Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, March 20 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.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Publication date: February 4, 2020
ISBN: 978-0062937049

When painfully shy Jamie and change-averse Maya are forced by their mothers to team up to canvas for a local progressive political candidate, it’s not the ideal summer either of them planned. Cultural misunderstandings fly as Jamie helps plan his little sister’s bat mitzvah and Maya fasts for Ramadan, and they never know when the face on the other side of the door they’re knocking on will be an unfriendly one. Still, as election day gets closer, so do Jamie and Maya. And while falling in love might be easy, separating the personal from the political is harder than it seems.

There’s a new small subgenre of rom-com election fiction, and this is one of the best. Jamie and Maya are authentically diverse, realistic teenagers dealing with relatable issues like parental expectations, cultural pressures, online culture, fitting in, and standing out. More unusually, Yes No Maybe So tackles politics, political and social awareness, democracy, change, and action – issues that are only going to become more relevant as the 2020 election nears. Young adult readers are politically engaged, and they will engage with this sweet, smart story.

Readers should check out these other election rom-coms: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert, The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson, and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston.

Kali Olson

Image result for all american muslim girl

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers / Macmillan
Publication Date: November 12, 2019
ISBN: 978-0374309527

After hearing racist comments on an airplane against her Muslim father, Allie acknowledges that her fair Circassian looks present her as White/Christian passing. This becomes even more clear when dating Wells Henderson, whose father is an uber-conservative radio personality. This prompts her to dig deeper into her faith and embrace her culture.

This character-driven story is at times sobering and thought-provoking but also hopeful. Courtney, the #ownvoices author, takes care to point out both privilege and erasure throughout the story.  Allie is a spunky, likeable protagonist, and readers will find themselves rooting for her as she confronts racism and Islamophobia while exploring her faith.  Her determined spirit compels her to follow her heart and find her own place, reading the Quran and learning Arabic so that she can speak with relatives. Whether that means wearing a hijab daily or not, Allie will decide for herself.  Allie ponders what is a “good Muslim” or an “All-American Girl”, and questions if intersectionality is a possibility.

Teens who enjoy stories about exploring culture and identity are ideal readers for this book. Selections such as The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan, Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali, Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, American Panda by Gloria Chao, and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon contain similar themes.

–Lisa Krok

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Wednesday Books / Macmillan
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
ISBN: 9781250237323

Pepper is swim team captain, a transplant from Nashville to New York City, and an overachiever. She’s helping out with her family business Big League Burger by running their Twitter account. Jack is the class-clown who works in his family’s deli. He’s extremely loyal and lashes back when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s well-loved grilled cheese sandwich recipe. Pepper and Jack may be in the middle of a Twitter war, but they are slowly starting to fall for each other.

Tweet Cute is a contemporary, realistic fiction for the ages. It is a fast-paced rom-com with Twitter at its center. Pepper is devoted to her family as is Jack. With all the pressures put on them, they find their Twitter war to be the perfect outlet. The characters are very believable and you can’t help but root for them through this well-developed story that will have you laughing. Family and romantic love are at the heart of this banter-filled novel.

Readers who enjoyed To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han and The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo will be a good fit for this book. Fans of rom-com films like Always Be My Maybe and The Kissing Booth, will also find a lot to love in this story!

Shawn Hinkel