Bone Talk by Candy GourlayWhat it’s about: In 1899, just before the coming-of-age ceremony that will make Samkad a warrior, change arrives in his Bontoc village in the form of Kinyo, a boy who speaks a strange language and brings news of dangerous newcomers called “Americans.”
Is it for you? Set in a Bontoc village during the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, Bone Talk doesn’t shy away from the violence of war, and offers a Filipino point-of-view that you might not get in history class.
The Ghost in Apartment 2R by Denis MarkellWhat it’s about: After 13-year-old Danny’s brother leaves for college, a ghost takes over his empty room, filling it with eerie whispers, glowing light, and other weird phenomena. Hoping to identify the spirit, Danny begins asking around his Brooklyn neighborhood, discovering some unexpected clues in his bubbe Ruth’s stories about dybbuks.
Why you might like it: Danny talks directly to you, the reader, as he pieces together the supernatural puzzle at the heart of this funny, clever, and creepy mystery.
The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki SmithWhat it’s about: When a revolution threatens their ruling family, twin nobles Hawke and Grayson must go into hiding as Hanna and Grayce, students at the all-female Communion of Blue, where they learn to weave the “threads of the world.”
What happens: While Hawke longs for revenge, Grayce realizes living as a girl feels more authentic than living as a boy ever did.
Art alert: Colorful, anime-style art will pull you into this magical, action-packed graphic novel.
Clean Getaway by Nic StoneStarring: Scoob Lamar, who’s ready for a spring break adventure (especially if it means getting away from his strict dad); and G’ma, who invites Scoob on a mysterious road trip.
What happens: As they drive through the American South, Scoob realizes that G’ma might be re-creating a vacation she took with his grandfather in 1963, when travel was risky for interracial couples.
Try this next: Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer, another book about a trip that reveals hidden family history.
What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy LowingerWhat it is: a short but wide-ranging look at how Native North Americans have resisted and survived, from the earlier European invasions to the present day.
What’s inside: personal stories paired with potentially eye-opening facts, as well as photos, illustrations, and sidebars that invite you to imagine what life was like for Indigenous people during different moments in history.
You might also like: Turtle Island, another absorbing book about Indigenous nations, written by the same authors.
My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn AndersonWhat it's about: In Gracie's world, migrating dragons attack strip malls, ghosts linger in backyards, sasquatches lurk in the woods, and Dark Clouds appear before people die. After a Dark Cloud arrives for Gracie's brother, their parents take the family on a wild road trip in search of a safe haven from the supernatural.
Is it for you? If you prefer fantasy stories rooted in reality, you'll love the eccentric characters and bittersweet plot in this imaginative read, written in the form of Gracie's diary.
Far from Fair by Elana K. ArnoldStarring: Odette Zyskowski, who keeps a list of “things that aren’t fair.”
First thing on the list? Her family selling their house, moving into an RV, and traveling from California to Washington to take care of her sick Grandma Sissy.
Why you might like it: Odette’s frustration with small injustices (like giving up her phone) and big problems (like her parents’ possible divorce) is both realistic and relatable.
Counting to Perfect by Suzanne LaFleurWhat it’s about: Swimmer Cassie misses the way things used to be before her teenage sister Julia had a baby. So when Julia decides to take off with baby Addie, Cassie goes along for the ride.
Why you might like it: Lots of small details and moving moments bring a lived-in feel to this story about two sisters re-connecting on the road.
You might also like: Jen Petro-Roy’s P.S. I Miss You, about a very different family in a similar situation.
Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoyFeaturing: talkative, friendly Lana, who’s worried about her sick mom; popularity-obsessed Cassie, who thinks Lana is immature and annoying; and the week-long road trip with their newlywed grandparents that traps the two step-cousins together in the backseat of a car.
Series alert: If you enjoy the realistically imperfect characters and messy friendships in Drive Me Crazy, don’t miss the follow-up, This Is All Your Fault, Cassie Parker.
The Someday Birds by Sally J. PlaWhat it’s about: Twelve-year-old Charlie likes order and rituals, so as he and his siblings -- along with pink-haired family friend Ludmila -- drive across America to join their injured war reporter father, Charlie carefully tries to complete his and his dad's birdwatching bucket list.
Why you might like it: Charlie's voice is both thoughtful and authentic as he describes the national landmarks, family drama, and desperate hope of this offbeat road trip.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!