric and fear-mongering, particularly when directing hate at a specific group of people based on ethnicity, race, or religion and how those in the present can very easily end up repeating the atrocities of the past. Comparisons to historical events—such as the Japanese internment, the Holocaust, and the White Rose resistance group in Nazi Germany—are presented throughout the book, helping to demonstrate that although fiction, the events of the novel are still very much possible given the current political climate. Layla is a believable teen that readers will relate to and her brave actions show that even an ordinary teenager can make a difference and resist against intolerance and injustice.
This book is a good choice for fans of the Hunger Games franchise, teens who enjoy dystopian fiction featuring culturally diverse protagonists, such as We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, and readers of Ahmed’s previous work, Love, Hate, and Other Filters, which also presents the realities of Islamophobia in America.
Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern
Macmillan / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Astrid must make the decision to undergo a new clinical trial for cancer patients or take a chance on cryopreservation, a technology that will freeze her body with the hopes of revival in the future when she can be cured, after her brain cancer returns. Highlighting difficult topics regarding life and death, including assisted suicide, cryopreservation, and the decision to continue or end chemo treatment, McGovern’s novel provides an insightful, poignant portrayal of a teenager living with terminal illness.
Astrid is believable as she struggles to come to terms with her imminent death and how she wants to lead the rest of her remaining life. Astrid’s journey toward making a final decision about her life and death is bittersweet. While it’s heartbreaking knowing she will die, it is also vindicating that she is able to have the dignity to determine how she will live the remainder of her life and to pass on her own terms. Her friends, family, and boyfriend are realistic, expressing anger and frustration over a situation they cannot fix and the grief they know they will face once they lose Astrid, but still being shown as decent, loving people.
Readers who have enjoyed other books related to living with terminal illness, such as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Len Vlahos’ Life in a Fishbowl, will enjoy this powerful read and intimate portrayal of a girl living with terminal illness and her journey to have agency in both her life and death.
–Laura Giunta and Jodi Kruse