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.
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Disney-Hyperion / Hachette Books
Publication date: May 14, 2019
Rosa Santos, like her mother and grandmother before her, has been cursed by the sea: Any man she loves is doomed to die. So, Rosa has her future planned out: a university with a study-abroad program to Cuba so she can reconnect with her heritage. Instead, the program gets cancelled, her town’s harbor is under threat, and a cute boy with a boat captures her attention. With everyone counting on her, can Rosa pull everything together in time?
This contemporary Latinx romance has everything: a curse, humor, grief, and a happy ending. Rosa Santos is a delightful character, a self-described type A planner who tries to control the chaos left by her mother, who flits into and out of her life without warning. Alex seems like a bad boy sailor with tattoos but cares deeply about his community and his family beneath his gruff exterior. The mother-daughter relationships are beautiful—as is the relationship between Rosa and her grandmother. This book will make readers laugh and cry. It shows a version of the immigrant experience, the Latinx experience, and the diaspora experience that can function as a counter story to the dominant narratives about those experiences.
Readers who loved Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the TV show “Jane the Virgin,” and the romance anthology Meet Cute will enjoy this one.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Push / Scholastic
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Ben De Backer didn’t expect their parents to completely understand what being nonbinary meant, but they never expected that they would kick them out of the house. Ben has to move in with their estranged sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, and finish out their senior year of high school at a new school in a new city. There, Ben faces a dilemma: Should they be out at school? What would that mean? Would their new friends accept them? Will Nathan, the cute and sweet boy next-door, whom Ben is beginning to fall for?
I Wish You All the Best is an own voices coming-of-age tale about a nonbinary teen. Though Ben’s coming out to their parents was traumatic, that isn’t the main focus of this story. Instead, Ben seeks to rebuild the relationship with their sister, who left them with their emotionally abusive parents when she went off to college. Deaver portrays Ben’s mental illnesses realistically and without falling into the many stereotypes often seen in fictional portrayals of disability. There are also plenty of lighter moments, including the sweet friendship with Nathan. Deaver tells this story with a wry and heart-wrenching deftness that will leave readers rooting for Ben the whole way through.
Fans of Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, and Mark Oshiro will enjoy this book.