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.
Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Two hundred years after Cinderella gets her “happily ever after,” not much has changed in Sophia’s village. Every eligible maiden is required to attend an annual ball, after which they are either chosen by a suitor or never seen again. Headstrong Sophia would much prefer to marry her childhood friend Erin, but either way she has no intention of marrying the first man who claims her. While fleeing the ball, she discovers Cinderella’s last remaining descendant, Constance, and together they devise a plan to tear down the carefully built patriarchy that imprisons them.
Action-packed and twisting, this story is a joyride of female empowerment and refusal to acquiesce to a system designed to benefit only men. Sophia is a spitfire, and her unwillingness to go along with the status quo and the life that has been predetermined for her drives the majority of the plot. In Sophia’s world, women are abused and mistreated with absolutely no consequences to the men who treat them as possessions, and readers will feel a sense of kinship with her fight to break out of the cage she was born into and determine her own path.
Cinderella Is Dead will be a hit with fans of other fairytale retellings, “down with the patriarchy” narratives, and anyone looking for queer characters who are breaking down the systems that oppress them. Try sharing with readers of titles such as Malinda Lo’s Ash, L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black, and Melissa Bashardoust’s Girls Made of Snow and Glass.
— Allie Stevens
You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Liz Lighty hates the spotlight, but when the music scholarship she was counting on falls through she will dive into the frenzy of running for prom queen for the chance to win the $10,000 scholarship that comes with the crown. When Mack McCarthy shows up to run for prom queen too, Liz realizes she is falling for the competition.
This is a contemporary LGTBQIA+ romance that features a cast of quirky characters that keep the story banter-filled. It is both heartwarming and humorous. Johnson creates a story of love set in a small town where the main character has grown up black and queer in the Midwest. While mostly a romance, the story deftly covers family, friendships, and anxiety as well.
This is a great choice for anyone who wants a story featuring relatable characters that will make them feel each and every emotion along the way. Give to those who are fans of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Albertalli or the heartfelt and hilarious coming of age story Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker.
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers / Macmillan
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Nina’s decision to take a radio broadcasting class in the second semester of her senior year shouldn’t be too stressful; after all, her biological father is a successful DJ across the country in San Diego. She has enough stress in her life with the pressures of college looming large, her mother’s increasingly serious relationship with the “Dantist,”, and changing dynamics with her sisters. Just when she thought she had it all together, her group project in radio broadcasting starts to implode, and Nina finds love and support from unexpected places.
From the aggravations of working on a group project to the blending of a family, Mills creates a wide cast of characters that are diverse, quirky, relatable, and fun. The relationship between Nina and Jamie has all the awkward appeal of lifelong friends finally realizing the attraction that everyone else in the family has seen and approved. The relationship with her soon-to-be-stepfather is especially noteworthy as Nina’s epiphany about her biological father’s shortcomings do not hinder her from developing a healthy relationship with this kind father figure. Relationships propel the plot with humor, warmth, and the daily squabbles of people who care for one another.
This is a light romance in the vein of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han and 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston.