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.
Lobizona by Romina Garber
Wednesday Books / Macmillan
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Manu has lived her whole life in a bubble, unable to truly exist in the world due to both her undocumented status and her unusual, unforgettable eyes. When her surrogate grandmother dies and her mother is arrested by ICE, she strikes out on her own and uncovers the true history of her Argentinian father’s family and the magic she didn’t know she possessed.
This first volume in the Wolves of No World series is based on real Argentine folklore about seventh sons and werewolves. In her #OwnVoices story, Argentinian-American Garber tackles immigration and gender identity through the lens of werewolves and brujas at a secret boarding school complete with its own original sport, à la Hogwarts. Gorgeous and inventive world-building, complex character development of multiple secondary characters, and a plot that grows in intensity with the main character’s expanding knowledge of her familial history combine to create a gripping, powerful tale.
Readers who enjoy complex, immersive series titles such as Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes, or Rin Chupeco’s Bone Witch will find much to love here, and especially good pairings include Zoraida Cordova’s Brooklyn Brujas and Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper series.
More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Hachette
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Despite the fact he somehow got nominated for Renaissance Man – a contest to determine the most impressive academic boy at his school – Danyal is poorly suited for it. He gets by each day on his charm and looks, skating on the academic duties. As he prepares for the contest, he meets Bisma, a girl whose reputation has been compromised in her community due to relations with a boy. She is protecting her heart and considers herself damaged goods. He knows he shouldn’t be interested in her, yet he is, and romance grows.
Self-concepts of both the main characters are scrupulously examined and changed during the book, along with perhaps our preconceived conceptions. Danyal has to grow beyond his surface personality to show true depth, and Bisma has to decide whether she or others will set her worth. Other characters we care about help to give the book depth, but the strength of this book is a rom-com type romance, set in the real world of community and parental expectations bearing down on young people.
Give to fans of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menonfor the culture clash comparison, and Kasie West’s Listen to Your Heart for the pure romance component, as Danyal and Bisma fall in love.