Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Shut Up, This is Serious by Carolina Ixta

  • Shut Up, This is Serious
  • by Carolina Ixta
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release date: January 9, 2024
  • ISBN: 9780063287860

Belén is trying to break cycles. It’s her senior year of high school which she may not pass, she’s navigating the loss of her father, and her best friend is pregnant. All she wants is normal. Her family to talk to each other. A boyfriend. She’s struggling with depression and isolates herself from her mother and sister, starts skipping classes, escapes into books, and seeks attention and casual sex from a boy who doesn’t feel anything for her. 

Ixta’s writing is lyrical and poetic, giving Belen such a strong and authentic voice that many teens will relate to. This book explores many important themes such as antiblack racism, colorism, sex/virginity and the ebbs and flows of female friendship. 

While Belén is frustrating at times and in no way perfect, readers will be drawn to her journey of self discovery and acceptance, especially those familiar with existing in a body that they didn’t ask for and what that invites from others.  Offer this to teens who enjoyed I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez or Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado. 

-Alicia Kalan

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

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Seven Percent of Ro Devereux by Ellen O’Clover

  • Seven Percent of Ro Devereux
  • By Ellen O’Clover  
  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • Imprint: Harper Teen
  • Release date: January 17, 2023 
  • ISBN: 9780063255036\

Ro creates an app based on the popular game of MASH (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House) for her senior project. She works with her neighbor, a retired behavorial scientist, to make sure the app works – and it works well. It can predict someone’s future with 93% accuracy. Ro is shocked when she is paired with Miller, her childhood best friend, as her soulmate. They had a falling out years ago. Ro is determined to have her app make it big and Miller reluctantly agrees to play along and pretend to be in love so that they can prove that the app works and get backing from the tech greats. 

This is a fresh spin on the classic “used to be friends, now a love interest” plot. The slow-burn romance between Ro and Miller keeps the reader guessing if they will end up together. The characters are well developed and easy to relate to. Each character had quirks and interests that leave the reader wanting to learn more about them. 

Other authors who write with a similar tone include Jennifer E. Smith, Emma Lord, and Jenny Han.

-Katie Guzan

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: May 14, 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.

#ICYMI: 8 Books You Might Have Missed

It’s almost the end of 2023 and time to submit your last carts for the year!  If you find yourself with extra funds, here are some titles from the last two years that you might have missed. Some are from debut authors that snuck under the radar, while others are old favorites with new projects.

    • There’s No Way I’d Die First
    • By Lisa Springer
    • Delacorte Press: 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593643174

    This debut is for the horror-obsessed teen and pulls out all the tropes in what ends up being a campy, gory romp. If the tropes aren’t enough of a tell, each chapter starts with a quote from a horror movie and gives a hint to upcoming events. This is an homage to all the greats, with references to Stephen King, Scream, a killer clown with superhuman strength that rivals Michael Myers, and a heavy dose of teen drama. It also tries to tie in some political and social commentary and a hint of romance. Does this require suspension of belief? Yes. That’s the point. Hand to your older teens or your horror movie buffs.

    • Holly Horror
    • by Michelle Jabé Corpora
    • Penguin Workshop, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593386217

    A scary take on our patchwork-clad, bonnet-wearing gal, Holly Hobbie. After her parents split, Evie’s mom moves the family back to her hometown and into the Horror House, so named because Holly vanished from it decades before. As Evie pokes around in the attic and discovers more of Holly’s story, weird things start to happen to her. The book ends on a cliff-hanger and readers will eagerly await book two. For younger teens that are more into supernatural mysteries, rather than slasher stories.

    • 16 & Pregnant
    • by LaLa Thomas
    • MTV Books, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781665917278

    If you are a millennial, you probably remember when this show first aired back in 2009. The show followed teens that found themselves pregnant and documented how their lives were impacted, eventually leading to the spin-off series, Teen Mom. Two teens find themselves dealing with a surprise pregnancy that derails their life plans. All options are discussed and the book does not shy away from health challenges that can accompany a pregnancy. This is an empowering story about friendship and parenthood. This is a great option for those looking for relatable stories about teen pregnancy, as well as viewers of the MTV show. This would also be a great option for parents and teens to read and discuss together.

    • Hotel Magnifique
    • by Emily J. Taylor
    • Razorbill, 2022
    • ISBN: 978059340515

    This 2022 debut is Caraval meets Howl’s Moving Castle and my favorite cover of 2022. This dark fantasy features a magical hotel that moves to a new place every night. Employees of the hotel are magically bound to service and although the hotel is gorgeous and luxurious, it’s a gilded prison. Franco-philes and fans of lush, character-driven fantasy will devour this. Additionally, the stunning cover makes this an easy book to hand-sell.

    • A Million to One
    • by Adiba Jaigirdar
    • Harperteen, 2022
    • ISBN: 978006291632

    Published right before the end of 2022, I think this one snuck past a lot of people. Take a diverse group of teens, put them on the Titanic and add in a heist. Jaigirdar’s previous YA novels have been sapphic romances–here she moves more into action and historical fiction territory. This reads quickly and is a nice option for younger teens that enjoy heists or books about the Titanic. 

    • Something More
    • by Jackie Khalileh
    • Tundra Books, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781774882139

    This romance is about a Palestinian-Canadian teen, newly diagnosed as autistic. She makes a list of all the things she wants to accomplish in high school before she graduates. She quickly learns there is no guidebook for matters of the heart when she finds herself caught between two guys. This is a refreshing take on the classic coming of age story.

    • The Grimoire of Grave Fates
    • by Hanna Alkaf and Margaret Owen, et al.
    • Delacorte Press, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593427453

    If you have teens looking for a Harry Potter-esque story, hand them this one. It checks all the boxes: a magical boarding school that flies around à la Howl’s Moving Castle or the aforementioned Hotel Magnifique, an evil professor, a murder mystery, and magical beasts. This isn’t really a short story collection, nor is it a traditional novel. Each chapter is by a different YA author and features a different character that propels the plot forward. Some stories are stronger than others–I need a whole book about Diego, please! This collaborative effort has something for everyone and is a great option for younger teens.

    • A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy
    • by Jeff Bishop
    • Putnam, 2022
    • ISBN: 9781984812940

    Don’t be fooled by the cotton candy cover!  This book is a lot of things–technically it’s speculative fiction. You could also consider it a romantic comedy. It should be about a boy having the best time of his life, the summer after his senior year. But ultimately, it’s about a boy that suffers a torn ACL, leaving him stuck on the couch recovering from surgery, while dealing with a really bad breakup with his girlfriend, who happens to be in a coma from a car accident, which makes it pretty weird that Cam can see and talk to her while on his sofa. Tandy is chaotic and will have you laughing and weeping, reminiscent of the John Hughes movies referenced throughout. This was my favorite debut of 2022 and one of my favorites of the year. Hand to your older teens– especially your broken-hearted high school seniors

    -Megan Nigh

    Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: The Black Queen by Jumata Emill

    • The Black Queen
    • by Jumata Emill
    • Publisher: Delacorte Press
    • Imprint: Penguin Random House 
    • Release date: January 31, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593568545

    Nova is set to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High School. Her friend Duchess is thrilled to finally have representation on the homecoming court and sees it as a start to fighting racism at her school. Popular, white Tinsley was supposed to be homecoming queen and carry on her family’s tradition of being crowned queen. When Nova is found murdered the night of her coronation, everyone, including Duchess, suspects Tinsley. But as the investigation goes on more clues develop and soon Tinsley and Duchess are teaming up to find the true killer and bring justice for Nova.

    The combination of social justice, petty high school drama and twisty mystery make this a fantastic ride of a read. The mystery is solved at just the right pace with clues and suspects falling off one by one until the final reveal. The commentary on institutional racism in schools and small towns helps drive the story forward and gives even more depth to the plot. 

    Readers who enjoy books that are more than just a thrill will devour this quick read. Also those who enjoy small town murder-mysteries. For those looking for another complex mystery with hints of social justice should read Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé or The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson.

    – Rachel Adams

    Release Date: April 3, 2023
    Release Date: September 13, 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.

    Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: The Minus-One Club by Kekla Magoon

    • The Minus-One Club
    • by Kekla Magoon
    • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
    • Release date: January 24, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781250806208

    When fifteen year-old Kermit returns to school after losing his older sister in a car accident, he finds a message signed “-1” in his locker, inviting him into a group of fellow students dealing with grief. The unlikely mix of students crosses cliques and grades and includes Kermit’s long-time crush, Matt. The club is always there for each other but has one rule: you don’t talk about what happened to your loved one.

    This title shows a realistic and nuanced approach to grieving. Strong characters strengthen the impact of the intricate exploration of the intersectionality of religion, personal identity, and loss. Kermit’s struggle is universal.

    A life-affirming read for teens experiencing hardship, The Minus-One Club will appeal to readers looking for authentic characterization and relatable realistic fiction. Comparable titles include Chaos Theory by Nic Stone for the similar subject matter about depression and loss, Golden Boys by Phil Stamper for the exploration of identity, and What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum for unlikely friendships and dealing with grief.

    -Emily Williams

    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) Featured Review: The Queens of New York by E.L. Shen

    • The Queens of New York
    • by E.L. Shen
    • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
    • Release date: June 6, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780063237957

    Jia, Everett, and Ariel are best friends.  While they attend different schools and come from vastly different families, one thing that remains the same is their immovable friendship.  As summer begins in New York City, the three friends embark on separate journeys.  Everett heads to Ohio for an intense musical theater workshop, Ariel sets off for San Francisco to attend pre-college courses on a STEM scholarship, and Jia stays home to help with her family’s restaurant and to keep an eye on her little sister and ailing grandmother.  While they are scattered across the country, they never lose sight of their relationship and draw on each other’s strengths to get through the challenges each one faces during this summer of reckoning.

    A diverse cast of characters comes together in an outstanding example of teenage friendship.  Told through three distinct voices with interjections of texts and emails, readers will identify with the authentic portrayal of teen relationships and struggles such as conforming to parental ideals and the loss of a loved one.

    Teens who enjoy realistic fiction and coming of age stories will love The Queens of New York.  Readers who are looking for a summer vacation, beach, or airplane read, will devour this tale of summer romances, heartaches, and victories. Perfect for fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares and Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen.

    – Maryjean Riou

    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: Sun Keep Rising by Kristen R. Lee

    • Sun Keep Rising
    • by Kristen R. Lee
    • Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
    • Imprint: Penguin Random House
    • Release date: January 24, 2023
    • ISBN: 9780593309193

    Teen mom B’onca has always found a way to survive. Things are harder now with her baby, but she finds a way to stay in school, help pay the rent and raise her daughter. Unfortunately, her Memphis neighborhood is being gentrified and the rent is increasing. Soon B’onca and her mom get an eviction notice. B’onca can’t lose her home or her daughter. The father’s family is threatening to take the baby if she can’t prove she has a stable household. Pushed into a corner, B’onca decides to take a risk to get quick money, putting everything even more in jeopardy. 

    The difficult, but real issues in this book are handled with grace and also don’t shy away from the pain and injustices. The realistic way it’s written will appeal to reluctant readers who like true stories with believable characters. In this short book the reader is drawn into B’onca’s life.

    Readers who enjoy realistic stories that deal with complex life issues will enjoy this book. This tells a story that isn’t often told and gives a voice to young teen mothers who love their babies and strive to make themselves better for their kids. For more books about young women of color finding their voice while grappling with complicated lives read Vinyl Moon by Mahogany Browne and Me: Moth by Amber McBride.

    Other Nominated

    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.

    Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Where You See Yourself by Claire Forrest

    • I Kick and I Fly
    • by Ruchira Gupta
    • Publisher: Scholastic Press
    • Release date: April 18, 2023
    • ISBN: 9781338825091

    Effie is a high school senior with a lot on her mind. Not only is she trying to decide which college she wants to attend next year, but she is crushing on the nice boy from class and she has to deal with the frustrating ableist administration at her high school. Effie has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and her school doesn’t even have a working automatic door button.

    Effie’s senior year is fraught with challenges and big changes, but also filled with lovely friendships and fierce bravery. Effie visits different college campuses to determine where she wants to attend, but unlike her friends, she must also determine how accessible each college is for wheelchair users and take that into account during her decision making process. Additionally, her mom is taking a step back with the hope it encourages Effie to advocate for herself to help prepare her for college, all while Effie is just trying to participate in fun senior year activities with her friends. This is a thoughtful #ownvoices story.

    Teen readers who enjoy stories about finding their voice, getting ready for college or a sweet romance should pick this up. Where You See Yourself would make a great choice for those who enjoyed You, Me, and Our Heartstrings by Melissa See and for readers who want to learn more about advocacy for people with disabilities. This book would pair well with Judith Huemann’s memoir Rolling Warrior: The incredible, sometimes awkward, true story of a rebel girl on wheels who helped spark a revolution.

    – Allison Riggs

    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

    Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Some Kind of Hate byy Sarah Darer Littman

    • Some Kind of Hate
    • by Sarah Darer Littman 
    • Narrated by Michael Crouch and Andrew Eiden 
    • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. | Blackstone Publishing
    • Publication Date: November 1, 2022
    • ISBN:  9798212170697

    Declan knew his future was in baseball until he unexpectedly, and permanently, injured his arm. In the vacuum of this loss, Declan scrabbles to find his place and it is in a local white supremacist group where he finds others with the same level of rage. While everyone in Declan’s life struggles to understand how he got to this place, none are as confused or upset as his long-time best friend, Jake, who also happens to be Jewish. As Declan’s actions get scarier and scarier, Jake struggles with how to stop Declan before he does something irreversible.  

    Dual narrators, Michael Crouch and Andrew Eiden, give clear voice to Jake and Declan (respectively) by showing how insidious hate groups can be and the struggle of combatting hate in unexpected places in life. Eiden ensures that Declan’s quick descent into extremism feels authentic and compelling. Crouch’s reflections on Jake’s frustrations push readers to these same spaces. Together, the narrators give passion to Darer Littman’s important and timely story. 

    This audiobook pairs perfectly with Isaac Bloom’s The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen, Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, and books by John Feinstein. 

     -Sarah Carpenter 

    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.