Azar Rossi’s Freshman year of high school has been virtually silent. Her classmates think she’s just quiet, but in reality, Azar’s voice has the croaky rasp of a chain smoker. Due to an extreme case of colic as a baby, Azar’s vocal cords are shredded and talking is quite painful. But Azar has big dreams of being a famous songwriter and when an accident in a school janitorial closet somehow leads to Azar putting together an act for a city-wide teenaged Battle of the Bands, she thinks her dreams may finally be coming true.
With more than a decade of winners to look back on, let’s see which of our former debuts are still impressing readers today.
2010’s Morris Award went to L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout. Tragically, the author passed away just a year after receiving the award. The rest of the finalists from that year, however, have continued to contribute to YA in significant ways, perhaps none more notably that Nina LaCour, who went on to win the 2018 Printz Award for We Are Okay. LaCour’s latest novel, Watch Over Me, has been nominated for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selected List.
Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron HarperVoyager / HarperCollins Publication Date: September 3, 2019 ISBN: 978-1616208967
The first volume in a West African-inspired fantasy trilogy, Kingdom of Souls introduces Arrah – the first person in her family to not possess magic, much to her mother’s disappointment. In her desperation to have powers of her own, she strikes a bargain with the Demon King, a decision which ties her fate to his and may cost her everyone she loves and everything she knows.
An extremely dark and at times disturbing story, Kingdom of Souls begins with incredible world-building and richly complex and sympathetic, though often flawed, characters. Common fantasy tropes are used and twisted around into a fresh, energetic storyline that is full of exciting twists and rapidly-paced action.
Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Frankly in Love, by David Yoon; Narrated by Raymond J. Lee Listening Library / Penguin Audio Publication Date: September 10, 2019 ISBN: 978-0593105603
Frank Li can’t shake his hyphen — despite being born in SoCal and barely speaking Korean, he and his “Limbo” friends straddle two worlds as the children of immigrants, forever Korean-American and not just American. Filial duty dictates Frank fall in love with a nice Korean girl, but the heart wants what it wants and Frank falls hard for Brit, a brilliant, quirky and, well — white — classmate. Staging an elaborate fake-dating ruse with fellow dating-outside-their-culture Limbo, Joy buys both Frank and Joy some freedom from their parents’ scrutiny. As the lies — and his life — grow increasingly complicated, Frank confronts the complexities of his family, identity, and relationships, as each, in turn, crumbles. An immersive coming-of-age story with tender romance, loyal friendships, and a willingness to tackle tough questions about race and identity.