#Cybils2022 Young Adult Fiction


All My Rage: A Novel
Sabaa Tabir
Nominated by: Anne@HeadFullofBooks

Noor’s uncle saved her from a natural disaster when she was a child…and won’t let her forget it. She finds solace in planning her escape. Salahudin struggles with his parents’ health conditions and decisions. The responsibility of the motel Sal’s mother ran now falls on his shoulders after she passes. Life pushes and pulls the two childhood friends in devastating ways. Sabaa Tahir deftly constructs believable alternating points of view, making the characters’ struggles feel personal and redeemable. The ending of the piece only makes readers want to start over to savor every detail. “All My Rage” explores Pakistani culture, the American Dream, and chosen family. –  Hailey McKinney on Goodreads

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl
Joya Goffney
Nominated by: Gina A.

Monique is dating Dom, whom her preacher father wholly approves of, mainly because he doesn’t know the two have attempted to have sex 29 times since they started dating 2 years ago. The attempts have all failed physically, specifically on Monique’s side of things, and fed up with the lack of sex, Dom finally dumps her. Monique wants their breakup to be temporary and sets off for answers, finding out she has a condition called vaginismus. Vaginismus is the involuntary contracting of vaginal muscles – essentially, the body subconsciously shuts down when it’s time to have sex. The good news is that there’s physical and mental work that can be done to overcome the condition. The bad news for Monique is that it has to be done fully behind her parents’ backs. Churchy girl Sasha and Monique’s dad’s “bad boy” mentee Reggie become unlikely sidekicks in Monique’s journey, and the trio become close as they spent time together trying to cure Monique. Monique learns to judge both herself and others less, and comes out of her shell with her new friends – and potential new crush? Joya Goffney’s writing is so fun to read, even as it tackles the tough topics of Monique’s condition and the complicated ties it has to her religious family. This book is not only sex-positive; it also empowers teens to feel comfortable learning more about their own relationships with their bodies. There is truly something for readers of all ages to gain from this read. –  Gina Adams on Goodreads

I Must Betray You
Ruta Sepetys
Penguin USA
Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

Cristian Florescu is ready for a change. A big one. In “I Must Betray You,” readers get a glimpse into the home of a Romanian family in 1989. Turning on water to mute conversations, trading cigarettes for favors, never knowing if your friends or family are informants. Ruta Sepetys leaves breadcrumbs for readeirs to follow by engaging us with short chapters and informant reports. In one instance, we cheer for Cristian enjoying a Coca-Cola for the first time. On the next page, we’re cursing whoever the unnamed informant is who reported an otherwise joyful moment. The novel shines by contrasting deep-rooted communist turmoil versus Romanian resilience. – Hailey McKinney on Goodreads

Man o’ War
Cory McCarthy
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: ChristaS

River McIntyre, a star swimmer in a small town in Ohio, thought their life was pretty stable, until one day during a field trip to the town’s marine life theme park, Sea Planet. There they meet Indigo, a happy and confident queer person, and in response they impulsively dive into an actual shark tank. After which River has to admit that maybe they don’t have everything figured out just yet. Man O’War is a deeply moving, often funny and brutally honest read that chronicles River’s attempts to figure out their gender and sexual orientation, all while battling obstacles like, internalized homophobia, gender dysphoria, and racism. It’s a journey of self-discovery and it doesn’t shy away from just how messy that journey can be. – Christa Seeley on Goodreads

On the Subject of Unmentionable Things
Julia Walton
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: RobT

No one knows that high school student Phoebe is also Pom, author of the popular sex information blog “Circle in the Square.” Phoebe is serious about her research and the importance of making sex education and sex information available and understandable to teens. Phoebe is also serious about keeping her identity secret. As for actual sex, Phoebe has no experience and is in no particular hurry to gain firsthand familiarity in that area. Pom’s nemesis is Lydia Brookhurst, a wealthy local socialite determined to discover and reveal who is behind the blog that she considers a threat to adolescent morality and the reputation of their town. This conflict between the need for Pom’s research-based information and Lydia’s narrow-minded posturing drives the plot of Julia Walton’s young adult novel On the Subject of Unmentionable Things. In the early part of the novel much of the battle takes place on Twitter, and the repartee between Pom and Lydia is fun to read as Pom out-clevers Lydia each time. On the Subject of Unmentionable Things emphasizes that talking about sex is healthy and important, and it also illustrates strategies for talking back to those who hypocritically preach about morality.- Gary Anderson, What’s Not Wrong?

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet
Jen Ferguson
Nominated by: Gary Anderson

Lou is Metis, an Indigenous Canadian. This story follows Lou through the summer after high school graduation. She spends it working in her family’s ice cream shop with her best friend, a new ex-boyfriend, and an old friend who’s back in town. There’s no shortage of issues covered in this book. Lou’s rapist biological father is out of prison and trying to contact her, and becoming increasingly threatening. Lou deals with racism and misogyny, and stereotypes against Indigenous people are confronted in this book. She’s also white-passing, which adds another facet to her acceptance of her identity. She realizes over the course of the summer that she’s on the asexual spectrum, and eventually feels demisexual is the term that best fits. Even as Lou grapples with all of this in one summer, no issue feels shoehorned in or inorganic. Debut author Jen Ferguson’s writing has such an authentic feel, and this book encapsulates both the sharpness of female and teenage rage and the softness of loving your friends and family. It’s truly both a bitter and sweet book that begs to be devoured. – Gina Adams on Goodreads

This Is Why They Hate Us
Aaron H. Aceves
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Jacob C.

Enrique “Quique” Luna has had a crush on Saleem practically since the moment they met—to the point it almost hurts. With Saleem off on family vacation for the summer, Quique sees a chance to quash the crush and finally find romance. Okay, so he’s not exactly out as bisexual. And yes, he struggles even talking to guys. Still, with the help of his best friend (and the only person he’s ever dated), Fabiola, he focuses on three potential targets: usually stoned jock Tyler Montana, confident class president Ziggy Jackson, and Manny Zuniga, whose tough exterior puts him in a category all by himself. With so many prospects, when will Quique even have time to think about Saleem? However, as his relationships entangle and unravel, Quique must also navigate his anxiety and identity while questioning whether someone else—or even three others—could ever replace Saleem. In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, Aaron H. Aceves perfectly captures the messiness of crushes, sex, and love. – Christopher Helton, Plucked from the Stacks