1.) All American Boys by Jason Reynolds: Reynolds and Kiely have crafted not only the most important book I’ve read this year, but possibly ever. This is a multi-faceted look at race relations in America; police brutality; growing up in America, and what it means to be an American; #Blacklivesmatter; and as Kiely puts it best in his acknowledgments, “a conversation about the effects of systemic racism”. Simply amazing, timely, and necessary. I urge everyone to read this and pass it on. We need to have this dialogue.
2.) More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: Aaron’s father committed suicide in their one bedroom Bronx, NY apartment. Desperate to have some semblance of normal and happy, Aaron tries to move on. He has the support of a loving girlfriend, mother, brother, and friends. However, when Aaron meets Thomas, he finds his happiness with him and realizes that he is gay. The Leteo Institute has a revolutionary memory-alteration procedure that can help you erase things from your memory. Can falling for Thomas and Aaron’s feelings be erased and forgotten with a procedure? Heartbreaking and beautifully written, this book has ALL THE FEELZ!
3.) Kissing in America by Margo Rabb: Kissing in America is not a romance novel. However, it is a relationship novel about the more complicated versions of love, betrayal, and grief one experiences. I laughed, I cried, I dog-eared this book to death.
16 year old Eva’s father tragically dies in a plane crash and her and her mother (who is a woman’s studies professor) never fully grieve. Instead, Eva gets lost in trashy romance novels (118 to be exact) as the ultimate rebellion, and her mother gets lost in her work. Eva meets a boy who seems to understand her, but then he suddenly moves to L.A. Eva goes on a road trip with her best friend Annie where they learn a lot about love, loss, friendship, and being human.
4.) Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu: Devoted is the story of Rachel, a 17 year old girl growing up in the Quiverfull Movement who is maturing to an age where she should be prepared to be the perfect “helpmeet”. A helpmeet is something Quiverfull women are primed to do from the day of their conception (i.e. Devout unquestioning wife, mother to as many children as her womb can produce, homeschool teacher, etc).
The characters in Devoted are very real, and I felt like this was an honest story. Mathieu does a great job of exploring the situation without sensationalism or didacticism. I’m left with hope for Rachel, and I’m glad we have an authentic look at the harm caused by extreme Fundamentalist religions, but particularly the harm it evokes on women.
5.) Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: Dumplin’ is the story of Willowdean Dickerson, a self-proclaimed “fat girl” growing up in Texas whose mother heads the local teen beauty pageant and has conventional ideas of ideal beauty that conflict with Willowdean’s. Willowdean’s thoughts on obtaining the perfect bikini body are simple, put a bikini on it!
The self-assured Willowdean has always been okay in terms of body acceptance. However, when the handsome ex-jock Bo from the local private school shows romantic interest in her, Will’s confidence is shaken. In rebel misfit fashion, she enlists in the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant.
6.) The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness: What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. (taken from Goodreads)