Have you already made your 2019 TBR list? Did you check it twice? You better. There are some unbelievably good books hitting shelves this winter, and we don’t want you to miss a single one of them. Angie Thomas is back with a heroine we can’t wait to meet, Ibi Zoboi curated a collection on black identity featuring some of our favorite authors, and Bill Konigsberg is bringing a romance to swoon over. Here’s a look at winter’s must-read young adult books. Get ready to start the year off right with these amazing reads.
Seventeen-year-old twins Ellery and Ezra Corcoran arrive in Echo Ridge, Vermont, and it is memorable to say the least: They discover the body of the local high school’s science teacher in the middle of the road. In her search for more details about what happened, Ellery soon finds herself looking into the town’s history and uncovering information about a homecoming queen who was killed five years ago. When Ellery is nominated for homecoming court, threats start to pour in and it appears the murderer may be planning to strike again. This mystery will keep readers hooked until the very last page.
On shelves: January 8
This anthology, edited by Pride author Ibi Zoboi, gathers short stories from some of today’s best young adult writers. Each of the seventeen stories explores what it means to be young and black in America. The stories highlight the intersections of black identity, while still holding up each character’s unique journey and individual experience. Justina Ireland’s “Kissing Sarah Smart” delves into sexual identity, Jason Reynolds’ “The Ingredients” captures moments of joy while a group of boys walk home from the swimming pool, and Renée Watson’s “Half a Moon” looks at the relationship between sisters. Other contributors include Varian Johnson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Dhonielle Clayton, Kekla Magoon, Leah Henderson, Tochi Onyebuchi, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Brandy Colbert, and Lamar Giles. This is a collection you won’t be able to put down.
On shelves: January 8
Sophie Kemper is president of her high school marching band’s fundraising committee, and she has a brilliant idea for raising money: ask country singer and former Acadia, Illinois resident Megan Pleasant to return home and perform. Sophie, who loves every inch of her small town, can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to return and isn’t prepared for Megan’s lack of interest in the event. On top of that, her friend group is starting to come apart at the seams, and August, the cute guy she’s been flirting with all summer, alternates between interest and pushing her away. One thing’s for sure, the summer before Sophie’s senior year is going to be a memorable one.
On shelves: January 15
Bloom by Kevin Panetta and illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau
Recent grad Ari is currently working at his family’s struggling bakery, but the second he can find a replacement he’s moving to the city with his bandmates. Ari can’t think of a single thing that would make him want to stay in his coastal beach town. That is, until he meets Hector, a culinary student. Ari starts to train Hector to replace him, and along the way begins to realize he may actually enjoy baking and he’s definitely falling for Hector. This graphic novel about the joys of summer love and the power of food to bring people together is a sure hit for fans of Check, Please!.
On shelves: January 29
When sixteen-year-old Bri’s mom loses her job, Bri’s dream of becoming the greatest rapper of all time becomes more important than ever before. She knows she has the chops to make it—after all, her late father was a rap legend. But following your dreams is never easy, and it’s going to take all of Bri’s determination (coupled with her sickest beats and rhymes) to prove that she has what it takes. This upcoming release from The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas is at the top of every YA reader’s TBR list. Don’t be surprised if the Bookish offices shut down on release day so we can read it.
On shelves: February 5
This work of historical fiction from Hanna Alkaf places readers in the middle of the 1969 race riots in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where a 16-year-old Malay girl is searching for her mother. Melati Ahmad’s obsessive compulsive disorder drives her to complete counting and tapping rituals. She believes it’s caused by a djinn inside of her who threatens the death of her loved ones if she doesn’t obey. When riots break out and Mel is separated from her mother, her worst fears are realized. She teams up with Vince, a Chinese boy, in hopes of finding her mom before it’s too late. This is a heartbreaking and important tale, and readers won’t soon forget Mel and the courage she shows.
On shelves: February 5
Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Best friends Jasmine and Chelsea both attend a high school in Washington Heights that claims to be progressive, but the girls still find themselves fighting against daily sexism and racism. To combat the problem, they form a Women’s Rights Club and create an online space to share poetry, videos, personal stories about their experiences, and more. It isn’t long before their activism takes off and they’re discovered by like-minded readers and online trolls. When the principal decides to shut the club down, Jasmine and Chelsea must find new ways to stand up and make their voices heard.
On shelves: February 12
Seventeen-year-old Harley Langston grapples with anger and guilt after her inebriated boyfriend is involved in a car accident that puts Harley’s sister Audrey into a coma. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that earlier that night Harley discovered the two kissing in a locked room. Now, the one bright spot in Harley’s life is Raf, a childhood friend she’s recently reconnected with. Raf is in Alcoholics Anonymous and confronting his addiction head-on in a way that inspires Harley to move forward in her own life. This debut about healing, accountability, and love is certain to strike a chord with contemporary YA fans.
On shelves: February 19
This winter Bill Konigsberg is back with a summer romance about opposites attracting. Max and Jordan run in different social circles at their high school—emo kid Jordan writes poetry and spends his free time trying to pay off his mother’s gambling debts, while jock Max plays basketball and video games and hides his inner foodie from his friends. The two are in the same advanced placement language and composition class, but they never really talk until Max stumbles upon the food truck where Jordan works. Seeing that Jordan needs help, Max offers a hand and ends up working the Coq Au Vinny grill for the summer. Stuck together in a small truck in the middle of the Arizona summer, the two start opening up about their lives and soon grow from classmates to friends to boyfriends, along the way helping each other heal from past traumas.
On shelves: February 26
Every Friday night, residents of Jackson, Tennessee can tune in to Midnite Matinee, a public access show run by high school seniors Josie and Delia—or Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, as they’re known to their viewers. The two screen old low-budget horror films and provide their own hilarious commentary. But with graduation looming before them, the fate of the show is in question. Josie finds herself considering an internship at Food Network that would take her away from the show, while Delia holds onto the hope that the show might catch the attention of her absentee father. When a trip to ShiverCon lines up with the opportunity to find Delia’s father, both girls are forced to think about what they really want for themselves, for each other, and for their futures.
On shelves: February 26