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

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Summer Quarterly Round-Up

  • Divine Rivals
  • By Rebecca Ross
  • Publication Date: 2023.
  • Length: 357 p.
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books, $18.99
  • ISBN: 9781250857439
  • Reading Level: Gr. 10 – 12.

As the war between the gods creeps closer to the city, Iris and Roman fiercely compete to become the new newspaper columnist for the prestigious Oath Gazette. Their lives become further entwined and complicated thanks to the magical letters they unknowingly write to each other.

  • Friends Like These
  • By Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Length: 377 p.
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press, $18.99 
  • ISBN: (9780593309674)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9 – 12

Power couple Jessica and Jake’s relationship is irreparably damaged when Jake’s former girlfriend live streams their sexual encounter at a party.  Jake wakes up disoriented, Jessica leaves the party devastated, and Tegan–the ex–is missing and presumed dead.

  • Give Me a Sign
  • By Anna Sortino
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 303 p.
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $18.99 
  • ISBN: (9780593533796)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7 – 10.

Lilah is hard of hearing and uses hearing aids, but she feels like she doesn’t fit in with the hearing world. She learns to embrace her Deaf identity while working as a junior counselor at a summer camp for the deaf and blind, while also making friends and starting a summer romance.


  • Gloria Buenrostro Is Not My Girlfriend
  • By Brandon Hoàng
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 293 p.
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux, $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9780374388577)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8 – 12

Gary Võ’s revelation that he has an “in” with the untouchable Gloria Buenrostro has the potential of lifting him and his best friend, Preston, out of social obscurity–if he is willing to betray Gloria’s trust in the relationship the two of them have built.

  • Going Bicoastal
  • By Dahlia Adler
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 325 p.
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books, $20.00 
  • ISBN: (9781250871640)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9 – 12.

Jewish, bisexual Natalya has to choose between trying something new and scary or making the familiar new again in this light-hearted rom-com, which tells two parallel romance storylines: one where Natalya spends her summer in LA with her estranged mother and one where she stays in NYC with her dad.

  • I Kick and I Fly
  • By Ruchira Gupta
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 336 p.
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, $18.99 
  • ISBN: (9781338825091)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7 – 12

Heera is a girl, told since she was little, that she is destined for a life of prostitution. She is invited into a hostel for endangered girls and is given the chance to learn kung fu and, in the process, learn about how strong she really is.

  • If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come
  • By Jen St. Jude
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 397 p.
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury YA, $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9781547611362)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 10 – 12

Avery is ready to end her life when she receives a call that an asteroid is imminent and  will end the world for everyone. With a handful of days left, she must decide how and with whom to spend the remaining time.

  • Into the Light
  • By Mark Oshiro
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 442 p.
  • Publisher: Tor Teen, $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9781250812254)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9 – 12.

Manny, exiled from his adoptive family and their religious organization, roams about trying to survive. When he sees the report of a dead body near the organization’s camp, he is determined to discover if the body belongs to his sister in hopes he is not too late.

  • Invisible Son
  • By Kim Johnson
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 404 p.
  • Publication Date: Random House, $18.99 
  • ISBN: (9780593482100)
  • Reading Grade: Gr. 9 – 12

Andres Jackson just spent two months incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit.  A restorative justice program allows him to return to his family home in Northeast Portland but his  plans for returning to school and establishing his innocence are interrupted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  • Izzy at the End of the World
  • By K. A. Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 330 p.
  • Publication Date: Clarion Books, $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9780358467779)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 5 – 9

Izzy Wilder is a fourteen-year-old autistic girl who recently lost her mom. Now living with her grandparents, Izzy witnesses a bright light that causes everyone she knows to vanish. With only her beloved dog left of her family, Izzy must try to survive.

  • Nigeria Jones
  • By Ibi Zoboi
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 369 p.
  • Publisher: Balzar + Bray, $17.99 
  • ISBN: (9780062888846)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7 – 12

Growing up in a Black Nationalist compound, Nigeria Jones has accepted her father’s philosophies without question. His decision to begin a relationship with a younger woman in the absence of Nigeria’s mother as well as his restrictions prohibiting her from attending the private school her mother wanted her to attend are causing Nigeria not just to question him, but to rebel.

  • Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling
  • By Elise Bryant
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 392 p.
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray, $18.99 
  • ISBN: (9780063212992)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8 – 11

A New Year’s Eve gig that Delilah can’t get out of and a little peer pressure forcing Reggie to attend a party where Delilah’s band is performing is the beginning of a relationship that neither of them can seem to escape.

  • The Dos and Donuts of Love
  • By Adiba Jaigirdar
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 321 p
  • Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9781250842114)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8 – 12.

Shireen Malik is determined to win the Junior Irish Baking Show to save her parents’ struggling donut shop, but finds herself partnered with her ex-girlfriend.  Navigating friendships, romantic entanglements, and the competition is enough to challenge any baker.

  • The Minus-One Club
  • By Kekla Magoon
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 360 p.
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9781250806208)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9 – 12

After fifteen year-old Kermit loses his older sister in a car accident, he finds a message signed “-1” in his locker, inviting him into an unlikely group of fellow students dealing with grief.

  • The Queens of New York
    • By E.L. Shen
    • Publication Date: 2023
    • Length: 326 p.
    • Publisher: Quill Tree Books, $19.99 
    • ISBN: (9780063237957)
    • Reading Level: Gr. 8 – 11

Summer has just begun when three best friends, Everett, Jia and Ariel head separate ways for a summer of discovery, romance, and most importantly, friendship. That summer will also test their relationship and create opportunities for personal growth.

  • This Delicious Death
  • By Kayla Cottingham
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 290 p.
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, $11.99 
  • ISBN: (9781728236445)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9 – 12

A new pathogen requires individuals to eat synthetic human meat to not turn into monsters. All is going well until people start disappearing at a music festival. As users of the synthetic meat, Zoey, Celeste and their friends are determined to solve the mystery before more people get hurt.

  • What Happened to Rachel Riley?
  • By Claire Swinarski
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 343 p.
  • Publication Date: Quill Tree Books, $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9780063213098)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 5 – 8.

When Anna starts eighth grade at a new school, she is immediately drawn to the mystery surrounding Rachel Riley, a former popular student who the entire eighth grade class has shunned. Anna decides to use her fact-finding skills to create a podcast dedicated to figuring out what happened to Rachel Riley.

  • Where You See Yourself
  • By Claire Forrest
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 306 p.
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press, $19.99 
  • ISBN: (9781338813838)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 10 – 12

Effie, a high school senior with cerebral palsy, grapples with advocating for herself, deciding which college to attend, and revealing her feelings to the guy she has had a secret crush on for years.

  • Wings in the Wild
  • By Margarita Engle
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Length: 211 p.
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $18.99 
  • ISBN: (9781665926362)
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7 – 10

A hurricane displaces Soleida and her family, leading to her parents’ imprisonment for making illegal art and forcing Soleida to flee Cuba alone on foot. Dariel travels with his Cuban grandfather to Costa Rica to help those in need. Soleida and Dariel fall in love and fight the climate crisis.

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

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Cover Art

One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
Inkyard Press / Harlequin
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-1335145802

Happi is still mourning the loss of her sister, Kezi, who died in police custody after attending a protest. Kezi, who was Black, was “one of the good ones” — a bright student, activist, and educational YouTuber with a dedicated following. Reluctantly, Happi agrees to join her older sister Genny, Kezi’s former girlfriend, and a friend on the graduation road trip Kezi never got to take, using the route Kezi planned on Route 66 based on her passionate research of the Negro Motorist Green Book, the book that helped Black drivers navigate trips through the Jim Crow South.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, December 2 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

cover art

Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds; Narrated by A.J. Beckles, Preston Butler III
HarperAudio
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
ISBN: 978-0062748409

Jamal is still reeling from his parents’ deaths two years ago, and it is affecting all of his relationships. It has been causing friction with his girlfriend Autumn, but more importantly, it has broken his relationship with his best friend and comedic partner, Quincy. Jamal even blames Quincy for his parents’ death, something that Quincy is unaware of. During a party on the beach, Jamal witnesses Quincy save a drowning girl’s life, only to lose his own. When a mysterious man offers Quincy’s mother a chance to bring him back through experimental technology, Jamal takes this as a second chance for him to heal his relationship with Quincy before it’s too late. 

Continue reading Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, December 2 Edition

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, November 10 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland Book Cover
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
ISBN: 978-1534448636

Three years ago, ICE deported Sia’s mother to Mexico, and now she’s presumed dead after attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert. Ever hopeful, Sia retreats to the desert, lighting candles to guide her mother’s return. Eventually Sia’s mom does appear, flying an alien spacecraft and claiming that extraterrestrials are hunting her. Together with her best friend Rose and would-be boyfriend Noah, Sia tries to find the truth in her mother’s fantastical claims.

This is a fast-paced genre mash-up with elements of mystery, fantasy, and Mexican folklore. Short chapters keep the story moving, along with discussions of compelling issues such as deportation, racism, sexual assault, and grief. The alien subplot, however, adds a dose of levity and intrigue. The main characters are a diverse lot with engaging backstories that highlight Sia’s Latinx heritage, Noah’s mysterious family life, and Rose’s tense relationship with her fanatically religious father. Over the course of the story, Sia learns a lot about the people in her life, and that everyone faces challenges or carries scars that aren’t always visible to others.

Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, November 10 Edition

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, August 21 Edition

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.

This Is My America by Kim Johnson
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
ISBN: 978-0593118764

Tracy’s falsely accused father has been on death row for seven years.  Her small Texas town always did find it easier to blame the new Black man in town for the double murder of a white couple, but now things get even worse when her brother is accused of killing a white classmate.  With Jamal on the run and the clock ticking on her father’s life, Tracy has just 267 days to uncover the racist secrets of the past — and the present — and prove her family’s innocence.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, August 21 Edition