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 and strength with her aunt's neighbors, teen surfer Kai and prickly old Mr. Watanabe.
Who it's for: readers in search of sophisticated, emotionally charged stories and characters with intersecting identities.
Try this next: Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere.
Mirage by Somaiya DaudWhat it's about: Amani has only just turned 18 when droids from the Vathek empire kidnap her and take her to the royal palace on the planet Andala, where she's forced to serve as a body double for the merciless, much-hated Vathek princess.
Read it for: treacherous court politics, star-crossed romance, and a Moroccan-inspired setting.
Series alert: If you love this complex, gripping read about oppression and resistance, you're in luck -- it's the 1st in a new series.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib KhorramStarring: Persian American Darius Kellner, a depressed, geeky tea enthusiast who's bullied at school and misunderstood by his family.
What happens: A visit to Iran introduces Darius to a new side of himself, as well as to his first real friend, Sohrab.
Why you might like it: You'll be immersed in Darius's experiences as he digs deeper into Persian culture, grows closer to Sohrab, and grapples with mental illness and identity.
Seafire by Natalie C. ParkerWhat it's about: After losing their families to the brutal warlord Aric Athair, Captain Caledonia Styx and her all-female crew sail the seas in search of vengeance. When her best friend is rescued by one of Athair's soldiers who claims to support their cause, Caledonia has to decide how much she's willing to risk to get her revenge.
Series alert: Filled with high-adrenaline action and a diverse cast of girls, this futuristic seafaring adventure is the 1st in a trilogy.
The Sacrifice Box by Martin StewartWhat it's about: In 1982, Sep, Arkle, Lamb, Hadley, and Mack cement their friendship by sealing treasured objects inside an old stone box. By 1986, none of them are still friends -- but someone has reopened the box, and the consequences are devastating.
Read it for: snarky humor paired with horror so gruesome you can practically smell the rotting flesh.
For fans of: zombies, TV's Stranger Things, or '80s-era Stephen King books.
For Fans of The Hate U Give
A Certain October by Angela JohnsonStarring: sixteen-year-old Scotty, whose average life (school, hanging out with her friends Misha and Falcone, and spending time with her little brother, Keone, who has autism) turns into a whirlwind of shock and guilt after a tragic accident leaves Keone in a coma and a classmate dead.
Why fans might like it: Similar to The Hate U Give's Starr, Scotty feels fully, messily real, and her story is heart-rending yet hopeful.
I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina; illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John JenningsWhat happens: One minute, Alfonso Jones is shopping for a new suit; the next, he's been shot by a white police officer, and he's a ghost, watching from the afterlife as his loved ones mourn and seek justice.
Art alert: vivid black-and-white illustrations reinforce the unflinching tone of this graphic novel.
Why fans might like it: While The Hate U Give looks at police violence from the survivor's perspective, I Am Alfonso Jones gives the victim a voice.
Long Way Down by Jason ReynoldsWhat it's about: When 15-year-old Will boards an elevator with a gun in his waistband, he's ready to avenge his brother's murder. But can his resolve outlast the surprises of his ride to the ground floor?
Read it for: spare, page-turning poetry that packs a strong emotional punch.
Why fans might like it: Like The Hate U Give, Long Way Down focuses on one character's grief and internal conflict in the aftermath of murder.
Dear Martin by Nic StoneWhat it's about: Justyce McAllister is 17, Ivy League-bound, and one of the few black students at his prep school. Following a disturbing incident of police profiling, Justyce doesn't know how to cope with his anger and frustration -- so he pours them into letters to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why fans might like it: The Hate U Give and Dear Martin are both powerful debut novels about black teens facing violent racism.
Piecing Me Together by Renée WatsonStarring: aspiring collage artist Jade, who lives in a poor, mostly black neighborhood and goes to a fancy, mostly white high school.
What happens: After being invited into a mentoring program for "at-risk" African American girls, Jade (who doesn't feel particularly "at-risk") is matched with an unhelpful mentor, prompting her to explore success on her own terms.
Why fans might like it: Jade, like Starr, has to juggle two social identities while trying to stay true to herself.
Contact your librarian for more great books for age 14 and up!
Downers Grove Public Library
1050 Curtiss St.
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515