Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: The Secrets We Keep by Cassie Gustafson

  • The Secrets We Keep
  • By Cassie Gustafson
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
  • Release Date: November 8, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781665906944

Fifteen-year-old Emma’s life is turned upside down when her father is accused of molesting Hannah, her best- and only- friend. Life in a small coastal town is barely tolerable for the socially awkward San Francisco transplant, so Emma’s loyalties are strained as her father tries to get her to find evidence that would suggest that Hannah is a liar. Both parents make it clear that what Emma knows could destroy her family forever.

Author, Cassie Gustafson, invites readers into Emma’s world and memories through a deft use of second person point of view, then propels them through Emma’s current challenges using first person narration. The topic of sexually exploitation is difficult to navigate, but each of the main characters is thoughtfully developed and carefully portrayed in all of their messy humanity without descending into titillating, irrelevant details. The grooming process is accurately portrayed, but the book ends in hope as Emma is forced to confront her own abuse. Emma’s fears are fully realized when her family- as she knew it- is destroyed. However, the plot would lack authenticity if everything was tied up in a neat, “happily ever after” bow.

Teen readers who gravitate toward the gritty fiction of Kathleen Glasgow will find this book utterly engrossing. Give this to readers who liked The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson, Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow, and Practice Girl by Estelle Laure.

-Jodi Kruse

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 10, 2023
Release Date: January 3, 2023
Release Date: January 31, 2022
Release Date: October 18, 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.
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:

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Practice Girl by Estelle Laure

Practice Girl
by Estelle Laure
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Viking
Release date: 2022-05-01
ISBN: 9780593350911

Wrestling manager, Jo, is devastated to discover that the boys on the wrestling team consider her a “practice girl”–good enough to build their sexual prowess, but not the girl they want for a relationship. Gutted to discover this, she finds herself confronting the state of all of her relationships.

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

Due to the large number of nominees, not all titles are shown here. See full list below.

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.

Amari and the Night Brothers. By B.B. Alston. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (9780062975164).

Amari’s brother Quinton has disappeared, and her only hope of finding him is to follow in his footsteps and become a Junior Agent with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. 

Amber and Clay. By Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick Press, $22.99 (9781536201222). 

In ancient Greece, two unlikely friends Rhaskos and Melisto find their lives intertwined in a search for freedom and purpose. As a ghost bound to Rhaskos, Melisto must help free him before she can find her own rest in the Halls of Hades.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Luck of the Titanic Cover Art

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
ISBN: 978-1524740986

17-year-old British-Chinese acrobat Valora Luck has a plan. The first thing she needs to do is find a way to get aboard the Titanic where her twin brother is working. Once she finds him, she’ll need to convince him to perform with her again so that the two of them can impress a business partner from the Ringling Brothers Circus and become the next big act, a job they’ll need if they are to find a way around the Chinese Exclusion Act in America. 

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