Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

HighlySupciousAndUnfairlyCutebyTaliaHibbert
  • Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute
  • by Talia Hibbert
  • Publisher: Joy Revolution
  • Release Date: January 3, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780593482339

Celine Bangura and Bradley Graeme were best friends as children–until Brad ditched Celine and her “weird” obsession with conspiracy theories for the popular crowd. At least, that’s how Celine tells it. Since then, Brad has become a popular footballer at school and Celine has grown her unique interests into a thriving social media following. If it wasn’t for their inability to be in the same room without insulting each other, they probably wouldn’t ever speak. When Celine signs up for a leadership-based survival course in the woods with a scholarship as the grand prize, she’s shocked when Brad signs up too, and–horror of horrors–they’re forced to work together if they don’t want to fail. 

In her debut novel for teens, successful adult romance author, Talia Hibbert, brings her signature witty banter, lovably quirky characters, and emotional nuance to this delightful enemies-to-lovers romance. Celine and Brad narrate in distinct voices as they unpack the childhood betrayal that both remember differently and slowly regain each other’s trust. Brad’s OCD is thoughtfully portrayed as a part of his character. The confidence he has developed in managing it is a product of his maturity along with the help of supportive family and friends. Celine struggles with anger over her father’s abandonment of her family and, with help, begins to see how she’s let that anger define her. The outdoor survival camp, with its skills-based challenges, is entertaining and sets up humorous situations, while providing many opportunities for Brad and Celine to transform their relationship slowly and authentically. Side characters (friends and family) are the perfect amusing chorus through which to witness the growing romance. This romantic comedy is lighthearted and funny, but still realistically portrays teens’ messy emotional lives.

Teens who love feel-good romantic comedies that have characters with substance will want to pick this up immediately. Give this to readers who liked When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord, She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlan, and Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura.

-Krista Hutley

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 8. 2023
Release Date: January 10, 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

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
HighlySupciousAndUnfairlyCutebyTaliaHibbert
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: https://bit.ly/BFYA24TeenFB