What's Up in YA

YA Blast From The Past: Books From 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 Years Ago

Good Monday, YA Lovers!

This week’s edition of “What’s Up In YA?” is sponsored SwoonReads, the crowd-sourced imprint from Macmillan and publishers of You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando.

Reagan is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. But she’s fallen in love and now has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she’s always wanted? Does she even have a choice at all? Read more at



Let’s take today to look back into the history of YA lit. Or rather, a look back into some of the back list titles from YA, as the “beginning” of the history of YA lit is debatable (likely somewhere in the 1940s, with Maureen Daly’s Seventeenth Summer, about the time that teenagers themselves were considered an entire generation of people, but note further below another potential starting point). I’ve put together lists of books from the past in the weekly “3 On A YA Theme” column over the last year and thought it would be fun to look back to begin this one. 

From each year past, I’m pulling out 5 titles. It will be hard to know how well some of the older titles stand up, but because of the popularity they received when they published — or because of the author who wrote them — these should be worth tracking down and revisiting. I’ve limited picks to stand alone titles or the first in a really popular series for the sake of simplicity. There are repeat authors across the decades, in part to highlight how long their career in writing for teens spanned. Descriptions are from Goodreads.

Ready? Keep track and see how many authors or titles are familiar to you.


2007 — Ten Years Ago

It’s interesting to see how many of these have been adapted to the big or small screens!


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.


City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (first in The Mortal Instruments series)

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…


Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, and drugs with excruciating side effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of “normal” life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time runs out.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.


Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.


1997 — Twenty years ago


Tenderness by Robert Cormier

Eighteen-year-old Eric has just been released from juvenile detention for murdering his parents. Now he’s looking for tenderness–tenderness he finds in killing girls. Fifteen-year-old Lori has run away from home again. Emotionally naive and sexually precocious, she is also looking for tenderness–tenderness that she finds in Eric. Will Lori and Eric be each other’s salvation or destruction?


Sons of Liberty by Adele Griffin

Nobody knows the American Revolution better than Rock Kindle. Rock takes pride in his patriotic forefathers. His belief that he, too, could brave any combat helps him through the bad times, when Rock’s father wages small wars on the rest of the family. But when he helps his best friend run away from home, Rock begins to question the bonds that hold his own family together. He knows that he would never be a traitor to his father and would never desert the family. So why is his wish to escape his own home so powerful?


Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye

The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family’s Arab heritage. Her grandmother and the rest of her relatives who live in the West Bank are strangers, and speak a language she can’t understand. It isn’t until she meets Omer that her homesickness fades. But Omer is Jewish, and their friendship is silently forbidden in this land. How can they make their families understand? And how can Liyana ever learn to call this place home?


Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?


The Woman in the Wall by Patrice Kindl

Anna is more than shy. She is nearly invisible. At seven, terrified of school, Anna retreats within the walls of her family’s enormous house, and builds a world of passageways and hidden rooms. As the years go by, people forget she ever existed. Then a mysterious note is thrust through a crack in the wall, and Anna must decide whether or not to come out of hiding. Patrice Kindl’s astounding, inventive novel blends fantasy and reality — and readers will not forget it.


1987 — 30 years ago


The Boy Who Reversed Himself by William Sleator

When Laura finds her homework in her locker with its writing reversed, she’s baffled, until she learns an unbelievable secret: her weird neighbor, Omar, has the ability to travel to the fourth dimension. Laura forces him to take her there, and then, a novice in “four-space”, she goes there on her own. There’s only one problem: she doesn’t know how to get back.


The Crossing by Gary Paulsen

Manny Bustos is an orphan, scrabbling for survival on the streets of Juáurez, Mexico. He sleeps in a cardboard box and fights with boys bigger and older than him for the coins American tourists through off the bridge between El Paso, Texas, and his town.

Across the border, Sergeant Robert S. Locke, Vietnam vet and Army prefect, searches for a way to drown the cries for help of his dead friends, and finds it in Cutty Sark whiskey. On the night Manny dares the crossing, through the muddy shallows of the Rio Grande, past searchlights and border patrol, in the hopes of a better life, the two meet in an explosive encounter that fills the night with tension and endless possibilities.


Remember Me To Harold Square by Paula Danziger

When Frank spends the summer with Kendra and her family in their New York City apartment, a friendship develops as the two teenagers set off on a scavenger hunt exploring the city’s museums, restaurants, and other landmarks.



The Return by Sonia Levitin

Fifteen-year-old Desta belongs to a small, isolated mountain community of Ethiopian Jews. She and her brother and sister leave their aunt and uncle and set out on the long and dangerous trip to freedom — an airlift from the Sudan to Israel, the Promised Land. They travel barefoot, facing hunger, thirst and bandits.


The Goats by Brock Cole

The boy and the girl are stripped and marooned on a small island for the night. They are the “goats.” The kids at camp think it is a great joke; it’s an old tradition. No harm is intended, but the goats don’t see it that way. They want to disappear. To disappear completely. And they do, much to everyone’s surprise.



1977 — Forty Years Ago


I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier

Adam Farmer is on a journey – he has to get to Rutterburg with a parcel for his father. But as he travels, he starts to remember the events leading up to this point, memories which are also being prised out in gruelling psychiatric interviews. What is the secret of Adam Farmer? And what will happen when he finds out?


One Fat Summer by Robert Lipsyte

No summer vacation could be less promising than Bobby Marks’s.

Bobby Marks hates hot weather. It’s the time when most people are happy to take off their heavy jackets and long pants. But for Bobby, who can’t even button the waist of his jeans or reach over his belly to touch his toes, spending the summer at Rumson Lake is pure torture.

This particular summer promises to be worse than usual. His mom and dad can’t stop fighting. His best friend, Joanie, goes home to New York City unexpectedly and won’t tell him why. Dr. Kahn, the rich, stingy estate owner who hires him to manage the lawn, is trying to work Bobby to death before he can earn a single dime. And the local guy who worked for Dr. Kahn last summer is lurking around every corner, itching for a chance to catch Bobby alone, to pay him back for stealing the job.

But there’s more to Bobby Marks than his 200 pounds. He’s about to find out just how terrifying and exhilarating, how dangerous and wonderful, one fat summer can be.


The Solid Gold Kid by Norma Fox Mazer & Harry Mazer

What he’s dreaded most has finally  happened….

Kidnapped. It’s a word that  sixteen-year-old Derek Chapman is afraid to even think,  but the reality of it is beginning to sink in. He’d  been standing at the bus stop in the rain with  four other kids-strangers-when the van came along,  and they’d hitched a ride to escape the  storm.

Derek knows he is the only one the kidnappers  really care about–he’s the son of a self-made  millionaire, and now he has a price on his head. The  others, two guys and two girls, just had the bad  luck to follow him into the van. Although Derek is  the target of the kidnappers, the danger is real  for all of them. Even if the criminals get the  ransom money, will all the victims be set free?


Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

Cat doesn’t mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the witches of the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.


A Summer To Die by Lois Lowry

Meg isn’t thrilled when she gets stuck sharing a bedroom with her older sister Molly. The two of them couldn’t be more different, and it’s hard for Meg to hide her resentment of Molly’s beauty and easy popularity. But now that the family has moved to a small house in the country, Meg has a lot to accept.Just as the sisters begin to adjust to their new home, Meg feels that Molly is starting up again by being a real nuisance. But Molly’s constant grouchiness, changing appearance, and other complaints are not just part of a new mood. And the day Molly is rushed to the hospital, Meg has to accept that there is something terribly wrong with her sister. That’s the day Meg’s world changes forever. Is it too late for Meg to show what she really feels?


1967 — Fifty Years Ago

Worth noting at this point: many name Hinton’s book below to be the first official YA book published. That remains up for debate, but it certainly is a landmark, foundational YA book. 

Also worth noting: 1967 is the year of many familiar classic YA titles, even beyond what’s noted here. For even more into the importance of 1967 in YA lit, keep an eye on Booklist’s celebration of 50 years of YA this year.


The Outsiders by SE Hinton

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.


The Chosen by Chaim Potok

It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again.


The Contender by Robert Lipsyte

A Harlem high school dropout escapes from a gang of punks into a boxing gym, where he learns that being a contender is hard and often discouraging work, but that you do not know anything until you try.




Are You In The House Alone? by Richard Peck

Sixteen-year-old Gail is living the upper-class suburban life when she begins receiving terrifying phone calls and notes in her locker. And the calls keep coming. When she’s attacked by the town’s golden boy everyone refuses to take action against him and his powerful family. A frightening drama that deals with heavy teen issues and the idea of justice (or lack thereof) from bestselling author Richard Peck.


Flambards by KM Peyton

An absorbing novel about twelve-year-old orphaned Christina who is sent to live with her fierce uncle and his two sons in their decaying mansion, Flambards. Christina discovers a passion for horses and riding but finds herself part of a strange household, divided by emotional undercurrents and cruelty.




Thanks for hanging out again. We’ll be back next week with a big link round-up of everything of note going on in the YA world.

What's Up in YA

YA Book-To-Screen Adaptations Coming In 2017

Howdy, YA Readers!

frost-bloodThis Week’s “What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by Elly Blake’s Frostblood.

They say that frost and flame were once friends. That world is long gone.

Vivid and compelling, Frostblood is the first in an exhilarating new series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies…but together create a power that could change everything.



I spent a long time this last week digging around, trying to pull together a comprehensive list of YA books being adapted for the big screen this year. It wasn’t easy — there’s a lot of half-way information about production schedules, release dates, release territories and so forth. Hollywood operates much differently from the book world that trying to get answers as an outsider, even with a paid subscription to a tool like IMDB Pro, is challenging.

Which is to say, if the information I did find is accurate, it seems to me that there are fewer YA adaptations this year than in years past. Perhaps more than 2016, where we saw more flops than we saw hits, but it’s still a rather small number for what seems like were an endless number of deals and rights acquisitions for adaptation in the last few years. A lot of those deals, though, are still marked as being pre-production or in some other similar status, so we might see them pop up later in the year or in future years.

To make this list a little bit longer, I’m including the adaptations going to the smaller screen. Think Netflix series and made-for-TV productions. Again, this isn’t comprehensive but what I could verify through more than one source.

Descriptions come from IMDB, since those offer the most interesting and succinct look at how the book is being reimagined for film, and I’ve included the book cover from which the adaptation is coming, with the title linked through to the book’s Amazon listing. 

Please note that release dates can change and some titles don’t yet have a final release date. If you know of other adaptations, especially those hitting smaller screens, I’d love to know the titles and release dates. As the year progresses and we learn more about what to expect in the summer and fall, I’ll pull together another similar round-up.


On The Big Screen

I’ll start with my cheat title.



Hidden Figures (release date: currently playing)

Based on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.

*I consider this one a cheat title, if only because the adaptation is from the adult version of the book, rather than the Young Reader Edition. But since there’s a Young Reader Edition, it’s counting.



A Monster Calls (release date: currently playing)

A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mum’s terminal illness.


Before I Fall (release date: March 3)

February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over one inexplicable week, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s in danger of losing.



Break My Heart 1,000 Timess (release date: May 4)

Set nine years after an apocalyptic event that killed millions and left the world inhabited by ghosts.




Everything, Everything (release date: May 19)

A teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door.




Let It Snow (release date: November 22)

In a small town on Christmas Eve, a snowstorm brings together a group of young people.




Ashes In The Snow (release date: unannounced)

In 1941, an aspiring artist and her family are deported to Siberia amidst Stalin’s brutal dismantling of the Baltic region. In a seemingly hopeless place, love is the only means of survival.

*The change in title on this one makes sense, as it would be far too easy to get Between Shades of Gray confused with another ‘Grey’ franchise.




Fallen (release date: unannounced)

A young girl finds herself in a reform school after therapy since she was blamed for the death of a young boy. At the school she finds herself drawn to a fellow student, unaware that he is an angel, and has loved her for thousands of years.

*This one’s been released in some countries already, but there’s been no date set for a US release. Last year, the director had mentioned something about waiting to see what the interest was in the States before a date would be given, but so far, there’s still no date for either a theatrical or DVD release.




My Friend Dahmer (release date: unannounced)

Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by John Backderf, Jeffrey Dahmer struggles with a difficult family life as a young boy- and during his teenage years he slowly transforms, edging closer to the serial killer he becomes.

*This Alex Award winning graphic novel has massive appeal for YA readers, so I’m including it on the list since I didn’t know it was going to be adapted.


On The Small Screen




A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix, current)

After the loss of their parents in a mysterious fire, the three Baudelaire children face trials and tribulations attempting to uncover dark family secrets.

*Probably technically more along the middle grade lines, but it has such great YA appeal, I’m including it.




Trollhunters (Netflix, current)

Based on a book by del Toro, Trollhunters tells the story of friends who unearth a mystery underneath their hometown.




Famous in Love (Freeform, April 18)

An ordinary college student gets her big break in a Hollywood blockbuster and must navigate through an undeniable chemistry with her two co-leads, while uncovering the truth about a missing popstar.




The Divergent Series: Ascendant (no network listed, June 17)

Tris and Four fight to end the Bureau of Genetic Welfare’s authoritarian reign over the United States.

*This one has so much information and so little at the same time. There’s a release date but I couldn’t find the network it would be released on. We don’t know who Tris is, either.




13 Reasons Why (Netflix, no date listed)

Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling series by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush Hannah’s decision to end her own life.

*No release date yet but we know it’ll be this year. It feels like this one has been talked about for years and years (it might have even been the first YA acquired for Netflix).


And there you have it! Anything that you’re looking forward to seeing? Anything you’re surprised will be making the leap to the big/small screen?

We’ll be back next week with more YA talk. Until then, snuggle in with a good YA book — or a good YA adaptation!

What's Up in YA

Japanese Light Novels, YA Horror from Stephanie Perkins, & More YA News

Hello, YA Readers!

9781492636083-300This week’s edition of “What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

Hawthorn Creely doesn’t fit in, and that was before she inserted herself into a missing persons investigation. She doesn’t mean to interfere, but Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the most fascinating mystery their town has ever had—which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with a theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? It might just be the push Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.


Let’s get caught up on some of the latest in YA news and talk from around the web, link-fest style.

  • Two big roles in the adaptation of Gretchen McNeil’s Ten have been cast. Check ’em out.




  • And speaking of adaptations, we’re going to get one for Nicola Yoon’s latest, The Sun is Also a Star. This should be excellent.


  • Admittedly, I don’t understand this article’s title at all. But the piece itself, on the growth of the Japanese “Light Novel” in America, is fascinating. I remember seeing these periodically pop up when I used to order manga for the libraries I worked at and being confused by them (I was lucky enough to have teens who could explain and help me pick out the manga they wanted!).



  • Annoying slideshow format aside, here’s a list of most-anticipated YA books of 2017 from Pop Crush. I love looking at these sorts of lists and comparing them to lists that are written by librarians, by those with a foot in the publishing world, and by those who are themselves writers. What I found worth noting in this one is how many of the titles were by authors of color — and how many of those titles are likely going to be big this year.



  • Are you familiar with The Cybils? If you’re not, it’s an awesome annual book award which recognizes various categories of children’s lit with an eye to not only literary merit, but also to appeal to the target audience, as judged by children’s lit bloggers. This year’s short lists were just announced. Check out them out (& how great is it that there are so many titles that differ from other “best of” lists?).


And that’s a wrap. It’s been a quiet few weeks with the holidays and end-of-year fun, so it’s likely we’ll begin seeing more and more YA news popping up as the month progresses.

We’ll be back next week with a look at what adaptations are in the works for 2017 so you can plan your time — reading and viewing! — accordingly.

What's Up in YA

10 YA Authors On Their Most Anticipated 2017 YA Reads

Happy New Year, YA readers!


freeks_3dglowThis Week’s “What’s Up in YA?” newsletter is sponsored by Freeks by Amanda Hocking.

Mara is used to the extraordinary.  Roaming from place to place with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Carnival, she longs for an ordinary life where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. She gets her chance when the struggling sideshow sets up camp in a small town, where she meets a gorgeous guy named Gabe.  But then Mara realizes there’s a dark presence in the town that’s threatening her friends.  She has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she had in order to save everyone she cares about—and change the future forever.


As you sweep up the last of the party glitter and prepare yourself for the fresh year ahead, are you thinking about how your year in reading will stack up? I know I am.

But rather than ramble on about the books I’m eager to dig into this year, I wanted to do something a little different with this week’s newsletter. I reached out to a handful of YA authors in the final weeks of 2016 and asked them to share a couple of the books they’re most excited about in the new year and why they’re excited for them. It’s an excellent round-up of titles, and it made me add a ton of things to my own TBR. I’ve linked to the author’s websites who’ve shared their picks, too, so you can check out their respective books (& you should!).

And just for giggles, I’ve left in some of the additional comments the authors included when they realized that their title of choice had been picked by someone else.


Sona Charaipotra

the-library-of-fatesThe Library of Fates (July 18)

Aditi Khorana’s sophomore effort is a rich, lush quest story steeped in Indian mythology and involves one of my all-time favorite things — a library! Fugitive princess Amrita and former slave Thala must work together on their mission to find the library, and let’s just say it’s going to be a wild ride.

Beasts Made of Night (Fall 2017, no cover yet!)
When I saw the Publisher’s Weekly blurb on this fall 2017 debut by Tochi Onyebuchi, it was one of those must-read-now moments. It’s a Nigerian-inspired fantasy about a young man who’s a sin-eater in a world where you can be expunged of your sins — for a cost. With such dark themes in play, this is one is bound to be amazing.


Dhonielle Clayton

flame-in-the-mist-by-renee-ahdiehFlame In The Mist by Renee Ahdieh(May 16)

Renee Ahdieh spins magic with her words and creates lush and decadent retellings, and I’m thrilled for this Mulan inspired book set in Japan. I’m a sucker for smart, kickass heroines, and I know her main character Mariko will not disappoint.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (October 17, no cover yet!)

Nic Stone’s debut about a black boy caught in the crosshairs of police violence and his letters to Martin Luther King Jr as he tries to process the experience are ripe for heartache. I’m looking forward to this novel because it exposes the racist underbelly of American society and forces teens to grapple with it, so that they can be the change we need in the rocky years ahead.


Tanita Davis

when-dimple-met-rishiYou Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (September 12)

Three generations of friendship, sisterhood and shared – and learned – culture make this YA novel sound like the kind of family epic equally enjoyed by teen and older readers alike.Perkins’ books for younger readers are the kind of complex, nuanced stuff that makes readers think; I’m looking forward to seeing what she has to offer YA next year.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (May 30)

A romantic comedy of an arranged marriage… there’s just so much potential and so much of my personal catnip even in the description. This sounds like the best kind of emotionally engaging, hopeful, and ebullient love story I’d love to read after a hard 2016.


Trish Doller

the-names-they-gave-us-by-emery-lordAlways and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (May 2)

This whole series was an unexpected pleasure for me. I read the first book in a single setting, then downloaded the second immediately and stayed up way too late reading. So when Jenny announced a third book, I was ridiculously excited.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (May 16)

I feel like Emery just keeps getting better and better. I cried on a train to Washington DC as I read When We Collided, and as she shared a little about her next project, I couldn’t wait. I still can’t!


Tessa Gratton

a-crown-of-wishes-by-roshani-chokshiHere We Are: Feminism For The Real World ed by Kelly Jensen (January 24, note that I didn’t pay her to pick this!)

I’ve been excited for this collection since I heard about it, because of the unique, scrap-book style and amazing array of voices–it reminds me already of a new This Bridge Called My Back, one of my all time favorite feminist anthologies.

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (March 28)

I loved Roshani’s debut for its lush language and vibrant world, and the companion novel promises to be full of the same! Plus sworn enemies, prisoners of war, romance, and new mythological characters.


Heidi Heilig


wintersong-by-s-jae-jonesThe Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (May, no cover yet) is a nordic, f/f retelling of The Little Mermaid. An adventure story of longing and treachery, this lovely, brutal fantasy pulled me under dark tides and left me breathless.

Wintersong by S. Jae Jones (February 7) is a mythical, luscious fantasy with a bipolar main character. Inspired by Labyrinth (and with shades of the Persephone myth), this darkly beautiful tale of wintry woods, hedonistic feasts, and cascading music will steal your heart away.


Shaun Hutchinson

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silveraThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (February 28)

Angie has been a powerful voice online and that, coupled with the the teaser I read earlier this year have made this the book I’m most anticipating in 2017. Starr feels like the kind of heroine we all need right now.    

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (January 17)

Adam wrecked me with MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, and his follow-up seems like it’s going to break my heart all over again in all the best ways.  I can’t wait!

E.K. Johnston

dreadnought-by-april-danielsI am really, really looking forward to Windwitch by Susan Dennard (January 3). And yes, it comes out the day after this article is posted, but I am still tremendously excited. Dennard’s world-building and politics work for me on every level, and the magic system is great. I can’t wait to see what her characters get up to next.


Dreadnought by April Daniels (January 24) is a superhero book with a trans teen girl as the main character, and I am SO VERY HERE FOR THAT. Genre fiction is my favourite, and I am so, so, so pleased that writers are cracking it open and making it what it should be.


Micol Ostow

be-true-to-me-by-adele-griffinBe True To Me by Adele Griffin (June 13)

I’ve been panting for a new one from Griffin since The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone and no one does the nuances of the human psyche like she does. A complicated love story set in 1976, releasing just in time for beach season? Sold!

Lois Lane: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond (May 1)

Because what the world needs now is kick-ass female protagonists and Bond does her subject justice. She infuses a familiar character with literary style and substance. When I’m done with this one, I’m saving it for my daughter.

Melissa Walker

once-and-for-all-by-sarah-dessenOnce and For All by Sarah Dessen (June 6)

I love tales of self-discovery sprinkled with the possibility of romance after heartbreak, and I have no doubt that Dessen’s latest novel will deliver the soaring moments and emotional punches that her books—and real life—are known for. This one is set in the world of wedding planning, so I also anticipate delicious food-and-party details, which are the icing on the cake.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (August 29)

Iconic female superhero and mortal girl team up to fight darkness in the world? And you say Leigh Bardugo is going to tell me this story? I am IN. I’ll use this one as a guide for how to stand up to injustice in 2017.


Hopefully, you found a book or two or ten that pique your interest. Curl up with a great read and we’ll see you again next week!

What's Up in YA

Your Favorite 2016 YA Books & Under-The-Radar Picks

Hey YA Fans!


We’re giving away a $250 gift card to Barnes & Noble for a shopping spree. Go here to enter.  


One of my favorite things is hearing about your favorite reads and the reads you think deserve more attention. It’s interesting not just because it means hearing about the books that you loved, but it’s interesting because what I see or have seen as a “big book” isn’t always the case with readers. I saw this play out a couple of times in your lists which is neat to see.

Since many of us are in a holiday seasonal quiet time, let’s get in and get out with this one. Here are your top 16 books from 2016. They are in no particular order, since I didn’t bother ranking and counting; the clear favorites were very clear. I’m linking straight to the Amazon descriptions so you can see what the books are about if you want more details — I don’t want to spoil any of the details for the books here that aren’t first in a series.

I hope some of these are surprise favorites, like they were to me! As much as I love seeing your top picks, it’s interesting to see what titles that did really well this last year didn’t end up on this list.


the-girl-from-everywhere-by-heidi-heiligA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Exit, Pursued By A Bear by EK Johnston (also scored high on the “deserves more attention” list)

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (also scored high on the “deserves more attention” list)

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

The Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The Reader by Traci Chee

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

summer-days-and-summer-nightsSummer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (also scored high on the “deserves more attention” list — this one was and continues to be a big New York Times Bestseller, so that was surprising to see!)

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir

When The Moon Was Ours by Anne Marie McLemore


I noted above some of the titles that also scored high on the “needs more attention” list. I’m keeping those titles above and not replicating them here, since we should see 16 fresh titles on this list. And, like above, links go to Amazon for description purposes.

This list is fascinating, from both the perspective of what titles made it, which titles I saw so many readers rave about over the last year, and more, how this list features more inclusive titles than the favorites list. That doesn’t surprise me, given how we know about publicity and marketing and how often it’s the diverse titles which fall under the radar.

But alas, this is a great reading list! Again, not in any order except alphabetical by title.


art-of-holding-on-and-letting-goThe Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz

The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume 2 by Daniel Kraus

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

the-smaller-evilMy Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Still A Work in Progress by Jo Knowles

Up To This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
A few more under-the-radar picks from your newsletter editor: Emily Hainsworth’s Take The Fall (super Twin Peaks-like!), Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss, Break Me Like A Promise by Tiffany Schmidt (start with the first book in the duology, Hold Me Like A Breath), Cherry by Lindsey Rosin, and A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry.


Thanks for hanging out this year with “What’s Up in YA.” Hopefully, you’ve found some really great reading, and more, that you spend your next week curled up with a book that ends the year in the best way possible. We’ll be back next week with a special edition of the newsletter, featuring the most anticipated 2017 books from a variety of awesome YA authors (prepare your TBR, for real!).

What's Up in YA

2016 in YA at Book Riot: A Look Back at Our Best

Hey YA Readers!


We’re giving away a $250 gift card to Barnes & Noble for a shopping spree. Go here to enter.  


As the year is winding down, let’s use this issue of “What’s Up in YA?” to look back at some of the most popular posts on Book Riot relating to YA lit this year. Don’t forget to share your favorite 2016 books in this form by Wednesday. The last issue of 2016 for this newsletter will be a round-up of your favorite reads and titles you wish more people would pick up.


Thanks for hanging out & we’ll see you again next week with a round-up of your favorite YA books from 2016.

What's Up in YA

Jewish YA Writers & A Call For Your Favorite 2016 YA Reads

Hey YA Readers!

This week’s “What’s Up in YA?” newsletter is sponsored by Swoon Reads.


Swoon Reads publishes the latest and greatest in YA fiction with the help of readers and writers like you. We’re dedicated to the undiscovered, and we seek out the very best in bright, new bookish talent. From heroic epics, to alien adventures, to all-the-feels romance—if you’re loving it, we’ll publish it. We involve our community in every step of the publishing process, and work closely with selected writers to get their book ready for publication. Together, we bring new stories to life, because we believe that great books are better shared.


Before diving into the meat of this week’s newsletter, I wanted to ask for some of your participation. While 2016 “best of” lists are one thing, I find reader-created favorites lists to be far more interesting and diverse. I’d love to know two things about your year in reading. Click here to share your favorite 2016 YA book and the 2016 YA book you think more people need to know about. I’ll cut off responses on 12/21 and have a round-up of the top 10 to 20 of each (depending how many responses come in!) for the final newsletter of the year on December 26. You can answer one question, both questions, or neither of them — it’s all optional.


Since we’re living in a world where one’s identity anywhere outside the cishet white male role is cause for concern and degradation, it’s time to really dig in on talking about how the personal is political and how those politics matter when it comes to art and supporting the work of those who identify outside a narrow box.

I’ve been horrified reading story after story about Jewish Americans finding themselves targets recently. This isn’t new, of course, but in the wake of the election, things have gotten more pronounced. Swastikas are showing up in places where they never have before, including in libraries throughout the country (this is one example of many). For many, thinking about and talking about anti-semitism is challenging, in part because our knowledge of Jewish identity is lacking.

One way to be better, as anyone subscribed to this newsletter knows, is to take to reading. There are, of course, YA books about Jewish characters, though there are far fewer than one might expect. Rather than compile a list of YA books featuring Jewish characters, I wanted to do something a little bit different and focus instead on the creators behind YA books.

It’s a political choice to identify oneself as Jewish, whether that identity comes from one’s spiritual/religious beliefs and practices or from claiming ethnic Jewish heritage. The list below is a group of YA authors, as solicited via social media and in agreement with being included here, who identify as Jewish. Not all of their books explore themes of Jewish identity or religious beliefs, but they themselves are part of the diverse array of creators adding to the rich canon of YA literature.

Because individuals being included on a list — as opposed to books being included on a list — is tricky territory, I’ve avoided putting any writers on here who have identified as Jewish in the past or who may be easily Googled with some combination of Jewish-identifying terminology. I’ve limited to only the authors who self-selected to be included and limited to two books per author for brevity’s sake. I have linked to their websites, though, for readers who really want to dig in and support the work of Jewish creators. Some of these books are new, some are back list, and some will be hitting shelves in the not-too-far-off future.

This is a wonderfully diverse group of writers across genres and topics and an excellent group of individuals for young Jewish readers and budding writers to look up to. (I suspect, too, not-so-young Jewish readers and writers will feel similarly). 


Becky Albertalli

simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda-paperbackSimon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

the-up-side-of-unrequitedThe Upside of Unrequited (April 11, 2017)

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.



Sonia Belasco

speak-of-me-as-i-amSpeak of Me As I Am (April 4, 2017)

Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it’s the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life.

As they struggle to fill the empty spaces their loved ones left behind, fate conspires to bring them together. Damon takes pictures with Carlos’s camera to try to understand his choices, and Melanie begins painting as a way of feeling closer to her mother. But when the two join their school’s production of Othello, the play they both hoped would be a distraction becomes a test of who they truly are, both together and on their own. And more than anything else, they discover that it just might be possible to live their lives without completely letting go of their sadness.


Natalie Blitt

the-distance-from-a-to-zThe Distance from A to Z

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.


Kate Elliott

court-of-fives-paperback Court of Fives (series)

On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.


Lauren Gibraldi

the-night-we-said-yesThe Night We Said Yes 

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.



It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.


Amber J Keyser

the-way-back-from-brokenThe Way Back From Broken

Rakmen Cannon’s life is turning out to be one sucker punch after another. His baby sister died in his arms, his parents are on the verge of divorce, and he’s flunking out of high school. The only place he fits in is with the other art therapy kids stuck in the basement of Promise House, otherwise known as support group central. Not that he wants to be there. Talking doesn’t bring back the dead.

When he’s shipped off to the Canadian wilderness with ten-year-old Jacey, another member of the support group, and her mom, his summer goes from bad to worse. He can’t imagine how eight weeks of canoeing and camping could be anything but awful.

Yet despite his expectations, the vast and unforgiving backcountry just might give Rakmen a chance to find the way back from broken . . . if he’s brave enough to grab it.



Pointe, Claw (April 1, 2017)

Jessie is killing her body to become a ballerina. Dawn is blacking out and waking in strange places. At every turn, the friends encounter the many ways girls are judged and discarded. Should they play it safe or go feral?



Dana Langer

siren-sistersSiren Sisters (January 3)

Lolly Salt has three beautiful sisters. When they’re not in school or running their small town’s diner, they’re secretly luring ships to their doom from the cliffs of Starbridge Cove, Maine. With alluring voices that twelve-year-old Lolly has yet to grow into (not that she wants to anyway) the Salt sisters do the work mandated by the Sea Witch, a glamorously frightening figure determined to keep the girls under her control. With their mother dead after a terrible car crash, and their father drowning in his grief, the sisters carry on with their lives and duties…until a local sea captain gets suspicious about the shipwrecks.

On the day before her birthday, Lolly watches in helpless horror as her sisters are lured themselves by curse-reversing fishermen—and suddenly it’s up to her and her best friend Jason to rescue the sirens of Starbridge Cove.


Ruth Lehrer

Being Fishkill (Fall 2017, no cover yet)

When Fishkill Carmel meets the eccentric, fearless optimist, Duck-Duck Farina, her life begins to change – maybe too much, definitely too fast. Fishkill had forged an impenetrable, don’t-mess-with-me identity to cope with years of abuse, neglect, and hunger. If she lets her guard down now, how will she deal with the hard times ahead that are all but guaranteed for someone like her?

Just as it does for Fishkill, meeting Duck-Duck Farina and her mother Molly will leave readers forever, deeply changed.


Katherine Locke

The Girl With The Red Balloon (2017, no cover yet)

A YA novel about a 16-year-old girl who goes back in time to 1988 East Berlin, and lands in the middle of a Cold War conspiracy of history and magic. The only way to stop people from dying may be to destroy her only way home.


Martha Mendolsohn

bromley-girlsBromley Girls

It’s 1955 and fourteen-year-old Emily Winter’s promising start at Bromley, a posh, academically-challenging Manhattan girls’ school, threatens to turn sour when her new friend Phoebe Barrett joins an anti-Semitic club founded by the popular and snobby Cressida Whitcroft.

But how can Emily stay angry with Phoebe, who shares Emily’s fascination with knights and the Middle Ages, when Phoebe has put herself on a dangerously stringent diet and is sinking into an ever-deeper obsession with losing weight?

In a story about the search for identity and the triumph of friendship over bigotry, Emily discovers a knack for leadership as she copes with Phoebe’s snubs, a newborn brother, a know-it-all classmate addicted to true-love magazines, a whiz kid who thinks he’s James Dean, a fifteen-year-old fencer with an intriguing scar, and a surprise assignment that brings everyone together. Will the Bromley girls rise above their prejudice? Will Emily and Phoebe be best friends again?


Sam J. Miller 

the-art-of-starvingThe Art of Starving (July 11, 2017)

Matt hasn’t eaten in days.

His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.

Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.

So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?

Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.


Hannah Moskowitz

history-of-glitter-and-bloodA History of Glitter and Blood

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.

But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.

This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

not-otherwise-specified-by-hannah-moskowitzNot Otherwise Specified

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?


Phoebe North

starglassStarglass (series)

Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.


Amanda Panitch

never-missing-never-foundNever Missing, Never Found

Some choices change everything. Scarlett chose to run. And the consequences will be deadly.
Stolen from her family as a young girl, Scarlett was lucky enough to eventually escape her captor. Now a teen, she’s starting a summer job at an amusement park. There are cute boys, new friends, and the chance to finally have a normal life.

Her first day on the job, Scarlett is shocked to discover that a girl from the park has gone missing. Old memories come rushing back. And now as she meets her new coworkers, one of the girls seems strangely familiar. When Scarlett chose to run all those years ago, what did she set into motion? And when push comes to shove, how far will she go to uncover the truth . . . before it’s too late?

damage-doneDamage Done

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. She’s even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning.


Gae Polisner

the-memory-of-thingsThe Memory of Things 

The powerful story of two teenagers finding friendship, comfort, and first love in the days following 9/11 as their fractured city tries to put itself back together.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows. She is covered in ash and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a New York City detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home?

the-summer-of-letting-goThe Summer of Letting Go

Just when everything seems to be going wrong, hope and love can appear in the most unexpected places.

Summer has begun, the beach beckons and Francesca Schnell is going nowhere. Four years ago, Francesca’s little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca is the one who should have been watching. Now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lisette, is moving on most recently with the boy Francesca wants but can’t have. At loose ends, Francesca trails her father, who may be having an affair, to the local country club. There she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon, and Francesca begins to wonder if it’s possible Frankie could be his reincarnation. Knowing Frankie leads Francesca to places she thought she’d never dare to go and it begins to seem possible to forgive herself, grow up, and even fall in love, whether or not she solves the riddle of Frankie Sky.


Matthue Roth

never-mind-the-goldbergsNever Mind The Goldbergs

Don’t think for a second that you know Hava or her place in the world. Yes, she’s an Orthodox Jew. But that doesn’t mean she can’t rock out. And yes, she has opinions about everything around her. But her opinions about herself can be twice as harsh.
Now Hava’s just been asked to be the token Jew on a TV show about a Jewish family, trading one insular community for another.


Do you… Listen to music that’s not popular? Hang out with math geeks? Read poetry? Come from another country? Get embarrassed easily in overly social situations? Worry that everyone else is hooking up more than you? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, there are people who think you’re a loser. But not Jupiter Glazer. Jupiter, a Russian-born, outcast-befriending, sexually insecure brooder who listens to The Cure, is not about to lose out on high school. No, it’s time for him to win. For once. This is his story.


Laura Silverman

girl-out-of-waterGirl Out Of Water (May 1)

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.


Natasha Sinel

the-fixThe Fix

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.


Nova Ren Suma

the-walls-around-us-by-nova-ren-sumaThe Walls Around Us

On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?


17-gone17 & Gone

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are seventeen and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? Through Lauren’s search for clues, things begin to unravel, and when a brush with death lands Lauren in the hospital, a shocking truth changes everything.


Thanks for hanging out & we’ll see you again next week with a round-up of delicious links.

Don’t forget to drop your favorite 2016 YA reads into the form here before 12/21.


What's Up in YA

Inclusive YA Adaptations In The Works, Best Books of 2016, and More YA News

Hey YA fans!

This week’s newsletter is sponsored by Swoon Reads.


Swoon Reads publishes the latest and greatest in YA fiction with the help of readers and writers like you. We’re dedicated to the undiscovered, and we seek out the very best in bright, new bookish talent. From heroic epics, to alien adventures, to all-the-feels romance—if you’re loving it, we’ll publish it. We involve our community in every step of the publishing process, and work closely with selected writers to get their book ready for publication. Together, we bring new stories to life, because we believe that great books are better shared.

I’ve gotten and appreciated all of your amazing feedback the last couple of newsletters, so thank you all! Let’s take this week to regroup and catch up on some of the news going on in the YA world:


  • The UK hit by Beth Reekles, The Kissing Booth, was picked up by Netflix. I wonder if we’ll see it in the US…and more, I’m curious how the book feels, being that it’s set in the US but written by a British writer.
  • I’m of mixed feelings on this piece about one author being told it was too dangerous for him to write about a teen genderqueer experience. My biggest feeling though comes from the end of the publisher: are they now actively seeking a genderqueer author doing this kind of writing? Because if the danger is that the author writing the book is not, then this is where they step up and actively seek out an author who is genderqueer. Talk the talk and walk the walk.



Let’s take a look at the YA talk over on Book Riot from the last few weeks, too:


Thanks for hanging out again! We’ll be back next week with a very much necessary, crowd-sourced book list and I’ll be asking you to weigh in on your favorite YA reads from this year (& those YA reads you think deserve a bigger readership).

What's Up in YA

YA Takes On Harassment and Bullying

Hello YA fans!


This week’s edition of “What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by Swoon Reads.

Swoon Reads publishes the latest and greatest in YA fiction with the help of readers and writers like you. We’re dedicated to the undiscovered, and we seek out the very best in bright, new bookish talent. From heroic epics, to alien adventures, to all-the-feels romance—if you’re loving it, we’ll publish it. We involve our community in every step of the publishing process, and work closely with selected writers to get their book ready for publication. Together, we bring new stories to life, because we believe that great books are better shared.


Last week I responded to some angry emails about how the YA newsletter from Book Riot should not be about politics. And for the most part, that was received well.

But I did get this email from a reader and thought it worth sharing here for a couple of reasons:


The sender, who identified themselves as “Tyler,” suggests that they’re trying to raise their daughter to respect the opinions of others and not to be judgmental. “Tyler” offers up some kind words following that opening, including calling people like myself and other Book Riot staff “cancerous tumors of people” who should be left for dead.

Well, Tyler, whether you’re still reading or not, one thing I wanted to address to the 25,000 subscribers of this newsletter is this: your daughter is witnessing some grade-A bullying and harassment at the hand of one of her parents. If your intent is to raise her to be respectful and non-judgmental, may I offer up a book list that might help guide your daughter in a better direction than the one you’re showing her?

“Tyler,” pass these books about bullying and harassment on to your daughter so she can learn what not to do.

All descriptions are from Goodreads. As much as it kills me to say these books are going to become more and more relevant, well, if that email about my YA newsletter is any indication, these books are going to become more and more relevant. Likewise, I fear that we’re going to begin seeing more YA books hitting the scene where bullying is racially or religiously motivated in ways we haven’t seen before.

Because they, too, are…and will continue to be…horribly necessary.

absolutely-true-diaryThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

backlashBacklash by Sarah Darer Littman

He says: You’re an awful person.
He says: What makes you think I would ever ask you out?
He says: The world would be a better place without you in it.

Lara just got told off on Facebook.

She thought that Christian liked her, that he was finally going to ask her to his school’s homecoming dance. They’ve been talking online for weeks, so what’s with the sudden change? And where does he get off saying horrible things on her wall? Even worse – are they true?

It’s been a long time since Lara’s felt this bad, this depressed, this ugly. She’s worked really hard to become pretty and happy – and make new friends after what happened in middle school.

Bree used to be best friends with overweight, depressed Lara, but constantly listening to Lara’s issues got to be too much. Secretly, Bree’s glad Christian called Lara out. Lara’s not nearly as amazing as people think. But no one realized just how far Christian’s harsh comments would push Lara. Not even Bree.

As online life collides with real life, things spiral out of control, and not just for Lara. Because when the truth starts to come together, the backlash is even more devastating than anyone could have ever imagined.

bad-appleBad Apple by Laura Ruby

High-school junior Tola Riley has green hair, a nose ring, an attitude problem, and a fondness for fairy tales, which are a great escape from real life. Everyone thinks she’s crazy; everyone says so. Everyone except Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. He gets her paintings and lets her hang out in the art room during lonely lunch periods.

But then rumors start flying and Tola is suddenly the center of a scandal. The whole town is judging her—even her family. When Mr. Mymer is suspended for what everyone thinks is an affair, she has no choice but to break her silence. Fairy tales won’t help her this time . . . so how can she tell the truth? And, more importantly, will anyone believe her?

butterButter by Erin Jade Lange

A lonely obese boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn’t go through with his plans?

the-chocolate-war-by-robert-cormierThe Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Jerry Renault ponders the question on the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe? Refusing to sell chocolates in the annual Trinity school fund-raiser may not seem like a radical thing to do. But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. Now the only question is: Who will survive? First published in 1974, Robert Cormier’s groundbreaking novel, an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty, has become a modern classic.

crackedCracked by KM Walton

Sometimes there’s no easy way out.

Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.

Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn’t stop Bull’s grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there’s no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better.

the-dark-days-of-hamburger-halpin-by-josh-berkThe Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will can’t hear what’s going on, but he’s a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Will’s interested in more than just murder . . .)

Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wiseguy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut.

dear-bully-70-authors-tell-their-story-edited-by-megan-kelley-hallDear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Story edited by Megan Kelley Hall

Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.

Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.

everybody-sees-the-ants-by-as-kingEverybody Sees the Ants by AS King

Lucky Linderman didn’t ask for his life. He didn’t ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn’t ask for a father who never got over it. He didn’t ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn’t ask to be the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret–one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos–the prison his grandfather couldn’t escape–where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It’s dangerous and wild, and it’s a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

freak-by-marcella-pixleyFreak by Marcella Pixley

For Miriam Fisher, a budding poet who reads the Oxford English Dictionary for fun, seventh grade is a year etched in her memory “clear as pain.” That’s the year her older sister, Deborah, once her best buddy and fellow “alien,” bloomed like a beautiful flower and joined the high school in-crowd. That’s the year high school senior Artie Rosenberg, the “hottest guy in the drama club” and, Miriam thinks, her soul mate, comes to live with Miriam’s family. And that’s the year the popular “watermelon girls” turn up the heat in their cruel harassment of Miriam—ripping her life wide open in shocking, unexpected ways. Teased and taunted in school, Miriam is pushed toward breaking, until, in a gripping climax, she finds the inner strength to prove she’s a force to be reckoned with.

hate-list-by-jennifer-brownHate List by Jennifer Brown

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

leverage-by-joshua-c-cohenLeverage by Joshua C Cohen

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on – and off – the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy – including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

the-list-by-siobhan-vivianThe List by Siobhan Vivian

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction – and the price that’s paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

october-mourning-a-song-for-matthew-shepard-by-leslea-newmanOctober Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman

On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.

permanent-record-by-leslie-stellaPermanent Record by Leslie Stella

Being yourself can be such a bad idea sometimes. For sixteen-year-old Badi Hessamizadeh, life is a series of public humiliations. After withdrawing from public school under mysterious circumstances, Badi enters Magnificat Academy as a junior. To make things “easier,” his dad has even given him a new name: Bud Hess. Grappling with his Iranian-American identity, clinical depression, bullying, and a barely bottled rage, Bud is an outcast who copes by resorting to small revenges and covert acts of defiance, but the pressures of his home life, plummeting grades, and the unrequited affection of his new friend, Nikki, prime him for a more dangerous revolution. Strange letters to the editor begin to appear in Magnificat’s newspaper, hinting that some tragedy will befall the school. Suspicion falls on Bud, and he and Nikki struggle to uncover the real culprit and clear Bud’s name.

rumble-by-ellen-hopkinsRumble by Ellen Hopkins

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.

scrawl-by-mark-shulmanScrawl by Mark Shulman

Tod Munn is a bully. He’s tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.

Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn’t know why he’s there, but she does. Tod’s punishment: to scrawl his story in a beat-up notebook. He can be painfully funny and he can be brutally honest. But can Mrs. Woodrow help Tod stop playing the bad guy before he actually turns into one . . . for real?

Read Tod’s notebook for yourself.

shooter-by-walter-dean-myersShooter by Walter Dean Myers

Cameron: “Deep inside, you know that whoever gets up in your face gets there because he knows you′re nothing, and he knows that you know it too.”

Carla: “What I′m trying to do is to get by — not even get over, just get by.”

Leonard: “I have bought a gaw-juss weapon. It lies beneath my bed like a secret lover, quiet, powerful, waiting to work my magic.”

Statement of Fact: 17-year-old white male found dead in the aftermath of a shooting incident at Madison High School in Harrison County.

Conclusion: Death by self-inflicted wound.

the-skin-im-in-by-sharon-flakeThe Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake

Miss Saunders, whose skin is blotched with a rare skin condition, serves as a mirror to Maleeka Madison’s struggle against the burden of low self-esteem that many black girls face when they’re darker skinned. Miss Saunders is tough and through this, Maleeka learns to stand up to tough-talking Charlese.


some-girls-are-by-courtney-summersSome Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her—and her best friend’s boyfriend—start going around.  Now Regina’s been frozen out, and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina were guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth, and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past whom she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend…if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

tease-by-amanda-macielTease by Amanda Maciel

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

thirteen-reasons-why-by-jay-asherThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

twisted-by-laurie-halse-andersonTwisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world.

until-it-hurts-to-stop-by-jennifer-r-hubbardUntil It Hurts to Stop by Jennifer R. Hubbard

When you can’t trust anyone, how can you ever feel safe?

In seventh grade, Maggie Camden was the class outcast. Every day, the other girls tripped her, pinched her, trapped her in the bathroom, told her she would be better off dead. Four years have passed since then, and Maggie’s tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, even moved out of town. But Maggie has never stopped watching for attacks, and every laugh still sounds like it’s at her expense. The only time Maggie feels at peace is when she’s hiking up in the mountains with her best friend, Nick. Lately, though, there’s a new sort of tension between the two of them—a tension both dangerous and delicious. But how can Maggie expect anything more out of Nick when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s pathetic, she’s unworthy of love? And how can she ever feel safe, now that Raleigh Barringer is suddenly—terrifyingly—back in town?

we-are-the-ants-by-shaun-david-hutchinsonWe Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

yaqui-delgado-wants-to-kick-your-ass-by-meg-medinaYaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

There aren’t as many YA books about harassment or cyberbullying as I initially thought there might be as I began compiling the list. Likewise, the above isn’t comprehensive, but it should be a great start for readers, like “Tyler”‘s daughter, who might need to find some familiarity, comfort, or empathy in a good book.

And “Tyler,” because I write the YA newsletter and am influenced by the young folks in the stories to sometimes feel the need to be juvenile, I’ve got a book for you, too.



Thanks for hanging, YA fans, and remember: you influence the teens in your lives…but it’s you who decides whether that’s a positive thing or a negative thing.

See you next week!


PS — those of you reading this who are writers, here is a killer book idea: one or more of the parents of a teen in your YA book are online bullies who get their jollies by putting down people they don’t know…or that they DO know and are too chicken to bully in person.

What's Up in YA

YA Adaptation News, Space for Gay Teens, & No Apologies for Social Politics

Hello YA Fans!

square-product-imageThis week’s “What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by

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A number of emails came through in response to last week’s newsletter. I thought it would be worth addressing a recurring theme in a number of them which boiled down to this: keep politics out of a newsletter about YA books.

The response to that, in a word, is no.

Reading is a political act. Whether or not you believe yourself to be political or active or socially conscious, partaking in reading is inherently political.

So no, politics don’t be removed from talking about YA books — or any books — here or elsewhere in the Book Riot world. That’s what we do, and it’s what we do well.

That said, let’s take a look at some recent news from around the YA world, link-style:

  • There’s an official trailer out for the film adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall (which hits theaters in early March). I know that Zoey Deutch is only 22 in real life, but she and her co-stars look that age, rather than teenagers.
  • The World Science Fiction Society is considering adding a YA-specific award that can be given out at their WorldCon event (they do the Hugo and Campbell awards, for those who may be more familiar with those). Can you help name the award?
  • This is an interesting piece about an adult reader picking up Twilight AS an adult and seeing the abusive relationships at play. It’s thoughtful and critical, but it’s a prime example, I think, of why adults have to remember to take off the adult lenses when reading YA books and accept that teenagers are the characters in the story and thus, are the ones making dumb mistakes. It doesn’t at all excuse abuse, but this is a fascinating exercise in teen vs adult eyes and readership. I see a lot of people complain about teenagers being dumb in YA books, and too often, it’s adults who are forgetting that YA books are about teenagers. . . and teenagers do dumb things (which is part of why stories about them are so good!).
  • Bustle has been doing an excellent job on YA news lately, if that weren’t clear. Here’s a piece that fans of Melina Marchetta will love — it’s an interview with her about her recent adult novel, but it teases at another potential Saving Francesca sequel. If you haven’t read those books, do yourself the big favor of checking out Marchetta’s YA work. You can start with the Francesca books (which I adore!) or dive right into her fantasy series, which begins with Froi of the Exiles (as someone who doesn’t read enough fantasy, I found myself deeply in love with this story).
  • A lot of people shared this piece over the last couple of weeks, and there could easily be an entire newsletter dedicated to it. It’s about gay characters in YA and how they’re no longer as taboo as they once were. It, of course, is pretty much limited to gay boys in YA; that’s not a bad thing, except it’s exceptionally limiting about the range of queer stories that are finding their way onto more and more shelves in YA. Looking for some love for books like Sarah McCarry’s About A Girl (with two girls kissing on the cover!), Malinda Lo’s Adaptation duology (which features a romantic queer relationship among more than two people!), and trans love/romantic YA stories like Anna-Marie McLemore’s When The Moon Was Ours and Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl. I also get my back up a bit about the phrase “taking over” when it comes to any marginalized group eking out even the slightest space on a bookshelf.

How about some “best of” 2016 news? If I’m being perfectly honest, I cannot read these lists yet. I find the “best of” creep happening in October to be a disservice to books and to readers; I understand the “best of” lists hitting in mid/late November, if for no other reason than it serves as a shopping list for many, but October is way, way too soon. I can’t comment on these because I’ve yet to read them, but I know they’ll be of interest to many (spoiler: in December I’m sure we’ll be talking about these in more depth!):

Still needing to think about the election? Although the entirety of this newsletter has been politics, let me go ahead and proclaim this part of the newsletter is BLATANTLY POLITICAL. Here’s some good reading and action plans in the wake of our future as Americans…and global citizens:

  • Tessa Gratton’s “As I Lay Awake” is a reflection more than worth reading and thinking about.

If you’re struggling with what you can do, actionable steps you can take to make a difference, one of the things worth doing is making a phone call or two. This week, I poked around for an organization to which I could donate books locally — I’m lucky to get so many books sent to me and one thing I can do is drive them to a local facility that will get them into the hands of kids. I’m in a small town in Wisconsin in a very red county; organizations that help kids and families exist everywhere, and it literally takes a phone call to set up a relationship. I’m eager to be driving 100s of books over to the non-profit that houses and supports children from abuse and neglect, and it was through that phone call I got to hear stories about how many of the children and teens there are avid, devoted readers.

So I’m ending this newsletter with this: can you help? Can you take one step that betters the lives of young readers in some capacity this week?

If you do, if you’ve been thinking about it, or if you need support or ideas, please drop a response and I’d love to share, generate ideas, or offer support to taking those steps. Want to help but have no idea where to begin? Let me know. I am happy to shoulder some of the work to put you in touch with local orgs or with orgs that are local to me or other YA/teen advocates. Together we can do something, even at a small level. Safety pins are great, but they don’t do the work.

We have to do the work.