Channel your inner Marie Kondo, readers. You’ll need her wisdom to help you with spring cleaning so you can make room on your bookshelves for these new releases. Here we’ve rounded up 12 of this spring’s must-read young adult books. There are tales of love and heartbreak, adventure and danger, K-pop and carnivals. You’ve got a great season of books ahead of you. Happy reading!
Historical fiction fans won’t want to miss Lovely War. After being discovered having an affair with Ares, the Greek goddess Aphrodite attempts to explain her behavior to her husband Hephaestus by spinning a tale of mortals, love, and war. Her story transports readers to World War I and introduces them to Hazel, a British pianist; James, a soldier; Colette, a Belgian singer; and Aubrey, a jazz musician and member of the 15th New York Infantry. Their tales intertwine as the war wages on, with romance blossoming along the way. But not all is fair in love and war, and readers will find themselves turning page after page until they learn what Aphrodite has in store for these four souls.
On shelves: March 5
Beloved author Laurie Halse Anderson returns this spring with a powerful and affecting memoir. In free verse, Anderson begins the book by introducing readers to her parents and sharing the burdens they carried but rarely spoke of. She recalls her childhood, including the sexual assault that would later become the inspiration for Speak, and her growth as a writer. The latter half of the book is dedicated to the stories that readers have shared with Anderson about their own experiences with sexual violence. There is grief, rage, and power in every word. It’s an incredible book, and one that feels naturally in conversation with Anderson’s other works, such as Speak and The Impossible Knife of Memory. Readers curious about Anderson’s writing process for SHOUT can come back to Bookish on March 8 to read our interview with her.
On shelves: March 12
In an instant, Mickey Catalan’s entire life changes. A car accident lands her in the hospital, and Mickey can’t help but think about the eight weeks that stand between her and spring training. She’s a catcher on her school’s softball team, and she isn’t willing to let an injury stop her from preparing for the the upcoming season, especially not when college recruiters will be present. Mickey’s prescribed Oxycodone to help with her recovery, and when her pills start to dwindle she decides to seek out more to numb the pain so she can play. Heroine follows Mickey’s descent into the world of opioid addiction, and it’s every bit as haunting as the cover would suggest.
On shelves: March 12
Internment is already one of the most talked-about books of the year. Samira Ahmed’s novel transports readers to a near future where the election of a racist president ushers in a new wave of Islamophobia and the creation of Muslim internment camps. Layla and her family are interned in California, where she sees firsthand the violent consequences of speaking out against the government. Despite the danger, Layla cannot stay quiet. She refuses to wait for help to come, and she begins working with allies to get the camps shut down for good. With a Muslim Ban in our recent history, Ahmed’s tale feels all too possible, but Layla’s courage and anger are contagious and will leave readers inspired to speak out against injustice and stand up for what is right. If you haven’t pre-ordered this, what are you waiting for?
On shelves: March 19
A.S. King’s novels are stunning, strange, and often difficult to describe—this new release is no different. Dig explores racism, privilege, and class through a wide array of narrators. First, there is the married couple Gottfried and Marla Hemmings who hoard their fortune from their offspring. The next narrator is a man consumed by violence, who may or may not be connected to the couple. Finally, there are five teen voices. Most of the teens are known only by nicknames: CanIHelpYou? deals drugs from the Arby’s drive-thru window and the Shoveler is named for the snow shovel he carries everywhere. The connections between these characters and the secrets they’ve hidden will be revealed for patient readers, and it’s well worth the wait.
On shelves: March 26
Mitali Perkins’ latest novel follows two teens who find hope and healing when they travel together on a service mission. Sixteen-year-old Katina King is consumed by anger and anxiety after fighting off an attempted sexual assault. Her focus on Brazilian jiu-jitsu and college applications wavers, and her mother decides to send her to Boston to recover. There she reluctantly joins a Christian youth group and soon finds herself in India with a boy named Robin helping survivors of human trafficking. Katina sees this as an opportunity to help the girls she meets learn to fight, and Robin, who was adopted, decides to use the trip to search for his birth mother.
On shelves: April 2
Lou Parker’s summer is not going according to plan: She’s been cast once again as the costumed dancing hot dog at Magic Castle Playland, and her crush Nick, playing the role of park pirate, is now dating Magic Castle’s princess. Though she doesn’t love dressing like a concession stand snack, the park holds a special place in her heart and she’s is devastated to learn it’s closing for good at the end of the summer. Lou is determined to save the park and win Nick’s heart before the season is over. Her first goal requires a plan for getting donations from the town, and her second involves staging a fake relationship with her lesbian BFF to make Nick jealous. These best friends are mistaken for a real couple all the time, so Lou (who is bisexual) figures pretending will be easy. The only problem? Seeley seems reluctant to be her fake girlfriend. Readers looking for a rom com that’ll leave them dreaming of hot summer days will find a lot to love here.
On shelves: April 30
After completing her Asian tour, K-pop superstar Lucky wants one thing: a hamburger. She knows she should be resting before her trip to America for a performance on The Tonight Show. But she can’t get burgers off her mind, so she pulls on her slippers and sets out to find one. Along the way, she runs into tabloid photographer Jack, who is attempting to sneak unnoticed out of her ritzy Hong Kong hotel. Get ready to hit play on your K-pop playlist. Maurene Goo never fails to deliver the perfect blend of humor and heart, and this novel hits all the right notes.
On shelves: May 7
Fresh off her National Book Award win, Elizabeth Acevedo is back with another must-read. With the Fire on High follows 17-year-old Emoni Santiago, a high school senior who lives with her two-year-old daughter, Emma, and her grandmother, ’Buela. Emoni carefully balances life as a student and a mother, while also working to provide for Emma. She isn’t certain what her future holds after graduation until she enrolls in a culinary arts class and begins to think seriously about turning her cooking skills into a profession. This delicious read includes recipes, so prepare to cook up a storm once you’ve finished.
On shelves: May 7
Starting over is hard, especially when it involves transferring to a new school in the middle of senior year. But Ben De Backer didn’t have much of a choice. After coming out as nonbinary, this queer teen was kicked out of their parents’ house. Now Ben lives with their sister and her husband, and is attempting to make it until graduation without further incident. With the help of therapy and an art class with an understanding teacher, things are starting to look up for Ben. And things really turn around when Ben meets Nathan and sparks begin to fly. But Nathan doesn’t know that Ben is nonbinary, and Ben isn’t sure if they’re ready to share their truth just yet. At turns both heartbreaking and heartwarming, readers will be rooting for Ben every step of the way.
On shelves: May 14
Brooklyn teens Quadir and Jarrell are grieving their friend Steph’s murder when they discover tapes of his original music. Steph dreamed of being as famous as his idol, Notorious B.I.G., and to honor his memory, Quadir and Jarrell team up with Steph’s sister Jasmine to turn the music into tracks, released under the name The Architect. Soon, The Architect’s songs are the hit of every Bed-Stuy party. In fact, the beats are so good they’ve caught the attention of a record label. As the three teens grapple with what to do about Steph’s late success, Jasmine attempts to uncover what really happened the night her brother died. Set in the late 90s, this ode to hip-hop is sure to be a hit with readers.
On shelves: May 21
Fans of retellings won’t want to miss this new take on the play Cyrano de Bergerac. Aphra Brown would do anything for her best friend Bethany, which is why she keeps her lips zipped when Bethany admits to crushing hard on Greg D’Agostino, who Aphra also likes. Instead Aphra helps the two get together and then turns her focus to the advice app she created. But when the app malfunctions, Aphra steps up and offers help to anyone who writes in, including Greg, who believes he’s speaking to Bethany. This novel received a star from Kirkus, but our favorite review comes from author Dahlia Adler on Goodreads, who said the it was “so good I’m almost mad about it.”
On shelves: May 21