13 of the Best Young Adult Books of 2019, So Far
The Children’s Book Review | April 4, 2019
Are you ready for this? Here are our favorite young adult books from 2019, so far! The cover of Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday is just so captivating (like the story itself) … and the monochromatic blue cover of Bloom is just so pretty, don’t you think?
Written by Natalie C. Anderson
Publisher’s Synopsis: Forced to become a child soldier, a sixteen-year-old Somali refugee must confront his painful past in this haunting, thrilling tale of loss and redemption for fans of A Long Way Gone and What is the What.
When Abdi’s family is kidnapped, he’s forced to do the unthinkable: become a child soldier with the ruthless jihadi group Al Shabaab. In order to save the lives of those he loves, and earn their freedom, Abdi agrees to be embedded as a spy within the militia’s ranks and to send dispatches on their plans to the Americans. The jihadists trust Abdi immediately because his older brother, Dahir, is already one of them, protégé to General Idris, aka the Butcher. If Abdi’s duplicity is discovered, he will be killed.
For weeks, Abdi trains with them, witnessing atrocity after atrocity, becoming a monster himself, wondering if he’s even pretending anymore. He only escapes after he is forced into a suicide bomber’s vest, which still leaves him stumps where two of his fingers used to be and his brother near death. Eventually, he finds himself on the streets of Sangui City, Kenya, stealing what he can find to get by, sleeping nights in empty alleyways, wondering what’s become of the family that was stolen from him. But everything changes when Abdi’s picked up for a petty theft, which sets into motion a chain reaction that forces him to reckon with a past he’s been trying to forget.
In this riveting, unflinching tale of sacrifice and hope, critically-acclaimed author Natalie C. Anderson delivers another tour-de-force that will leave readers at the edge of their seats.
Ages 12-18 | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | January 15, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0399547614
Compiled by Molly Dillon
Publisher’s Synopsis: YES SHE CAN is an intimate look at Obama’s presidency through the eyes of some of the most successful, and completely relatable, young women who were there. Full of wisdom they wish they could impart to their younger selves and a message about the need for more girls in government, these recollections are about stepping out into the spotlight and up to the challenge–something every girl can do.
With contributions from Jenna Brayton, Eleanor Celeste, Nita Contreras, Kalisha Dessources Figures, Molly Dillon, Andrea R. Flores, Vivian P. Graubard, Noemie C. Levy, Taylor Lustig, and Jaimie Woo.
Ages 12-17 | Publisher: Schwartz & Wade | March 5, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1984848451
Written by Ally Carter
Publisher’s Synopsis: Have you always wanted to write a book, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re really great at writing the first few chapters . . . but you never quite make it to the end? Or do you finally have a finished manuscript, but you’re not sure what to do next? Fear not — if you have writing-related questions, this book has answers!
Whether you’re writing for fun or to build a career, bestselling author Ally Carter is ready to help you make your work shine. With honesty, encouragement, and humor, Ally’s ready here to answer the questions that writers struggle with the most.
Filled with practical tips and helpful advice, Dear Ally is a treasure for aspiring writers at any stage of their careers. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at how books get made, from idea to publication, and gives you insight into the writing processes of some of the biggest and most talented YA authors writing today.
Ages 12-17 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | March 26, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1338212266
Edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond
Publisher’s Synopsis: This collection of sixty-four poems by poets who come from all over the world shares the experience of first- and second-generation young adult immigrants and refugees. Whether it’s cultural and language differences, homesickness, social exclusion, racism, stereotyping, or questions of identity, the Dreamers, immigrants, and refugee poets included here encourage readers to honor their roots as well as explore new paths, offering empathy and hope. Many of the struggles described are faced by young people everywhere: isolation, self-doubt, confusion, and emotional dislocation. But also joy, discovery, safety, and family. This is a hopeful, beautiful, and meaningful book for any reader.
Ages 12-18 | Publisher: Triangle Square | March 12, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1609809072
Written by Hanna Alkaf
Publisher’s Synopsis: A music loving teen with OCD does everything she can to find her way back to her mother during the historic race riots in 1969 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in this heart-pounding literary debut.
Melati Ahmad looks like your typical movie-going, Beatles-obsessed sixteen-year-old. Unlike most other sixteen-year-olds though, Mel also believes that she harbors a djinn inside her, one who threatens her with horrific images of her mother’s death unless she adheres to an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping to keep him satisfied.
But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.
With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.
Ages 12+ | Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | February 5, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1534426085
Edited by Ibi Zoboi
Publisher’s Synopsis: Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.
Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.
Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.
Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.
Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.
Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.
Ages 13+ | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | January 8, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0062698728
Written by Samira Ahmed
Publisher’s Synopsis: Rebellions are built on hope.
Ages 13-18 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | March 19, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0316522694
Written by Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher’s Synopsis: In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.
Fall in love, break the curse.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Bloomsbury YA | January 29, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1681195087
Written by Malala Yousafzai
Publisher’s Synopsis: In her powerful new book, Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories about the millions of people displaced worldwide.
Malala’s experiences visiting refugee camps caused her to reconsider her own displacement – first as an Internally Displaced Person when she was a young child in Pakistan, and then as an international activist who could travel anywhere in the world except to the home she loved. In We Are Displaced, which is part memoir, part communal storytelling, Malala not only explores her own story, but she also shares the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her journeys – girls who have lost their community, relatives, and often the only world they’ve ever known.
In a time of immigration crises, war, and border conflicts, We Are Displaced is an important reminder from one of the world’s most prominent young activists that every single one of the 68.5 million currently displaced is a person – often a young person – with hopes and dreams.
Ages 14-18 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | January 8, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0316523646
Written by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher’s Synopsis: Face your demons…or feed them. The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war―and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried―and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
Ages 14-18 | Publisher: Imprint | January 29, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1250231185
Written by Sarah Maria Griffin
Publisher’s Synopsis: Twins Mae and Rossa’s summer away from home becomes life altering when they discover a house full of witches, experience devastating first love, and face a dark power beyond any imagining.
Sarah Maria Griffin’s haunting and literary sophomore novel explores the balance between love and fear, weakness and power, and the lengths one will go to claim one’s freedom. For fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners and Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints.
When the women from the house at the end of the lane went missing, none of the townspeople knew what happened. A tragedy, they called it. Only twins Mae and Rossa know the truth about that fateful summer.
Only they know about the owl in the wall, the uncanny cat, the insidious creatures that devour love and fear. Only they know the trials of loving someone who longs for power, for freedom, for magic. Only they know what brought everything tumbling down around them. And they’ll never, ever breathe a word.
With an unusual structure spanning five summers, intriguing characters, and a dark mystery, this uncommon novel will appeal to readers of Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch and Madeleine Roux’s House of Furies.
Ages 14-18 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | March 12, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0062408914
Written by Mindy McGinnis
Publisher’s Synopsis: An Amazon Best Book of the Month! A captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis—the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—through the eyes of a college-bound softball star. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a visceral and necessary novel about addiction, family, friendship, and hope.
When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.
The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.
With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.
But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.
Ages 14-18 | Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books | March 12, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-0062847195
Written by Kevin Panetta
Illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau
Publisher’s Synopsis: Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.
Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.
Ages 14-18 | Publisher: First Second | January 29, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1250196910
The Best Young Adult Books of 2019: For more of the best new young adult books for teens, follow along with our articles tagged with New Books for Kids, Best Young Adult Books, and Books for Teens and Young Adults.