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 (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Under This Red Rock by Mindy McGinnis

  • Under This Red Rock
  • by Mindy McGinnis
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Release date: March 19, 2024
  • ISBN: 9780063230415

Neely knows the voices she hears are hallucinations, but she’s afraid to burden her family by telling them about her schizophrenia, especially in the aftermath of her brother’s suicide. She finds comfort and stability in the local cavern attraction and is even lucky enough to get a job there as a guide. However, her stability upends after she tries drugs at a party and her coworker and crush, Mila, is found brutally murdered in the caverns. Neely can’t shake the fear that she was the one who did it. 

Under this Red Rock isn’t just a mind-bending psychological thriller. It’s also an open-ended invitation for the reader to reflect on their biases about mental illness, as well as a reminder that it’s okay to ask for help. Hypnotic and harrowing, this book will stay with you long after you put it down.

This book is for teens who like twisty mysteries that remain grounded in realism. Give it to fans of Courtney Summers and Kathleen Glasgow, but note that the story contains depictions of drug use and violent imagery, including a graphic description of a suicide.

-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 (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: The Space Between Here and Now by Sarah Suk

  • The Space Between Here & Now
  • by Sarah Suk
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release date: October 31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780063255135

Korean-Canadian teen Aimee has been diagnosed with Sensory Time Warp Syndrome, a condition that teleports her into her own memories when she encounters specific smells. Although her single dad insists she’ll eventually grow out of her STWS, she no longer feels in control, disappearing more frequently and for longer stretches of time. When one of her memories suggests there might be more to her mother’s disappearance than she first realized, Aimee travels to Korea to search for the truth before she loses her grip on the present completely.

The Space Between Here & Now uses magical realism to explore mental health, chronic illness, and the intergenerational trauma that comes with being the child of immigrants. The rich, sensory descriptions turn Aimee’s internal mental health journey into a landscape we can navigate with her. Her thoughtful narration will prompt readers to reflect on the ways we talk about disability and their relationships to their own pasts.

Aimee’s struggles will be relatable to teens with a variety of invisible disabilities. This story is a great follow-up to titles like The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan and Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi.

– 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 (#BFYA2025) Featured Review: Gwen and Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

  • Gwen and Art are Not in Love
  • by Lex Croucher
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Release date: November 28, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250847218

The marriage Gwen and Arthur’s parents have arranged will finally cement the alliance between their families, except for two problems. One: they hate each other. Two: they’re both gay. Things go from weird to worse when Arthur discovers a sinister plot against Camelot that puts all of their lives in danger. Their only chance for survival is to work together–if they can only stop arguing long enough.

This book is the perfect blend of funny and heartfelt. The story may take place in the Arthurian era, but the charming banter and the tender exploration of coming out to your family–and an entire kingdom–makes it relevant for teens today.
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love is the book for teens who want multiple kinds of queer relationships in one sitting, plus a wholesome friendship. Give this book to readers of So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens and These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling.

– Yona Yurwit

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/BFYA25TeenFB