Steve May 4, 2022
here-are-the-best-books-releasing-in-may-that’ll-make-you-sprint-to-the-nearest-bookstore

We Do What We Do in the Dark

by Michelle Hart

Grief, lust, and growing up coalesce in this quietly compelling novel about a college freshman named Mallory who copes with her mother’s death and her burgeoning sexuality by having an affair with an older woman who happens to be a married professor. Through the unnamed woman, who also happens to be a picture book author, artistic Mallory finds not just sex and sophistication, but, in her mind, a mentor. As she carries the weight and memory of their affair through both her past and future, Mallory has to reckon with the ways the affair continues to haunt her, and who she is and can be if she leaves it behind her for good. Diving into Mallory’s mind feels like simultaneously wishing you could hug a friend while fearing you’ll crack her brittle bones if you do, and the choice isn’t yours anyway because she has no desire to be touched by you. But you wait, because you know some day she’ll warm up, just a little bit, and it’ll be wondrous to see. —Dahlia Adler

Yerba Buena

by Nina LaCour

Nina LaCour’s debut into adult fiction is a remarkable journey featuring two aching women on perpendicular paths toward a crossroads of connection. Sara Foster ran away from home at 16, reeling from a series of shattering losses. After years of trying to put the pieces of herself together, she’s working as a bartender in Los Angeles. Emelie Dubois enters her seventh year (and fifth major) of her undergraduate program, taking a job impulsively to arrange flowers at Yerba Buena. The glamorous restaurant has more to draw her eye than just a paycheck, however, as she enters into an affair with the married owner. When Sara and Emelie cross paths at Yerba Buena, there is an immediate connection. But as Emelie has just started to find purpose, and Sara’s past has just started to find her, is there any hope for them to find their own way in the world and a way toward each other? —Rachel Strolle

City of Orange

by David Yoon

In his literary fiction debut, Yoon creates a thoughtful apocalyptic story with a twist. We follow a Korean gentleman who has no memory of who he is or where he came from. With only fragments of memories and no idea what caused the destruction to the world around him, he sets off into the desert in hopes of continuing to survive — and to unravel the many mysteries that plague his current reality. —Farrah Penn

Acts of Service

by Lillian Fishman

This one had me hooked from the first sentence: “I had hundreds of nudes stored in my phone, but I’d never sent them to anyone.” I was ready for a story about sexual awakening, but I had no idea the journey Acts of Service would take me on. In addressing relationships in all their messy glory, Lillian Fishman has written one of the most entertaining books about sex I’ve ever read. Like any good dating experience, it’s heady, exhilarating, and will change the way you look at the world. The perfect read for fans of Raven Leilani and Ottessa Moshfegh, this is a book that will have people talking. —David Vogel

Boys Come First

by Aaron Foley

Boys Come First is a joy from start to finish. In telling the story of three millennial gay Black men and their friendships, relationship struggles, and career obstacles, Aaron Foley has written one of the most realistic queer novels I’ve read in years. He allows his characters to be funny, sexy, and messy, while intelligently addressing major issues like the gentrification of Detroit. Never didactic and constantly entertaining, this book is both smart AND steamy. This is one I’m going to be recommending all summer. —David Vogel

Ma and Me

by Putsata Reang

A searing memoir that seeks to discover the generational cost of the expectations placed on children by those that sacrifice for them, Ma and Me is a stirring journey through a mother and daughter’s relationship. Putsasa Reang’s family fled Cambodia when she was just 11 months old, spending nearly three weeks aboard an overcrowded navy vessel before making it to an American naval base in the Philippines. Put’s life was then saved by the American military nurses and doctors that Ma had rushed her into the arms of, a story which, repeated constantly over the years, became family legend. For many years, Put tried to repay in kind, making choices that would befit a good Cambodian daughter while building a successful career as an award-winning journalist. But achievement and expectation do not inhabit the same house, especially when Put comes out in her 20s. Their relationship fractures when Put announces her upcoming marriage, to a woman, at the age of 40. As Put tries to put the pieces of their family history together in the midst of heartbreak, she’ll confront the idea of life debt and inherited trauma along with love and duty. —Rachel Strolle

Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison

by Hugh Ryan

The Women’s House of Detention in New York City was used to detain women, transgender men, and gender-nonconforming people from 1929 to 1974, and since then has faded into the background of history. Hugh Ryan brings the same exacting eye he brought to the highly acclaimed When Brooklyn Was Queer to this history of a prison long forgotten, and its reverberating influence on queer culture in America. Anyone interested in the prison abolition movement should give this book a read, as it portrays a vital period of queer history and is a necessary reminder of how we arrived at the present moment and what we can do going forward. —David Vogel

Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics

by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò

Georgetown philosophy professor Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò’s 2020 academic essay “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” got much more social media traction than the usual journal treatise.

As the post-Bernie left has struggled to create cross-racial, cross-class solidarity, critiques of the limited corporate nature of identity politics have also arisen. And his essay about the limitations of standpoint epistemology — taken as something of a left critique of the lack of attention to class in identity politics more broadly — sparked the kind of buzz that has now led to his compact new book, Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else).

While elite capture usually refers to the corrupt way elites use public funds meant as public resources for themselves, he extends it as a metaphor to argue against the limitations of a politics that focuses on getting marginalized people to enter powerful rooms. The book traverses some of the history (and co-optation) of the very term “identity politics” from the Combahee River Collective and features compelling mini-histories of cross-ethnic and cross-racial solidarity in independence movements.

Throughout the five chapters, Táíwò provides critiques of liberal democracy and institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and considers thinkers ranging from Frantz Fanon to Paulo Freire. The argument that transforming the world that creates the powerful rooms and being accountable to those not in the room are more important ethical imperatives than neoliberal multiculturalism is important. But other fields like cultural studies have long made these kinds of critiques about the limits of representationalism.

And some of the specificity and power of the original essay is lost in the translation and expansion; the historical jumps — from examples of decolonial struggles to the material realities of big tech — can be jarring, and makes it hard to really see what the historical examples can teach us in the current context. Still, his amplification of debates about power and politics within a broader context of class and colonial struggle is an important public intervention and a rebuke to the parochialism of corporate media debates about identity. —Alessa Dominguez

Bad Gays

by Huw Lemmey, Ben Miller

As described in the introduction, Bad Gays is “a book about the gay people in history who do not flatter us, and whom we cannot make into heroes.” Reading this, I was immediately intrigued, but it turned out to be so much more than I expected. In examining the lives of these notorious “bad gays,” the authors examine the ways queerness has been perceived throughout history, and gives modern-day LGBTQ+ people an opportunity to see what the possibilities are going forward. (Also, everyone loves a villain origin story, so who can resist?!) —David Vogel

Son of Elsewhere

by Elamin Abdelmahmoud

Though my relationship with Abdelmahmoud, my BuzzFeed News colleague, could perhaps best be described as “gently antagonistic,” I can’t say enough nice things about his debut book. Son of Elsewhere is described as a “memoir in pieces,” and indeed it gives gorgeous if sometimes brutal flashes from Abdelmahmoud’s life. Each essay covers a wide range — stories about Blackness, immigration, fatherhood, wrestling fanfiction, war, and the glory of suburban Canadian highways — but his writing always pulls you in and makes you stay, even if it’s painful, even if it hurts. —Scaachi Koul

Rainbow Rainbow

by Lydia Conklin

From the the very first story about a lesbian couple in perpetual conflict over procreation, Conklin cements their mastery at creating fascinating, flawed, nuanced, and truly human characters whose feelings, desires, and insecurities bleed from every page. As the title suggests, queerness and gender identity are the most prevalent themes, particularly the exploration of loving and being loved from the space between genders. At times funny, at times sexy, and at times downright uncomfortable, it’s a sharply drawn collection in which many will no doubt find not just an entertaining and compelling read, but kinship and clarity. —Dahlia Adler

Magpie

by Elizabeth Day

Magpie is a rare thriller that is both shocking and thoughtful at the same time. Elizabeth Day wisely uses her considerable skill as an author to keep readers on their toes. Nothing is quite as it seems, but you have to keep reading to find out what’s actually going on. Not relying solely on plot twists to keep the narrative engine running (though there are plenty), Magpie also provides a considerate exploration of relationships and fertility issues. A perfect read for anyone who likes their thrills with a side of contemplation. —David Vogel

The Hacienda

by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda is a deliciously haunting novel that slithers into your mind and keeps you dreaming of it. In the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, Beatriz is without home and without family. To regain some security, she accepts a proposal from the handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano, choosing the idea of having a home again over the persistent whispers about the sudden demise of his first wife. But the sanctuary she craved in Hacienda San Isidro is nowhere to be found, and in its place are invisible eyes that track her every movement and voices that seep into her sleep. Despite voicing her fears and witnessing strange behaviors from the household, like how Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, won’t enter the house at night and how the cook marks the kitchen doorway with strange symbols, no one will help her. The only person that listens to her is young priest Padre Andrés, a witch who agrees to help protect Beatriz, who he feels a forbidden attraction toward. But even his skills might not be enough to combat the brutal darkness that consumes San Isidro. —Rachel Strolle

Siren Queen

by Nghi Vo

Vo reimagines 1930s Old Hollywood in this glittering and haunting historical fantasy loosely based on the life of Chinese American actor Anna May Wong. When starlets reach the height of fame, they’re granted a star in the sky, their name to be remembered forever. Luli Wei has always longed to be a starlet and earn her own star. She often bargained her way into a nearby movie theater to watch the latest movies as a child. When she stumbles upon a set one day, the director cajoles her into a one-line role as a beggar girl. This is a chance to achieve her dreams. She slowly begins appearing in more and more movies, but the deeper she gets into the world of Hollywood, the more insidious its magic. Bargains and sacrifices power the monsters who own Hollywood, and if Luli Wei wants to achieve her dreams, she’ll have to bargain away her soul and the women she loves in the process. This riveting novel so deeply enmeshes magic with reality that it often feels impossible to differentiate the two. It’s a breathtaking read. —Margaret Kingsbury

Trust

by Hernan Diaz

The 1920s might be a buzzy time, but everyone still knows about Benjamin and Helen Rask: Wall Street tycoon and daughter of aristocrats, respectively. This power couple has risen like foam to the top of the decade’s most affluent and elite — but at what cost? This is the story-within-a-story at the heart of Trust, a uniquely layered novel that proves every story has another side…and another…and another… Each page peels back another mystery, making for an utterly riveting read. —Kirby Beaton

The Cherry Robbers

by Sarai Walker

The painter Sylvia Wren has lived as a recluse with her wife for many decades, famous for her paintings but refusing to appear in public or to be interviewed. When a reporter threatens to reveal her past secrets unless she agrees to an interview, Silvia begins to write her memoir. Silvia is in fact Iris Chapel, the fifth daughter to a firearms tycoon. The six Chapel sisters grow up tightly knit, their father ignoring them and their mother, who never wanted children, haunted by ghosts in their sprawling Victorian mansion. Their mother claims the victims of Chapel firearms haunt the family. Wren’s memoir opens with preparations for her eldest sister Aster’s wedding, a much-longed-for escape from the suffocating confines of their home. However, when Aster dies soon after marrying, and the next sister Rosalind also dies soon after marrying, the sisters begin to wonder if they’re cursed. This gorgeously written and all-consuming gothic explores feminism and sexuality and left me more than a little heartbroken. —Margaret Kingsbury

Patience Is a Subtle Thief

by Abi Ishola-Ayodeji

Patience is the eldest daughter of Chief Kolade Adewale, living in the family mansion in Ibadan, Nigeria, in the 1990s. Secrets and uncertainty are her constant companions there, with her younger sister, Margaret, serving as her only ally. Her true desire is to discover what happened to her mother after her distant father and uncle banished her from the compound years prior. The search for answers weaves in to her enrollment in university in Lagos, where she reconnects with her cousin Kash. But Kash needs Patience’s help with something that might demand too high a price for her to pay. He and his friend Emeka are petty thieves, and an opportunity arises for a big score for which they need Patience and Chike, Emeka’s brother, on board. Expertly telling the story of an unloved girl on a hunt for answers and her own path, Patience Is a Subtle Thief is both heartbreaking and heartfelt. —Rachel Strolle

Elektra

by Jennifer Saint

There is a curse on the house of Atreus. Clytemnestra is the wife of Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae seeking to wage war on Troy after they took Helen (Clytemnestra’s sister and the wife of Agamemnon’s brother). After her husband sacrifices their daughter, Iphigenia, to Artemis, Clytemnestra vows revenge. Elektra, younger daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, is horrified by the death of Iphigenia, but is loyal to her father. And Cassandra, princess of Troy, has been blessed with visions of the future by Apollo. But what good is seeing the future when no one will listen to you about the destruction it holds? An elektra-fying take on a classic myth, focused on a wildly compelling trio of women all caught up in the midst of curses and tragedy. —Rachel Strolle

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

by Akwaeke Emezi

Five years after the death of her husband, Feyi is still in mourning, but she’d like not to be. And so she finds the perfect guy to break her back into dating and sex, but she isn’t prepared for the way things spiral from her introduction to his friend group. From there, it’s a blink until she’s spending the summer at the the island home of a wealthy celebrity chef, and experiencing sizzling and forbidden chemistry with a man (who is, like Feyi, bisexual) who both makes her feel alive and respects her connection to the dead. But with no easy path forward for them, they’ll both have to consider what they’re prepared to sacrifice for an uncertain romantic future. Emezi once again absolutely slays a new-for-them genre, with tenderhearted characters and an immaculate balance of realistic dialogue and lyrical prose. —Dalia Adler

Every Summer After

by Carley Fortune

Every Summer After is a quintessential summer novel, full of longing and lost love, and hits on so many beloved tropes. You’ll want to gobble it up in one satisfying bite. Thirty-year-old Percy returns to her childhood lake house in Barry’s Bay (Canada) for the first time in many years since she cut off ties with Sam, the boy who lived next door, after receiving news that his mother passed away. Told in both past and present timelines, we begin to understand what happened between Sam and Percy while discovering how they’ll move forward in the present. —Farrah Penn

By the Book

by Jasmine Guillory

In this Beauty and the Beast reimagining, Isabelle is a 25-year-old editorial assistant who expected more from life than working too hard for too little, and still living at home with her parents. When she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly author who’s failed to deliver his manuscript, she sees an opportunity to finally get her much-deserved promotion. She travels to Beau Towers’ Santa Barbara mansion, planning to give him a pep talk and leave with a novel. Instead, she finds a jaded and withdrawn man who struggles to put his feelings on the page. However, as the two spend time together, she learns that his bark is worse than his bite, and there may be more to him — for them — than meets the eye. —Shyla Watson

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris

by Adriana Herrera

A romp-filled and refreshingly diverse historical romance that follows Luz Alana Heith-Benzan and her rum business. After her father’s death, Luz Alana learns her trust fund is being withheld until she marries. Determined to do it alone, she leaves Santo Domingo for Paris in hopes of expanding her business. But men aren’t interested in working with a woman, especially a woman of color. Except for the Scottish Earl of Darnick, who is a bit too charming — and helpful — for Luz Alana’s liking. A marriage of convenience, steamy love scenes, and a heartfelt romance all lie within the pages of this sparkling first in a new series. —Kirby Beaton

Book Lovers

by Emily Henry

When literary agent Nora Stephens’ beloved younger sister Libby asks her to take a vacation just the two of them, she has no idea that her sibling is secretly hoping a trip to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, will lead to Nora finally acting as the heroine of her own story. Except instead of idyllic picnics or humble doctors, Nora’s only novel interaction happens to be running into her rival, book editor Charlie Lastra. She tries to write him off, but fate has other plans. Maybe the twist in her story is that she’ll get a happy ending with the hero she least expected. —Shyla Watson

Something Wilder

by Christina Lauren

Lily Wilder never got much from her treasure hunting and absentee father, but at least his hand-drawn maps have helped her start a local business taking tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills, but when an opportunity comes up to make enough money to buy back the ranch her dad sold years ago, she can’t say no. Even if it means pairing up for a treasure hunting journey with the man who broke her heart, Leo Grady. As the two go on a hilarious and wild adventure, they discover that maybe the true treasure is the love found along the way. —Shyla Watson

The Emma Project

by Sonali Dev

In this gender-swapped Emma reimagining, Vansh Raje is the picture-perfect guy. He’s rich, single, handsome, with a cheery disposition and loving family. The only thing wrong is he has the hots for his brother’s ex, who happens to be about a decade older. After spending years fake dating Vansh’s brother, the only thing Naina Kohli wants is to help women in South Asia become financially independent and to stay far away from the Raje family. But when she finds herself fighting for funding against the youngest Raje sibling, sparks begin to fly, putting everything she’s worked for in jeopardy. But is he…are they…worth the risk? —Shyla Watson

Book of Night

by Holly Black

Though Black is a prolific writer of young adult and middle-grade fiction, Book of Night is her adult debut, and it’s my absolute favorite novel she’s written. It takes place in a world much like our own, except people’s shadows can be altered and, in some cases, awakened. Charlie Hall once worked as a con artist, stealing books and other valuables from shadow magic practitioners. It’s the only thing she’s ever been really good at, but after one too many close calls, she quit and now works as a bartender, saving money for her sister to attend college and dating a man who’s probably too good to be true. On the way home from work one night, she spots a shadow murdering a person she’d just seen in the bar. Her curiosity about the shadow leads her once more into the shadow-magic underworld, where her discoveries might illuminate her past as much as it does her present. Full of twists and turns, it’s impossible to look away from Black’s compulsive adult debut. —Margaret Kingsbury

When Women Were Dragons

by Kelly Barnhill

This riveting historical fantasy set in the United States during the 1950s is deeply embedded in the patriarchy of the time. Alex Green is a child when the Mass Dragoning occurs, when 300,000 women — fed up with the daily misogyny they experience — transform into dragons. These women dragons take to the skies and do not return. Alex’s Aunt Marla is one of them, leaving behind her infant daughter, Beatrice. Alex’s mother adopts the child and not only demands Alex forget all about dragons, but also that she forgets she ever had an Aunt Marla. Instead, Beatrice has always been Alex’s sister. All of society insists that any mention of dragoning be covered up, for anything to do with women’s bodies is shameful. Alex keeps her eyes on the ground and tries to repress her memories of dragons and family, but she struggles to mold herself into the perfect girl her emotionally abusive father and the nuns at her school require. Everything about Alex is wrong, from her mathematical aptitude to her attraction toward girls. Barnhill’s child characters are deeply authentic and nuanced, which is no surprise considering she’s best known for her award-winning middle-grade novels like The Girl Who Drank the Moon. What’s surprising about Barnhill’s rare foray into adult fiction is its subversiveness and feminist rage. It’s a powerful, searing novel that feels deeply true, despite its magical premise. —Margaret Kingsbury

Seasonal Fears

by Seanan McGuire

Melanie has been dying for a long time, her heart slowly giving out. No one —least of all her — is surprised when she collapses on the football field, her heart no longer beating. What does surprise her is when she gets back up again, despite her heart remaining silent, and finds her golden-haired childhood boyfriend, Harry, collapsed beside her. Neither of them know it, but at the exact moment they collapsed, the winter queen and the summer king died. Their 300-year reign has now ended, and Melanie and Harry are in the running to become their replacement. If they don’t win, neither will survive their seasons. This follow-up to Middlegame reads more like a companion novel than a sequel, though it does have some reoccurring characters and expands the world quite a bit. It’s just as fun and consuming as the first book. I loved the audiobook narrated by Amber Benson. —Margaret Kingsbury

The Change

by Kirsten Miller

When three women go through menopause in the small seaside town of Mattauk, they develop magical powers that will help them bring misogynistic men to justice. Nessa James can speak to the ghosts of murdered girls, a skill she inherited from her grandmother. Jo Levison used to manage a large hotel, but when a rich client assaults one of the maids and the hotel tries to cover it up, she discovers she has the power to transform her rage into fire. She quits and starts a gym for women only. Successful advertising director Harriett Osborne accepts her powers as a witch after she divorces her husband and embraces the magic of gardening. When the three women discover the body of a young murdered girl in a trash bag near the coast, along with the ghosts of three other murdered teens, they set out to discover who is murdering girls. This punchy, feminist novel is for all the women who need to see some rich misogynistic dudes suffer, and who are desperate for fantasy novels with characters over 30. I listened to the audiobook read by January LaVoy, and it was fantastic! —Margaret Kingsbury

Under Fortunate Stars

by Ren Hutchings

In the distant future, a space-faring humanity is at war with the Felen, an alien species that communicates telepathically. The war is not going well for either side until a group of five individuals broker a piece. This group became known as the Fortunate Five. Now, 150 years later, a scientific vessel carrying an important Felen diplomat becomes lost in a time vortex and discovers the Fortunate Five’s vessel. On board, they find three of the five heroes, but they have yet to accomplish their critical mission, and even more concerning, they seem to have no idea that they should be working toward peace. Despite its far-reaching plot, this time travel space opera debut is deeply character-driven, following four characters back and forth in time as they slowly head toward the day that brought peace between the humans and the Felen. It’s an entertaining, engrossing read. —Margaret Kingsbury

Kisses for Jet

by Joris Bas Backer

This YA trans coming-of-age graphic novel takes place during the Y2K scare. When Jet’s parents need to go overseas so Jet’s mom can work on correcting the Millennium bug, they leave Jet in a Danish boarding school. Jet struggles to fit in, both with the other residents of the boarding school and with their body, which doesn’t feel like a girl’s body. Jet and her best friend first bonded over Kurt Cobain, whom Jet bases her style choices on, but now Jet even feels at odds with her. This is a nuanced look into the life of a trans teen by a trans author and illustrator. The black, white, and grayish-blue illustrations powerfully capture Jet’s complicated emotions. I was about Jet’s age during the Y2K scare, and I wish I’d had a book like this then. —Margaret Kingsbury

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Melt With You

by Jennifer Dugan

Rife with charm, personality, and a whole lot of puns, Dugan’s newest Sapphic YA romance sets Fallon on course for a painful summer with her former bestie-turned-one-night-stand, Chloe, for an ice cream truck road trip neither one will forget. Things between them are stickier than a cone melting on hot blacktop thanks to a hookup that was far more than that for Fallon; she’ll never forgive Chloe for disappearing immediately after. But some thoughtful trip-planning by Chloe and a few bumps in the road (“just one bed,” anyone?) helps them find a sweet, sweet path back to friendship, and maybe to something else…if they can actually have one reasonable, honest conversation. —Dahlia Adler

Summer of Bitter and Sweet

by Jen Ferguson

Métis teen Lou’s summer is getting more complicated than she expected. Not only is she going to be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend, but also with her former best friend, King, who has just returned to their town after a three-year absence. Plus, she’s coming to terms with her demisexual identity and dealing with a letter from the newly released-from-prison white father she’s never met. And despite wanting to have nothing to do with the latter, when the family business hits a troubled spot, she realizes she can’t ignore him. —Rachel Strolle

The Ghosts of Rose Hill

by R. M. Romero

This lovely YA novel-in-verse is full of magic and Slavik fairy tales. Ilana Lopez, a Jewish biracial Latina, just wants to play violin, but her parents want her to concentrate on school and choose a practical profession. To help her concentrate on her schoolwork over the summer, Ilana’s father sends her to her aunt’s home in Prague without her violin. In Prague, Ilana discovers an abandoned Jewish cemetery and decides to clean it. There she meets Benjamin, a ghost that haunts the cemetery, and a man with a violin no one else but the ghosts see. When the man gifts Ilana the violin, she plays better than ever before, but she senses something isn’t quite right, especially when she notices the ghost of a young girl slowly withering away. —Margaret Kingsbury

Some Mistakes Were Made

by Kristin Dwyer

Dwyer’s debut novel is one of those mesmerizing stories that sinks into your bones, impossible to put down until you’ve finished. Come for the angst; stay for the yearning. Told in both past and present timelines, we’re introduced to Ellis, who has just graduated high school halfway across the country, far from the familiarities of her old life, including her childhood friend Easton. The two haven’t spoken in over a year. When Ellis receives an invitation to return to the life she was forced to leave behind, she takes it even though she’ll have to confront her messy past with Easton, the boy who once captured her heart. Through her captivating prose and achingly lyrical writing, Dwyer tells a story of found family, of privilege and opportunity, of what it means when the people who are supposed to show up for you leave. It’s a gorgeous reminder that we are deserving of love despite our messy, complex mishandling of it at times. —Farrah Penn

It’s All in How You Fall

by Sarah Henning

Henning’s (Throw Like a Girl) sports knowledge and passion bleeds from every page in this contemporary romance about an aspiring elite gymnast named Caroline whose dreams are dashed by an injury. With gymnastics off the table for Caro, she needs to find a new endorphin-producing passion, and she’s got the green light to play any other sport. The problem is her life’s been so dominated by gymnastics that she knows nothing about the rest of them. Enter Alex Zavala, her brother’s hot best friend who’s happy to show Caro the ropes…and the fields, the courts, and everything else she might need to find her new love. She’s determined to pay back his kindness in any way she can, which means trying to hook him up with her friend he’s been crushing on. It’s all well and good, until Caroline realizes that truly going for the gold means confronting her own developing feelings for Alex. —Dahlia Adler

Flip the Script

by Lyla Lee

Lee jumps from K-pop to K-drama in her sweet and charming sophomore YA, which stars Hana, an actor who’s new to both Korea and the acting scene but is determined to make it work, even if it means embarking on a fauxmance with her costar. The problem? It’s not looking so faux for Bryan, and it’s also making Hana’s life hell as she gets scrutinized for dating a heartthrob. Oh, and it’s also not enough, which is why the show has decided to bring in another girl to serve as Hana’s romantic rival on the show. And not just any girl, either, but Minjee, Hana’s former bestie. When the girls reconnect, it’s only a matter of time before they realize the feelings between them aren’t strictly platonic, making for a complicated situation as they try to maintain privacy, their jobs, and their hearts in one piece. —Dahlia Adler

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster

by Andrea Mosqueda

Maggie Gonzalez is in search of an escort for her little sister’s quinceañera, but it’s proving quite difficult. For starters, there are a ton of feelings she’s trying to work through: those for her best friend (and first crush) Amanda, her ex-ex-boyfriend Matthew who keeps flirting with her, and the new girl, Dani. Plus, she’s trying to get on a path toward being a music photographer. Romantic chaos abounds in this promising debut. —Rachel Strolle

I Kissed Shara Wheeler

by Casey McQuiston

McQuiston’s YA debut is sprinkled with an intriguing mystery. Shara Wheeler is Chloe Green’s rival. Both want to be valedictorian, but only one can come out on top. Then, one month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe, mysteriously vanishing soon after. To uncover what happened, Chloe teams up with Smith and Rory, two other classmates who’ve received cryptic clues from Shara. After all, Chloe demands to win valedictorian fair and square. The more they unravel about Shara’s disappearance, the more Chloe realizes that there just may be more to this small town than she initially thought. —Farrah Penn

Dutton Books for Young Readers

Man o’ War

by Cory McCarthy

River is on the annual field trip to Sea Planet, the nearly out-of-business marine life theme park in their small Ohio town. A chance encounter with a happy, healthy queer person leads River toward a discovery: While they might know who they’ve been told to be, they aren’t sure who they really are. This gorgeous story of self-discovery is a triumph. —Rachel Strolle

Ballad & Dagger

by Daniel José Older

The island of San Madrigal sank into the sea almost 16 years ago, the survivors escaping to New York and forming a close community in Brooklyn, dreaming of a way back. Piano prodigy Mateo is less focused on finding a way home, working hard to get the attention of Gerval, a local musical legend, and his chance seems imminent. But the night of the Grand Fete (the party that celebrates the blended culture of pirates, Cuban Santeros, and Sephardic Jews who created San Madrigal), instead of wowing Gerval, Mateo instead witnesses a brutal murder, by someone he thought he knew. The evil that sank their island has caught up to those who escaped, and has thrown Mateo right in the middle of an ancient battle. This is the first YA of the Rick Riordan presents line, and who better to bring epic mythology and magic to YA than Daniel José Older? —Rachel Strolle

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

See You Yesterday

by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Some of my favorite books are ones that immediately grab my attention with their high-stakes plot, laugh-out-loud banter, and lovably flawed characters, and Solomon strikes all of these chords with her spectacular time loop YA rom-com. Set set on the first day of college and sprinkled with speculative fiction, Barrett Bloom quickly realizes that she’s living her horrendous first day over and over again. But she soon discovers she’s not the only one reliving September 21. Miles, a boy in her physics 101 class, has been trapped for months, and the two polar opposites must team up if they want to have a chance at resetting the balance of the universe. Written with both humor and heart, Solomon does a phenomenal job of exploring identity, second first impressions, what it means to live with no consequences, and the complex uncertainty of the future. —Farrah Penn

Hollow Fires

by Samira Ahmed

When aspiring journalist Safiya finds the body of a murdered boy, she sets out to find the truth behind his death. Fourteen-year-old Jawad was arrested, labeled a terrorist, and killed because a teacher mistook his cosplay jetpack for a bomb. With Jawad’s voice guiding her, Safiya tries to put together the pieces and make sure that people remember him. Samira Ahmed adds to her extraordinary body of work with this masterful new release. —Rachel Strolle

Breathe and Count Back from Ten

by Natalia Sylvester

Verónica, who’s had multiple surgeries due to her hip dysplasia, loves being in the water. She spends much of her time swimming and longs to audition to be a mermaid at Mermaid Cove, the main attraction in her Florida town. However, she knows her overly protective Peruvian parents will never agree to let her audition, but her younger sister and a friend support her dream and help her access Mermaid Cove. Another thing her parents won’t be wild about is Verónica’s feelings for a new boy, Alex. This contemporary YA mermaid tale based on the author’s experiences is both heartwarming and empowering. —Margaret Kingsbury

Tokyo Dreaming

by Emiko Jean

In the first book in this swoonworthy series, we learned that Izumi Tanaka’s father is the Crown Prince of Japan, making her a princess overnight. Now that her parents have reconnected, a wedding is on the horizon. Everything seems to be perfect in Izumi’s life until she learns The Imperial Household Council won’t approve her parents’ marriage, concerned about her mother’s lack of pedigree. On top of boyfriend troubles, Izumi’s life threatens to fall apart at the seams. Vowing to do what it takes to win over the council, Izumi will discover just how much she’ll have to sacrifice for her parents’ happily ever after. —Farrah Penn

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School

by Sonora Reyes

This absolutely delightful contemporary needs to be on your reading list! Yamilet is the new kid at Slayton Catholic, a very rich (and mostly white) Catholic school. At least here, she’s got a fresh start, since her ex-best friend and crush outed her as gay at her old school, and here no one knows. But staying under the radar is tough when falling for Bo, the only openly queer (not to mention perfect and cute and talented) girl at school, is all but inevitable. —Rachel Strolle

A Little Bit Country

by Brian D. Kennedy

Illinois teen Emmett Maguire is heading to Jackson Hollow, Tennessee, for the summer to stay with his aunt so he can perform at Wanda World, the amusement park owned by country music legend (and idol of Emmett’s) Wanda Jean Stubbs. Luke Barnes is a country music hater, the grandson of disgraced singer Verna Rose, and is regrettably working at a restaurant in Wanda World to help ease his mother’s growing pile of medical bills. When the boys meet, sparks fly, but along their path to romance they discover an explosive secret about Verna Rose’s (and Wanda Jean’s) past that could change everything. —Rachel Strolle

Together We Burn

by Isabel Ibañez

The Zalvidar family has run a famous dragon-fighting arena for 500 years, but when someone sabotages their 500th-anniversary show, unleashing the dragons and causing mayhem and death, the father of 18-year-old flamenco dancer Zarela Zalvidar almost dies. He’ll never be able to fight dragons again. Zarela is determined to save her family’s arena, but it seems like everyone is against her. The head of the Dragon Guild refuses to believe sabotage was involved in the arena’s disaster and instead blames Zarela’s father. He forces her to pay a heavy fine to the guild. The only way to save the arena is to become a Dragonadoor like her father, but after a dragon killed her mother when Zarela was a child, she fears dragons almost as much as she fears losing her family’s legacy. She hires the stubborn and attractive Arturo Díaz de Montserrat to train her as a Dragonadoor, but he believes it’s wrong to fight the dragons. She has four weeks to learn dragon-fighting skills to earn enough money to save the arena, but in the meantime she also has a crime to solve. Someone is out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and they’re willing to murder to get their way. I listened to this intense YA fantasy on audio, delightfully narrated by Ana Osorio. —Margaret Kingsbury

How to Live Without You

by Sarah Everett

If you’re in the mood for an emotional contemporary, look no further than this phenomenal novel. Everyone says that Emmy’s sister Rose ran away and that she’ll return when she’s ready. Emmy’s not convinced. To search for clues, she heads back to their Ohio hometown for the summer, desperate for something that will bring her to her sister. What she finds is a reunion with a childhood best friend and a whole new understanding of her sister. —Rachel Strolle

The Merciless Ones

by Namina Forna

The second book in the YA fantasy series Deathless picks up six months after the events in book one, The Gilded Ones. After Deka freed the goddesses and discovered her true identity, the Otereans now think Deka and the jatu are traitors. The people view Deka as a monster. Despite their disproval, Deka continues on her quest to free all the goddesses. However, after releasing each goddess, a strange symbol appears on their temples, a symbol that renders Deka temporarily unconscious and blocks her powers. While war wages within her kingdom, Deka fights an even darker force trying to tear the kingdom apart. This action-packed sequel is even more thrilling than the first. —Margaret Kingsbury

The Marvellers

by Dhonielle Clayton

Marvellers from around the world come together at the Arcanum Training Institute, which is where 11-year-old Conjuror Ella is heading. Being the first Conjuror at school is not easy, especially since there are people who mistrust her Conjuror magic. But fellow misfits Brigit (who hates magic) and Jason (who is always found with a magical creature) become her friends, which makes everything a little bit more joyous. Mysterious things are occurring, however, with a notorious criminal escaping and Ella’s favorite teacher disappearing on a research trip. To combat suspicions and rumors, Ella must figure out a way to track down her teacher without losing her place at the institute for good. Dhonielle Clayton creates the most masterful worlds, and this magical school tale is one of the most stunning pieces of middle-grade fantasy. —Rachel Strolle

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