Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield

Hurricane Summer Cover Art

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield
Macmillan / Wednesday Books
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
ISBN: 978-1250622235

When Tilla finds out she and her sister will be spending the summer with their often-absent father in his family home in Jamaica, she is torn. On one hand, she’s angry with him for being gone so much, but on the other, she is excited for a chance to learn about her Jamaican heritage and finally get to spend some time with her dad. Unfortunately, he leaves the girls with family in the rural countryside soon after they arrive, and as a hurricane bears down on the island, Tilla struggles to find solid ground amid a shifting, complex family dynamic. 

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Surviving the City, vol. 2: From the Roots Up by Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan

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Surviving the City, vol. 2: From the Roots Up by Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan
HighWater Press
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
ISBN: 9781553798989

Miikwan and Dez’s story continues in this second volume of The Debwe Series. After her grandmother passes, Dez struggles with her loss and grief. She lives in a group home, but feels lonely and out of place. Dez’s romantic relationship with Kacey grows, but Dez hesitates to make it public. Meanwhile, Miikwan develops her own romance with new student Kiel, who is also dealing with a loss. The four attend an after-school gathering called Mino Bimaadiziwin, but when Dez tries to sit at the drum with the other young men, she is initially denied until an elder, Geraldine, intervenes. Miikwan also defends Dez, and Dez finally reveals her identity as a Two-Spirit person. The four students convince Geraldine that the old protocols are exclusionary and antithetical to Mino Bimaadiziwin or “the good life,” and Riel’s Auntie Alex is invited to share about Two-Spirit teachings. Afterward, everyone, no matter their gender or sexuality, is welcomed back into the circle.

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April: Cruelest Month or Kindest? National Poetry Month

T. S. Eliot famously opened his classic poem “The Waste Land” by proclaiming April “the cruelest month,” and students everywhere might agree when April rolls around and teachers pull out their well-worn poetry unit. April is National Poetry Month, which for poetry lovers means the spotlight shines on their favorites, old and new. We encourage the celebration of poetry year round, but in honor of the 25th anniversary of this special designation, here are 25 new titles, ideas, and resources to mark the occasion.


1. Though she needs no real introduction, we would be remiss if we didn’t start our list with NY Times #1 bestseller Amanda Gorman and her forthcoming collection, which includes her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

2. Invite your teens to participate in the Dear Poet project, where young people get to engage directly with award-winning poets, such as Janice Lobo Sapigao:

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

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A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
ISBN: 978-1534471245 

Cuban-American Lila Reyes is grief-stricken after the death of her abuela and breakups with her best friend and her boyfriend. Her parents send her from vibrant, sunny Miami to gloomy old England for a change of scenery and a chance to heal, but Lila has a plan for her life, and it involves running the family bakery with her sister after high school instead of summer at her cousins’ English inn. Determined not to enjoy herself, Lila nevertheless cannot resist the call of the inn’s kitchen, which dares her to mix Cuban spice with traditional British baking. Soon, a group of friends (including the cute, thoughtful boy whose family owns the village tea shop) makes life in England not only bearable but thoroughly enjoyable. Now Lila is doing more than falling in love with her new home — she’s questioning everything she thought she knew and everything she thought she wanted.    

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Black History – Black Futures

As we continue in our celebration of Black History Month, we equally celebrate the voices creating rich and brilliant Black Futures. Like this short film from The Movement for Black Lives, countless YA authors are sending visions of a future world into the present and into the hearts of young adult readers everywhere. Here are a few recent or forthcoming examples:

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

This title, selected for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten, draws upon West African folklore and Western fairy tales to create an immersive and complex world that is sure to engage and delight.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Described as perfect for fans of the Dora Milaje from Black Panther, this newly-released high fantasy is poised to join a powerful cohort of strong female characters.

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Celebrating Black Voices

Though we champion Black voices all year long, February is Black History Month, and YALSA member Annierra Matthews has pulled together a list to commemorate and elevate this celebration. Annierra is a Research Services Library at Mercer University in Douglasville, Georgia, and has a passion for YA!


Black History Month (BHM) is quite prominent in most Black households across the United States. Founded in 1924 by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of Black leaders, musicians, writers, athletes, etc., are celebrated throughout February. For teens searching for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are plenty of options: viewing online exhibitions and archives, binging documentaries and films, streaming special programs and recitals, and even supporting black-owned businesses.

For those who prefer to cuddle up with a book, here’s a list of compelling fiction written by Black authors and featuring Black characters. 

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Malik must save his sister from a sinister spirit, and in order to do so, he must kill Crown Princess Karina. Karina, on the other hand, must offer a king’s heart to revive her mother. When Malik and Karina face-off in the Solstasia competition, they contend with falling in love and completing their goal.  

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, August 26 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Clap When You Land cover art

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo; narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte
Quill Tree Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
ISBN: 978-1471409127

Told in two voices, chess champion Yahaira Rios lives in New York City next door to her girlfriend, and Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic with her Aunt. Yahaira was upset with her father when he left for his annual summer trip to the D.R., so when his plane crashes, her feelings are more than complicated. Also on the plane was Camino’s father, whom she only gets to see once a year. Though the two girls never met or even knew about each other before the crash, they come to find out that they have a lot in common. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, May 8 Edition

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
ISBN:  978-0062882769

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.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, October 29 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Simon & Louise by Max de Radiguès
Conundrum Press
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
(Originally published 2017 in France, Éditions Sarbacane)
ISBN: 978-1772620351

Young love is tested in this (translated) French graphic novel told from a “his” and “hers” perspective. Louise is heading to Montpelier for the summer with family, and the day after she leaves Simon receives a break-up text from her. In Simon’s story, he sneaks away from home and hitches a ride to Montpelier to find Louise and win her back. Her story reveals that her decision to break up with Simon was less black and white and more about testing out her feelings and what she wants in relationships.

The clean art style makes it easy for young adult readers to visually follow the plot, and the accompanying text is easy to read and often humorous. The dual narrative makes this story interesting and accessible to teens, who will want to learn more about Louise’s perspective after reading Simon’s story. This is a quick, compelling read that deals with common themes in adolescence. Teens will appreciate the honesty in this book: that figuring out who they are in relation to others isn’t usually easy. Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, October 29 Edition

Foodie Companions for With the Fire On High

 

2019 Printz Winner for The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo’s much anticipated sophomore novel With the Fire On High, is a book about embracing your passions, and charting your future. Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Boricua high school senior has had a gift for cooking since she was young. She and her toddler daughter live with her supportive grandmother, but Emoni needs to decide where she wants to go to school and what she wants to do after graduation. When her school offers a new class, “Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion,” Emoni has a chance to immerse herself in cooking in a way that she can start to see what is possible with her gift.

Foodie readers will swoon over Acevedo’s writing on food and cooking, and it will leave them hungering for more.  Here are a few delicious titles about food and cooking to pair With the Fire On High:

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