Clap When You Land by Elizabeth AcevedoStarring: two half-sisters -- Dominican American Yahaira, a chess champ, and Dominican Camino, an aspiring doctor -- who discover each other after their father's sudden death in a plane crash.
Why you might like it: In Clap When You Land, popular author Elizabeth Acevedo returns to the style of her breakout hit, The Poet X, using free-flowing poetry to capture the raw emotions of both girls as they move through grief, anger, and connection.
Felix Ever After by Kacen CallenderWhat it’s about: 17-year-old Felix, a self-described Black, trans, queer artist, is wildly curious about falling in love. But when it actually happens -- during a summer when Felix is competing for a scholarship and dealing with a transphobic bully -- it’s more complicated than he ever expected.
Who it’s for: anyone who’s grappled with the messiness of relationships while trying to define themselves on their own terms.
About the author: Stonewall Award-winning author Kacen Callender brings piercing authenticity to this own voices story.
Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice OsemanWhat it is: the beginning chapters of a story (based on an ongoing webcomic) about the deepening relationship between shy, anxious Charlie and outgoing rugby player Nick.
Why you might like it: Delicate illustrations and on-point dialogue capture the excitement and uncertainty of first love; also, fans of Alice Oseman’s earlier books may recognize some familiar characters.
You might also like: Kevin Panetta’s Bloom, another graphic novel featuring quiet romance and artwork in black, white, and teal.
Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve TucholkeWhat it’s about: After her sister Morgunn is kidnapped by the vicious Uther and her pack of feral wolf-priests, 18-year-old Torvi mounts a rescue mission with help from a sword-seeking druid and a band of vengeful Butcher Bards.
Who it’s for: Loosely based on the legends of King Arthur and set in the Scandinavian-inspired world of The Boneless Mercies, this fierce fantasy will grab readers who crave sword-and-sorcery stories starring bold, bloodthirsty female characters.
Kent State by Deborah WilesThe setting: May 4, 1970, at Ohio’s Kent State University, where student anti-war protesters and armed National Guardsmen are primed for a shocking, tragic face-off.
The voices: From the National Guard to the townies to a variety of students, the multiple voices in this historical story-in-verse intertwine to express tension, confusion, outrage, and grief.
Did you know? It’s been 50 years since four students were killed in the Kent State massacre, and they’re still commemorated every year with an all-night vigil.
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn BowmanWhat it's about: A visit with her aunt in Hawaii holds no excitement for Rumi Seto after the death of her sister and songwriting partner, Lea. Grief-stricken and detached from the music she loves, Rumi finds solace with her aunt's neighbors, surfer Kai and prickly old Mr. Watanabe.
Who it's for: readers in search of a sophisticated, emotionally charged story and a character whose asexuality is clearly stated, but not front-and-center.
Try this next: Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere.
Dare Mighty Things by Heather KaczynskiWhat it’s about: In the near-future U.S., Cassie Gupta enters a grueling, highly competitive program that will select the crew of classified NASA mission. As Cassie gets closer to the other candidates, she begins to question not only her sexual identity, but also NASA’s hidden objectives.
Series alert: This book kicks off a duology that concludes with One Giant Leap; for further twisty, action-filled science fiction about characters competing for space exploration missions, try Scott Reintgen’s Nyxia or Alexandra Monir’s The Final Six.
Let's Talk About Love by Claire KannWhat it’s about: Alice is done with romance. She just got dumped by her girlfriend after coming out as asexual, an experience she doesn’t want to repeat. Her resolve is tested, however, by new friend Takumi, who’s unfairly cute...but is he more understanding than Alice’s ex?
Read it for: Alice’s relatable stress about her future; her funny, supportive crew of friends; and her satisfying determination to be herself.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireWelcome to: Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, an unorthodox boarding school for young people who’ve returned, often unwillingly, from journeys to fantasy realms.
What happens: New student Nancy longs to return to the Underworld, but when a killer starts stalking the school, she has to put aside her dreams of death to keep her friends alive.
Why you might like it: Asexual Nancy is just one of several LGBTQIA characters in this intriguing dark fantasy, the 1st in a series.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn OrmsbeeWhat it’s about: When 17-year-old Tash’s webseries, Unhappy Families (based on Anna Karenina by Tash’s favorite author, Leo Tolstoy), goes viral, Tash is suddenly faced with internet fame -- and that’s on top of her complicated relationships with her sister and best friends, and her online flirtation with vlogger Thom, who doesn’t yet know that Tash identifies as romantic asexual.
Read it for: smart, snarky characters; an insider’s view of creative fandom; and plenty of classic literature references for bookish readers.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 14 and up!