Kayla Hlad

To view the full review, please click on the book’s title.


American Street

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

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 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.



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 the text.


The Grace Year

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.


History Is All You Left Me

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.


Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

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.


Little Excavator

Choosing a favorite picture book is like choosing a favorite food; the choice comes down to the memories you attach to it. For me, that means I’d have to pick Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. I have seen so many little ones (ages 2-4) fall in love with this book. The fun, play, and smiles that I’ve seen this book draw out of kids is absolutely priceless.


Miles Morales, Vol. 1, Straight Out of Brooklyn

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. 


Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir

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.


We Are Okay

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.


When Dimple Met Rishi

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.