Must-Read Young Adult Books of Winter 2018: Boarding School Murders, Reality TV, and Crosswords

Must-Read Young Adult Books of Winter 2018: Boarding School Murders, Reality TV, and Crosswords

Joy to the book world! New releases are here. The only question is: Which book should readers pick up first? Fans of gripping mysteries will want to unravel the truth behind a series of boarding school murders, while readers who want romance and self-discovery can follow the life of a budding reality TV star. There’s also a crossword queen, a Dreamer’s memoir, and a Shakespearean drama. Make room on your TBR list: You’ve got a lot of reading ahead of you.

Foolish Hearts

The course of true love

As far as mean girl Iris is concerned, Claudia is enemy number one. Claudia earned the high ranking when she accidentally witnessed Iris’ breakup with her longtime girlfriend, Paige. To survive senior year, Claudia plans on steering clear of Iris, a difficult task once they’re forced to work together on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To Claudia’s surprise, Iris isn’t as mean as she once thought and an unlikely friendship begins to form. Readers looking for redemption, romance, and strong female friendships will love Emma Mills’ latest.

On shelves: December 5

The Truth Beneath the Lies

Should I stay or should I go

Amanda Searcy’s taut thriller follows the lives of two girls: Kayla Asher and Betsy Hopewell. Kayla lives in a small town in Washington that she’s desperate to escape from. The one bright spot in her day is the handsome guy who’s been swinging into the supermarket during her shifts. But when girls in her neighborhood start turning up dead, her desire to run kicks into overdrive. Betsy lives in El Paso and spends her days fearing the moment when the burner phone under her bed will ring. She knows that one day her past will catch up with her, which is why she refuses to trust anyone but herself. Readers will find themselves hooked, turning pages until they reach the shocking moment when the girls’ lives intersect.

On shelves: December 12

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Lights, camera, action

Five months before graduation, 17-year-old Jane Sinner is expelled from her high school for reasons she doesn’t care to go into. Pressured by her parents to finish her degree, she enrolls at the local community college to earn the final credits she needs. It’s there that she discovers House of Orange, a student-run reality show. After learning that the show’s winner receives a car, Jane signs up and begins to plot her victory. Along the way, Jane begins to fall for the show’s Korean-Canadian producer, Robbie. Jane’s voice is entertaining and hilarious. Lianne Oelke has crafted a narrator readers won’t be able to get enough of.

On shelves: January 9

Love, Hate and Other Filters


As an only child, Maya Aziz is the sole bearer of her Indian parents’ hopes and dreams. If they had their way, Maya would settle down with a nice Muslim boy and stay close to home forever. Maya has different plans that involve film school, New York City, and kissing whichever boys she wants. She isn’t sure how to tell her parents that she secretly applied and was accepted into NYU, but her concerns take a backseat when there’s a local terrorist attack and the suspect shares her family’s last name. Suddenly Maya and her family are the target of misguided rage. Samira Ahmed’s debut thoughtfully explores life in America through the eyes of a child of immigrants, the far-reaching effects of racism and religious intolerance, and the challenges of balancing personal dreams and parental expectations.

On shelves: January 16

Truly Devious

Buried secrets

Ellingham Academy holds a dark secret, and Stevie Bell is determined to uncover it. After its opening in 1936, the founder’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and a student was killed. The only clue left behind was a taunting note signed “Truly, Devious.” First year Stevie is obsessed with true crime and she believes that she can solve the cold case. Her search for the truth only intensifies when a student in her dorm is murdered. Could the original killer have returned? Maureen Johnson’s private school thriller will keep readers up late into the night until they’ve solved the case.

On shelves: January 16

Blood and Sand

The making of a legend

C. V. Wyk’s novel transports readers to the Republic of Rome and reimagines the legend of Spartacus with a 17-year-old warrior princess at its heart. Thracian warrior Attia was born to rule as a queen, but after the Romans kill her family she’s sold into slavery and given as a gift to Xanthus, a champion gladiator. Xanthus has been a slave since he was a child, and he despises the work he’s forced to do. Sensing their shared hatred of Romans, Attia and Xanthus slowly begin to trust one another and form a plan to bring the Roman Empire to its knees. In a starred review Publishers Weekly called the novel “an action-packed debut… Attia makes an irresistible Spartacus, an accomplished fighter and a fearless young woman determined to forge her own destiny.” Readers looking for action, adventure, and historical fiction, don’t miss out.

On shelves: January 16

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

A world in crisis

Award-winning journalist Atia Abawi brings readers to war-torn Syria in this heartbreaking and unforgettable novel. Narrated by Destiny, the story follows a teenager named Tareq on his journey from Syria to Germany after bombs strike his hometown, killing his mother and siblings. Tareq, his father, and four-year-old sister survive the attack. They travel to Raqqa for safety, only to find it controlled by a dangerous militant group. When the family decides to leave Syria, they’re only three of many refugees seeking shelter and braving unfathomable dangers to escape. This is a harrowing and vitally important novel about an ongoing crisis. Tareq’s story will linger with readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

On shelves: January 23

Down and Across

Solve the puzzle

When Saaket “Scott” Ferdowsi’s parents leave for a trip to Iran, they tell him that he needs to use his time alone to decide on a major and focus on his summer internship. But Scott has a track record of not sticking to his goals, and he quickly abandons the internship in favor of traveling to Washington, DC to hunt down a professor who published a study on success. Once there, Scott meets Fiora Buchanan, a college student who dreams of writing crossword puzzles. Between Fiora and Professor Mallard, Scott is taken on a wild adventure that inspires him to search for the answers he’s looking for within himself.

On shelves: February 6

The Last to Let Go

Ripple effect

Brooke Winters is keeping her eyes on the horizon and a future where her hometown is left far behind her. She’s excited to begin her junior year at a new school, though her hopes fall apart when her mother stabs and kills her abusive father. After their mother is arrested, Brooke and her siblings are sent to live with their aunt and uncle. At their new home, Brooke attempts to be the support her sister and brother need, and at school she puts on a good face and hides her family’s secrets from hew new friend and crush, Dani. All the while, she’s trying to discover who she is and how to shape a future that isn’t defined by her past. In a starred review Booklist calls the book a “deeply felt sophomore effort [that] explores the rippling effects of domestic violence and its ability to carry through generations.”

On shelves: February 6

American Panda

Remember who you are

Seventeen-year-old Mei feels the heavy weight of her parents’ expectations on her shoulders. Her brother was disowned for not living up to their standards, and she fears that she’ll be next if she reveals the truth. When Mei was born, her mother hatched a plan for her future: graduate from MIT, become a doctor, marry a Taiwanese boy, and have lots of babies. While Mei is at MIT, she’s terrified of germs and is crushing hard on her Japanese-American classmate, Darren Takahashi. As for babies, she’s only 17! Gloria Chao’s debut explores the difficulties of embracing who you are in the face of expectations, and the strength that can be found in acceptance.

On shelves: February 6

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card


In the 1980s, Sara Saedi’s family fled Iran during the Iranian Revolution and moved to the United States. Saedi was only two at the time, and she didn’t discover that her family was undocumented until she was 13. Inspired by her girlhood journal entries, Saedi’s memoir takes readers on a heartfelt journey that effortlessly blends the fear of living as an undocumented citizen, the desire to find a happy medium between two cultures, and the everyday challenges of being a teenage girl. At turns humorous and heartbreaking, this is a story that will touch readers’ hearts and inspire them to support Dreamers of all ages.

On shelves: February 6

A Girl Like That

More than meets the eye

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but we can’t take our eyes off of this one. And the book inside is every bit as dynamic and gripping. Even in death, Zarin Wadia can’t escape the rumors that surround her. Everyone buys into the narrative that she was a troubled girl, the kind of girl you stayed away from, until her sudden death drives people to look deeper. Readers will slowly uncover Zarin’s troubled home life, the abuse she’s faced, and the strength she possessed to fight back. Along the way, it’s revealed how she and her childhood friend Porus Dumasia ended up dead on a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Told in multiple perspectives, Tanaz Bhathena’s debut is an insightful look into the ways that society binds women to impossible standards.

On shelves: February 27


Leave a Reply