Don't Ask Me Where I'm From by Jennifer De LeonStarring: Liliana, a gifted American Latinx writer who's uneasy about bussing from her familiar Boston city school to the bougie, mostly white Westburg High.
What happens: After learning that her dad didn't suddenly bail but was deported to Guatemala, Liliana longs for his safe return while grappling with how to fit in at Westburg -- or if she even wants to.
About the author: This fast-paced, compelling own voices story is the first from author Jennifer De Leon.
Lobizona by Romina GarberWhat it's about: 16-year-old Miami teen Manu and her mom, both undocumented immigrants from Argentina, live in hiding to avoid ICE, not to mention the criminals who killed Manu's father.
What happens: After her mom is arrested, Manu finds herself in an enchanted school for brujas (witches) and lobizones (werewolves) where she discovers the hidden heritage that makes her very existence dangerous.
Read it for: a secret magical world, feminist fantasy, and vivid Latin American folklore.
They Wish They Were Us by Jessica GoodmanWhat it's about: Scholarship student Jill is in her final year at Gold Coast Prep when she receives an explosive new clue about the murder of her best friend, Shaila. Could the Players, the elite club that rules the school, be involved in something even more sinister than hazing rituals?
For fans of: Karen McManus' One of Us is Lying and other suspenseful, twisty mysteries.
Media alert: You might want to grab this one right away -- it's already being turned into a TV series.
Displacement by Kiku HughesWhat it is: a graphic novel in which modern-day teen Kiku time-travels to World War II-era America, where she and her then-young grandmother, Ernestina, are forced into Japanese-American internment camps.
Art alert: Muted colors and crisp lines help to highlight the stark pain of displacement, as well as the vital importance of family and community.
Try this next: George Takei's They Called Us Enemy, which also draws parallels between the camps and more recent racial injustice in the U.S.
More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. MasoodWhat it's about: 19-year-old Danyal is an attractive aspiring chef, but in order to impress his crush Kaval, he's got to prove that he's smart, too. When he enters an academic contest, he enlists brainy Bisma to help him, but soon finds himself falling for her instead.
Who it's for: rom-com readers of all kinds, especially those in search of stories by and about South Asian people.
Reviewers say: "A charming teen romance with real substance" (Kirkus Reviews).
Kingdom of Souls by Rena BarronWhat it's about: Despite being the daughter of two powerful witch doctors, Arrah hasn't been gifted by the orisha of magic. Desperate, Arrah performs a risky ritual, gaining enough magic to see a threatening plot...but maybe not enough to stop it.
Series alert: Look for the sequel, Reaper of Souls, in February 2021.
Further reading: For another intricately plotted Afrofantasy series opener featuring intrigue and fierce magic, try Amanda Joy's A River of Royal Blood.
Bruja Born by Zoraida CórdovaWhat it's about: Beautiful Lula Mortiz is a healer from a long line of brujas, but after her boyfriend Maks is in a terrible accident, healing isn't enough, and Lulu's desperate magic disrupts the balance between life and death.
Series alert: This intensifying paranormal follow-up to Labyrinth Lost will leave you longing for Wayward Witch, the final book in the Brooklyn Brujas series, which is out this month.
Winterwood by Shea ErnshawFeaturing: Nora Walker, who’s descended from a long line of forest witches; Oliver Huntsman, who’s rescued by Nora after he inexplicably survives a winter storm; and the ancient, ominous woods that surround their town.
What happens: Though Nora is drawn to Oliver, she begins to suspect that he knows more than he should about the local boys who’ve gone missing.
Reviewers say: “a delectably immersive, eerie experience” (Kirkus Reviews).
The Merciful Crow by Margaret OwenWhat it’s about: When a routine job takes an unexpected turn, Fie -- bone witch and future chief of the Crows, a lowly caste of undertakers/mercy-killers -- has to decide if the promise of protection for the Crows is worth the risk of a dangerous quest.
Read it for: diverse characters, pulse-pounding adventure, and a fascinating system of magic.
Series alert: This fantasy is the 1st in a duology, followed by The Faithless Hawk.
These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel SterlingStarring: Elemental witch Hannah, who works at a kitschy tourist shop in Salem, Massachusetts, and carefully conceals her powers from Regs (non-witches).
What happens: When gruesome evidence of dark magic surfaces in Salem, Hannah's coven won't take action, leaving her with only one ally in her investigation: her ex-girlfriend, fellow witch Veronica.
Series alert: If you like this romantic and drama-rich paranormal mystery, be sure to check out the sequel, This Coven Won't Break.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 14 and up!
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