Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2025) Featured Review: This Terrible True Thing by Jenny Laden

Danielle is living in 1990’s Philadelphia, going to private school, and hoping to be accepted at the Rhode Island School of Design’s art program. But, this is the age of AIDS/HIV and Danielle’s father is gay at a time when very little is known about the disease or mentioned aloud. Her father falls victim to AIDS in a heart-wrenching manner and this propels Danielle to action and to speak out.

Gail Shalon had an age-appropriate voice which was perfect in voicing the pain Danielle felt when her father died. This is the author’s debut novel and takes parts from her own life.  In the print version are many drawings, poems, and journal entries, but the audio version stands on its own without these. In fact, the audio version won the Audie Award for YA 2024. The characters are multi-layered.

This audiobook can be enjoyed by fans of John Green, Jennifer Niven, and Bill Konigsberg. This historical fiction title depicts a time when so little was known about AIDS/HIV and being gay was a hidden topic.  

-Ellen Spring

Other Nominated Titles

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.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Mall Goth by Kate Leth

  • Mall Goth
  • by Kate Leth
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Publication Date: September 26, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781534476943

Malls make a comeback in this early 2000s-inspired book about a teen looking for community and a place to be herself. Liv Holme is a high school student who moves to a new town while her parents struggle in their marriage, and she discovers the mall as solace. Trying to find her place at school, Liv slowly befriends two classmates who share similar interests and aesthetics and captures the attention of one of her teachers. Little does she know that the new-found validation from an authority figure at school may devolve into something sinister. 

Mall Goth explores the intricacies of being a teen in a new school and trying to find one’s place. The book presents common scenarios teens struggle with, particularly the possibility of falling victim to predators. The characters are authentic, relatable and likable. They are representative of different body sizes, and even if there isn’t much cultural diversity present, it feels like it channels a small town’s energy. The art is compelling, and the color palette fits the story’s mood and the characters’ quirkiness. 

People interested in Mariko Tamaki will find it enjoyable, as it has similar vibes to I Am Not Starfire and Skim, as well as those that loved Netflix’s Wednesday. As a bonus, for those who loved or enjoyed the 2000’s rock music scene, a recommended playlist for the book would definitely include Linkin Park, Evanescence, Korn and Deftones.

–Verónica Muñiz-Soto

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: September 5, 2023
Release Date: November 4, 2022

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2025) Featured Review: Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid by Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert

  • Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid
  • by Ngozi Ukazu and Mad Rupert
  • First Second
  • Publication Date: 2/13/2024
  • ISBN-13: 9781250193513

Molly Bauer is thrilled to be starting freshman year at PICA, the (expensive) art school that dominates her hometown of Peachtree, Georgia. But when she shows up for the first day of orientation, she finds her full-ride scholarship has vanished due to a bureaucratic mix-up. Desperate to fix the issue without letting her moms find out, Molly stumbles upon the perfect solution – a little-known athletic scholarship that will pay for a full year of tuition. The only requirement? She’ll need to assemble a rag-tag group of softball players and win a single game. 

Bunt! is a charming and laugh-out-loud funny mix of sports and romance, as well as an acknowledgement of the complexities of navigating scholarships, student debt, and institutions of higher education. Mad Rupert’s art style is bold and vibrantly colorful, contributing to the fun and fast-paced energy of the story. Characters display a wide range of skin tones and body types, and multiple queer identities are represented. 

Fans of Ngozi Ukazu’s previous series Check, Please! will be sure to enjoy the similar mix of energetic humor, college sports, and queer romance. Readers looking for more of the quirky group dynamics and unlikely-sports-team-made-up-of-art-kids antics of The Avant Guards will find much to enjoy in Bunt!. Bunt! will also appeal to watchers of the TV series A League of Their Own who enjoy sapphic romance and queer characters and are willing to make the jump from baseball to softball. 

-–Meg Bowie

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Rubi Ramo’s Recipe for Success by Jessica Parra, Narrated by Karla Serrato

  • Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success
  • by Jessica Parra
  • Narrated by Karla Serrato
  • Dreamscape Media, LLC
  • Publication Date: May 16, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781666633634

Senior Rubi Ramos has a plan. 1. Get accepted to Alma University and 2. Become a successful lawyer, just as her bakery owner, Cuban-American parents expect of her. But when Rubi is waitlisted, she’s determined to fix that by finding a math tutor and leading her debate team to the championship, all while keeping the waitlist and baking beyond her work at the bakery a secret. What could go wrong? It turns out Rubi’s passion for baking and competing in the bake off could help with being accepted to Alma and also help with realizing her dream. 

Jessica Parra’s debut into YA features topics she is familiar with as a lawyer and the daughter of Guatemalan and Cuban bakers. Parra’s characters are both entertaining and believable and Serrato’s narration gives personality to each. The cover gives romance, yet overall the story is more coming-of-age with Rubi’s relationship with her parents, her friends, and her teammates as well as the decisions she ultimately has to make.  

For readers who enjoyed  A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey; reading about the expectations of traditional family values in When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon or the strong-willed protagonist in Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.

-Lysha Thompson  

Other Nominated Titles

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.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Featured Review: The Truth About Everything by Bridget Farr

  • The Truth About Everything
  • by Bridget Farr
  • Publisher: Flux
  • Release Date: October 11, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781635830804

Lark’s off-the-grid, conspiracy-theorist parents claim to homeschool her but in reality, her education stopped long ago. Now she spends her days completing chores on their farm and hanging out with her only friend Alex. Her first period, with no previous knowledge of menstruation, leads her to secretly enroll in school and her worldview is soon blown apart. Lark quickly begins to question everything she has been taught and to engage with the world from which she has been shut away. But there are consequences for her actions back home.

Many teens are used to complaining about school so the idea of education not even being an option and the loss of everything that comes is eye-opening. Lark’s struggle to come to terms with the fact that her parents are wrong is difficult but something teens will face, though probably not to this extent. Lark is a naive and smart character who grows by leaps and bounds. Readers get to experience every self-doubt with her. These themes will be familiar with readers.

Readers who enjoy books about difficult families or unique family situations will enjoy this novel. Hand this to fans of We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss and Smoke by Darcy Woods

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 3, 2023
Release Date: February 28, 2023

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.