Power couple Toni and Gretchen have been together for nearly two years when they leave for separate colleges. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, finds a place at Harvard with a group of transgender upperclassmen who offer a new sense of belonging and an expanded language for discussing gender and nonbinary identities. Meanwhile at NYU, Gretchen struggles to understand their evolving long-distance relationship.
What We Left Behind is the second novel from Robin Talley, after her emotionally wrenching Lies We Tell Ourselves. We spoke with Talley about LGBTQIA+ literature, the college setting and much more.
Determining what's real and what's imagined is just part of 17-year-old Calvin’s everyday life. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Calvin believes his world is intrinsically linked with that of Bill Watterson’s iconic comic strip Calvin and Hobbes—he was, after all, born on the last day the strip was published. As he communicates daily with tiger Hobbes—knowing he must be a delusion—Calvin feels the only way he’ll ever be normal is to travel to meet Watterson and have him draw just one more comic.
Enter the glamorous (and not-so-glamorous) world of life in a band through Charlotte Huang's debut YA novel, For the Record. High school student Chelsea has just become the lead singer of the popular band Melbourne, and she's dealing with being on a bus tour with three guys, attracting the attention of heartthrob Lucas Rivers and coping with the sink-or-swim music industry. Huang shares the backstory of For the Record and explains how her music agent husband helped structure the story and provide authentic details of life on tour.
As senior year draws to a close and college looms, Andrew finds himself very much alone. He’s lost his two best friends to a car crash, and his parents are more distracted than ever following his football star brother’s return. Andrew is left with nothing but his obsessive crush on Laura, the prettiest girl in school. But as he begins spending more time with Laura and her fundamentalist Christian youth group, he starts to question everything he’d once held true.
Teen love, angst, secrets and lies make up a lot of realistic YA fiction. Fortunately, those topics can also add up to some of the best storylines, as in Courtney C. Stevens’ second novel.
Seventeen-year-old Cass is so bored. Her parents have rented a house in a tony Massachusetts community for the summer, and garden parties with snobby grown-ups are torture. One evening, Cass escapes to the beach behind her parents’ house, and she’s surprised to meet a mysterious, handsome young man.
Set in 1890s New York City, when social lines starkly divided the city, These Shallow Graves follows the urban adventure of a smart, independent and beautiful young woman from high society who’s willing to risk everything to solve the mystery of her father’s untimely death.
Following the life and brief fame of a young black dancer living in New York City during the 1840s, Juba! is the historical tale of one man’s desire to use his art as activism to overcome the systemic racism that has hindered his people, and his nation, for generations.
Kady barely has time to register how awful her breakup with Ezra feels—these things still hurt, even in year 2575—when, later that same day, her home planet is attacked. Kady and Ezra fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, but they’re separated onto two different ships in the process. With the enemy on their tails, bad turns to worse for the survivors: A plague on one of the ships is leading to quarantines, and the artificial intelligence known as AIDAN is becoming increasingly difficult to trust.
Ryan Graudin’s second novel, Wolf by Wolf, is an alternative history mash-up that mixes X-Men, The Hunger Games and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America. It’s 1956, and Germany and Japan have won World War II. To celebrate their victory, the Axis powers sponsor an annual cross-continent motorcycle race in which the winner meets Adolf Hitler and the losers are lucky to come out alive. Yael is a 17-year-old Holocaust survivor, having been sent to the death camps as a child with her mother. A victim of extreme Nazi experimentation, she can transform her appearance to impersonate any female. She’s also a spy for the Resistance.