Young Adult Staff Picks
A truly beautiful and well constructed novel, Spin the Dawn is an instant favorite. As a former composer, Elizabeth Lim’s words are undeniably lyrical and magical. Maia takes her father’s place in the competition for Imperial Tailor, hiding both her gender and her magical scissors. The stakes are raised when Maia must journey across the country for the three magical supplies to sew three dresses of the goddess. Maia must face bandits, demons, and her past to find the enchanted items and break the oath of her newly found true love. This character-driven fantasy will capture you on page one and keep you guessing until the very end.
This is exactly what my 17-year-old self wanted to read: a coming-out, love story that doesn't end in death. The charming characters and Simon's mysterious (but probably v. handsome) pen pal are bonus.
Speak blew me away when I read it, and although it came out almost twenty year ago, it withstands the test of time. The subject matter is dark, the narrator compelling and likable and the story one that still must be told.
Fantastic sci-fi. Gently satiric, a dystopia that hits just at the edge of our present. Because it's like, technology, cool! What if we had the internet in our brains, think of all the information we would have, think of all we could do! Like buy more stuff! Sexy.
Come for the dark and gorgeous magic, the mysterious boarding school, and the budding romance across class lines; stay for the bildungsroman of a complex character learning to express feminine power in an oppresive Victorian society. Recommended for: those becoming themselves.
Ballet school at its most cutthroat, brought to vivid, dangerous life.
The lesbian murder mystery of your (my) dreams. And the best part is...it all really happened! In 1892!
A heady mix of Sleep No More, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, and my high school prom.
I got yer intersectional feminist high fantasy sweeping epic RIGHT HERE, pal.
Where do you go after The Hunger Games? For my money, the Chaos Walking series is even better. Start here, but have the second book ready to go before you get to the outrageous cliffhanger ending. You've been warned.
The class golden boy returns from a near-death experience with a directive from God/ "from God" to make his high school a less awful place and instructions to include our narrator, the class punching bag, in his efforts If You Build It They Will Come-style. Sneaky smart and completely unforgettable.
Summary: A layered story of three generations leading up to the birth of a girl born with bird wings, and all of the wonder and angst that comes with them. Why you'll love this, short version: Magical realism isn't for everyone, but this book is. Why you'll love this, long version: I usually loathe magical realism (people can't be chairs, Aimee Bender!!) but I truly, truly loved Ava Lavender. This story of three generations of women recalls the sweeping family saga of Middlesex, but without that pesky incest and extraneous sex organs. Kidding aside, I find myself finally understanding what I thought were bookseller cliches because of this book: I intentionally slowed down at the end of the story to make it last longer, I'm wondering how much time I should give myself before I reread it, and I'm picturing the readers for this book and testing out in my head what I'm going to say to them. I am actively jealous of these customers because they have the experience of reading Ava Lavender for the first time to look forward to. I can't get over this book- but why would anyone want to, anyway?
If Stephen Chbosky told me a certain pizza place was good, I'd eat there. So when this book called this book "stunning" and "a bold new literary voice," I'm in. Told through letters written to those who've passed, this epistolary story will cut straight through you like a knife. Painful, heartbreaking, and captivating.
Just when it seems like things couldn't get worse, 17-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life is delayed by eight hours in Kennedy Airport, putting her arrival time dangerously close to the start of her dad's wedding. Will she make it? She prepares, once again, for disappointment. But sitting next to her on the plane is the arrestingly handsome Oliver, whose own family troubles and disarming wit may be exactly what she needs to make it through the long flight. Simple and sweet, this is a book about love -- that of family, of friends, and of strangers.
If you've never read Nova Ren Suma, 1) Why on earth not?; and 2) Start with this one. Suma's intensely beautiful storytelling weaves a creepy and surreal puzzle with the mysteries of life and death at its heart.
The saying goes "It's not worth losing your head over." But in Travis Coate's case, losing his head was exactly the thing that saved him. High school was hard enough the first time around, but having to go right back after dying when everyone else around you has aged five years? That's tragic. "Noggin" is a heartfelt story about love, sex, friendship, and family that might just be worth losing your head over. John Corey Whaley's unique voice and utter brilliance will strike a cord and may change your mind about decapitation.
No one expects the Spanish Influenza, and the residents of 1918 San Diego are paralyzed by their fear of contracting the disease. Among them is 16 year old Mary, mourning the sweetheart that she's just lost in the war and grappling with her recently-discovered ability to communicate with the dead, a power that emerged in perfect synchronicity with the early days of American Spiritualism, which has got to be confusing for a wee teenager. The book is incredibly atmospheric and bananas creepy. Come for the spooky descriptions of coffin-lined streets and disease-ridden sick wards and stay for the remarkable writing.