Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline BoulleyChange of plans: Black and Anishinaabe teen Perry Firekeeper-Birch hoped to spend her summer fishing and slacking off, but repaying her aunt for car repairs requires working at the tribal museum instead.
What happens: Perry’s discovery that a local university has not returned the remains of deceased Anishinaabe leads her to a deeper, deadlier mystery involving missing Indigenous women.
Author alert: This compelling standalone thriller is set ten years after the events of author Angeline Boulley’s blockbuster debut Firekeeper’s Daughter.
This Delicious Death by Kayla CottinghamThe Hollowing: A climate change-induced pandemic left victims craving human flesh. Luckily, lab-grown meat makes normal life possible.
Desert Bloom: Zoey, Celeste, Jasmine, and Valeria, four Hollow girls, head to a desert music festival. Val, drugged by someone targeting Hollow people, goes feral and eats a musician. The others must find who’s responsible before everyone turns on them.
Is it for you? This gory, funny, queer novel makes sharp commentary on how marginalized communities bear the blame for social ills.
Where You See Yourself by Claire ForrestStarring: Effie Galanos, a wheelchair user planning for college. The perfect school will match her career goals and provide an accessible campus.
The dream: the journalism program at Prospect University in New York City, a locale notorious for its lack of accessibility. It’s also the dream school of her crush. To prove she can advocate for herself, Effie confronts the discrimination she’s facing at her Minnesota high school.
Read it for: the honest, affirming coming-of-age story and the rom-com touches.
Hungry Ghost by Victoria YingThe good daughter: Through disordered eating, Valerie Chu has followed her mother’s persistent instructions to stay thin. Her mother even makes disparaging comments about Valerie’s best friend Jordan’s weight.
What happens: A school trip to Paris distances Valerie from her mother but makes hiding her disorder difficult. Then a family tragedy pushes Valerie to her breaking point.
How it’s told: This heartwrenching but ultimately hopeful story is a graphic novel with delicate illustrations and soft pastel colors.
Nigeria Jones by Ibi ZoboiWhat it is: the multilayered coming-of-age story of Nigeria, a homeschooled girl raised to be devoted to the Movement, a separatist group working towards an all-Black utopia.
A personal revolution: When Nigeria’s mother disappears, Nigeria begins questioning everything she’s been taught. Secretly attending a Quaker school expands her world even more.
Author alert: This powerful story about finding the courage to be your own person comes from the author of acclaimed books including American Street, Pride, and Punching the Air.
Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya BotejuOn the sidelines: Seventeen-year-old lesbian Nima is swimming in rejection. Her mother abandoned her, she’s the basketball team’s equipment manager instead of a player, and her longtime crush Ginny only sees her as a friend.
In the spotlight: A summer festival introduces Nima to drag culture. In drag, she finds an accepting community that bolsters her self-esteem and shows her what unconditional love feels like.
Try these next: Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo or Kelly Quindlen’s Late to the Party.
When the Angels Left the Old Country by Sacha LambMeet: angel Uriel and demon Little Ash, who quietly study Jewish texts in their small Polish town. Meanwhile, Essie, a girl who left their town for America, seems to have vanished.
What happens: Uriel and Little Ash team up with courageous 16-year-old Rose to find Essie in New York. When they locate her, Rose begins to fall in love.
How it’s told: This fast-paced and moving historical fantasy includes Yiddish and Hebrew words throughout, with glossary definitions.
The Midnight Lie by Marie RutkoskiThe set-up: Nirrim is a Half Kith, the lowest class in her city. Currently imprisoned, she knows the militia might extract her blood, hair, and teeth as tithes.
Enter: Cocky, mysterious Sid. She breaks Nirrim out, and Nirrim finds her growing attraction to Sid confusing. The two vow to uncover what connects the tithes to the magic the High Kith supposedly wield.
Spin-off alert: This lush fantasy is set in the same world as author Marie Rutkoski’s popular Winner’s trilogy.
A Cloud of Outrageous Blue by Vesper StamperGet thee to a nunnery: In 1348, orphaned 16-year-old Edyth is sent to work mixing pigments in a scriptorium. Her synesthesia renders the colors as smells, sounds, and feelings.
Trouble ahead: Between Edyth’s forbidden romance with a village boy, her pronouncement as a visionary, and the looming Great Plague, Edyth must summon great strength to endure.
Try these next: For more richly detailed historical fiction, try Mary Hoffman’s The Falconer’s Knot or J. Anderson Coats’ The Wicked and the Just.
Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee by Jeff ZentnerFright night: Best friends Josie and Delia don the personas of Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood to host a public access television show in their small Tennessee town, goofing on low-budget horror films.
Never split up! Their opposing goals threaten the future of the show, but a road trip to a Florida horror con will bring everything into focus.
Who it’s for: anyone who feels destined for bigger and better things, and anyone who fears being left in the dust.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 14 and up!