Young adult has been a long time favorite genre of mine, and it is becoming increasingly more so my favorite with it’s strong focus on diversity and inclusivity in the voices we are hearing. Voices from characters and authors alike are stronger than ever before in the genre that’s continually evolving and finding its place in the world. Of course, there are always more hurdles to overcome, more progress to be made. But my reads this year continued to leave me feeling excited for the future of YA. Here are a few of my favorites.
Young Adult/Middle Grade:
The Bridge Home (2019) was an immediate favorite of mine. Set in the city of Chennai, this is the tale of two young girls who leave home following instances of domestic violence. Written in past tense from one of the girls, this is story both of processing and remembering. Her sister Rukku had a developmental disability that impacted her experience, but Viji is quick to defend Rukku, and keen on learning what she can from her optimistic sister.
The Similars (2019) from Rebecca Hanover surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. I’m not usually one for thrillers, and it had seemed by the description and the first few chapters that all the key details had been laid on the table, but I was surprised by the twists and turns the story took. I loved this social justice look at clones. I loved the drama of the boarding school set in the state I currently call home, Vermont.
Somewhere Only We Know (2019) is not Maurene Goo’s first rodeo with YA, and it seems she’s only getting better as writer. I loved this book written over the span of just a few days, an adventure and a romance all folded into one. A coming of age story in the face of being a famous K-pop star where all of the protagonists’ actions are meticulously planned out and monitored, until she escapes her hotel in the night and spends her free time adventuring in search of a cheeseburger.
I had been recommended this book long before it finally made it off the TBR pile and into my hands. The 57 Bus (2017) by Dashka Slater is is a true crime book, written in a variety of styles, detailing the account of a young adult white queer teen having their skirt lit on fire one day on the bus by another young adult black teen. This kind of situation sounds unreal, but Slater does an excellent job of examining the event from multiple perspectives, trying to convey to readers the impact it had on both teens.
Tower of Dawn (2017) is the sixth installment in the Throne of Glass series. The book that I orginally doubted for it’s premise as it has no scenes involving the protagonist of the series was also a book I fell in love with by its conclusion. Nesryn and Chaol’s stories diverge from the main path that Aelin is questing towards, and boy do they find some grand adventures and explore some beautiful regions. Her descriptions were stunning, and such a departure from business as usual.
On the Come Up (2019) is Angie Thomas’s much anticipated sophmore novel, and it does not disappoint. I loved this book even more than The Hate You Give. I fell in love with Bri’s strong emotions, and appreciated her journey to find a way to impact others positively in her life. She reminds me of the kids I work with, optimistic and hopeful yet wary of the life around them and susceptible to falling in with a crowd that doesn’t help them be their best selves.
Kingdom of Ash (2018) was perhaps my most anticipated read. As such, I felt the urge to include it here despite it not surpassing my expectations. I had high expectations, and Sarah J. Maas was able to meet them. This felt a fitting end for the characters I had spent thousands of pages developing emotional bonds with. What more could I ask for?