Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Shut Up, This is Serious by Carolina Ixta

  • Shut Up, This is Serious
  • by Carolina Ixta
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release date: January 9, 2024
  • ISBN: 9780063287860

Belén is trying to break cycles. It’s her senior year of high school which she may not pass, she’s navigating the loss of her father, and her best friend is pregnant. All she wants is normal. Her family to talk to each other. A boyfriend. She’s struggling with depression and isolates herself from her mother and sister, starts skipping classes, escapes into books, and seeks attention and casual sex from a boy who doesn’t feel anything for her. 

Ixta’s writing is lyrical and poetic, giving Belen such a strong and authentic voice that many teens will relate to. This book explores many important themes such as antiblack racism, colorism, sex/virginity and the ebbs and flows of female friendship. 

While Belén is frustrating at times and in no way perfect, readers will be drawn to her journey of self discovery and acceptance, especially those familiar with existing in a body that they didn’t ask for and what that invites from others.  Offer this to teens who enjoyed I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez or Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado. 

-Alicia Kalan

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 Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA25TeenFB

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Royal Blood by Aimee Carter

  • Royal Blood
  • by Aimee Carter 
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Imprint: Delacorte Press
  • Release date: March 7, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593485910

Evan Bright has been kicked out of many boarding schools but this last infraction included possible felony charges. Which leads her caretaker, Jenkins, with one option, get her out of the country and to her father, the King of England. Evan and the King’s legitimate family have always known about her parentage but when her existence is leaked to the press it becomes the scandal of the century. Soon after her arrival, Evan is assaulted by a friend of the royal family who later ends up dead, leaving her as the prime suspect and public enemy number one. She doesn’t know who to trust and has few people on her side in a foreign country while she is determined to clear her name.

Royalty is a hot topic in books and real life. Evan gets the Meghan Markle treatment in the press clippings that start each chapter. This book gives a peek into how real life mistakes can be twisted to create a narrative for the press. Evan is sympathetic and side characters grow to create a family and support system that Evan so desperately needs. The treatment of sexual assault and mental illness is gentle and educational. 


Readers might also enjoy American Royals by Katherine McGee and The Castle School for Troubled Girls by Alyssa B Sheinmel.

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 17, 2023
Release Date: May 14, 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.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Invisible Son by Kim Johnson

  • Invisible Son
  • by Kim Johnson
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Release date: June 27, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593482100

Seventeen-year-old Andres Jackson just spent two months incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit.  A restorative justice program is allowing him to return to his family home in Northeast Portland–and the neighborhood friends who were actually the guilty parties.  However, Andres’ plans for returning to school and establishing his innocence are interrupted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Andres now must juggle pandemic losses, family struggles, and the realization that perhaps the truth behind who framed him for stealing is much more complicated than he previously thought.  

This title is a suspenseful and dramatic mystery that slowly builds towards an action packed climax.  The story weaves together important aspects of the historical treatment of Blacks in Portland, contemporary social justice themes, a complicated romance storyline, and a slow burning suspenseful mystery plot.  Readers will connect with Andres’ struggle to learn the truth.

Teen readers drawn to storylines about social justice advocacy and emotion-filled dramas will be drawn to this text. Fans of Nic Stone’s Dear Martin and Dear Justyce, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Concrete Rose, and Jason Reynolds’ and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys will enjoy this important story of racial injustice and its intersection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

-Marie LeJeune

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.

The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA24TeenFB

#ICYMI: 8 Books You Might Have Missed

It’s almost the end of 2023 and time to submit your last carts for the year!  If you find yourself with extra funds, here are some titles from the last two years that you might have missed. Some are from debut authors that snuck under the radar, while others are old favorites with new projects.

    • There’s No Way I’d Die First
    • By Lisa Springer
    • Delacorte Press: 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593643174

    This debut is for the horror-obsessed teen and pulls out all the tropes in what ends up being a campy, gory romp. If the tropes aren’t enough of a tell, each chapter starts with a quote from a horror movie and gives a hint to upcoming events. This is an homage to all the greats, with references to Stephen King, Scream, a killer clown with superhuman strength that rivals Michael Myers, and a heavy dose of teen drama. It also tries to tie in some political and social commentary and a hint of romance. Does this require suspension of belief? Yes. That’s the point. Hand to your older teens or your horror movie buffs.

    • Holly Horror
    • by Michelle Jabé Corpora
    • Penguin Workshop, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593386217

    A scary take on our patchwork-clad, bonnet-wearing gal, Holly Hobbie. After her parents split, Evie’s mom moves the family back to her hometown and into the Horror House, so named because Holly vanished from it decades before. As Evie pokes around in the attic and discovers more of Holly’s story, weird things start to happen to her. The book ends on a cliff-hanger and readers will eagerly await book two. For younger teens that are more into supernatural mysteries, rather than slasher stories.

    • 16 & Pregnant
    • by LaLa Thomas
    • MTV Books, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781665917278

    If you are a millennial, you probably remember when this show first aired back in 2009. The show followed teens that found themselves pregnant and documented how their lives were impacted, eventually leading to the spin-off series, Teen Mom. Two teens find themselves dealing with a surprise pregnancy that derails their life plans. All options are discussed and the book does not shy away from health challenges that can accompany a pregnancy. This is an empowering story about friendship and parenthood. This is a great option for those looking for relatable stories about teen pregnancy, as well as viewers of the MTV show. This would also be a great option for parents and teens to read and discuss together.

    • Hotel Magnifique
    • by Emily J. Taylor
    • Razorbill, 2022
    • ISBN: 978059340515

    This 2022 debut is Caraval meets Howl’s Moving Castle and my favorite cover of 2022. This dark fantasy features a magical hotel that moves to a new place every night. Employees of the hotel are magically bound to service and although the hotel is gorgeous and luxurious, it’s a gilded prison. Franco-philes and fans of lush, character-driven fantasy will devour this. Additionally, the stunning cover makes this an easy book to hand-sell.

    • A Million to One
    • by Adiba Jaigirdar
    • Harperteen, 2022
    • ISBN: 978006291632

    Published right before the end of 2022, I think this one snuck past a lot of people. Take a diverse group of teens, put them on the Titanic and add in a heist. Jaigirdar’s previous YA novels have been sapphic romances–here she moves more into action and historical fiction territory. This reads quickly and is a nice option for younger teens that enjoy heists or books about the Titanic. 

    • Something More
    • by Jackie Khalileh
    • Tundra Books, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781774882139

    This romance is about a Palestinian-Canadian teen, newly diagnosed as autistic. She makes a list of all the things she wants to accomplish in high school before she graduates. She quickly learns there is no guidebook for matters of the heart when she finds herself caught between two guys. This is a refreshing take on the classic coming of age story.

    • The Grimoire of Grave Fates
    • by Hanna Alkaf and Margaret Owen, et al.
    • Delacorte Press, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593427453

    If you have teens looking for a Harry Potter-esque story, hand them this one. It checks all the boxes: a magical boarding school that flies around à la Howl’s Moving Castle or the aforementioned Hotel Magnifique, an evil professor, a murder mystery, and magical beasts. This isn’t really a short story collection, nor is it a traditional novel. Each chapter is by a different YA author and features a different character that propels the plot forward. Some stories are stronger than others–I need a whole book about Diego, please! This collaborative effort has something for everyone and is a great option for younger teens.

    • A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy
    • by Jeff Bishop
    • Putnam, 2022
    • ISBN: 9781984812940

    Don’t be fooled by the cotton candy cover!  This book is a lot of things–technically it’s speculative fiction. You could also consider it a romantic comedy. It should be about a boy having the best time of his life, the summer after his senior year. But ultimately, it’s about a boy that suffers a torn ACL, leaving him stuck on the couch recovering from surgery, while dealing with a really bad breakup with his girlfriend, who happens to be in a coma from a car accident, which makes it pretty weird that Cam can see and talk to her while on his sofa. Tandy is chaotic and will have you laughing and weeping, reminiscent of the John Hughes movies referenced throughout. This was my favorite debut of 2022 and one of my favorites of the year. Hand to your older teens– especially your broken-hearted high school seniors

    -Megan Nigh

    Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Sun Keep Rising by Kristen R. Lee

    • Sun Keep Rising
    • by Kristen R. Lee
    • Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
    • Imprint: Penguin Random House
    • Release date: January 24, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593309193

    Teen mom B’onca has always found a way to survive. Things are harder now with her baby, but she finds a way to stay in school, help pay the rent and raise her daughter. Unfortunately, her Memphis neighborhood is being gentrified and the rent is increasing. Soon B’onca and her mom get an eviction notice. B’onca can’t lose her home or her daughter. The father’s family is threatening to take the baby if she can’t prove she has a stable household. Pushed into a corner, B’onca decides to take a risk to get quick money, putting everything even more in jeopardy. 

    The difficult, but real issues in this book are handled with grace and also don’t shy away from the pain and injustices. The realistic way it’s written will appeal to reluctant readers who like true stories with believable characters. In this short book the reader is drawn into B’onca’s life.

    Readers who enjoy realistic stories that deal with complex life issues will enjoy this book. This tells a story that isn’t often told and gives a voice to young teen mothers who love their babies and strive to make themselves better for their kids. For more books about young women of color finding their voice while grappling with complicated lives read Vinyl Moon by Mahogany Browne and Me: Moth by Amber McBride.

    Other Nominated

    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.

    Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

    • Warrior Girl Unearthed
    • by Angeline Boulley
    • Narrated by Isabella Star LeBlanc
    • Macmillian Audio | Macmillan Young Listeners
    • Publication Date: May 2, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781250877277

    Perry Firekeeper-Birch just wants to enjoy her summer. But when a close call with a bear causes her to have a car accident she is forced to complete an internship at her tribe’s museum. There she learns about NAGPRA and repatriation (or lack thereof) of ancestors from a local university. She and her friends embark on a journey to bring their ancestors home by any means necessary. All the while, Native girls are going missing under mysterious circumstances, which is an issue that is all but ignored by the authorities. Warrior Girl Unearthed is a heartfelt story full of mystery and intrigue with realistic depictions of issues faced by indigenous people.

    Isabella Star LeBlanc’s narration masterfully brings the story to life with her pronunciation of Ojibwe language and her captivating tone. The narration enhances the story by providing readers with an authentic voice depicting the native language spoken by the tribe as well as the reservation accent and code switching. 
    This book is perfect for readers who enjoy authors such as Angie Thomas, Courtney Summers, Darcie Little Badger, or E. Lockhart. Those who enjoyed Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, will enjoy this story as well.

    – Haley Shaw

    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.

    Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

    • Promise Boys
    • by Nick Brooks
    • Narrated by Renier Cortes, Christopher Hampton, Alfred Vines, and a full cast
    • Macmillan Audio| Macmillan Young Listeners
    • Publication Date: January 31, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781250877253

    The Urban Promise Prep School is determined to create responsible, upstanding, college-bound young men out of all of its students. Principle Moore, the founder of the school, says that following the school’s unyielding discipline is what it takes to escape the violence of the students’ neighborhoods and to make it to college.  When Moore, a beloved pillar of the city of Washington D.C. turns up murdered in the school, three detention students are immediately suspects. J.B., Trey and Ramón. Each maintain that there is no way they could have committed the crime, no matter how much it may look like they did. The students and their friends are soon working together to discover who really murdered Principle Moore and why.

    Nick Brooks has written a compelling mystery that will appeal to lots of different readers. The short chapters and constant change in point of view helps create urgency in the plot making this a fast read, even for reluctant readers. This is produced to great effect in the audiobook due to a full cast of narrators and sound effects. Readers who love crime or mystery and gravitate toward the television version of One of Us is Lying, the books of Karen McManus or Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades will enjoy Promise Boys.

    -Natalie LaRocque

    Other Nominated Titles

    Release Date: November 29, 2022

    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 Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Funeral Girl by Emma Ohland

    • Funeral Girl
    • by Emma Ohland
    • Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
    • Imprint: Lerner Publishing Group
    • Release date: September 6, 2022
    • ISBN: 9781728458007

    Georgia’s parents run a funeral home so she is surrounded by the dead. It seems only natural that she can also communicate with ghosts by simply touching a corpse.

    Initially this ability seems to give Georgia purpose as she can honor one last request from the dead before they cross over. But eventually, one of Georgia’s classmates dies unexpectedly and enters the funeral home. She is torn over if she should reach out to this body and risk learning the truth. What would readers do if confronted with the same situation?

    Readers who are curious about life-after-death and interested in ghosts and ghost hunting will find this title appealing. Additional recommendations include Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson, Horror Hotel by Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren, and Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider.

    – Jessica Lorentz Smith

    Other Nominated Titles

    Release Date: November 8, 2022
    Release Date: January 24, 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.

    Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Some Kind of Hate byy Sarah Darer Littman

    • Some Kind of Hate
    • by Sarah Darer Littman 
    • Narrated by Michael Crouch and Andrew Eiden 
    • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. | Blackstone Publishing
    • Publication Date: November 1, 2022
    • ISBN:  9798212170697

    Declan knew his future was in baseball until he unexpectedly, and permanently, injured his arm. In the vacuum of this loss, Declan scrabbles to find his place and it is in a local white supremacist group where he finds others with the same level of rage. While everyone in Declan’s life struggles to understand how he got to this place, none are as confused or upset as his long-time best friend, Jake, who also happens to be Jewish. As Declan’s actions get scarier and scarier, Jake struggles with how to stop Declan before he does something irreversible.  

    Dual narrators, Michael Crouch and Andrew Eiden, give clear voice to Jake and Declan (respectively) by showing how insidious hate groups can be and the struggle of combatting hate in unexpected places in life. Eiden ensures that Declan’s quick descent into extremism feels authentic and compelling. Crouch’s reflections on Jake’s frustrations push readers to these same spaces. Together, the narrators give passion to Darer Littman’s important and timely story. 

    This audiobook pairs perfectly with Isaac Bloom’s The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen, Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, and books by John Feinstein. 

     -Sarah Carpenter 

    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 Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: No Accident by Laura Bates

    • No Accident
    • by Laura Bates
    • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
    • Imprint: Sourcebooks
    • Release date: December 6, 2022
    • ISBN: 9781728206769

    A group of basketball players and cheerleaders crash on a deserted island on their way home from an away game. The teammates work together to find a way to survive with little food and water, by searching the island, fishing, hunting and gathering what they can from the wreck. When strange events start happening to each of the surviving teens, that could appear as though they are just accidents, the group begins to turn on each other. Unsure if the accidents are just that, or one of the survivors trying to kill off the rest of them.

    The plot moves at a quick pace keeping the reader continually guessing as to whether the accidents are just that, or something more sinister. The characters start as one dimensional but by the end there is some depth to a few of them which help to keep the reader engaged. The survivor story is always a win with readers who like to be on their toes.

    Readers who enjoy survivor stories with unreliable characters and never a dull moment should pick this up. For more survival stories and possible backstabbing try A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor and Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis.

    -Rachel Adams

    Other Nominated Titles

    Release Date: April 11, 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.