This novel in verse follows Sarai, a first generation Puerto Rican growing up in Bushwick with her mother and her sister during the 1990s. Sarai and her family navigate the welfare system, as well as finding housing in a neighborhood with increasing gentrification. Along the way, Sarai asks questions that bring her closer to herself and her own definition of what it means to make it, as she fights all the narratives and opinions that are forced upon her by a society that actively works against her intersectional identities.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes Balzer + Bray Publication Date: May 17, 2022 ISBN: 9780063060234
Yamilet Flores is doing the best she can. She’s working part-time to be able to afford the tuition at her new fancy private school and she’s trying to keep her brother on the straight and narrow. But it’s hard when you’re the new girl, with a supposedly difficult to pronounce name who also happens to be Mexican and queer but just wants to blend in. Add in a really nice, cute, and smart, openly queer girl named Bo and it becomes even harder.
In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner; narrated by Michael Crouch Listening Library Release date: August 8, 2021 ISBN: 9780593399040
Cash and his friend Delaney are barely surviving in their small Appalachian town. Cash is being raised by his grandparents after his mother succumbed to opioid addiction, and Delaney is running from drug dealers and an unstable home while working at Dairy Queen. A small but profound scientific discovery by Delaney gives her leverage to earn them both places at a prestigious boarding school. Cash is torn between going and leaving behind the grandparents who have raised him and grabbing the otherwise unattainable opportunities the scholarship would give him. Convinced by Delaney to go to the new school, he discovers his inner poet, and goes through many coming of age experiences.
Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield Macmillan / Wednesday Books Publication Date: May 4, 2021 ISBN: 978-1250622235
When Tilla finds out she and her sister will be spending the summer with their often-absent father in his family home in Jamaica, she is torn. On one hand, she’s angry with him for being gone so much, but on the other, she is excited for a chance to learn about her Jamaican heritage and finally get to spend some time with her dad. Unfortunately, he leaves the girls with family in the rural countryside soon after they arrive, and as a hurricane bears down on the island, Tilla struggles to find solid ground amid a shifting, complex family dynamic.
Surviving the City, vol. 2: From the Roots Up by Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan HighWater Press Publication Date: October 27, 2020 ISBN:9781553798989
Miikwan and Dez’s story continues in this second volume of The Debwe Series. After her grandmother passes, Dez struggles with her loss and grief. She lives in a group home, but feels lonely and out of place. Dez’s romantic relationship with Kacey grows, but Dez hesitates to make it public. Meanwhile, Miikwan develops her own romance with new student Kiel, who is also dealing with a loss. The four attend an after-school gathering called Mino Bimaadiziwin, but when Dez tries to sit at the drum with the other young men, she is initially denied until an elder, Geraldine, intervenes. Miikwan also defends Dez, and Dez finally reveals her identity as a Two-Spirit person. The four students convince Geraldine that the old protocols are exclusionary and antithetical to Mino Bimaadiziwin or “the good life,” and Riel’s Auntie Alex is invited to share about Two-Spirit teachings. Afterward, everyone, no matter their gender or sexuality, is welcomed back into the circle.
T. S. Eliot famously opened his classic poem “The Waste Land” by proclaiming April “the cruelest month,” and students everywhere might agree when April rolls around and teachers pull out their well-worn poetry unit. April is National Poetry Month, which for poetry lovers means the spotlight shines on their favorites, old and new. We encourage the celebration of poetry year round, but in honor of the 25th anniversary of this special designation, here are 25 new titles, ideas, and resources to mark the occasion.
1. Though she needs no real introduction, we would be remiss if we didn’t start our list with NY Times #1 bestseller Amanda Gorman and her forthcoming collection, which includes her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
2. Invite your teens to participate in the Dear Poet project, where young people get to engage directly with award-winning poets, such as Janice Lobo Sapigao:
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Publication Date: November 10, 2020 ISBN: 978-1534471245
Cuban-American Lila Reyes is grief-stricken after the death of her abuela and breakups with her best friend and her boyfriend. Her parents send her from vibrant, sunny Miami to gloomy old England for a change of scenery and a chance to heal, but Lila has a plan for her life, and it involves running the family bakery with her sister after high school instead of summer at her cousins’ English inn. Determined not to enjoy herself, Lila nevertheless cannot resist the call of the inn’s kitchen, which dares her to mix Cuban spice with traditional British baking. Soon, a group of friends (including the cute, thoughtful boy whose family owns the village tea shop) makes life in England not only bearable but thoroughly enjoyable. Now Lila is doing more than falling in love with her new home — she’s questioning everything she thought she knew and everything she thought she wanted.
As we continue in our celebration of Black History Month, we equally celebrate the voices creating rich and brilliant Black Futures. Like this short film from The Movement for Black Lives, countless YA authors are sending visions of a future world into the present and into the hearts of young adult readers everywhere. Here are a few recent or forthcoming examples:
Though we champion Black voices all year long, February is Black History Month, and YALSA member Annierra Matthews has pulled together a list to commemorate and elevate this celebration. Annierra is a Research Services Library at Mercer University in Douglasville, Georgia, and has a passion for YA!
For those who prefer to cuddle up with a book, here’s a list of compelling fiction written by Black authors and featuring Black characters.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Malik must save his sister from a sinister spirit, and in order to do so, he must kill Crown Princess Karina. Karina, on the other hand, must offer a king’s heart to revive her mother. When Malik and Karina face-off in the Solstasia competition, they contend with falling in love and completing their goal.