48 Fall 2021 YA Paperbacks to TBR

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Is the scent of pumpkin spice hitting the air near you yet? If not, it should be soon as the Northern Hemisphere begins to make its way toward autumn. Along with changing leaves, cozy sweaters, and crisp air, fall makes for the perfect season to curl up with a hot beverage and a YA paperback book. We’re in for a wealth of incredible fall 2021 YA paperbacks, too.

Find below a roundup of some of the most exciting YA paperbacks hitting shelves this spring. Because publication dates can shift — and many have because of COVID-19 — these are as current as can be expected. Some of these books are paperback originals, meaning they’ll only ever release in paperback, while others are first releases in paperback of books that have already been published in hardcover. I’ve stuck to first books in a series only, so know there are additional paperback releases of series books that are not the start of those series. First titles in a series are marked with a *.

You’ll find something of every genre in this roundup, making your fall 2021 YA paperbacks a wealth of choices. Descriptions for the titles below come from Amazon because much as I wish I’d read all of them, I have not. This is one of the rare times I do that, if only because of how lengthy the list is. Note: you may need to toggle your view when you click the link to access the paperback edition.

Fall 2021 YA Paperbacks

October

5

Feminist AF by Brittney Cooper, Chanel Craft Tanner, and Susana Morris

Hip-hop and feminism combine in this empowering guide with attitude, from best-selling author Brittney Cooper and founding members of the Crunk Feminist Collective.

Loud and rowdy girls, quiet and nerdy girls, girls who rock naturals, girls who wear weave, outspoken and opinionated girls, girls still finding their voice, queer girls, trans girls, and gender nonbinary young people who want to make the world better: Feminist AF uses the insights of feminism to address issues relevant to today’s young womxn.

What do you do when you feel like your natural hair is ugly, or when classmates keep touching it? How do you handle your self-confidence if your family or culture prizes fair-skinned womxn over darker-skinned ones? How do you balance your identities if you’re an immigrant or the child of immigrants? How do you dress and present yourself in ways that feel good when society condemns anything outside of the norm? Covering colorism and politics, romance and pleasure, code switching, and sexual violence, Feminist AF is the empowering guide to living your feminism out loud.

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo

Lila Santos is ready for her last winter break of high school. The snow in her small town of Holly, New York, is plentiful, the mood is as cozy as a fuzzy Christmas sweater, and she’s earning extra cash working at the local inn—AKA the setting of the greatest film of all time, Holiday by the Lake—while moonlighting as an anonymous book blogger.

 But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss’s frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Rivera, becomes her coworker.  Lila is type A; Teddy is type “Anything but Lila’s Way,” and the two of them can’t stop butting heads over tangled icicle lights and messy gift shop merch. But when they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they realize they’ve both been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets—and an unexpected snowstorm—bring these rivals together?

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

One Way or Another by Kara McDowell

The average person makes 35,000 decisions every single day. That’s about 34,999 too many for Paige Collins, who lives in debilitating fear of making the wrong choice. The simple act of picking an art elective is enough to send her into a spiral of what-ifs. What if she’s destined to be a famous ceramicist but wastes her talent in drama club? What if there’s a carbon monoxide leak in the ceramics studio and everyone drops dead? (Grim, but possible!)

That’s why when Paige is presented with two last-minute options for Christmas vacation, she’s paralyzed by indecision. Should she go with her best friend (and longtime crush) Fitz to his family’s romantic mountain cabin? Or should she accompany her mom to New York, a city Paige has spent her whole life dreaming about?

Just when it seems like Paige will crack from the pressure of choosing, fate steps in — in the form of a slippery grocery store floor — and Paige’s life splits into two very different parallel paths. One path leads to New York where Paige falls for the city . . . and the charms of her unexpected tour guide. The other leads to the mountains where Paige might finally get her chance with Fitz . . . until her anxiety threatens to ruin everything.

However, before Paige gets her happy ending in either destiny, she’ll have to face the truth about her struggle with anxiety — and learn that you don’t have to be “perfect” to deserve true love.

Redemption Prep by Samuel Miller

Everyone knows Emma. Neesha’s her best friend, Aiden’s her basketball star boyfriend, and Evan’s her shadow, following Emma’s every move.

Emma stands out, which is hard to do at Redemption Prep, a school where every student has been handpicked to attend its remote campus in the forest of Utah. So when she goes missing in plain sight during mass, everyone notices.

And everyone becomes a suspect, especially at a school with so many rules: Don’t skip mass. Don’t break curfew. Don’t go into the woods.

Emma’s disappearance ignites an investigation, and Neesha, Aiden, and Evan all want to find her—for different reasons. But they each have their own secrets to hide, and not everyone wants Emma to be found.

As the search continues, the students start to realize that they’re not the only ones trying to hide something. Redemption Prep has secrets, too—secrets bigger than any of the students could have imagined, and Emma could be the key to finding out the truth . . . if anyone can find her.

The Violent Season by Sara Walters

There is something terribly wrong in Wolf Ridge. Every November, every teen is overwhelmed with a hunger for violence…at least, that’s the urban legend.

After Wyatt Green’s mother was brutally murdered last Fall, she’s convinced that the November sickness plaguing Wolf Ridge isn’t just a town rumor that everyone ignores…it’s a palpable force infecting her neighbors. Wyatt is going to prove it, and find her mother’s murderer in the process. She digs up every past brutal act she can find from Wolf Ridge’s past—from car wrecks, suicides, and unnamed victims turning up in rivers—and even reaches out to an out-of-state journalist that seems to believe her. But all of her digging leads to nowhere. Everyone in Wolf Ridge accepts that the November sickness is real, and absolutely no one will talk about it.

As Wyatt’s best friend Cash turns on her, and her friend is almost killed in a tragic accident, Wyatt panics—how can she keep her friends safe, and find her mother’s murderer, when no one believes her?

As the evidence stars to disappear, Wyatt wonders: is she just imagining everything? Is the sickness real, or are the people of Wolf Ridge just naturally prone to doing bad things?

Can Wyatt and her friends come out of the Violent Season unscathed, or is one of them going to be the next victim?

12

Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron

In the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move.

On top of all that, Evvie’s magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation—a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. And as Evvie’s talents waken, something dark comes loose and threatens to resurface…

And when the demons of Evvie’s past finally shake free, she must embrace her mighty lineage, and summon the power that lies within her.

Echo After Echo by A. R. Capetta

Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared — for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; or for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater — and then another — especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole — and cast lantern light on two young women, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

Golden Boys Beware by Hannah Capin

For the girls who have had enough – Hannah Capin’s Golden Boys Beware, originally published as Foul is Fair, is the bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy that reimagines Lady Macbeth’s story for the modern day.

Jade and her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Jade’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Jade as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Jade transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones

Four months after his best friend, Dodge, disappeared near their families’ camp in a boat accident, Nate is still haunted by nightmares. He’d been planning to make the treacherous trek to the remote campsite with a friend — his first time in winter without his survival-savvy father. But when his friend gets grounded, Nate secretly decides to brave the trip solo in a journey that’s half pilgrimage, half desperate hope he will find his missing friend when no one else could. What he doesn’t expect to find is the door to the cabin flung open and the camp occupied by strangers: three men he’s horrified to realize have escaped from a maximum-security prison. Snowed in by a blizzard and with no cell signal, Nate is confronted with troubling memories of Dodge and a stunning family secret, and realizes that his survival now depends on his wits as much as his wilderness skills. As things spiral out of control, Nate finds himself dealing with questions even bigger than who gets to leave the camp alive.

19

City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn

As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other. As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue AI hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem. Gunslinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive. Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The AI exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.

Girl Crushed by Katie Heaney

Before Quinn Ryan was in love with Jamie Rudawski, she loved Jamie Rudawski, who was her best friend. But when Jamie dumps Quinn a month before their senior year, Quinn is suddenly girlfriend-less and best friend-less.

Enter a new crush: Ruby Ocampo, the gorgeous and rich lead singer of the popular band Sweets, who’s just broken up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Quinn’s always only wanted to be with Jamie, but if Jamie no longer wants to be with her, why can’t Quinn go all in on Ruby? But the closer Quinn grows to Ruby, the more she misses Jamie, and the more (she thinks) Jamie misses her. Who says your first love can’t be your second love, too?

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history.

But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands.

So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

26

Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell

Catherine Daly has an unusual talent. By day she works for a printer. But by night, she awakens the dead for a few precious moments with loved ones seeking a final goodbye. But this magic comes with a price: for every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own life.

When Catherine is given the unusual task of collecting a timepiece from an old grave, she is sure that the mysterious item must contain some kind of enchantment. So she enlists Guy Nolan, the watchmaker’s son, to help her dig it up. But instead of a timepiece, they find a surprise: the body of a teenage boy. And as they watch, he comes back to life—not as the pale imitation that Catherine can conjure, but as a living, breathing boy. A boy with no memory of his past.

This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death—for all of them.

November

2

Beautiful Wild by Anna Godbersen

High society intrigue and deliciously shocking scandals meet a gripping fight for survival in this sweeping romance, sure to thrill fans of Kiera Cass and Katie McGee.

Vida Hazzard can see her future: aboard the heralded “Millionaire’s Ship of the West,” she’ll charm the young scion Fitzhugh Farrar, resulting in a proposal of marriage.

But Vida didn’t plan on Fitz’s best friend Sal, a rough-around-the-edges boy with a talent for getting under her skin. Nor did she anticipate a hurricane dashing their ship to pieces, along with her dreams.

Stranded on an island with both Fitz and Sal, Vida is torn between the life she’s always planned for, and a future she’s never dared to want. As they desperately plot a course for home, Vida will discover just which boy can capture her wild heart—and where her future truly lies.

Blame It On the Mistletoe by Beth Garrod

Elle is a social medial star with the #DreamLife…or so it seems. Determined to shake up her content and gain new followers, she’s on a mission: can she find a British fan to swap with for Christmas?

Holly loves everything about Christmas. But after a mortifying mistletoe disaster with her ex, her perfect plans unravel like a bad Christmas sweater. Can Holly save the holidays when she switches places with favorite social media influencer?

Elle gets more than she bargained for when she meets the cute boy from across the street. And Holly wasn’t expecting Elle to have a handsome twin brother. This holiday is full of surprises.

Come On In Edited by Adi Alsaid

WELCOME

From some of the most exciting bestselling and up-and-coming YA authors writing today…journey from Ecuador to New York City and Argentina to Utah…from Australia to Harlem and India to New Jersey…from Fiji, America, Mexico and more… Come On In.

With characters who face random traffic stops, TSA detention, customs anxiety, and the daunting and inspiring journey to new lands…who camp with their extended families, dance at weddings, keep diaries, teach ESL…who give up their rooms for displaced family, decide their own answer to the question “where are you from?” and so much more… Come On In illuminates fifteen of the myriad facets of the immigrant experience, from authors who have been shaped by the journeys they and their families have taken from home—and to find home.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

1940. Facing a seemingly endless war, fifteen-year-old Louisa Adair wants to fight back, make a difference, do something–anything to escape the Blitz and the ghosts of her parents, who were killed by enemy action. But when she accepts a position caring for an elderly German woman in the small village of Windyedge, Scotland, it hardly seems like a meaningful contribution. Still, the war feels closer than ever in Windyedge, where Ellen McEwen, a volunteer driver with the Royal Air Force, and Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, a flight leader for the 648 Squadron, are facing a barrage of unbreakable code and enemy attacks they can’t anticipate.

Their paths converge when a German pilot lands in Windyedge under mysterious circumstances and plants a key that leads Louisa to an unparalleled discovery: an Enigma machine that translates German code. Louisa, Ellen, and Jamie must work together to unravel a puzzle that could turn the tide of the war–but doing so will put them directly in the cross-hairs of the enemy.

Finding My Voice by Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Seventeen-year-old Ellen Sung just wants to be like everyone else at her all-white school. But hers is the only Korean American family in town, and her classmates in Arkin, Minnesota, will never let her forget that she’s different. At the start of senior year, Ellen finds herself falling for Tomper Sandel, a football player who is popular and blond and undeniably cute . . . and to her surprise, he falls for her, too. Now Ellen has a chance at a life she never imagined, one that defies the expectations of both her core friend group and her strict parents. But even as she stands up to racism at school and disapproval at home, all while pursuing a romance with Tomper, Ellen discovers that her greatest challenge is one she never expected: finding the courage to speak up and raise her voice.

Food-Related Stories by Gaby Melian

“Food rescued me so many other times — not only because I sold food to survive. I cook to entertain; I cook to be liked; I cook to be loved.” In this installment, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her personal journey with food — from growing up in Argentina to her time as a Jersey City street vendor and later, as Bon Appetit‘s test kitchen manager. Powerful and full of heart, here, Melian explores how we can develop a relationship with food that’s healthy, sustainable, and thoughtful.

Going Viral by Katie Cicatelli-Kuc

When Claire Draper’s fictional love story goes viral in the wake of a pandemic, the line between reality and fiction is blurred. But will she be able to tell the difference?

Claire is a junior in high school when a worldwide pandemic strikes, and she’s in the epicenter of it all in New York City. Suddenly, Claire is forced to isolate with her family indefinitely, which means she won’t be able to see her friends or even her girlfriend, Vanessa, in person for a long time.

At first it’s not so bad, but the longer the pandemic lasts, the more Claire feels her priorities changing. That’s when she looks outside her bedroom window and notices something new: A girl who lives in the building across the street sitting on her fire escape.

So Claire starts writing a story online about a girl who falls for the girl across the street. To Claire’s surprise, the story goes viral-and it seems people think it’s true. But how true is true? And what if Vanessa finds out? Will Claire be able to manage her newfound internet fame before everything spirals out of control?

*The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

Four troubled friends,

One murdered girl…

and a dark fate that may leave them all doomed.

After the mysterious death of their best friend, Ella, Yuki, and Rory are the talk of their elite school, Grimrose Academy. The police ruled it a suicide, but the trio are determined to find out what really happened.

When Nani Esvez arrives as their newest roommate, it sets into motion a series of events they couldn’t have imagined. As the girls retrace their friend’s last steps, they uncover dark secrets about themselves and their destinies―discovering they’re all cursed to repeat the brutal and gruesome endings to their stories until they can break the cycle.

This contemporary take on classic fairytales reimagines heroines as friends attending the same school. While investigating the murder of their best friend, they uncover connections to their ancient fairytale curses and attempt to forge their own fate before it’s too late.

Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards

I know seven dirty secrets:

One caused the fall. One did nothing. One saw it all.

One didn’t care. One used their head. One played the hero.

One was left for dead.

On her eighteenth birthday, Cleo receives a mysterious invitation to a scavenger hunt. She’s sure her best friend Hope or her brother Connor is behind it, but no one confesses. And as Cleo and Hope embark on the hunt, the seemingly random locations and clues begin to feel familiar.

In fact, all of the clues seem to be about Cleo’s dead boyfriend, Declan, who drowned on a group rafting trip exactly a year ago. A bracelet she bought him. A song he loved. A photo of the rafting group, taken just before Declan drowned. And then the phone calls start, Declan’s voice taunting Cleo with a cryptic question: You ready?

As the clock on the scavenger hunt ticks down, it becomes clear that someone knows what really happened to Declan. And that person will stop at nothing to make sure Cleo and her friends pay. Can they solve the hunt before someone else winds up dead?

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett

College life isn’t what Emily expected.

She expected to spend freshman year strolling through the ivy-covered campus with new friends, finally feeling like she belonged. Instead, she walks the campus alone, still not having found her place or her people so far away from home.

But then the Kingdom finds her.

The Kingdom, an exclusive on-campus group, offers everything Emily expected out of college and more: acceptance, friends, a potential boyfriend, and a chance to spend the summer on a mission trip to Italy. But the trip is not what she thought it would be. Emily and the others are stripped of their passports and money. They’re cut off from their families back home. The Kingdom’s practices become increasingly manipulative and dangerous…

​And someone ends up dead.

9

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted – in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

*Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

Behind every great family lies a great secret.

There’s one rule in Gemma Huang’s family: Never, under any circumstances, set foot in Beijing. But when Gemma, an aspiring actress, lands her first break—a lead role in an update of M. Butterfly, which just so happens to be filming in the Chinese capital—Gemma heads to LAX without looking back. It’s an amazing opportunity for her burgeoning career, and she’ll get to work with her idol. Of course, there’s also the chance of discovering just exactly why she’s been forbidden from entering the city in the first place. When Gemma arrives in Beijing, she’s instantly mobbed by paparazzi at the airport. She quickly realizes she may as well be the twin of Alyssa Chua, one of the most notorious young socialites in Beijing. Thus kicks off a season of revelations and romance in which Gemma uncovers a legacy her parents have spent their lives protecting her from—one her mother would conceal at any cost.

Lies Like Poison by Chelsea Pitcher

Poppy, Lily, and Belladonna would do anything to protect their best friend, Raven. So when they discovered he was suffering abuse at the hands of his stepmother, they came up with a lethal plan: petals of poppy, belladonna, and lily in her evening tea so she’d never be able to hurt Raven again. But someone got cold feet, the plot faded to a secret of the past, and the group fell apart.

Three years later, on the eve of Raven’s seventeenth birthday, his stepmother turns up dead. But it’s only belladonna found in her tea, and it’s only Belladonna who’s carted off to jail. Desperate for help, Belle reaches out to her estranged friends to prove her innocence. They answer the call, but no one is prepared for what comes next.

Now, everyone has something to lose and something equally dangerous to hide. And when the tangled web of secrets and betrayal is finally unwound, what lies at its heart will change the group forever.

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ‘Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ‘Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ‘rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky

Alex feels like he is in the wrong body. His skin feels strange against his bones. And then comes Tracy, who thinks he’s adorably awkward, who wants to kiss him, who makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing.

As Alex grapples with his identity, he finds himself trying on dresses and swiping on lipstick in the quiet of his bedroom. He meets Andre, a gay boy who is beautiful and unafraid to be who he is. Slowly, Alex begins to realize: maybe his name isn’t Alex at all. Maybe it’s Sasha Masha.

16

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

Mansfield, Massachusetts, is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburban mothers and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. She’s got her own plans, and they don’t include any prince charming.

But as she dives into schoolwork and getting a scholarship for college, Edie finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys strumming for her attention: First, there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love, who’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player who’s totally off limits—even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help herself from being caught between them. Now, she just has to make sure it isn’t her heart that breaks in the process.

30

Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield

Blackmail lures Ava to the abandoned amusement park on Portgrave Pier. She is one of ten teenagers, all with secrets they intend to protect whatever the cost. When fog and magic swallow the pier, the group find themselves cut off from the real world. As the teenagers turn on each other, Ava will have to face up to the secret that brought her to the pier and decide how far she’s willing to go to survive. The teenagers have only their secrets to protect and each other to betray.

Killer Content by Kiley Roache

35 million followers. One dead body.

The six teenagers who make up the Lit Lair have it made. A beachfront mansion, millions of followers, stunning good looks, and sponsorship deals worth more money than they ever dreamed. They live together, making videos about their perfect lives.

Except it’s not so perfect after one of them turns up dead in the infinity pool. When the group TikTok account starts posting cryptic messages, the police stop looking outside the house for suspects—and start looking straight at them. Everyone in the Lit Lair had reasons why their lives would have been easier without Sydney Reynolds.

But only one of them killed her.

Ruinsong by Julia Ember

In Julia Ember’s dark and lush LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy Ruinsong, two young women from rival factions must work together to reunite their country, as they wrestle with their feelings for each other.

Her voice was her prison…

Now it’s her weapon.

In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself.

December

7

*Beyond The Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.

 But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.

 When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back . . . and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people — no matter what it takes.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir

Dinah Lance was eight years old when she overheard the impossible: the sound of a girl singing. It was something she was never meant to hear–not in her lifetime and not in Gotham City, taken over by the vicious, patriarchal Court of Owls. The sinister organization rules Gotham City as a dictatorship and has stripped women of everything–their right to work, to make music, to learn, to be free.

Now seventeen, Dinah can’t forget that haunting sound, and she’s beginning to discover that her own voice is just as powerful. But singing is forbidden—a one-way ticket to Arkham Asylum. Fighting to balance her father’s desire to keep her safe, a blossoming romance with mysterious new student Oliver Queen, and her own need to help other women and girls rise up, Dinah wonders if her song will finally be heard. And will her voice be powerful enough to destroy the Court of Owls once and for all?

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley

Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.

What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.

Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.

Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.

Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, because of a biased system he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated. Then, one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are White. 

The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

Suddenly, at just 16 years old, Amal is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth in a system designed to strip him of both.

*The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

At first glance, the sisters of ultra-exclusive Kappa Rho Nu—the Ravens—seem like typical sorority girls. Ambitious, beautiful, and smart, they’re the most powerful girls on Westerly College’s Savannah, Georgia, campus.

But the Ravens aren’t just regular sorority girls. They’re witches.

Scarlett Winter has always known she’s a witch—and she’s determined to be the sorority’s president, just like her mother and sister before her. But if a painful secret from her past ever comes to light, she could lose absolutely everything . . .

Vivi Devereaux has no idea she’s a witch and she’s never lived in one place long enough to make a friend. So when she gets a coveted bid to pledge the Ravens, she vows to do whatever it takes to be part of the magical sisterhood. The only thing standing in her way is Scarlett, who doesn’t think Vivi is Ravens material.

But when a dark power rises on campus, the girls will have to put their rivalry aside to save their fellow sisters. Someone has discovered the Ravens’ secret. And that someone will do anything to see these witches burn . . .

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an Ilori who loves pop music work together to save humanity?

When a rebel librarian meets an Ilori commander…

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the death of one-third of the world’s population. Today, seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library.

When young Ilori commander Morris finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. But Morris isn’t a typical Ilori…and Ellie and her books might be the key to a desperate rebellion of his own.

Wider Than The Sky by Katherine Rothschild

Sixteen-year-old Sabine Braxton doesn’t have much in common with her identical twin, Blythe. When their father dies from an unexpected illness, each copes with the loss in her own way—Sabine by “poeting” (an uncontrollable quirk of bursting into poetry at inappropriate moments) and Blythe by obsessing over getting into MIT, their father’s alma mater. Neither can offer each other much support . . . at least not until their emotionally detached mother moves them into a ramshackle Bay Area mansion owned by a stranger named Charlie.

Soon, the sisters unite in a mission to figure out who Charlie is and why he seems to know everything about them. They make a life-changing discovery:their parents were hiding secrets about their sexual identities. The revelation unravels Sabine’s world, while practical Blythe seems to take everything in stride. Once again at odds with her sister, Sabine chooses to learn all she can about the father she never knew. Ultimately, she must decide if she can embrace his last wish for their family legacy—along with forgiveness.

14

This Is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes

Rife with dark humor and chilling twists, This Is Not a Ghost Story is American Horror Story meets There’s Someone Inside Your House. It will have listeners restarting to the beginning after the shocking finale.  

I am not welcome. Somehow I know that. Something doesn’t want me here. Daffodil Franklin has plans for a quiet summer before her freshman year at college, and luckily, she’s found the job that can give her just that: house-sitting a mansion for a wealthy couple. But as the summer progresses and shadows lengthen, Daffodil comes to realize the house is more than it appears. 

The spacious home seems to close in on her, and as she takes the long road into town, she feels eyes on her the entire way and something tugging her back. What Daffodil doesn’t yet realize is that her job comes with a steep price. The house has a long-ago grudge it needs to settle…and Daffodil is the key to settling it. 

Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall

There are two things that Corinne Parker knows to be true: that she is in love with Maggie Bailey, the captain of the rival high school’s cross-country team and her secret girlfriend of a year, and that she isn’t ready for anyone to know she’s bisexual.

But then Maggie dies, and Corinne quickly learns that the only thing worse than losing Maggie is being left heartbroken over a relationship no one knows existed. And to make things even more complicated, the only person she can turn to is Elissa—Maggie’s ex, and the single person who understands how Corinne is feeling.

As Corinne struggles to make sense of her grief and what she truly wants out of life, she begins to have feelings for the last person she should fall for. But to move forward after losing Maggie, Corinne will have to learn to be honest with the people in her life…starting with herself.

21

Coming Up for Air by Nicole B. Tyndall

Ever since her mom’s cancer scare, Hadley hasn’t been one for taking risks. And after seeing her sister go through one too many heartbreaks, she definitely has no interest in dating. Hadley just wants to keep her head down and enjoy the rest of high school with her friends, focusing on her photography and getting into the art school of her dreams.

Then enters Braden, star of the swim team and precisely the kind of person Hadley avoids, all bravado and charm and impulsivity. From their first moment together, they are perfect sparring partners, equally matched. And it’s intoxicating. Braden sees her, really sees her, and Hadley decides it might be time to break all her rules.

Braden shows Hadley how to live again, and soon Hadley is happier than she’ll ever admit out loud. But that’s before her family is faced with devastating news, and Braden starts hiding a growing, dark secret. As it threatens to shatter everything they’ve built, Hadley must confront her own actions and determine if she has the strength to walk away.

The Good Girls by Claire Eliza Bartlett

The troublemaker. The overachiever. The cheer captain. The dead girl. Like every high school in America, Jefferson-Lorne High contains all of the above. After the shocking murder of senior Emma Baines, three of her classmates are at the top of the suspect list: Claude, the notorious partier; Avery, the head cheerleader; and Gwen, the would-be valedictorian. But appearances are never what they seem. And the truth behind what really happened to Emma may just be lying in plain sight. As long buried secrets come to light, the clock is ticking to find Emma’s killer – before another good girl goes down. 

I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

28

Just Our Luck by Julia Walton

“Bad luck follows lies.” That was the first rule for life that Leo’s Greek grandmother, Yia Yia, gave him before she died. But Leo’s anxiety just caused a fight at school, and though he didn’t lie, he wasn’t exactly honest about how it all went down . . . how he went down. Now Leo’s father thinks a self-defense class is exactly what his son needs to “man up.”

“Leave the Paros family alone.” That was Yia Yia’s second rule for life. But who does Leo see sitting at the front desk of the local gym? Evey Paros, whose family supposedly cursed Leo’s with bad luck. Seeing that Leo is desperate to enroll in anything but self-defense class, Evey cuts him a deal: she’ll secretly enroll him in hot yoga instead—for a price. But what could the brilliant, ruthless, forbidden Evey Paros want from Leo?

Sharp, honest, and compulsively readable, Just Our Luck is as funny as it is heartwarming.

Not enough YA options for you here? Then head over to these fabulous lists, including YA books about cults, YA books about parallel universes, and #OwnVoices YA Black history books.

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