2018 Young Adult Fiction

Darius the Great Is Not Okay
by Adib Khorram
Dial Books
Nominated by: Adrienne Gillespie

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a contemplative, beautiful story about a boy more comfortable living in his geekdom than in his own skin. But when his family takes a trip to Iran, he discovers a friendship that helps him see the best parts of himself, even through a cloud of depression. Darius is a story with an incredible soul and beautiful writing. Perhaps most importantly, it shows what all the best YA books know–being a teen is about finding yourself through all of the noise that surrounds you.

Rachel Strolle, Rec-It Rachel

Girl Made of Stars
by Ashley Herring Blake
HMH Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Stormy

Twins Mara and Owen have always been close, but when Owen allegedly rapes Hannah, his girlfriend and one of Mara’s best friends, Mara has to reconcile not only with the fact that her brother may have committed such a heinous act, but also with past trauma of her own. Mara’s journey to finding and speaking the truth is emotional and raw, exploring the cultural perception of both perpetrators and survivors of sexual violence. Equally beautiful and gut-wrenching, Girl Made of Stars aptly and skillfully examines the aftermath of sexual trauma with nuance and depth.

Stormy Campbell, Book.Blog.Bake.

Monday’s Not Coming
by Tiffany D Jackson
Katherine Tegen Books
Nominated by: Hayley Beale

Monday’s Not Coming is a mindgame of a book in which Claudia goes back and forth between BEFORE her best friend, Monday, goes missing and AFTER-the present. Claudia’s need to find her friend emphasizes the urgency of the book while highlighting a horrifying truth that many teens go missing everyday, and not all who are missing are searched for or found. A beautiful and haunting story that will impact readers long after finishing the book.

Stephanie Galvan Russell, Lispy Librarian

by Ibi Zoboi
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: BarbPDL

Not a remake but a remix, Ibi Zoboi’s Pride scratches themes similar to Jane Austen’s classic and drops the needle right in the heart of Bushwick, building a powerful sense of place. As Zuri Benitez and her sisters meet the wealthy new neighbors and their handsome sons, gentrification threatens their Afro-Latinx neighborhood and family. Zuri learns hard truths about how much of who we are is where we’re from—because not only do we inhabit places, those places inhabit us. Buoyant despite the broken hearts and broken promises, Pride shows us poignantly the complicated relationship between growth and loss.

William Polking, polkingclassroom

by Courtney Summers
Wednesday Books
Nominated by: Samantha

Sadie by Courtney Summers shines with an engaging dual narrative: one following Sadie, a girl desperate for answers and vengeance, and one following West, a podcaster uncovering Sadie’s story after the fact. Notable for its gritty voice, murder-mystery premise, and heart-racing plot, what makes Sadie so immersive is the relatability of Sadie’s feelings of powerlessness and invisibility, as even West is initially reluctant to tell her story. Sadie’s journey to find agency for herself is unforgettable.

Samantha Randolph, Young Adults Books Central

That’s Not What Happened
by Kody Keplinger
Nominated by: Laurie

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger is a story about the people and the truths that survive a school shooting. Three years after the shooting, one of those survivors, Lee, is determined to reclaim the truth she feels has been hijacked, and she recruits her fellow survivors to join her cause. Told through a confessional narrative, That’s Not What Happened unflinchingly explores the media sensationalization of mass shootings and the grief that remains once the media leaves. Keplinger captives readers with each of the survivors’ personal truths, which Lee learns are not as simple as originally thought.

Haley Shaffer, Teachers Who Read

We’ll Fly Away
by Bryan Bliss
Greenwillow Books
Nominated by: Shannon

In the opening pages of We’ll Fly Away, Luke is incarcerated and writing a letter to Toby from death row. Not until the final devastating scene do we discover what Luke did and why he did it. Toby and Luke’s story of life in a dead-end town is tense, emotional, and suspenseful. Luke is a high school wrestler, and the wrestling scenes are especially well-crafted. The crumbling small town’s off-the-grid lifestyle provides a perfect backdrop for the palpable injustice in this realistic novel that never relinquishes the possibility of redemption.

Gary Anderson, What’s Not Wrong?