What's Up in YA

Teen Craftivism, Haunted Pinball Machines, and More YA Book Talk: August 29, 2022

Hey YA Readers!

It’s the last week of August, and I am here to talk about the stellar books hitting shelves. I’m also super stoked to highlight a couple of YA nonfiction books that encourage teen activism and changemaking.

Of course, for those of you who aren’t teens or don’t work with teens, you’ll find a lot to get out of those reads as well.

Let’s dive on in!

Bookish Goods

image of a book necklace

Books Necklace by WittingCraft

Wear a bookshelf wherever you go with this neat little shelf necklace. You can pick your finish — gold, silver, or rose gold — and necklace length. $25.

New Releases

Let’s look at two hardcover books hitting shelves this week. You can find the rest of this week’s new releases in the summer 2022 YA book release roundup.

belladonna book cover

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

The first in a series and a just-named Barnes & Noble September YA Book Club Pick, expect to hear quite a bit about this book in the weeks to come.

19-year-old Signa was orphaned as a baby and has lived with a string of relatives…all of which have met unfortunate and untimely demise. Now she’s with the wealthy Hawthornes, and though the mother is dead, her spirit haunts the family and claims she was poisoned. Signa, suspecting danger for the rest of the family, teams up with a stable boy to unravel the mystery, now finds herself in need of cooperation from an unlikely source: Death.

Is there a love story between Signa and the stable boy? Or Signa and Death? Or is this strictly to get to the bottom of the late Mrs. Hawthorne’s suspicious death?

dead flip book cover

Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable growing up. They hung out all of the time, shared a deep love for Halloween and arcade games, among other things, but when they were in middle school, things started to change. 

Fast forward to 1993, and Sam has been gone for six years. Cori and Maz are seniors, and they run across one another by chance…and that chance meeting resurrects not only the feelings of their broken friendship but it also brings Sam back. Sam, who comes back not as a senior himself, but as his 12-year-old self. Still believing it is 1987. 

What unravels is a story of secrets the best friends kept from one another, as well as what both Cori and Maz believe happened to Sam.

This is a fun, funny paranormal mystery for readers who love Stranger Things.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

I got a pitch for a really cool nonfiction book that led me down the path of realizing how little time is dedicated to YA nonfiction that is not narrative. I spend as much time and space as I can highlighting YA nonfiction, but not enough giving the room to books that are not straight-forward reads but instead fall into other categories, such as how tos, reference, and so forth (you can read a bit more about the different types of nonfiction in YA over here).

Today, two books that are activist-driven titles. Certainly, they have a narrative to them, but both encourage teens to get out and do something. One of these is part of a series and just hit shelves earlier this month, while the other is worth preordering for when it releases in October.

this book will save the planet book cover

This Book Will Save the Planet: A Climate-Justice Primer for Activists and Changemakers by Dany Sigwalt and Aurelia Durand

The third book in the “Empower the Future” (the first and second cover anti-racism and feminism), this book looks at how teens can get involved with climate justice. It’s a guide to explaining what climate activism is and resource for getting started and why the work matters. It’s penned by a leader in the climate justice movement who focuses specifically on racial justice and intersectionality within the movement. Every chapter has a call to action so readers can get their hands dirty doing the work. Bonus illustrations make it extra accessible and inviting.

crafting change book cover

Crafting Change: Handmade Activism, Past and Present by Jessica Viktus (October 18)

Back in early 2018, I hopped on a plane to Boise, Idaho, where I got to be a guest as part of Amy Pence-Brown’s RADCAMP for Teens. One of the activities she did during this body positivity camp was craftivism and the teens absolutely loved sharing empowering messages around the community relating to everything they were passionate about–body safety and security, queer lives, Black lives, and more.

When I saw the pitch for this book hit my inbox, I was super excited to give it a look. It’s a book all about teen craftivism and how making something by hand can be a way to get the word out there about topics teens are passionate about. I think it can be easy to forget that, especially for more timid teens, there are ways to be activists and agents of change in ways that allow them to be creative and not necessarily have to put their faces out there.

Not only does this book explore the history of craftivism, it’s loaded with ideas for teens to take on their very own projects, too. Count me in!

I’m ready to make some art and get my hands on some new books, too.

Thanks for hanging out, and we’ll see you later this week for your YA book news and new paperback releases.

Until then, happy reading!

— Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Twitter.