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

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: A Whole Song and Dance by Sarvenaz Tash

  • A Whole Song and Dance
  • by  Sarvenaz Tash
  • Publisher: Disney Publishing
  • Imprint: Disney Hyperion
  • Release date: April 4, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781368077552

Nasrin has been accepted into NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Unfortunately, her parents think she is attending business school instead. She intends to tell them once she is settled in New York City but quickly gets swept up in the rigor of class and lands a role in a musical web series that oddly parallels her own life. With her coursework, shooting schedule, and tutor sessions with her adorable stats teacher’s assistant, Nasrin has a lot on her plate. But things get much more complicated when her parents make a surprise move to New York City and it becomes much more difficult to keep all of the lies straight.

Nasrin approaches life like a musical, but she is still very much present in the real world, even if her parents don’t quite believe that. Many scenes offer a glimpse into drama classes, theater rehearsals, and backstage at a TV show. Nasrin is surrounded by a cast of characters that pull her in different directions and add depth to the story including her parents who immigrated from Iran and created a wildly popular restaurant app and her cousin on student visa from Iran who is determined to experience every bit of the American college life, even if it means possibly blackmailing Nasrin. 

Drama kids will see themselves in this book. Similar titles to read if you enjoy this are Mazie by Melanie Crowder and Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

– Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 31, 2023
Release Date: February 21, 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.