Diverse YA Books from BEA

I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend BEA (Book Expo America) this week in NYC since I live in NJ.  BEA will be held in Chicago next year, so I think this is the last time I’ll be going for a long time. I thought I would help those of you out who are going – or not going – by highlighting some of the diverse YA books available as ARCs that you might want to be on the lookout for. The need for more diversity in youth literature is ongoing, led largely by the We Need Diverse Books campaign. The following list of books and their descriptions are taken directly from SLJ’s BEA Guide to ARCs & Signings. 

Photo May 25, 4 48 16 PMLizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick, 9/8/15, ages 14 & up)

In a futuristic society run by an all-powerful Gov, a bender teen on the cusp of adulthood has choices to make that will change her life – and maybe the world by the author of Blue Fish.



Photo May 25, 4 25 32 PMThe Bamboo Sword by Margi Preus. (Abrams, 9/15/15, ages 10-14)

This is a companion book to Preus’s 2011 Newbery Honor Book Heart of a Samurai. In 1853 in Japan, Yoshi, a Japanese boy who dreams of someday becoming a samurai is taken up by Manjiro and becomes his servant and secret watchdog. Meanwhile, Jack, a cabin boy on Commodore Matthew Perry’s USS Susquehanna, becomes separated from his American companions while on shore. When he and Yoshi cross paths, they set out on a grand adventure to get Jack back to his ship before he is discovered by the shogun’s samurai.

Photo May 25, 6 15 19 PMA Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern (HarperCollins, 10/13/15, ages14-17)

Sometimes the worst thing you can do is nothing at all. This honest and heartfelt novel by the author of Say What You Will follows a disabled young adult who is attacked and a fellow student who witnessed the crime but failed to act.



Photo May 25, 7 46 04 PMNot if I See You First by Eric Lindstrom (Little, Brown; 12/1/15, ages 15-18)

Parker Grant is a junior in high school who loves to run, has great friends, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind – especially when it comes to how stupid some people can be around a blind person like her. The only topic to avoid is how Parker feels about the boy who broke her heart in eighth grade…who has just transferred to her school. And as long as she can keep giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago, she’ll be just fine. Right?


Photo May 25, 8 12 04 PMSoundless by Richelle Mead (Pengiun Young Readers, 11/10/15, ages 12 & up)

Fei is from a village where there is no sound. When suddenly the villagers begin to lose their sight and their source of food, Fei, who can suddenly hear, has to save her village from darkness and starvation. 



Photo May 25, 8 26 53 PMThe Rose Society by Marie Lu (Penguin Young Readers, 10/13/15, ages 12 & up)

Once upon a time, a one-eyed girl had a father, a prince, and a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all. This is the highly anticipated follow-up to The Young Elites (2015 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)


Photo May 25, 8 31 59 PMJuniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings (Penguin Young Readers, 9/22/15, ages 14 & up)

Lea Lane, part Hawaiian, part Mainlander has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until her junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.



Photo May 25, 8 38 03 PMThe Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (Simon & Schuster, 9/22/15, ages 14 & up)

In the future, the UN has brought back an ancient way to keep the peace. The children of world leaders are held hostage – if a war begins, they pay with their lives. (I’ve read this and really liked it. The characters are multiracial and are of diverse sexual orientation).



Photo May 26, 12 55 16 AMMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (Solo Teen, 6/2/15, ages 14-17)

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one near-future Bronx summer. (I’m looking forward to reading this. So far, it’s received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal).


Photo May 26, 12 56 37 AMThe Girl With the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller (Solo Teen, 11/3/15, age 14 & up)

A 17-year-old scarred girl’s obsession with a boy she randomly meets in a coffee shop plunges her into a search for his missing fiancé. Her harrowing journey with him uncovers a series of mysteries, each more personally relevant, forcing her to confront everything she’s ever believed or known to be real – and whether the life she’s investigating is really her own.



Photo May 25, 9 14 58 PMThis is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (Sourcebooks, 1/5/16, ages 14-17)

Over the course of 54 minutes, the students at Opportunity High struggle to survive – and to understand why one boy started shooting. A harrowing debut from an executive member of We Need Diverse Books.



Photo May 25, 9 17 55 PMDream Things True by Marisa Marquardt (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9/1/15, ages 13-17)

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town.



Did I miss any? Some book descriptions don’t mention diverse content, so let me know if I missed some upcoming books to look for at BEA.

-Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge