The Upside of Unrequited by Becky AlbertalliFiction. After 26 crushes and not a single kiss, Molly Peskin-Suso is ready to take a chance…or at least she wants to be ready. Though she's backed by loyal friends and her caring, multiracial family, her confidence is undermined by anxiety, not to mention a society which claims that "chubby girls don’t get boyfriends." As her twin sister Cassie pulls away to spend time with her girlfriend, Molly's friendship with geeky co-worker Reid deepens -- could this be a relationship that's worth the risk of rejection? If you loved the warmth and offbeat humor of author Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, you'll be charmed by The Upside of Unrequited.
Overturned by Lamar GilesMystery. Nikki learned about gambling from her dad, Nathan "The Broker" Tate, though she couldn't have guessed that at age 16 she'd have to use those skills to keep the family casino in business while her dad does time for murder. After bolstering her college fund through back-door poker, Nikki is nearly ready to get away from her messy family when Nathan's conviction is overturned -- and that's just the first of many shocking events that lead a reluctant Nikki into a risky search through the Las Vegas underworld. If you're hooked by this "dark and twisty thriller" (Publishers Weekly) starring a daring African American teen, be sure to try author Lamar Giles' debut, Fake ID.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire SáenzFiction. Adopted as a child by a caring gay father from a huge Mexican American clan, Salvador knows from experience that biology isn't what defines a family. Yet after he uses his fists to respond to a classmate's slurs, Sal begins to wonder if he inherited violent tendencies from the birth father he never knew. Struggling with his anger, Sal also grapples with heartbreak over his grandma's terminal cancer and worry for Sam, his sharp-tongued best friend (who's got painful problems of her own). Readers who relish introspective writing and realistically flawed characters will want to follow Sal and his loved ones throughout a year of life-altering change.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorFantasy. After 200 years without communication, the lost city of Weep has passed into legend. It's an unusual area of study for young librarian Lazlo Strange, but his passion pays off when he joins an expedition to the desert city, which isn't as lost as it seemed. In Weep, Lazlo discovers realities even more astonishing than the stories he loves: ghosts, gods, lingering trauma from a vicious war, and a beautiful blue girl with nightmarish powers. If Strange the Dreamer leaves you longing for book 2 in this duology, you might want to fill your wait with the dream magic and post-war recovery in Melina Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles or the lush, mythic world-building in Roshani Chokshi's The Star-Touched Queen.
Gem & Dixie by Sara ZarrFiction. How would finding a bag full of cash change your life? For 17-year-old Gem, it's a chance to reconnect with her 14-year-old sister, Dixie. They've been growing apart, even though Gem has spent most of her life trying to shelter Dixie from the drug-induced neglect of their manipulative mother and long-absent father. Their dad's recent return brings even more instability -- and a stash of money, which the sisters find and use to fund a three-day trip around Seattle. Fans of poignant, character-driven stories will be fascinated by how Gem and Dixie's temporary escape turns into a make-it-or-break-it test of their relationship.
Let's Get Lost by Adi AlsaidFiction. Seventeen-year-old Leila is driving across the U.S. to Alaska, determined to see the Northern Lights. Why? That depends on who's asking. Leila gives a different answer to each person she meets on the way: mechanic Hudson, hitchhiker Bree, lovesick Elliot, and grieving Sonia. Though Leila boldly encourages each of them to live honestly, she keeps readers guessing about her own past until the very end. Fans of books like John Green's Paper Towns or Nina Lacour's The Disenchantments, as well as anyone who longs for the open road, will enjoy this "achingly beautiful" (School Library Journal) ride.
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie CoyleDystopian Fiction. The cultish Church of America has prophesied that the Rapture is coming, and though her parents have converted, 16-year-old Vivian Apple doesn't buy it. Not even the overnight disappearance of thousands of Believers -- including Vivian's parents -- can convince her that the Rapture is real. Determined to find out what's really happening, Vivian and her friends take off on a road trip through a dangerous new America populated by those left behind. Similar to Jeri Smith-Ready's This Side of Salvation, this satirical tale (which is followed by a sequel, Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle) is driven by thorny questions of doubt and faith.
The Porcupine of Truth by Bill KonigsbergFiction. Carson hasn't seen his alcoholic father in years, but now that the guy is dying, 17-year-old Carson is forced to spend the summer with him in Billings, Montana. There, Carson meets Aisha, who's been sleeping at the local zoo since her ultra-conservative father kicked her out for being a lesbian. The two quickly become friends, and after they discover some surprising clues regarding Carson's long-absent grandfather, they take off on a road trip to learn the truth and bring Carson's dad some closure. If you prefer realistic fiction that's both funny and unflinching, don't miss this bittersweet story about prejudice, forgiveness, and family.
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCourFiction. With high school finally over, Colby joins his best friend (and long-time crush) Bev and her all-girl band, The Disenchantments, for one last tour. Then Bev and Colby will finally set off on the European adventure that they've been planning for years. Once they hit the road with the band, however, Bev reveals that she's abandoning the Europe trip -- and Colby -- in favor of going to art school. Stung and confused, Colby spends the rest of the tour learning to let go of old dreams and embrace unexpected possibilities. Quirky characters and musical references (both popular and obscure) round out this this vibrant, exciting coming-of-age story.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonFiction. Following her father's death in a car accident, high school senior Amy refuses to get behind the wheel. Since it's up to her to get her mom's car from their old home in California to the new one in Connecticut, family friend Roger is recruited as her driver. The parent-approved schedule soon goes out the window as Amy and Roger try to find their own way across the country and through their own issues. With relatable characters, a slow-burn romance, and a scrapbook-like sprinkling of playlists, pics, and notes, this is one detour you'll want to take.
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