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.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Quill Tree Books / HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Camino’s father spends summers with her family in the Dominican Republic, while Yahaira’s father lives with his family in the Bronx during the school year. Two places, two families, one father… until one plane crash and one big secret change everything. After Papi’s death, the girls discover that he has been living a double life, and find sisters in each other.
The eye-catching cover foreshadows the two halves of Papi’s life. This accessible novel in verse engages readers with the likeable, sympathetic characters, told in alternating perspectives of the two sisters. While the girls navigate their grief in this plot-driven storyline, they must find a way to come to terms with their father’s secret and connect with each other. Content warnings are advised for death of a parent and stalking/attempted sexual assault.
Readers may enjoy other own voices novels in verse by Latinx authors, such as The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Enchanted Air and Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle, The Moon Within by Aida Salazar, and Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. Additionally, books that address relationships between sisters include selections such as Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez, Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry.
Blood Countess by Lana Popović
Amulet Books / ABRAMS
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Anna Darvulia is a young woman with limited choices. Her profession as a midwife and healer is enough to allow her some independence, and her friendship with the innkeeper’s son may provide an escape from her misogynistic father, but marriage is not something she relishes. A seemingly chance encounter with the fascinating Countess Elizabeth Báthory provides Anna with the opportunity to provide for her family and escape the strictures of domestic life. Anna quickly finds that service to the capriciously sadistic countess can be deadly. Alternately seduced and repelled by Elizabeth, Anna must determine how far she can go to mitigate the countess’s murderous proclivities while protecting her family and retaining her own humanity.
Popović does a masterful job of creating two compelling characters in the first volume of her Lady Slayers series. The horror of the story is juxtaposed with the use of gorgeous vocabulary that maintains an atmospheric feel of time and place. For those who have wondered how a person enters the slippery slope of depravity, this is a story that skillfully sets up such a scenario. Themes of power, healthy relationships, and identity are explored through a thoroughly gripping plot.
Fans of Matthew Kirby’s A Taste for Monsters or Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series will be fascinated by this gory recounting of a notorious murderess.