Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season Cover Art

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Macmillan / Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1250624123

Latinx teen Graciela attends a party and is sexually assaulted along with a white boy she’s never met before. The boy has been drugged, so Ciela drops him off at the hospital before heading home, vowing to herself that she’ll forget everything that happened that night. Unfortunately, it turns out that forgetting the incident will prove to be difficult as Ciela discovers she has lost her talent for identifying which type of pan dolce the customers at her tia’s pasteleria want before they even know – the talent that earned her the nickname “La Bruja de los Pasteles.” She’s also noticing that objects around her are turning into mirrors, neighborhood trees are disappearing and the annual Santa Ana winds are conspicuously missing this year. To make matters worse, the boy Ciela took to the hospital is her school’s newest student and helping him might be the only way Ciela can start to get her life back.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Beasts of Prey Cover Art

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 28, 2021 
ISBN: 978-0593405680

Koffi and her mother live with and work for the Night Zoo, caring for the magical, monstrous creatures within. When her mother’s life is threatened one night, Koffi accidentally unleashes a power she didn’t know she possessed and must run for her life. Meanwhile, Ekon, second son of a famed military hero, is desperate to prove to his brother that he belongs in the ranks of the Sons of the Six after a disastrous interruption to his final rite of passage. Koffi and Ekon meet by chance and each recognizes a potential path forward if they can locate the Shetani – a magical, murderous beast that has been plaguing the area for almost 100 years. Koffi wants to find the Shetani to sell it in exchange for freedom; Ekon wants to find the Shetani to kill it to prove his mettle as a warrior. Neither is honest with the other about their true motivations, but they will have to find a way to work together if either of them is to survive. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn
Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
ISBN: 978-0525515609

Biracial teen Amandla lives in Sugar Town, a township on the outskirts of Durban, South Africa with her single white mother. Ever cognizant of her mother’s fluctuating mental health, Amandla is concerned when her mother returns home from one of her secret trips to Durban with a large envelope full of cash and a mysterious note. Amandla and her friends decide to follow her mother to Durban where they discover that Amandla has an entire family she knows nothing about, with a history that will change everything she thinks she knows about herself and her mother. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Sway With Me by Syed M. Masood

Sway with Me Cover Art

Sway With Me by Syed M. Masood
Hatchette/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 2, 2021
ISBN: 978-0316492416 

Being homeschooled by his nearly 100-year-old great grandfather (Nana) has left seventeen-year-old Indian American Arsalan with an impressive vocabulary and not an ounce of cool. Considering that Nana doesn’t likely have many years left on this earth, Arsalan comes to the conclusion he needs to get engaged. Not married, just engaged. He just wants a guarantee that he won’t be left alone when Nana dies. So he makes a deal with Beenish, whose stepmother is the “premier matchmaking aunty of the Greater Sacramento Area” and so presumably knows something about the matchmaking process. Beenish agrees to set him up with someone if he will be her dance partner for her sister’s upcoming wedding. A wedding — Arsalan soon discovers — that Beenish wants to end before it happens, primarily through choreographing an outrageously inappropriate dance that will be sure to offend her sister’s in-laws-to-be.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Hunting By Stars by Cherie Dimaline

Hunting by Stars Cover Art

Hunting By Stars: A Marrow Thieves Novel by Cherie Dimaline
ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
ISBN: 978-1419753473 

In a near future ravaged by climate and disease, some people have stopped dreaming. These people go mad or waste away, so the government has done the unthinkable: Set up residential “schools” where the bone marrow of Indigenous people is harvested for the dreams they still carry. Métis teen Francis “French” Dusome has been on the run for most of his life, ever since the day his brother sacrificed himself so French could get away. French survives in the wilderness with a close knit group whose members–including Rose, Miig, Wab, and Chi-Boy–are from tribal nations all over North America; together, they are family. So when French is captured, there’s no question that he will be looked for. But new threats bring new danger, and the group is forced to separate. Now Rose is desperately searching for French–and running right into the deceptively open arms of a strange new group. Miig is leading the others south–crossing the U.S. border where the line between friends and those pretending to be friends is very thin. And French is imprisoned in a place where so many of his people have gone to die–and about to face terrible choices that will harm those he loves no matter what he decides. Reuniting will require sacrifices, betrayals, and desperate bids for a survival that is anything but assured. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

How Moon Fuentes Fell in Love with the Universe Cover Art

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534448667 

Mexican American Moon Fuentez lives in the shadow of her sister Star’s social media fame and her mother’s disdain, so when she is cajoled into accompanying Star on an influencer tour to take her sister’s pictures and sell merch, Moon is prepared for a disappointing summer. But over the course of the tour, a slow-growing relationship with perpetually grumpy, impossibly attractive Santiago gives Moon the courage to embrace her art and her life, and face her family’s abuse.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Misewa Saga by David A. Robertson

The Misewa Saga Cover Art

The Misewa Saga by David A. Robertson
Penguin Random House Canada/Puffin Books
The Barren Grounds (vol. 1)
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
ISBN: 978-0735266100

The Great Bear (vol. 2)
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 978-0735266131

Indigenous foster kids Morgan and Eli have been separated from their families and placed with a white foster couple in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Both children feel alone and different from everyone around them at their new home and school, but Morgan and Eli have a secret. They can cross into another world — the land of Askí, where across the Barren Grounds they’ve befriended the talking animal villagers of Misewa. All Eli has to do is draw a picture, staple it to the wall of the attic, and he and Morgan can step into a fantasy land. During their first adventure in Askí, the two meet and befriend a fisher named Ochek, the sole remaining hunter of his starving village. Together, they embark on a weeks-long voyage to discover what has happened to the summer birds that are meant to keep the land alive. As they travel, Morgan begins to learn how to live on the land as her people do, and Eli flourishes with opportunities to share his knowledge. Many dangers await, and even if Morgan and Eli do return home, they must figure out how to explain their long absence. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Fall

BFYA Fall Roundup Art
Due to the large number of nominees, not all titles are shown here. See full list below.

Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.


The City Beautiful. By­­ Aden Polydoros. Harlequin/Inkyard Press, $19.99 (9781335402509).

Amidst the glitz and glamour of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Alter Rosen, a gay, Jewish, Romanian immigrant teen, becomes possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered friend and must avenge the deaths of his friend and a growing number of other local Jewish boys.

Curses. By Lish McBride. Penguin Random House/G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9781984815590).

When Merit refuses to marry a prince, she is cursed to live as a beast. Tevin’s family runs cons on rich girls, but when his mom runs afoul of the beast she trades him for her freedom. This fresh, gender-bent Beauty and the Beast retelling examines what “beastly” really is. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

A Snake Falls to Earth Cover Art

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
Levine Querido
Publication Date: October 12, 2021
ISBN: 978-1646140923

Nina is a Lipan Apache teen in the very near future.  Ever since her great-great-grandmother told an untranslatable Lipan story on her deathbed, Nina has been searching for answers.  Oli is a cottonmouth person in the Reflecting World.  Ever since his mother sent him away (as all cottonmouth mothers eventually do), Oli has been trying to make a new home for himself.  As Nina learns more about the connection between her family and their land, Oli’s best friend falls dangerously ill.  Now the cottonmouth boy ventures to Earth to seek the help of a human girl, and together they must turn the tides of change to protect those they love.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles

Things We Couldn't Say Cover Art

Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles
Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
ISBN: 978-1338734188

Gio’s life is complicated… not because he is bisexual. Not because of his father’s drinking problem. Gio’s life is complicated because his mother, who he has not seen or heard from in eight years, is back in town. She wants to meet and talk, but Gio is confused. Should he forgive her? Should he tell her that she gave up her chance to be in his life? Adding to Gio’s confusion is the attractive new boy that he meets in school. Are they friends? Or more than friends? There are no simple answers, but Gio is bound and determined to figure things out anyway.

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