A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid KemmererWhat it is: a gripping and detail-rich fantasy inspired by Beauty and the Beast.
What happens: Harper, a girl with cerebral palsy and a difficult family situation, finds herself trapped in Emberfell, a magical kingdom where Prince Rhen is cursed to repeatedly relive his 18th birthday -- and his transformation into a bloodthirsty beast -- unless a girl falls in love with him.
For fans of: Marissa Meyer or Rosamund Hodge.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina KhanStarring: seventeen-year-old Rukhsana, who’s been hiding her girlfriend, Ariana, and her dreams of studying at Caltech from her conservative Muslim parents.
What happens: After she’s caught kissing Ariana, Rukhsana’s parents ship her off to Bangladesh, where she’s forced to grapple with new complications as she searches for a way to stay true to herself without losing her family.
Who it’s for: readers in search of true-to-life characters navigating intersecting cultures and identities.
Come Find Me by Megan MirandaWhat it’s about: After surviving family-shattering tragedies, Kennedy Jones and Nolan Chandler discover new hope when they’re drawn together by an unexplained radio frequency. Investigating the source of the frequency, however, may lead them to truths they’d rather not know.
Read it for: a heart-wrenching look at grief and connection in an atmosphere of unearthly mystery.
On the Come Up by Angie ThomasWhat it’s about: When her fiery performance at a rap battle goes viral, 16-year-old Bri knows that her newfound fame could be her family’s ticket to survival -- but she doesn't know how to deal with the onslaught of people trying to label her.
Book buzz: Similar to her runaway hit, The Hate U Give, this latest from Angie Thomas features powerful writing and an unforgettable heroine.
Try this next: Lamar Giles’ Spin offers another insider’s view of an underground music scene.
Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen HaganStarring: best friends Jasmine and Chelsea, who are so frustrated by the sexism at their supposedly progressive NYC high school that they form their own Women’s Rights Club.
What happens: Their poems, blogs, and videos draw a following of young revolutionaries, even as they lead to backlash at school.
Further reading: For further affirming, thought-provoking books about student activists, pick up Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie or Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift.
Saints and Misfits by S.K. AliWhat it’s about: According to Janna Yusuf, there are three kinds of people: saints, like her brother's pious fiancée; monsters, like the seemingly saintly guy who assaulted Janna; and misfits, like Janna herself, a Flannery O'Connor-loving hijabi with divorced parents and a crush on a non-Muslim guy.
Read it for: Janna's authentically angsty struggle to find her place and her voice.
Award buzz: honored in 2018 by the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award.
You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney GardnerWhat it’s about: After being expelled from the Kingston School for the Deaf, graffiti artist Julia Prasad is sent to a mainstream school where she finds a persistent new friend and an anonymous graffiti rival who won’t stop messing with her tags.
Art alert: When English just won’t do, Julia narrates her realistically complex story through art and drawn ASL signs.
Award buzz: winner of the 2018 Schneider Family Book Award.
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe; translated by Lilit ThwaitesWhat it is: a sophisticated, harrowing novel (based on real events) that tells the story of Dita, a 14-year-old girl who protects a collection of forbidden books in the “family camp” at Auschwitz.
Try this next: Vesper Stamper’s What the Night Sings or Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire -- both are similarly moving reads about lesser-known aspects of concentration camps.
Award buzz: winner of the 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoWhat it’s about: Eighteen-year-old Amanda has survived a lot in order to live as her true self, but when she moves to small-town Tennessee, she decides to “go stealth” about her trans identity -- being the new girl in school is hard enough.
Why you might like it: new friendships, a tender romance, and a poignant father-daughter relationship add even more depth to this coming-of-age story.
Award buzz: winner of the 2017 Stonewall Book Award.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 14 and up!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807