Kiss and Tell by Adib Khorram
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication Date: March 22, 2022
Hunter is a member of the internationally beloved boy band Kiss and Tell, on their first North American tour. He’s also the only queer member of the band, and going through his first breakup. A messy, public breakup, after his ex posts their texts online. As if that’s not enough, he’s contending with The Label creating and controlling his image of the perfect queer teen role model, and a budding romance with another musician on the tour. Homophobia is present in the text, though never condoned.
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All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown
Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: March 8, 2022
Andrew and Jamie, both with secrets of their own, lost everyone they cared about after a deadly pathogen killed off much of the population, but they find each other when they need it most and begin a dangerous trek together to search for civilization.
All That’s Left in the World is told from the point of view of Andrew, an expert at telling hilarious sarcastic jokes, and Jamie, a hopeful and kind person who loves Hallmark movies. Andrew is looking for help after he gets his leg stuck in a bear trap when he comes across Jamie’s cabin, and the rest is history.
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Answers in the Pages by David Levithan
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 10, 2022
Three different storylines intertwine to reveal the importance of stories, representation, and standing up for the right to read. The story opens from the perspective of Donovan who is reading a book titled, The Adventurers for school. His mom reads the last sentence of the book and goes on to challenge the title in front of the school board based on her presumption that the book contains LGBTQIA+ themes. This storyline is intersected with actual excerpts from The Adventurers, as well as the story of Gideon, a boy who is experiencing new feelings towards a boy who just moved to his school.
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Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Publication Date: September 21, 2022
Loosely based on the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female Chinese emperor, Iron Widow follows 18-year-old Zetian as she infiltrates the military to avenge her sister’s murder and then dismantle the patriarchal system that made the murder possible.
In Huaxia, a futuristic Chinese-inspired world, humans battle the alien Hundun in an endless war. To hold their own against the insectile Hundun, soldiers pilot giant mecha Chrysalises that take the shape of mythical animals and use qi as fuel, needing both the male yang and female yin energy. While male pilots are celebrated as idols, their female partners are subservient concubine-pilots, and usually die during battle.
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I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Penguin Random House
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
17-year-old Cristian’s family, like everyone else’s in 1989 Romania, is suffering under the yoke of Ceaușescu’s totalitarian regime. Food is scarce, listening devices and spies are ubiquitous, and dissent is quickly stamped out under the threat of imprisonment. When Cristian is picked up by the secret police, the Securitate, he is blackmailed into informing on the son of an American diplomat in order to help save his ill grandfather. Dismayed at being forced to betray a friend, Cristian turns to recording his dangerous thoughts into a hidden notebook.
This fast-paced work of historical fiction focuses on an era many readers may not be aware of. Fans of dystopian fiction as well as historical fiction will be aghast at the level of oppression and manipulation Romanian citizens endured for decades under the rule of strongman dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu. Extensive supplemental materials, including photos, an author’s note, and recommendations for further research, help drive home the realities of life under Ceaușescu as well as the bloody revolution that ended his reign in 1989.
Fans of Ruta Sepetys’s other works of historical fiction will not be disappointed. For readers interested in learning more about what life was like in former Communist countries, Walls by L.M. Elliott or House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker would be strong choices.
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 Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
In this retelling of a classic Korean folktale, sixteen-year-old Mina sacrifices herself to the Spirit Realm to save her brother’s beloved from the same fate. Mina then begins her quest to wake the Sea God to end the sacrifices of young women and stop the storms that are destroying her homeland. She meets many demons, gods, and spirits, both friend and foe, along the way.
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A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin
Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Ning is wracked with guilt after accidentally brewing the poison tea that kills her mother. The same tea now threatens to take her sister, Shu. She obsessively searches for a cure, but to no avail. Her mother was skilled in the art of magical tea making, but she died before Ning could master the gift.
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I Am the Ghost in Your House by Maria Romasco Moore
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Seventeen-year-old Pie (short for Pieta) is invisible, and the only other person who can see her is her equally transparent mother. The upside? They can stay in the most luxurious homes, enjoy the fanciest food and clothes and take everything they want. The downside? They can never stay in one place too long, as being discovered almost always leads to freakouts about ghosts and exorcisms. Unlike her mother, who views invisibility as necessary camouflage, Pie longs to be seen–especially by Tess, the girl she fell in love with while “haunting” her house.
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Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Years of foster care have severely damaged Black, bisexual teen Bitter’s ability to trust anyone, but she has come to feel safe at Eucalyptus, a home for vulnerable teen artists. There, she is able to pursue her art and, occasionally, bring it temporarily to life by bringing it into contact with her blood. When Bitter starts to engage with teens from Assata, a social justice group, her fury at the wealthy white people in control of their town, Lucille, results in the creation of a monster that calls itself Vengeance. Horrified at what she has created, Bitter is forced to work through her anxieties in order to find a way to stop a bloodbath.
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I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
St. Martin’s Publishing
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
At the beginning of her freshman year, Chloe Green and her moms move from California to small town Alabama. Although it is not her scene, Chloe enrolls at Willowgrove Christian Academy which has excellent academics. There she is able to find her people through the drama club plus an academic rival in golden girl, Shara Wheeler – who disappears on senior prom night. Chloe and two unlikely allies, Smith, Shara’s boyfriend, and Rory, Shara’s neighbor, embark on a mission to find her before graduation. They must succeed, otherwise Chloe’s near certain valedictory triumph will ring hollow. Includes an author note at the beginning with content warnings of religious trauma and homophobia.
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