Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2015. YA books have become a steady part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, I’ve had to spread my YA picks over three posts. September is such a huge month, it got an entire post to itself! For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Robert L. Anderson – Dreamland (HarperTeen, Horror)
From immensely talented debut author Robert L. Anderson comes a stunning, complex, and imaginative story about the fine line between dreams and reality.
Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people’s dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person’s dream more than once. Dea has never broken the rules.
Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town. For the first time in her life, Dea feels normal. She feels happy. But both Dea and Connor have secrets, and as she is increasingly drawn to Connor’s dreams—and nightmares—the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate, putting everyone she loves in danger.
In this spellbinding fantasy, dreams come true…and so do nightmares.
Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows (Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), Fantasy)
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction–if they don’t kill each other first.
Christopher Barzak – Wonders of the Invisible World (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Contemporary)
Seventeen-year-old Aidan Lockwood lives in the sleepy farming community of Temperance, Ohio—known for its cattle ranches and not much else. That is, until Jarrod, a friend he hasn’t seen in five years, moves back to town and opens Aidan’s eyes in startling ways: to Aidan’s ability to see the spirit world; to the red-bearded specter of Death; to a family curse that has claimed the lives of the Lockwood men one by one…and to the new feelings he has developed for Jarrod.
Tom Becker – Dark Room (Stripes Publishing, Horror)
When Darla and her feckless dad, Hopper, move to Saffron Hills, Darla hopes it’ll be a new start for the both of them. But she stands no chance of fitting in with the image-obsessed in-crowd at her new school. Then one of her classmates is brutally killed when taking a photo of herself. A murder Darla herself predicted in a bloody vision. When more teens die in a similar fashion it appears that a serial killer is on the loose – the ‘Selfie Slayer’. Darla alone is convinced that the murderer might not be flesh and blood…
Megan Frazer Blakemore – Very in Pieces (HarperTeen, Contemporary)
In this coming-of-age novel perfect for fans of Susane Colasanti and Jandy Nelson, a straight-A student in a family of free-spirited artists must face the hard truths about those she loves most.
Very Sayles-Woodruff could find the value of x with her eyes closed…but interpreting the paintings of her renowned artist mother or her famous grandmother’s poems does not come as easily. Even her little sister, Ramona, has the same artistic leanings as the rest of the women in their family. Very has always been the dependable, responsible one—that is, until her grandmother becomes terminally ill, causing all of the pieces of Very’s once-structured life to come crashing down. Casting aside her steady boyfriend, Very starts an unexpected fling with Dominic, a rebellious art student with a bad reputation.
Things at home have also taken a turn. Very’s mother drinks all day, her father is never around, and Ramona is constantly skipping school. And that’s when the sculpture appears. Out of nowhere, a bottle cap design starts climbing up the stucco walls of the Woodruff house, growing by the day. Who is making the sculpture? What does it mean? With her grandmother nearing death and things heating up with Dominic, Very also has to confront the fact that the person behind the sculpture is struggling more than she could have imagined.
Erin Bow – The Scorpion Rules (Margaret K. McElderry, Science Fiction)
In the future, the UN has brought back an ancient way to keep the peace. The children of world leaders are held hostage—if a war begins, they pay with their lives.
Greta is the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, a superpower formed of modern-day Canada. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. The hostages are Talis’s strategy to keep the peace: if her country enters a war, Greta dies.
The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.
Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. Greta is furious that Elian has disrupted their quiet, structured world. But slowly, his rebellion opens her eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.
Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to mete out punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed…unless Greta can think of a way to save them.
Erin Bowman – Vengeance Road (HMH Young Readers, Adventure)
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
Alex Campbell – Cloud 9 (Hot Key Books, Thriller)
Life’s short. Enjoy it. This is the slogan of Leata, the wonder-drug that sixteen-year-old Hope has been taking since she was a child, just like the rest of her family. Well, the rest of the country really. For who would choose not to take it – a perfectly safe little pill that just helps ‘take the edge off’ life. Because everyone can do with a little help staying happy sometimes…Especially Hope, whose life is maybe not as perfect as she likes to make out on her blog. Tom’s never taken Leata. Why would he? His family are happy as they are. At least they were, until the sudden death of his journalist father. The police are unequivocal: his dad killed himself. But Tom just can’t believe it. Consumed by grief, he obsessively begins to unravel the trail that leads to his dad’s final news story. And Hope is there to help. As a Leata-backed blogger, Hope wants to steer Tom into ‘positive living’. Instead, her efforts take them down a path she could never have expected – into the murky underworld that lies beneath the surface of the ‘happy’ drug everyone wants to love…and the secrets it will kill to hide.
Rae Carson – Walk the Earth a Stranger (Greenwillow Books, Fantasy)
The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times–bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.
Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes. Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance.
The darkness will find you.
Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price…
When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly … love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.
Mikaela Everett – The Unquiet (Greenwillow Books, Science Fiction)
In this complex, beautifully crafted debut novel, a teenage girl has been trained to kill—and replace—an alternate version of herself on a parallel Earth. A literary and futuristic novel for readers who enjoy thought-provoking stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe.
For as long as anyone can remember, there have been two Earths. Two versions of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their alternates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her alternate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills her alternate at age fourteen and seamlessly steps into her life. Lira suspects she is not a good person. And she’s beginning to wonder if there’s more. More than endlessly following orders, more than living life in a holding pattern, waiting for a war that will destroy everything and everyone she has come to love. An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet will haunt you.
Alex Flinn – Mirrored (HarperTeen, Fantasy)
In her hand, she holds a mirror, a big, round, silver one with a long handle. It’s beautiful. There’s a mirror over the sink, of course. Maybe she’s trying to see the back of her hair. But no. As I stand there, staring, she speaks.
To the mirror.
“Mirror, mirror, in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?”
Celine’s life is the stuff fairy tales are made of. She’s beautiful, talented, and brave. Unfortunately, her tale comes complete with a wicked stepmother! When Violet steps into Celine’s life, everything changes and weird things begin to happen to her—bizarre accidents, strange illnesses, and rabid animal attacks. Celine doesn’t feel safe anywhere. It’s almost as if some hateful witch is out to get her.
And there is. Violet has been waiting all her life to have Celine’s father to herself. Getting rid of his gorgeous daughter is child’s play for a witch as powerful as she is. Happy-ever-after isn’t enough for Violet. She wants to be the fairest of them all, and Celine is in the way…but not for long.
Forced to take refuge with her friend Goose and his family, Celine gives up everything she loves and goes deep undercover. But will it be enough to fool Violet, or will Celine’s fate be decided by a reflection in a magic mirror? And where do you find Prince Charming in Miami anyway?
Mirrored is a modern retelling of Snow White—told from the points of view of Violet, Celine, and Goose—with all the magic and mystery readers will love.
When Ella wakes up one Monday morning, she discovers that she is not herself and that her life is not her own. She looks different, her friends are no longer her friends and her existence has been erased from the internet. Even worse, years of her history appear to have been rewritten overnight. And yet, nobody else thinks that anything weird has happened.
A tense and dark psychological thriller full of unexpected twists and turns about the random events and decisions that make us who we are. If you can’t trust your own memories, then who can you trust?
Patricia Reilly Giff – Until I find Julian (Wendy Lamb Books, Contemporary)
Newbery Honor–winning author Patricia Reilly Giff tells a vivid, contemporary story about a remarkable boy who risks everything for his family and a bold girl who helps him. At home in Mexico, Mateo knows where he belongs: with Mami, Abuelita, little brother Lucas, and big brother Julian. When Julian leaves to work in el Norte, the United States, Mateo misses him. And when the family stops hearing from Julian, Mateo knows he has to find his beloved brother.
With only his old notebook and a backpack, Mateo heads for the border, where dangers await: robbers, and the border police, who will send him back home or perhaps even put him in prison. On his journey, Mateo meets Angel, a smart, mysterious girl who can guide his crossing. Angel is tough; so is Mateo, and his memories of his loving family sustain him. Because no matter what happens, he can’t go home until he finds Julian.
K.L. Going – Pieces of Why (Kathy Dawson Books, Contemporary)
From celebrated author K. L. Going comes a beautiful story about the small kindnesses offered in the midst of tragedy that can change the course of lives.
Tia lives with her mom in a high-risk neighborhood in New Orleans and loves singing gospel in the Rainbow Choir with Keisha, her boisterous and assertive best friend. Tia’s dream is to change the world with her voice; and by all accounts, she might be talented enough. But when a fatal carjacking in her neighborhood takes the life of an infant, she finds she can’t sing anymore. From the gossip ignited in her community, she learns the truth about her own father: His life-sentence prison conviction was not just for a robbery, as her mother always told her. The shock of finding out what really happened prompts Tia to start asking the people in her community hard questions—questions everyone has always been too afraid to ask.
Full of humanity, Pieces of Why is a timely story that addresses grief, healing, and forgiveness, told through the eyes of a gifted girl who hears rhythm and song everywhere in her life.
Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn’t believe Brody Mason’s crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster’s Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody’s probably just trying to scare him since he’s the new kid . . . a “stuck-up snot” from Connecticut. But Daniel’s seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”?
Rebecca Hahn – The Shadow Behind the Stars (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Fantasy)
A girl’s dark destiny could cause the unraveling of the world in this spellbinding novel from the author of A Creature of Moonlight, which Kirkus Reviews called “cumulatively stunning” in a starred review.
Heed this warning, mortal: stay far away from the three sister Fates. For if they come to love you, they might bring about the end of the world…
Chloe is the youngest. Hers are the fingers that choose the wool, that shape the thread, that begin it. The sun smiles upon her. Men love her without knowing who she is. She has lived forever and will live forever more. She and her sisters have been on their isolated Greek island for centuries, longer than any mortal can remember. They spin, measure, and slice the countless golden threads of human life. They are the three Fates, and they have stayed separate for good reason: it is dangerous for them to become involved with the humans whose lives they shape.
So when a beautiful girl named Aglaia shows up on their doorstep, Chloe tries to make sure her sisters don’t become attached. But in seeking to protect them, Chloe discovers the dark power of Aglaia’s destiny. As her path unwinds, the three Fates find themselves pulled inextricably along—toward mortal pain, and mortal love, and a fate that could unravel the world.
Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski – Nightfall (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Post-Apocalyptic)
A creepy, edge-of-your seat post-apocalyptic thriller, perfect for fans of Lois Lowry and The Maze Runner
Night is coming.
On Marin’s island, morning doesn’t come every twenty-four hours it comes every twenty-eight years. And every evening her town sets sail for the south to wait out the long night. None of the adults will tell Marin, Kana, and their friend Line exactly why they have to leave their homes, but when the three are accidentally left behind in the gathering dusk, they come to understand the truth: at Night, their town belongs to others, and those others want them gone.
Fleeing through the now-alien landscape that used to be their home, the three confront deadly hazards, unexpected transformations, and uncomfortable truths. They are challenged to trust one another or perish. Marin, Kana, and Line must find their way off the island—before the Night, and the terrifying host of creatures that inhabit it, finds them.
Aaron Hartzler – What We Saw (HarperTeen, Contemporary)
An engrossing examination of guilt and innocence held by a group of friends at a small-town house party where a girl has been raped—and the truth has been covered up
The party last Saturday night is a bit of a blur.
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe Ben’s becoming more than just a friend.
But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Doone’s friend’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface. A terrible crime has been committed, and every fact that emerges leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when it happened?
This story—inspired by real events—from critically acclaimed YA memoirist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor-thin line between responsibility and exemption that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.
Katherine Howe – The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Supernatural)
A haunting love story set in present-day New York City from New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe.
It’s summertime in New York City, and aspiring, young filmmaker Wes Auckerman has just arrived to start his summer term at NYU. While shooting a séance at a psychic’s in the East Village, he meets a mysterious, intoxicatingly beautiful girl named Annie. She’s fashionable, dry and hilarious, and yet a little bit distant and sad. As they spend more time together, Wes starts to notice certain things about her. He wonders why she’s so distant, why her slang sounds so foreign to him, and why he only seems to run into her on one street near the Bowery. But with Annie’s entrancing eyes and irresistible glow, these questions don’t seem to matter too much and Wes falls for her anyway.
But soon, the secrets around Annie’s mysterious background start to unfold. Annie is unlike any other girl Wes has ever met because she’s been dead for 190 years. She’s a ghost, searching for the answers to figure out what happened to her on one dark night in 1825. Being in love is hard enough when you’re a teenager, but what happens when what stands between you and the person you love is truly a matter of life and death?
Simmone Howell – Girl Defective (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Contemporary)
In the tradition of High Fidelity and Empire Records, this is the literary soundtrack to Skylark Martin’s strange, mysterious, and extraordinary summer.
This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything.
It’s a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop and is trying to find her place in the world. It’s about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It’s about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It’s about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It’s about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music.
And it’s about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff.
Seth Crane has hit rock bottom as he wraps his community theater performance of Romeo and Juliet. His mom recently died, his dad had a stroke and is out of work, and he just lost out on a commercial role that would have helped with the bills. So when a producer stops him after the show and offers him the lead role in an indie film with major Hollywood buzz, it seems like the answer to all his problems. Seth gets swept up in the Hollywood glamour right away, staying in a fancy hotel, going to the best parties, doing press conferences, and falling for the beautiful starlet Sabrina Layton and then his costar Annaleigh. But things suddenly start popping up in the tabloids—things Sabrina and Annaleigh told him in confidence, things about him and his co-star that no one else could know or should know—and the line between the film and real life starts to blur. When Seth discovers that nothing in Hollywood is what it seems and his stardom has a price, he has to decide just how far he’s willing to go for fame, money, and to protect the people he loves.
A.S. King – I Crawl Through It (Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers, Contemporary)
Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.
So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.
The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out.
Kendal Kulper – Drift and Dagger (Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers, Fantasy)
In Mal’s world, magic is everything. But Mal is a “blank,” the anti-magic. Blanks can’t be hexed or cursed or saved or killed by magic. And everyone is afraid of them–even Mal himself.
So Mal hides what he is–except from Essie Roe, a witch and his best friend. On the day Essie reveals his secret and casts him out from the only home he’s ever known, Mal experiences the true shock of betrayal.
Now Mal travels the world in search of rare, illegal magical relics. When his partner in crime, Boone, hears rumors of a legendary dagger that can steal a witch’s power, Mal knows he’s finally found his means of revenge. But as the chase for the fabled knife takes them from Boston to Paris to Constantinople, Mal realizes there are secrets afoot that he’s only beginning to understand–and all the while the blank monster inside him threatens to escape.
Three students: dead.
Carly Johnson: vanished without a trace.
Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, “the girl of nowhere.”
Kaitlyn’s diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn’t exist, and in a way, she doesn’t – because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.
Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It’s during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.
Debut author Dawn Kurtagich masterfully weaves together a thrilling and terrifying story using psychiatric reports, witness testimonials, video footage, and the discovered diary – and as the mystery grows, the horrifying truth about what happened that night unfolds.
Una LaMarche – Don’t Fail Me Now (Razorbill, Contemporary)
From the author of critically-acclaimed Like No Other, interracial half-siblings come together for the first time and embark on a cross-country road trip to confront their absentee father before he dies.
From the author of Like No Other, the novel Entertainment Weekly calls “One of the most poignant and star-crossed love stories since The Fault in Our Stars”: What if the last hope to save your family is the person who broke it up to begin with?
Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny are African-American and living on the poverty line in urban Baltimore, struggling to keep it together with their mom in jail and only Michelle’s part-time job at the Taco Bell to sustain them.
Leah and her stepbrother Tim are white and middle class from suburban Maryland, with few worries beyond winning lacrosse games and getting college applications in on time.
Michelle and Leah only have one thing in common: Buck Devereaux, the biological father who abandoned them when they were little.
After news trickles back to them that Buck is dying, they make the uneasy decision to drive across country to his hospice in California. Leah hopes for closure; Michelle just wants to give him a piece of her mind.
Five people in a failing, old station wagon, living off free samples at food courts across America, and the most pressing question on Michelle’s mind is: Who will break down first—herself or the car? All the signs tell her they won’t make it. But Michelle has heard that her whole life, and it’s never stopped her before….
Una LaMarche triumphs once again with this rare and compassionate look at how racial and social privilege affects one family in crisis in both subtle and astonishing ways.
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits. His brother, Oliver—dead. His sweetheart, Mary—gone. His chance to break free of Geneva—lost. Heartbroken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: he brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein, and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real-life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay….
“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”
These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.
Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.
As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.
‘Some stories are hard to tell.
Even to your very best friend.
And some words are hard to get out of your mouth. Because they spell out secrets that are too huge to be spoken out loud.
But if you bottle them up, you might burst.
So here’s my story. Told the only way I dare tell it.’
Sophie Nieuwenleven is sort of English and sort of Belgian. Sophie and her family came to live in Belgium when she was only four or five years old, but she’s fourteen now and has never been quite sure why they left England in the first place. Then, one day, Sophie makes a startling discovery. Finally Sophie can unlock the mystery of who she really is. This is a story about identity and confusion – and feeling so utterly freaked out that you just can’t put it into words. But it’s also about hope. And the belief that, somehow, everything will work out OK.
SOPHIE SOMEONE is a tale of well-intentioned but stupid parenting, shock, acceptance and, ultimately, forgiveness, written in a brave, memorable and unique language all of its own.
Carolyn Mackler – Infinite in Between (HarperTeen, Contemporary)
Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler returns with this striking new novel, which chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreak, and joy of their four years in high school.
Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years….
Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thinks he wants to be more than just a band geek. And beautiful Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s falling apart around her. In the beginning they’re strangers. By the end, they are forever changed in the most unexpected and amazing ways.
In a vein similar to The Breakfast Club, Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens, who form surprising relationships, together to create a distinct and cohesive whole.
Spunky eleven-year-old Wadjda lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her parents. She desperately wants a bicycle so that she can race her friend Abdullah, even though it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes. Wadjda earns money for her dream bike by selling homemade bracelets and mixtapes of banned music to her classmates. But after she’s caught, she’s forced to turn over a new leaf (sort of), or risk expulsion from school. Still, Wadjda keeps scheming, and with the bicycle so closely in her sights, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart.
Anna-Marie McLemore – The Weight of Feathers (Thomas Dunne Books, Contemporary)
For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows-the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.
Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.
Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.
Carrie Mesrobian – Cut Both Ways (HarperCollins, Contemporary)
It took Will Caynes seventeen years to have his first kiss. He should be ecstatic…except for the fact that it was shared with his best friend, Angus, while they were both drunk and stoned. Will’s not gay, but he did sort of enjoy whatever it was he felt with Angus. Unsettled by his attraction to Angus, Will avoids his friend, and even starts dating a sophomore, Brandy. When he’s getting physical with her, he’s totally into it, so he must be straight, right? Then why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly?
Confusing as Will’s feelings are, they’re welcome distractions from his complicated home life. His father has started drinking earlier each day when he should be working on what seem like never-ending house renovations. And his mom—living in a McMansion with her new husband—isn’t much help, unless she’s buying Will a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need. Neither one feels like much of a parent—which leaves Will on his own in figuring things out with his girlfriend and best friend.
Carrie Mesrobian’s candid, forthright depiction of sexuality and family dysfunction captures an experience rarely seen in YA lit—and it will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.
Julie Murphy – Dumplin’ (Balzer + Bray, Contemporary)
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin'” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Donna Jo Napoli – Dark Shimmer (Wendy Lamb Books, Fantasy)
Set in medieval Venice, this captivating fairy tale retelling by award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli explores belonging, beauty, and the transformative power of love through the eyes of a teenage girl. Dolce has grown up hidden away on an island in a lagoon. She is a giant, a freak, tormented by everyone but her loving mother. She spends her time learning the valuable secret of making mirrors. Following a tragedy, Dolce swims away and lands on an island where people see her as normal, even beautiful. Marin, a kind widower, and his little daughter bring Dolce to live with them in their grand palazzo. Eventually, Dolce and Marin marry. She secretly continues to make mirrors, not realizing that quicksilver endangers her…and so evil begins in innocence.
It was a bitterly cold day when Arthur T. Owens grabbed a brick and hurled it at the trash picker. Arthur had his reasons, and the brick hit the Junk Man in the arm, not the head. But none of that matters to the judge—he is ready to send Arthur to juvie for the foreseeable future. Amazingly, it’s the Junk Man himself who offers an alternative: 120 hours of community service…working for him.
Arthur is given a rickety shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, lightbulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors. He can’t believe it—is he really supposed to rummage through people’s trash? But it isn’t long before Arthur realizes there’s more to the Junk Man than meets the eye, and the “trash” he’s collecting is being transformed into something more precious than anyone could imagine….
Inspired by the work of American folk artist James Hampton, award-winning author Shelley Pearsall has crafted an affecting and redemptive novel about discovering what shines within us all, even when life seems full of darkness.
Sarah Prineas – Ash & Bramble (HarperTeen, Fantasy)
You may think you know all about Cinderella, but Sarah Prineas’s bold young adult retelling gives us a different heroine—one who has to choose between two true loves, has no time for glass slippers, and fights to tell her own story.
Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and day out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But her restless heart knows there is something more than this backbreaking servitude, and she captures a glimmer of freedom when she and the brave young Shoemaker make a daring escape.
Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the life the Godmother chooses for—her own fairy-tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.
As Pin tries to fight her arranged path, she finds that a sword is a much better fit for her than a glass slipper, and that the boy who she escaped with is still searching for her and won’t stop until he rescues her—if Pin doesn’t rescue herself first.
Jason Reynolds; Brendan Kiely – All American Boys (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Contemporary)
In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?
But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.
Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.
William Ritter – Beastly Bones (Algonquin Young Readers, Mystery)
In the highly anticipated sequel to the acclaimed Jackaby, Abigail Rook and Sherlockian detective of the supernatural R.F. Jackaby are back and on the trail of a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R.F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.
First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
Katherine Rundell – The Wolf Wilder (Bloomsbury Childrens, Historical Fiction)
Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.
When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.
Leila Sales – Tonight the Streets Are Ours (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Contemporary)
Recklessly loyal. That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone–including her needy best friend and her absent mom–taking her loyalty for granted.
Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her.
Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him.
During one crazy night out in New York City filled with parties, dancing, and music–the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does–Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.
Justin Sayre – Husky (Grosset & Dunlap, Contemporary)
A unique and original voice, Husky is an expertly narrated story of change, told by a boy whose emotions are as big as the operas he adores and whose capacity for love and friendship is as warm and delicious as freshly baked bread.
Davis lives with his mother and grandmother in a brownstone in Brooklyn. He’s a regular kid who loves watching people at the park, visiting his mom in the bakery she owns, listening to the biggest operas he can find, and spending time with his friends. The only problem is he’s going into high school, where everyone gets one adjective that defines them—and his adjective is “husky,” which we all know is a polite way of saying “fat.” To make matters worse, this summer everything seems to be changing in Davis’s life and it’s not only his clothes that don’t seem to fit anymore. His best girlfriends are starting to hang out with the wretched new girl, Chloe who is too cool for anything and seems to be pulling his friends away from him. His mom has started dating Paolo, who works at the bakery and whose efforts at friendship Davis finds simply annoying. Though Davis usually copes with his problems by listening to his favorite operas, not even the biggest arias seem to drown out the sadness, anger, and frustration he’s facing in his own life. The near operatic drama of “ohhhhhs” and “ahhhhhs” reaches a gut-wrenching climax and Davis is forced to learn some of life’s most important lessons from his grandmother and the world around him about love, acceptance, and change.
Kate Scelsa – Fans of the Impossible Life (Balzer + Bray, Contemporary)
Mira is a depression–suffering underachiever who is trying to start over at Saint Francis Prep, where she promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could be normal—not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who feels awake only when she’s with Sebby.
Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Mira’s new school struggling to get over a bullying incident that happened at school last year—who sees Sebby for the first time across the Saint Francis school lawn as if he’s been expecting him—a blond, lanky boy with a mischief glinting in his eyes.
Sebby is the foster kid, fearless and wild. But hiding his sexual orientation from his conservative foster mother is getting harder…and going to school after everything that’s happened to him seems impossible.
As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.
A dazzling, powerful debut novel, Fans of the Impossible Life is a story about rituals, love, and the transformative friendships that burn hot and change you, even if they can’t last.
Leah Schemer – Your Voice Is All I Hear (Sourcebooks, Contemporary)
“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him up and thrown away the key. And now, I was going to pass down the white tiled hallway, knock on his doctor’s office door, slam his secret notebook on her desk and make her read it, make her understand what he was hiding, make her see what only I had seen.”
April won’t let Jonah go without a fight. He’s her boyfriend—her best friend. She’ll do anything to keep him safe. But as Jonah slips into a dark depression, trying to escape the traumatic past that haunts him, April is torn. To protect Jonah, she risks losing everything: family, friends, an opportunity to attend a prestigious music school. How much must she sacrifice? And will her voice be loud enough to drown out the dissenters—and the ones in his head?
Laura Amy Schlitz – The Hired Girl (Candlewick Press, Historical Fiction)
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. Inspired by her own grandmother’s journal, Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz relates Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!), taking readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.
Pat Schmatz – Lizard Radio (Candlewick Press, Science Fiction)
In a futuristic society run by an all-powerful Gov, a bender teen on the cusp of adulthood has choices to make that will change her life—and maybe the world.
Fifteen-year-old bender Kivali has had a rough time in a gender-rigid culture. Abandoned as a baby and raised by Sheila, an ardent nonconformist, Kivali has always been surrounded by uncertainty. Where did she come from? Is it true what Sheila says, that she was deposited on Earth by the mysterious saurians? What are you?people ask, and Kivali isn’t sure. Boy/girl? Human/lizard? Both/neither? Now she’s in CropCamp, with all of its schedules and regs, and the first real friends she’s ever had. Strange occurrences and complicated relationships raise questions Kivali has never before had to consider. But she has a gift—the power to enter a trancelike state to harness the “knowings” inside her. She has Lizard Radio. Will it be enough to save her? A coming-of-age story rich in friendships and the shattering emotions of first love, this deeply felt novel will resonate with teens just emerging as adults in a sometimes hostile world.
Of course Clare made a list. She creates lists for everything. That’s just how she is.
But tonight is Clare and Aidan’s last night before college and this list will decide their future, together or apart.
It takes them on a rollercoaster ride through their past – from the first hello in science class to the first conversation at a pizza joint, their first kiss at the beach and their first dance in a darkened gymnasium – all the way up to tonight.
A night of laughs, fresh hurts, last-minute kisses and an inevitable goodbye.
But will it be goodbye forever or goodbye for now?
Jackie Lea Sommers – Truest (Katherine Tegen Books, Contemporary)
When Westlin Beck meets Silas Hart, life in Greenlake, Minnesota, starts to feel bigger—in a stunning page-turner from a brand-new voice in contemporary teen fiction.
Westlin Beck is dreading this last summer before her senior year. Her best friend is away at camp, her boyfriend is working morning till night, and her dad is more distant than ever. But everything changes when the Hart twins move into town. Silas, so good-looking and a budding poet, is friendly with everyone but West, and his mysterious sister, Laurel, seems sick with an illness no one—and especially not Silas—wants to discuss.
Tricked into teaming up with Silas in her summer car-cleaning business, West and Silas begin a friendship, and maybe something more. But when West comes face-to-face with Laurel’s devastating secret, the summer changes into a rescue mission—one with unexpected results.
Truest is funny and romantic, tender and satisfying. An addictive debut from Jackie Lea Sommers, it’s a book that asks as many questions as it answers.
Kat Spears – Breakaway (St. Martin’s Griffin, Contemporary)
When Jason Marshall’s younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates–Mario, Jordie, and Chick–to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who’s not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.
A witty and emotionally moving tale of friendship, first love, and loss, Breakaway is Kat Spears at her finest.
Six ‘friends’, one flat, big dreams… what could go wrong? When eighteen-year-old Anna leaves school and moves to Liverpool, she feels like her life is finally beginning. She’s landed her dream job at a theatre, and she’s moving into an exciting (if not slightly run-down) flat on a buzzing street lined with shops, bars, and buskers. Best of all, her new flatmates are kind, welcoming and a lot of fun – what more could she ask for?
But although her new life is fun, it’s also a little overwhelming. Anna’s job quickly falls through, and then she realises that although her new friends are great, they’re also a little mixed-up… and it’s not long before Anna starts using her blog to talk about her experiences, from the hilarious to the ridiculous to the little-bit-scary. But when Anna spills a bigger secret than she can handle, suddenly the consequences are all too real. She’ll have to prove she has the mettle to make it in the big city, or risk losing everything she thinks she wants
Shalanda Stanley – Drowning Is Inevitable (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Contemporary)
Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,” shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.
In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.
Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?
When I look, it disappears. Wait. There it is again, at the cornfield.
Some movement, some thing.
Mom and I have been on the run for years. Every time he catches up with us, we move to a new place and start over.
But this place is different.
This place is full of secrets. And they won’t leave me alone.
But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart.
Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.
Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the recue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. At the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.
Filled with high-stakes action and drama, Zeroes unites three powerhouse authors for the opening installment of a thrilling new series.
Meg Wiviott – Paper Hearts (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Historical Fiction)
Amid the brutality of Auschwitz during the Holocaust, a forbidden gift helps two teenage girls find hope, friendship, and the will to live in this novel in verse that’s based on a true story.
An act of defiance.
A statement of hope.
A crime punishable by death.
Making a birthday card in Auschwitz was all of those things. But that is what Zlatka did, in 1944, for her best friend, Fania. She stole and bartered for paper and scissors, secretly creating an origami heart. Then she passed it to every girl at the work tables to sign with their hopes and wishes for happiness, for love, and most of all—for freedom.
Fania knew what that heart meant, for herself and all the other girls. And she kept it hidden, through the bitter days in the camp and through the death marches. She kept it always.
This novel is based on the true story of Fania and Zlatka, the story of the bond that helped them both to hope for the best in the face of the worst. Their heart is one of the few objects created in Auschwitz, and can be seen today in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.
Nicola Yoon – Everything, Everything (Delacorte Press, Contemporary)
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.