Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Bright Red Fruit by Safia Elhillo

  • Bright Red Fruit
  • by Safia Elhillo
  • Publisher: Make Me a World
  • Release date: February 6, 2024
  • ISBN: 9780593381229

Samira just wants to hang out with her friends like a normal teen, but her overprotective Sudanese immigrant mother is more concerned about her reputation. After being grounded, again, Samira takes refuge in an online poetry community where she meets Horus. Even though he’s much older than her, she’s delighted to have the attention of a handsome older poet. But when she ignores her friends’ warnings about him, there’s more at risk than just her reputation, risks her mom didn’t prepare her for.

Samira’s vulnerability and distinct poetic voice make her a compelling narrator, walking readers through a tense mother-daughter relationship that will be familiar to many. In addition to exploring themes of shame culture and predatory men, Elhillo adds depth to the narrative by drawing connections to the Persephone myth. In Samira’s version of the myth, there are opportunities for Persephone to find both personal healing and reconciliation with her mother despite all odds.

Bright Red Fruit is for young poets and anyone who’s ever felt stifled by an overprotective parent. It’s perfect for fans of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr.

-Yona Yurwit

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

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Mascot by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell

  • Mascot
  • by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge
  • Release date: Sept 5, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781623543808

As part of their 8th grade Honors English class, students are asked to consider whether their mascot, an “Indian Brave”, is appropriate and whether it should be changed.  Their assignment: write a research paper and be prepared to debate the topic as partners in class.

Told from the perspectives of the students in the class, their teacher, and community stakeholders, this provides a nuanced discussion of a timely and controversial topic written by #ownvoices authors. Engaging writing with ample white space allows the plot to flow well.  Student voices and perspectives are distinct and realistic, but the language used makes it accessible to teens on the younger end of the age range.
Students who are athletes or are passionate fans, as well as those readers who want to better understand diverse perspectives will connect with this books. Hand this title to young social justice advocates who liked Miles Morales: Suspended by Jason Reynolds or those who want to think deeply about identity and liked Rain Rising by Courtne Comrie.

-Melissa Palmer

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 21, 2023
Release Date: May 23, 2023
Release Date: September 12, 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.

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