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.
This Is My America by Kim Johnson
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Tracy’s falsely accused father has been on death row for seven years. Her small Texas town always did find it easier to blame the new Black man in town for the double murder of a white couple, but now things get even worse when her brother is accused of killing a white classmate. With Jamal on the run and the clock ticking on her father’s life, Tracy has just 267 days to uncover the racist secrets of the past — and the present — and prove her family’s innocence.
This Is My America exposes the inherent injustice of the justice system through the story of Black teenager and wannabe journalist Tracy Beaumont, whose father and brother are both victims of racism and corrupt policing. But Tracy believes heart and soul in the social justice movements that will prove her family innocent, and readers will be right there for every step of her desperate journey — especially as they see the Beaumonts’ story play out all too often in real life on the news and social media. Part murder mystery, part history lesson, This Is My America will inspire its readers to action.
Hand to social justice-minded teens who are watching “13th” and “The Innocence Files” on Netflix, and to readers of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys, Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, short story collection Black Enough, and Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
A fantasy story with nobles and pirates, witches and mermaids sounds familiar, but in Tokuda-Hall’s fantasy debut all is new. Do-what-it-takes orphan Flora turned pirate Florian befriends an unwanted imperial daughter en route to her arranged marriage. What Lady Evelyn Hasegawa doesn’t know is that the captain is planning to sell all the passengers into slavery before the trip is over.
With original worldbuilding and complex gender-fluid characters, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea explores the gray area between good and evil. None of these characters are exactly what they seem. Set in a dark world of colonialism, violence, and misogyny — and mythical creatures — both Florian and Evelyn must decide what is worth saving, and what they are willing to sacrifice.
Teens looking for memorable stories with LGBTQIA+ relationships and unique settings might also enjoy Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta, The Afterward by E.K. Johnston, or The Disasters by M.K. England.