Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert

When We Were Infinite Cover Art

When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
ISBN: 9781534468214

This is it. Senior year. And all Beth wants is to be with her friends as much as possible. Bonded long ago through their shared orchestra experience, Sunny, Jason, Brandon, and Grace are all the family Beth needs. She’s determined to keep them all together and connected, this year and beyond, even if it means losing herself. And she’s also secretly harboring a major crush on Jason. 

When Beth and Brandon accidentally witness Jason’s father assault him, Beth is heartbroken that none of them had any idea what he was going through. As Jason spirals into anger and depression, she anxiously tries to both fix him and hold the whole group together. As often happens in senior year though, each friend must choose their own adventure and find a way to hold on to each other as they go forward.     

Teens who’ve read Picture Us in the Light will recognize Kelly Loy Gilbert’s masterful and empathetic exploration of themes like trauma, family, and the academic pressure teens face. In this novel, Gilbert brings to life the voices of several Asian American teens, expertly weaving the details of their story until the reader is rooting for each one to make their own authentic way in the world. Told by a future, and more confident, Beth, this character-driven story will resonate with fans of other emotionally intense fiction like Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez. 

Andrea Vernola

Other Nominated Titles

  • This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron (June 29, 2021)
  • Curses by Lish McBride (July 20, 2021)
  • Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth (May 25, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.