What a week! There are so many books to get excited about this Tuesday.
Just a Hat by Shanah Khubiar
It’s 1979, and thirteen-year-old Joseph Nissan can’t help but notice that small-town Texas has something in common with Revolution-era Iran: an absence of fellow Jews. And in such a small town it seems obvious that a brown kid like him was bound to make friends with Latinos–which is a plus, since his new buds, the Ybarra twins, have his back. But when the Iran hostage crisis, two neighborhood bullies, and the local reverend’s beautiful daughter put him in all sorts of danger, Joseph must find new ways to cope at home and at school.
As he struggles to trust others and stay true to himself, a fiercely guarded family secret keeps his father at a distance, and even his piano teacher, Miss Eleanor–who is like a grandmother to him–can’t always protect him. But Joseph is not alone, and with a little help from his friends he finds the courage to confront his fears and discovers he can inspire others to find their courage, too.
Firebird by Sunmi
Caroline Kim is feeling the weight of sophomore year. When she starts tutoring infamous senior Kimberly Park-Ocampo–a charismatic lesbian, friend to rich kids and punks alike–Caroline is flustered . . . but intrigued
Their friendship kindles and before they know it, the two are sneaking out for late-night drives, bonding beneath the stars over music, dreams, and a shared desire of getting away from it all.
A connection begins to smolder . . . but will feelings of guilt and the mounting pressure of life outside of these adventures extinguish their spark before it catches fire?
I’m Not Here to Make Friends by Andrew Yang
Terrace House meets Loveboat, Taipei in this fun, frothy, incisive YA debut, following two teens and their unforgettable summer on a reality show.
When Sabine Zhang is picked for Hotel California, a teen reality show with an all-Asian cast, she jumps at the opportunity. As one of few Asians at her high school in the Midwest, she’s always felt as if she was playing a side character in someone else’s story. But on this show, she’ll finally have a chance to step into the spotlight.
All Yoona Bae wants is to get away. The girls at church think she’s mean, her mom thinks she’s a troublemaker, and she’s tired of fighting against her unearned bad reputation. So when she’s invited to appear on Hotel California, Yoona sees it as an opportunity to chill out, make some friends, maybe even get a tan.
But life on the show isn’t all sunshine and self-actualization. The producers want drama at all costs, even if it means pitting Sabine and Yoona against each other. With the season finale looming, can the girls figure out a peaceful way forward, before they lose control of their own narratives?
Frontera by Julio Anta, Jacoby Salcedo (Illustrator)
Mateo makes the dangerous journey back home to the United States through the Sonoran Desert with the help of a new friend, a ghost named Guillermo in a supernatural borderland odyssey by debut graphic novelists Julio Anta and Jacoby Salcedo. As long as he remembers to stay smart and keep his eyes open, Mateo knows that he can survive the trek across the Sonoran Desert that will take him from Mexico to the United States.
That is until he’s caught by the Border Patrol only moments after sneaking across the fence in the dead of night. Escaping their clutches comes at a price and, lost in the desert without a guide or water, Mateo is ill-prepared for the unforgiving heat that is sure to arrive come sunrise. With the odds stacked against him, his one chance at survival may be putting his trust in something, or rather someone, that he isn’t even sure exists. If you’d asked him if ghosts were real before he found himself face-to-face with one, Mateo wouldn’t have even considered it.
But now, confronted with the nearly undeniable presence of Guillermo, he’s having second thoughts. Having spent his afterlife guiding migrants to safety, Guillermo knows things about the Sonoran Desert far beyond what could be explained by a mere hallucination. But even as Mateo forms an uneasy partnership with Guillermo, survival is still uncertain. The Sonoran Desert, with its hostile temperatures and inhabitants, is teeming with danger as the Border Patrol and rogue militias prowl its deadly terrain. As his journey stretches on, Mateo will have to decide exactly what and who he’s willing to sacrifice to find home.
A Guide to the Dark by Meriam Metoui
You can check out of Room 9, but you can never leave.
The Haunting of Hill House meets Nina LaCour in this paranormal mystery YA about the ghosts we carry with us.
Something is building, simmering just out of reach.
The room is watching. But Mira and Layla don’t know this yet. When the two best friends are stranded on their spring break college tour road trip, they find themselves at the Wildwood Motel, located in the middle of nowhere, Indiana. Mira can’t shake the feeling that there is something wrong and rotten about their room. Inside, she’s haunted by nightmares of her dead brother. When she wakes up, he’s still there.
Layla doesn’t see him. Or notice anything suspicious about Room 9. The place may be a little run down, but it has a certain charm she can’t wait to capture on camera. If Layla is being honest, she’s too preoccupied with confusing feelings for Mira to see much else. But when they learn eight people died in that same room, they realize there must be a connection between the deaths and the unexplainable things that keep happening inside it. They just have to find the connection before Mira becomes the ninth.
Under This Forgetful Sky by Lauren Yero
In the spirit of Paolo Bacigalupi and Laini Taylor, this futuristic star-crossed love story follows two teens in a starkly unequal world struggling to find their place.
Sixteen-year-old Rumi Sabzwari has spent his entire life behind the armored walls of St. Iago, which protect citizens of the Union of Upper Cities from the outside world’s environmental devastation. But when rebels infect his father with a fatal virus, Rumi escapes St. Iago, desperate to find a cure.
In the ruined city of Paraíso, Rumi meets fifteen-year-old Paz, who agrees to guide him on his journey. As they travel together, Rumi finds himself drawn to Paz—and behind her tough exterior, she begins to feel the same way. But Paz knows more about Rumi’s father’s illness than she’s saying and has her own agenda. With the powerful forces at play in their cities putting them at odds, can the two learn to trust in each other—enough to imagine a different world?
Clementine and Danny Save the World by Livia Blackburne
You’ve Got Mail gets a YA twist in this rom-com that spotlights the power of activism and community organizing in the face of gentrification.
Clementine Chan believes in the power of the written word. Under the pseudonym Hibiscus, she runs a popular blog reviewing tea shops and discussing larger issues within her Chinatown community. She has a loyal, kind following, save for this one sour grape named BobaBoy888.
Danny Mok is allergic to change, and the gentrification seeping into Chinatown breaks his heart. He channels his frustration into his internet alter ego, BobaBoy888, bickering with local blogger Hibiscus over all things Chinatown and tea.
When a major corporation reveals plans that threaten to shut down the Mok’s beloved tea shop, Clementine and Danny find themselves working together in real life to save this community they both love. But as they fall hard for this cause—and each other—they have no clue that their online personas have been fighting for years.
When the truth comes to light, can Danny and Clementine still find their happily-ever-after?
I Am Not Alone by Francisco X. Stork
Alberto’s life isn’t easy: He’s an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who lives with his sister’s abusive boyfriend—but he’d always accepted his place in the world. Until he starts hearing the voice of a man called Captain America, a voice that wants him to achieve more, no matter the cost.
Grace has it all: She has a supportive boyfriend, she’s on track to be valedictorian, and she’s sure to go to the college of her dreams. Still, nothing feels right to her any more after the divorce of her parents, and feels she needs something more.
When Alberto and Grace meet, they have an immediate and electric connection. But when Alberto is present at the scene of a terrible crime, he becomes a suspect. And with his developing schizophrenia, he’s not even sure he believes in his own innocence.
Can Grace find a way to prove Alberto’s innocence to himself and the world?
This is a page-turning thriller and a sensitive story about mental health, love, and community that will appeal to anyone who has struggled with their place in the world, from award-winning author Francisco X. Stork.
What a Desi Girl Wants Sabina Khan
The romance of Becky Albertalli meets the nuanced family dynamics of Darius the Great is Not Okay in this YA novel from acclaimed author Sabina Khan.
Mehar hasn’t been back to India since she and her mother moved away when she was only four. Hasn’t visited her father, her grandmother, her family, or the home where she grew up. Why would she? Her father made it clear that she’s not his priority when he chose not to come to the US with them.
But when her father announces his engagement to socialite Naz, Mehar reluctantly agrees to return for the wedding. Maybe she and her father can heal their broken relationship. And after all, her father is Indian royalty, and his home is a palace–the wedding is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime affair.
While her father still doesn’t make the time for her, Mehar barely cares once she meets Sufiya, her grandmother’s assistant, and one of the most grounded, thoughtful, kind people she’s ever met! Though they come from totally different worlds, their friendship slowly starts to blossom into something more . . . Mehar thinks.
Meanwhile, Mehar’s dislike for Naz and her social media influencer daughter, Aleena, deepens. She can tell that the two of them are just using her father for his money. Mehar’s starting to think that putting a stop to this wedding might be the best thing for everyone involved.
But what happens when telling her father the truth about Naz and Aleena means putting her relationship with Sufiya at risk . . .
The Legacy of Yangchen (The Yangchen Novels #2) by F.C. Lee
Avatar Yangchen has succeeded in bringing a measure of stability to Bin-Er, but her successes have been limited to a single city, and rumors concerning Unanimity—a weapon capable of total obliteration—have led to increasing tensions among the Four Nations.
Desperate to restore diplomacy, Yangchen attempts to de-escalate hostilities between heads of state. But in the wake of a brutal assassination and the freeing of Unanimity, Yangchen is forced to bring Kavik—the trusted former companion whose betrayal crushed her—back into her fold.
As the Four Nations teeter on the brink of conflict and she begins to unravel the power-hungry Zongdu Chaisee’s true agenda, Yangchen is forced to measure the worth of humanity, and how much can be sacrificed in the name of balance.
This taut and provocative fourth installment in the Chronicles of the Avatar series follows Avatar Yangchen as she charts the course of her legacy, finally making peace with her choices and facing Avatarhood with the courage it demands.
Splintered Magic (The Mirror #4) by L.L. McKinney
Can dreams come true when you’re living with a family curse?
NEW YORK CITY, 2000
Twins Trey and Tai are not like other high schoolers. Trey struggles to suppress his surging magical abilities, which continually impede his dream of making first chair cello in orchestra. A budding photographer, Tai just wants to take pictures and maybe find someone to take them with. But disturbing images keep appearing in Tai’s camera lens, reigniting the twins’ search for their mother, who mysteriously disappeared ten years earlier. As the two discover more clues, Trey and Tai also uncover strange secrets about their magical ancestors and about a cunning villain who threatens their very survival. Together, Trey and Tai must work to unearth the past and preserve the future of their family.
The Mirror: Splintered Magic is the fourth book in the innovative YA fairy-tale quartet following one family—and the curse that plagues it—over several generations.