Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
St. Martin’s Publishing
Publication Date: May 3, 2022
ISBN: 9781250244451

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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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of Loveless by Alice Oseman

Loveless by Alice Oseman
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: March 1, 2022
ISBN: 9781338751932

White, British, romcom-loving teen Georgia has always been told that she would eventually find someone she would be attracted to, but Georgia is tired of waiting. For her first year at university, she is determined to find someone that she likes in that way. But after a few revelations, it starts to become clear to Georgia that attraction doesn’t work the same way for her as it seems to for everyone else. Good thing she has some amazing friends to help her figure things out.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

Ace of Spades. By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends, $18.99 (9781250800817). 

Ambitious queen bee Chiamaka and loner scholarship kid Devon are the only Black students at school. That’s all they have in common until an online bully going by the name “Aces” starts spilling all their secrets. Chiamaka and Devon will have to join forces to bring Aces down—or lose everything.

Bad Witch Burning. By Jessica Lewis. Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press, $17.99 (9780593177389). 

Katrell’s ability to converse with the dead has been earning her enough money to help her mom pay bills and buy food. When she makes a startling discovery about her abilities around the same time she receives a dire warning to stop using her magic, Katrell is faced with an impossible decision.

Barry Squires, Full Tilt. By Heather Smith. 2020. Penguin Random House Canada/Penguin Teen, $17.99 (9780735267466). 

After watching a performance of Irish step dancers, Barry Squires decides he was meant for tap shoes. The trick will be convincing everyone around him to give him a chance.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork

On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork
Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
ISBN: 978-1338692150

The last few years haven’t been easy for Hector and his family. His father’s untimely death resulted in the loss of their home and subsequent move to the projects, and sent his brother Fili into a battle with depression and alcohol abuse. But things seem to be looking up–Hector’s become a star player on the school’s chess team and just recently won a prestigious essay contest. Even Fili seems to be doing better. Then, Joey, the younger brother of a local gang member, targets Hector, intimidating him and threatening to kill him. Terrified, but too afraid to tell anyone, Hector’s life begins spiraling downhill again, culminating in a tragic encounter that lands Hector in a reformatory school along with his nemesis, Joey. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry Cover Art

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
HarperCollins / HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
ISBN: 978-0063024793

Quinn, a wealthy Black high school senior at a predominantly white private school in Austin, TX, keeps deeply personal lists in her journal, like “If I Could Kiss Anyone,” and “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud.” When a mixup with Carter, one of the few other Black students in school, results in Quinn’s journal being held by anonymous blackmailers who threaten to post her most humiliating lists on social media unless she completes her “To Do Before I Graduate” list (including confessing her love to her best friend, admitting she didn’t get into the Ivy League school her parents think she did, and finally visiting her grandma with dementia), Carter offers to help Quinn complete the items on her list and find the blackmailers.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

You'll Be the Death of Me Cover Art

You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus
Penguin Random House / Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
ISBN: 978-0593175866 

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal drifted apart after “The Best Day Ever” in middle school when they all snuck out of a boring field trip to explore downtown Boston. When the ex-friends find themselves alone in the high school parking lot one morning, it seems like too good a sign to ignore. They skip school again–and immediately stumble into secrets, scandal, and mystery. They spot Brian “Boney” Mahoney downtown, also missing class, and follow him to his own murder. In one fell swoop, The Best Day Ever 2.0 turns very, very bad indeed. Now the cops have questions, classmates’ wild speculations are going viral online, and the trio’s own secrets from each other threaten their delicate new alliance. Who killed Boney–and who’s trying to frame Ivy, Cal, and Mateo for murder?

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season Cover Art

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Macmillan / Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1250624123

Latinx teen Graciela attends a party and is sexually assaulted along with a white boy she’s never met before. The boy has been drugged, so Ciela drops him off at the hospital before heading home, vowing to herself that she’ll forget everything that happened that night. Unfortunately, it turns out that forgetting the incident will prove to be difficult as Ciela discovers she has lost her talent for identifying which type of pan dolce the customers at her tia’s pasteleria want before they even know – the talent that earned her the nickname “La Bruja de los Pasteles.” She’s also noticing that objects around her are turning into mirrors, neighborhood trees are disappearing and the annual Santa Ana winds are conspicuously missing this year. To make matters worse, the boy Ciela took to the hospital is her school’s newest student and helping him might be the only way Ciela can start to get her life back.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Beasts of Prey Cover Art

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 28, 2021 
ISBN: 978-0593405680

Koffi and her mother live with and work for the Night Zoo, caring for the magical, monstrous creatures within. When her mother’s life is threatened one night, Koffi accidentally unleashes a power she didn’t know she possessed and must run for her life. Meanwhile, Ekon, second son of a famed military hero, is desperate to prove to his brother that he belongs in the ranks of the Sons of the Six after a disastrous interruption to his final rite of passage. Koffi and Ekon meet by chance and each recognizes a potential path forward if they can locate the Shetani – a magical, murderous beast that has been plaguing the area for almost 100 years. Koffi wants to find the Shetani to sell it in exchange for freedom; Ekon wants to find the Shetani to kill it to prove his mettle as a warrior. Neither is honest with the other about their true motivations, but they will have to find a way to work together if either of them is to survive. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn
Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
ISBN: 978-0525515609

Biracial teen Amandla lives in Sugar Town, a township on the outskirts of Durban, South Africa with her single white mother. Ever cognizant of her mother’s fluctuating mental health, Amandla is concerned when her mother returns home from one of her secret trips to Durban with a large envelope full of cash and a mysterious note. Amandla and her friends decide to follow her mother to Durban where they discover that Amandla has an entire family she knows nothing about, with a history that will change everything she thinks she knows about herself and her mother. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Sway With Me by Syed M. Masood

Sway with Me Cover Art

Sway With Me by Syed M. Masood
Hatchette/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 2, 2021
ISBN: 978-0316492416 

Being homeschooled by his nearly 100-year-old great grandfather (Nana) has left seventeen-year-old Indian American Arsalan with an impressive vocabulary and not an ounce of cool. Considering that Nana doesn’t likely have many years left on this earth, Arsalan comes to the conclusion he needs to get engaged. Not married, just engaged. He just wants a guarantee that he won’t be left alone when Nana dies. So he makes a deal with Beenish, whose stepmother is the “premier matchmaking aunty of the Greater Sacramento Area” and so presumably knows something about the matchmaking process. Beenish agrees to set him up with someone if he will be her dance partner for her sister’s upcoming wedding. A wedding — Arsalan soon discovers — that Beenish wants to end before it happens, primarily through choreographing an outrageously inappropriate dance that will be sure to offend her sister’s in-laws-to-be.

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