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Gary Golio and E. B. Lewis bring the story of blues musician Blind Willie Johnson to life with rolling prose and imaginative watercolors. Inspiring while also somber, this book reminds all readers that even in the darkest moments there is still light.
Tween and Middle School Books:
A National Book Award Finalist in 2016, Ghost is just one of Jason Reynolds’ many works that have received recognition within the world of youth literature. Its triumphant narrative is perfect for middle schoolers, especially any young boy of color who too rarely sees an image of himself empathetically and realistically portrayed in text.
In this volume, Miles struggles to balance his school and social life with his nighttime gig watching over the city. His Vice Principal is increasingly and frustratingly suspicious of him, making his school life even harder. But Miles has more pressing concerns when he discovers that immigrant children are going missing. With help from some old and new friends, he saves the day, but there’s a lot Miles has left to think about.
Young Adult Books:
Ibi Zoboi’s American Street is a powerful Own Voice novel that will draw in teens who are interested in social issues of immigration, racism, police violence, and economic inequality. Fabiola is an extremely likable and relatable character, and readers will love to root for her. She offers a much-needed representation that’s rare in young adult literature and empowering to so many teens.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is teen romance and high school drama at its best. In addition to dealing with his parents’ divorce, Norris is starting out at a new high school in Austin, Texas. Before he even steps inside the school’s building he’s sure that he’ll be treated as an unwelcome outsider; he’s a new student, Canadian, bilingual, black, and a child of immigrants from Haiti.
Kim Liggett’s novel begins in Garner county as Tierny prepares for her Grace Year. In this dystopia, when girls turn sixteen-years-old they are forced to spend a year fenced off in the wilderness as they work off their “magic” which otherwise can be used against men.
Charlie, an openly-gay year 10, and Nick, a year 11 rugby player both attend an all-boys school in Britain and become the unlikeliest of friends. But is there more to the relationship than meets the eye?
In History is All You Left Me, Griffin, a high schooler, must face the grief and complications that surround loss when his first love, Theo, passes away. He finds the courage to attend Theo’s funeral, but to fully grasp and move past his grief, he must relive and reexamine the losses that preceded this parting.
This is a book about losing someone and navigating the loneliness of grief when someone you love dies. While it may not seem like the most fun book to read, it kept me on my toes. It felt like every chapter, Tiger and I were catching another curveball.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (2020 Michael L. Printz Honor Book) is an engaging, beautifully illustrated graphic novel that tells the story of a teenage girl named Freddy and her experience in a tumultuous relationship with Laura Dean.
In Music From Another WorldTammy and Sharon are paired as pen pals for a school assignment. As they grow closer, they divulge secrets they don’t dare tell anyone about who they truly are. A historical fiction look at being LGBT in The 1970s.
Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir (a 2020 Michael L. Printz Honor Book) will showcase the power and freedom of verse in a whole new light to teens. Grimes’ vivid imagery, wide repertoire of poetic devices, and straightforward, yet insightful conclusions are artful, yet accessible.
Nina LaCour tells the beautiful and heart-wrenching story of Marin’s experience of grief, pain, and betrayal as she explores her complicated relationships with her mother, grandfather, and best friend/ex-girlfriend, Mable. Through flashbacks and a much-needed heart-to-heart with Mable, we unveil the mystery around Marin’s quick and mysterious departure and ease the unspoken tension between these two friends.
In Medio, graduates from the School for Girls marry into prominent families. One of those women is Daniela Vargas, the top student with fake papers about who she is.
Sandhya Menon offers a refreshing and well-written Own Voice perspective in the world of teen romance in When Dimple Met Rishi. Dimple just graduated high school and is ecstatic that her parents are letting her take a summer program in app development. Little does she know, her parents are using this opportunity to give Dimple time to get to know Rishi, a potential candidate for an arranged marriage.