Introducing Your 2022 Best Fiction for Young Adults Team

Hello, YALSA members and Hub readers! I am Allie Stevens, and this is my second year to serve as coordinator for the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults blogging team. I have been on selected list blogging teams for several years, including as coordinator of the 2019 Quick Picks team. I work as the Director of the tiny Calhoun County Library in Hampton, AR and live on an 80-acre farm with my partner, our two kids, two dogs (Nala is pictured below), and three cats. 

The Best Fiction for Young Adults team selects titles based on literary merit and appeal to young adult readers (ages 12-18), taking into account factors such as relevant themes for teens, realistic language, a well-designed and smoothly paced plot, and deep characterization. We consider only prose or verse fiction titles – no nonfiction or graphic novels. Team members discover and read books all year and suggest them to the rest of the team; each book is read and voted on by a minimum of 3 committee members before it becomes an official BFYA nomination. The blogging process will look a little different this year, with one featured review per week rather than a long-form blog post for every nominated title. After a title becomes an official nomination, every member of the team reads it and it is discussed. After the nominations window closes in early November, the team begins to vote on the titles that will appear on the final Best Fiction for Young Adults list. 

Eligible titles for this year’s list will have US publication dates between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021, and anyone can nominate titles for committee review by filling out this form. (Please note: publishers and authors cannot nominate their own books, although they are free to submit titles to the committee for evaluation. Email alliestevens020@gmail.com for a list of mailing addresses.)


The rest of the #BFYA2022 team is made up of librarians from all over the country. They are: 

  • Lindsay Bailey – Belfast, ME
  • Heather Christensen – Portales, NM
  • Matt Clark – Toronto, ON
  • Megan Jackson – Philadelphia, PA
  • Stephanie Johnson – Monroe, NC
  • Amanda Kordeliski – Norman, OK
  • Shelbie Marks – Oklahoma City, OK
  • Kali Olson – Minneapolis, MN
  • Beth Slade – Hudson, OH
  • Courtney Waters – Jefferson City, MO

We are ready to hit the ground running after ALA Midwinter Conference, and are so excited to share our nominations for the #BFYA2022 selected list with you all this year! Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions and share any suggested titles through our field nomination form

Happy reading! 

— Allie Stevens (she/her)

2022 Best Fiction for Young Adults Coordinator

2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults

2021 BFYA Top Ten

The 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults list is now available!

The full list consists of 85 titles selected from 124 official nominations, which were posted and discussed in blog posts on The Hub. From that list, and after receiving teen feedback during a virtual session in early January, the team created a short list of the top ten titles.

In addition to the full list, the blogging team chose the following titles as its top ten titles:

  • Be Not Far from Me by Mindy McGinnis. Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. 2020. $18.99. ISBN: 9780062561626.
  • Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Swoon Reads/Macmillan. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9781250250469.
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. HarperTeen/HarperCollins. 2020. $18.99. ISBN: 9780062882769.
  • Deeplight by Frances Hardinge. Amulet Books/ABRAMS. 2020. $19.99. ISBN: 9781419743207.
  • Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson. Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9780062840356.
  • More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Hachette. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9780316492355.
  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. Amulet Books/ABRAMS. 2020. $18.99. ISBN: 9781419739828.
  • This Is My America by Kim Johnson. Random House Books for Young Readers. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9780593118764.
  • We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez. Philomel Books/Penguin Random House. 2020. $18.99. ISBN: 9781984812261.
  • What I Carry by Jennifer Longo. Random House Books for Young Readers. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9780553537710.

The suggestion form for the 2022 Best Fiction for Young Adults list is open. If you’d like to suggest a title to the blogging team for consideration as a nominee, please fill out the form.

A very big thank you goes out to the members of the Best Fiction for Young Adults Blogging Team for all the hard work, time, and effort they put into creating the list. The members are: Coordinator, Allie Stevens, Calhoun County Library, Hampton, AR; Heather Christensen, Portales High School Library, Portales, NM; Michael Fleming, Juanita High School Library, Kirkland, WA; Laura Giunta, Garden City Public Library, Garden City, NY; Stephanie Johnson, Union County Public Library, Monroe, NC; Amanda Kordeliski, Norman Public Schools, Norman, OK; Lisa Krok, Morley Library, Cleveland, OH; Jodi Kruse, R.A. Long High School Library, Longview, WA; Shelbie Marks, Del City Library (Metropolitan Library System), Oklahoma City, OK; Kali Olson, The Blake School, Minneapolis, MN; Karen Stevens, Somerville Public Library, Somerville, MA; Andrea Vernola, Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo, MI; and Emily Walker, Lisle Library District, Lisle, IL.

We’d also like to give a special thank you to all the teens who participated in the teen feedback session. Thank you!

What to Do After Your Debut? Keep Writing, Of Course!

The 2021 Morris Award Finalists (shown above) were announced in December, and the winner will be revealed at the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 25. First granted in 2009, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award recognizes the most impressive debut published in Young Adult Literature each year.

With more than a decade of winners to look back on, let’s see which of our former debuts are still impressing readers today.

2010’s Morris Award went to L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout. Tragically, the author passed away just a year after receiving the award. The rest of the finalists from that year, however, have continued to contribute to YA in significant ways, perhaps none more notably that Nina LaCour, who went on to win the 2018 Printz Award for We Are Okay. LaCour’s latest novel, Watch Over Me, has been nominated for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selected List.

In fact, several names on the 2021 BFYA nominations list were originally finalists for the Morris Award, including 2015’s Jessie Ann Foley, 2016’s Anna-Marie McLemore, 2018’s Nic Stone, and David Yoon in 2020.

Last year’s winner, Ben Phillippe, has been nominated. Both the winner of the 2019 Morris Award and one of its finalists have companion books that were nominated — Adib Khorram with Darius the Great Deserves Better and Tomi Adeyemi with Children of Virtue and Vengeance. And Becky Albertalli, the winner in 2016, is enjoying praise this year for Yes No Maybe So, cowritten with Aisha Saeed.

What about books out in 2021? Morris Award recipients have those, too!

Just released is Concrete Rose, 2018 Morris Award winner Angie Thomas’s follow up to The Hate U Give.

And out in August is In the Wild Light from 2017 Morris Award winner Jeff Zentner.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The moral of the story is this: no matter which finalist is chosen in 2021, we will look forward to reading them for years to come.

2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults List Announced

The official titles of YALSA’s 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) list have been announced.

The list consists of 71 titles which were posted and discussed in blogposts on The Hub. View the full list here. The top ten titles were selected after receiving feedback at the BFYA Teen Feedback Session that took place at ALA’s 2020 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

The top ten titles are:

  • The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. By Ben Philippe. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray. $18.99 (9780062824110).
  • Girls on the Verge. By Sharon Biggs Waller. Holt. $17.99 (9781250151698).
  • Heroine. By Mindy McGinnis. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. $17.99 (9780062847195).
  • Like a Love Story. By Abdi Nazemian. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray. $17.99 (9780062839367).
  • Lovely War. By Julie Berry. Viking. $18.99 (9780451469939).
  • On the Come Up. By Angie Thomas. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray. $18.99 (9780062498564).
  • Patron Saints of Nothing. By Randy Ribay. Penguin/Kokila. $17.99 (9780525554912).
  • Pet. By Akwaeke Emezi. Random/Make Me a World. $17.99 (9780525647072).
  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them. By Junauda Petrus. Dutton. $17.99 (9780525555483).
  • With the Fire on High. By Elizabeth Acevedo. HarperTeen. $17.99 (9780062662835). 

The suggestion form for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults list is open. If you’d like to suggest a title to the blogging team for consideration as a nominee, please fill out the form.

A huge thank you goes out to the BFYA blogging team for all the hard work and time they put into curating this great list. Thank you!

Members of the 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults Blogging Team are: Coordinator, Kimmie DePinto, High Plains Library District, Greeley, CO; Jodi Kruse R.A. Long High School Library, Longview, WA; Michael Fleming, Juanita High School, Kirkland, WA; Isaiah West, Alexandria Library, Alexandria, VA; Molly Dettmann, Norman North High School, Norman, OK; Alicia Abdul, Albany High School, Albany, NY; Laura Giunta Garden City Public Library, Garden City, NY; Stephanie Charlefour, Keene, NH; Barbara, CA; Audrey Hopkins, Oak Lawn Public Library, Dallas, TX; Ness Shortley, Horton Middle School, Pittsboro, NC; Molly Wetta, Santa Barbara Public Library, Santa Barbara, CA; and with the help of administrative assistant Molly Moore, Bishop, GA.

2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults List

Have you heard? The Best Fiction for Young Adults list has been released! Check out the top ten below!

  • Arnold, Elana. What Girls Are Made Of. Lerner/Carolrhoda Lab. 2017. Sixteen-year-old Nina experiences sex, betrayal, loss, and a dysfunctional home life, all while trying to understand what it means to be female in the world and whether love can ever be truly unconditional.
  • Bardugo, Leigh. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic. Illus. by Sara Kipin. Macmillan/Imprint. 2017. Traditional fairy tales are refreshingly twisted, re-created, and wrapped in gorgeous illustrations in this stand-alone collection of six short stories. The world-building will be familiar to Bardugo’s fans, and readers new to her Grishaverse have the pleasure of knowing they can take further excursions into this world.
  • Lee, Mackenzi. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 2017. Montague, the son of a British nobleman, embarks on a European tour with his best friend (and secret crush) Percy and his sister Felicity. Along the way, they encounter adventure and conflict that leads them to a very different destiny than the one awaiting their return to England.
  • Moon, Sarah. Sparrow. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2017. Sparrow has a secret: her closest friends are birds. When she feels anxious, she goes to the roof and flies. One day, this practice lands her in the hospital, facing questions from the adults in her life. Slowly, she recovers, finds her voice, and makes new friends along the way.
  • Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. 2017. Will’s brother has been shot. In this free-verse novel, Will steps into an elevator ready to head downstairs and to follow the rules he’s been taught and avenge his brother’s death, when he encounters the ghosts of victims of a chain reaction caused by a shooting.

Continue reading 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults List

Contagious Passion: Characters Doing What They Love

“The things that you do should be things that you love, and things that you love should be things that you do.” -Ray Bradbury

Passion is contagious. I love hearing people talk about what they love. I’m sucked into their story, even if they are describing something I didn’t find remotely interesting prior to that moment. This is just as true for me in fiction as it is in real life. I am almost immediately won over by characters in a ruthless pursuit of a passion, whether it manifests in a career aspiration, hobby, vocation or, dare we say, calling. Below are just a few characters and their passions I have enjoyed sharing.

Labors of Love:

CathFangiFANGIRL_CoverDec2012-300x444rl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a passionate reader and a fan of the fantasy series featuring boy wizard Simon Snow. But Cath isn’t just a fan, she is an active participant in the fandom.  As “Magicath,” she writes Simon Snow fanfiction, first with her sister and then on her own. Writing fanfiction serves as an escape when her own life is difficult or lonely, and it’s Cath’s own fan base that, in part, helps her gain the confidence she will need to write original characters that tell her own unique story. Fangirl readers not only get to read Cath’s story throughout the novel, but her own Simon Snow fanfiction as well.

Will and her friendsWill and Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge; Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens

If I had to give an award for the most unique hobbies I have ever encountered in fiction, I would give it to Wilhelmina and her friends. As Will introduces her friends to the reader, one of the first things we find out about each of them is what they are passionate about.  Will makes her own lamps mostly out of objects found in her aunt’s antique shop, her friend Autumn practices puppetry, Noel is constantly baking, and his little sister Reece makes up-cycled jewelry.  Readers looking for a graphic novel offering some D.I.Y. inspiration need look no furNothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Coverther than Will and Whit. One thing I love about Will and her friends’ hobbies is the way they find ways to share them with their community.  When Hurricane Whitney sweeps through, causing a town-wide blackout, and leaving locals bored, Will and her friends each contribute their talents to a makeshift arts carnival. With a phobia of the dark and a tragic past, making lamps becomes a way for Will to cope with her fears and, eventually, process and express her emotions.

Nate, the robotics club, and the cheerleaders Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks; Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Nate is president of the high school’s robotics club, a small but dedicated group, struggling for their school’s meager extracurricular funds.  Unfortunately, the school’s cheerleaders are just as dedicated and want the same funding for their cheer uniforms. Though the two groups initially have it out for each other, they become united by their lack of money, and use a cutthroat robotics competition as a last ditch effort to win prize money.  My favorite part of this graphic novel is that two groups bond over the fact that they both love what they do, even though what they love couldn’t possibly be more different. Nate and his friends have to deal with stereotypes surrounding what they love, but they fight them with an inspirational vengeance. (Cheerleaders are NOT dumb, and don’t EVER tell a girl that she shouldn’t be into robotics!) Continue reading Contagious Passion: Characters Doing What They Love

Hang Out at the Popular Table, or My List-style Love of BFYA

yalsa logoListen, I love a good award.  Oscars?  I’m there.  Grammy’s?  For sure.  Video Music Awards?  Just point me to Kanye (yes, I’m defaulting to Kanye because I will scream if we have to rehash Miley again.  You understand, right?).  But I love book awards more than any other award.  I can’t read all the books in the world (no matter how high I set my Goodreads reading goal), so awards help lead me to the greatest hits.  But you know what I love even more than an award?  A list.  And I’m not alone!  McSweeney’s, Buzzfeed, and Thought Catalog have shown us how America loves them a good list (preferably with animated GIFs).

So, I dream of “best of” lists.   Lists of awesome books that are all uniquely rad but all completely worthy of my precious reading time.  Presented with little fanfare except a Twitter-length description and the unspoken but earnest promise of a good book you won’t regret reading.  I look forward to ALA’s Youth Media Awards, but not for the Newbery or the Printz (okay, maybe a little bit for the Newbery and the Printz).  I’m most looking forward to the Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

So to pay homage to my love of lists and the upcoming 2014 BFYA list (which will name the best books of 2013), here is a list of things I love about the Best Fiction for Young Adults list (and animated GIFs because I know you love them).

  1. Best Fiction takes nominations from YALSA members (like you!), has a committee read them all, and weed out the best books of the year, leaving you with books that will make you fall in love.  The guesswork is gone.
  2. Although we all love to describe and book talk a book as “award-winning,” the Printz award is not going to be an accessible read for every reader.  I have much more luck connecting teens with a great read by using the BFYA list as a jumping off point for recommendations. What teen doesn’t take a book when you go all Emma Stone on them?
  3. “But, Christiana,” you say, “I don’t need a BIG list of things.  I need, like, ten.  Just the best of the best.”  BFYA has thought of that too!  The top 10 of the year are denoted with a star.  If you’re looking for a starting point of the year’s best in YA, second star to the right and straight on till morning.
  4. Last year’s BFYA chair Ted Schelvan was quoted as saying, “our final list is comprised of books a library can be proud to add to their Young Adult collection.”  Which reminds me of the other great part of BFYA: the bang for your buck part (that’s the scientific term).  We’re all trying to do more with less all the time and that includes what we spend money on.  Wouldn’t it be better if we could know we were buying all-stars instead of bench warmers?
  5. Best means books teens AND adults who love good teen lit will love.  Think of it as something of a reverse Alex award.

So– greatest hits.  Not a problem.  I know where you’ll be January 27, but I encourage you not to run away after the Printz and Newbery winners are announced.  BFYA is where all the popular kids (and books) hang out.

-Christiana Congelio, currently reading Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg (and loving it!)

Best Fiction For Young Adults Top Ten 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinThis year’s Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten offers plenty for book lovers to get excited about. There are books here to make you laugh, books to make you cry, and a couple to make you sleep with the lights on. With a wide selection of genres, a diverse mix of characters, beloved favorite authors, and promising new voices, this list truly has something for everyone. When it was first announced, however, I made a horrifying discovery. Even now, it is so embarrassing I can hardly bring myself to admit to it: I had read not a single title on the list. I had a couple sitting on my shelf, but I had not started them yet — not one. As I looked for the best way to tackle the list and then dug in, I started to notice some common themes that kept emerging, drawing interesting and not-always-obvious parallels among these very different books. So if you, too, are not sure where to start with this fantastic list that the committee worked so hard to put together, try one of these entry points.

Continue reading Best Fiction For Young Adults Top Ten 2013