I have been reading (and by reading, I mean listening to) a lot of true crime and thrillers lately, but I also read a good amount of YA books. I am the Teen Librarian, after all. Early in the Covid shut down I mostly revisited old favorites, but as I become accustomed to my new normal I am getting back into my old reading habits. So, here’s a quick review of some of my favorite YA reads of the year so far.
These are the first of my 5-Star reads of 2020.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks: I loved this charming graphic novel so much! Two high school seniors, “work” best friends, face the end of their time at the pumpkin patch they both love. The pair decide to brush off work and hunt down a long time crush. Hilarity ensues. This slim volume perfectly captures the excitement, sorrow, and uncertainty of leaving high school and embarking on the next adventure.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer: This is fun Beauty and the Beast retelling. Harper, the story’s Belle, is tough and determined, and constantly underestimated due to her cerebal palsy. Definitely an interesting addition to the fantasy genre and the world of retellings.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen: Ever Wong’s summer plans are cancelled when her parents inform her she is going to Taiwan to study Mandarin. It’s just the kind of thing they would do in their never-ending quest for the perfect daughter. What they don’t know is that this program is a notorious “meet-market”, nicknamed the Loveboat. Surrounded by teen prodigies and experience freedom for the first time, Ever sets out to break all the rules. You don’t have to be Chinese to relate to this nearly perfect coming of age story.
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed: A teen book about political canvassing?!? Yes, please! Jewish and Muslim representation, political activism, and romance blend into the perfect book for me. I love anything that inspires young people to get involved in politics!
Displacement by Kiku Hughes: Displacement is an exploration of the Japanese-American and Japanese immigrant experience in interment camps during WWII. Teenaged Kiku Hughes calls her brief trips back in time to experience what her grandmother and great-grandparents experienced displacements. Little is known about their time in the camps because they rarely spoke of it, but Kiku was able to live the confusion and fear, the hunger and grief, the impossible choices people made.
This memoir-based book is gorgeous. The art is simple and beautiful and panels are open, sometimes sprawling, like the inhospitable landscapes surrounding the camps. While the main focus is the past, the author pulls no punches when it comes to comparing Japanese internment camps and the political climate that allowed them to occur to our current political environmental. This is a powerful must-read.
Stay tuned for more 5 star YA titles!