22 of the Best YAs of July

This month of summer reads represent approximately 17 different genres, but the thing they have in common—the most important thing in a book, tbh—is that they’ll squeeze every last drop of emotion out of you. Go on, we dare you: try to make it through these tales of royal intrigue, toxic friendships, supernatural espionage, alternate universes, romantic comedies and hometown escapes without crying, laughing, and clamoring for more.

Symptoms of a Heartbreak, by Sona Charaipotra (July 2)
This contemporary drama, an #ownvoices solo debut from the co-author of Tiny Pretty Things, is thoughtful and warmhearted. “Girl Genius” Saira is an Indian American girl who happens to be the youngest doctor in the country. Interning at a pediatric oncology ward (in the same hospital where her overbearing mom works) isn’t easy, but Saira has never faced a challenge she couldn’t overcome. But then she falls in love with a teen cancer patient. Does she have what it takes to change the boy’s outcome? Perfect for fans of Grey’s Anatomy or The Mindy Project.

The Best Lies, by Sarah Lyu (July 2)
Remy and Elise were made for each other, their friendship intense and vital. Where Remy shrinks from her family’s abuse, Elise is all about getting even. Where Remy is prepared to go through life as quiet as a shadow, Elise demands to be seen. The line between friendship and obsession becomes blurred when Remy’s boyfriend Jack winds up dead at Elise’s hand. Was Elise justified in ending Jack’s life, as she claims? Can Remy trust herself to shine a light on the truth, if the truth means losing Elise?

Teen Titans: Raven, by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator) (July 2)
You don’t have to be well-versed in the comics to appreciate this elegant graphic novel. Meet Raven, a teen girl who moves to New Orleans after her foster mother dies in a car crash. Raven has lost more than a family member; her memories of the accident have vanished, along with basic information about who she used to be. If amnesia, a new school, new friends, and a new foster sister weren’t enough to deal with, she’s also discovered a new ability: she can hear other people’s thoughts, and her own thoughts have a bad habit of coming true. Raven’s memories may hold the answers, but what if recovering them makes things worse?

The Odd Sisters, by Serena Valentino (July 2)
Book six in the Disney Villains series promises to answer readers’ questions about the mysterious, dastardly Odd Sisters, who have spent the previous five installments altering the lives of Disney’s most famous baddies. Where did the sisters come from? What do they want?  And will they be forced to answer at last for their crimes against the Beast, Ursula, the Wicked Queen, and more?

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun, by Guillermo del Toro, Allen Williams (illustrator), Cornelia Funke (July 2)
When Ofelia and her mother move to a forest in Spain to live with Ofelia’s new stepfather (whom Ofelia doesn’t trust), the young teen discovers a world beyond imagining, full of sprites and magical fauns. She also learns about her true identity, that of a reincarnated princess whose underground kingdom is ready for her return. Although inspired by the darkly beautiful, award-winning 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth, with Funke (Dragon Rider; The Thief Lord) at the helm this becomes much more than an adaptation; the book includes stunning black-and-white illustrations and additional short stories that enrich the movie.

Queen of Ruin, by Tracy Banghart (July 2)
In last year’s duology opener Grace and Fury, sisters Serina and Nomi were separated, imprisoned and subjugated in a fantasy world of royal courts, enslaved women, and prison islands. Reunited with Serina at last on Mount Ruin, Nomi is shocked to discovered that her previously docile sibling has become the leader of a fierce resistance. Should the sisters head for safe harbor now that they’re together, or take the fight to its source in the hopes of freeing other oppressed women and girls?

Destroy All Monsters, by Sam J. Miller (July 2)
When they were twelve, something happened to best friends Solomon and Ash that would forever alter their perception of reality. But when Ash loses her memory in a fall, Solomon’s the only one who remembers what occurred, and that knowledge is destroying him from the inside out. Simon’s coping mechanism is to live in the Darkside, a fantasy world of his own creation where he can retreat to keep the monsters at bay. By the time they’re sixteen, Darkside has become just as dangerous as the world Solomon wants to escape, and Ash must find a way to reach him, no matter how painful it is to revisit the past.

Warhead: The True Story of One Teen Who Almost Saved the World, by Jeff Henigson  (July 2)
Set in the mid-1980s, at the height of the Cold War, this debut memoir reveals how Jeff, a 15-year-old newly diagnosed with brain cancer, used his Starlight Foundation wish to visit Moscow. His goal? Meet Mikhail Gorbachev and plan a course for nuclear disarmament. Bonus points if he can leave behind a legacy for his tough-to-please dad to admire. Within this extraordinary framework, Jeff is also a regular teen whose growing pains and coming of age journey feel relatable and important.

Spin the Dawn, by Elizabeth Lim (July 9)
An alumni of Disney’s Twisted Tales series, Lim is the perfect person to write a fantasy quest that Mulan herself would be proud of. If given a chance, Maia Tamarin could become the best tailor in A’landi, but girls aren’t allowed such ambitions, so she poses as her brother during a fierce competition at the Summer Palace. Court magician Edan, an enchanter with his own secret, is much tougher to fool than everyone else, and that’s before they join forces seeking impossible items throughout the kingdom. Inspired by Chinese mythology and culture, this inventive fairy tale will keep readers riveted.

Me Myself & Him, by Chris Tebbetts (July 9)
Chris Schweitzer has a choice to make. After huffing whippets and passing out, breaking his nose, he must decide whether to come clean to his parents about the cause of his accident. In Universe A, this means he’ll be sent to live with his estranged dad, a physicist, for the summer, and attend drug counseling. In Universe B, he remains at home with his parents none the wiser but discovers something about his best friends that changes everything. Fans of multiverses and “What If…?” storylines will enjoy this smart, unpredictable, and engaging read.

Maybe This Time, by Kasie West (July 9)
In this adorable hate-to-love rom-com, florist Sophie and chef’s son Andrew are thrown together at every party and social occasion in town over the course of a year. At first, Andrew’s constant proximity (okay, his very existence) irritate Sophie; in her view he’s a cocky jerk and she doesn’t have time for his antics, what with a deadline looming to finish her sketches for design school applications. But as the year progresses, Sophie comes to see there’s a lot more to Andrew than meets the eye, and perhaps more to herself as well.

Wilder Girls, by Rory Power (July 9)
Rory Power’s electrifying debut combines speculative fiction with a feminist Lord of the Flies. When a highly contagious disease, known as the Tox, hits the Raxter School for Girls, killing the teachers and altering the students, the Navy puts everyone under quarantine. A year and a half later, Hetty and the other students are completely isolated, left to survive on their own. After her best friend, Byatt, vanishes, Hetty will do whatever it takes to retrieve her, even if that means venturing past the school boundaries and into the horror-filled woods. This looks to be a fast-paced sci-fi thriller full of complicated and wonderful monster girls.

The Storm Crow, by Kalyn Josephson (July 9)
Fans of Daenerys Stormborn and her dragon eggs will love this fantasy debut about two princesses who raise a mythical crow egg in secret, hoping it will aid their vengeance against the invaders who destroyed their kingdom. Pre-invasion, elemental Crows provided magic and protection for the kingdom of Rhodaire, and sisters Anthia and Caliza are determined to avenge their mother and take back everything that was stolen from them by the usurper Illucians. A ticking clock in the form of a marriage alliance forces them to work quickly in a scheme that may backfire.

Season of the Witch, by Sarah Rees Brennan (July 9)
Can’t stand waiting for season two of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Brennan (The Demon’s Lexicon; In Other Lands) has got you covered with a series prequel that finds our favorite half-human, half-witch casting an ill-advised spell to find out if her maybe-boyfriend and first love Harvey is the real deal or not. What could possibly go wrong? Alternating chapters provide deep dives into supporting characters’ backstories and motivations, making this an ideal companion to the show.

Past Perfect Life, by Elizabeth Eulberg (July 9)
Allison Smith’s quietly contented life in Wisconsin is thrown into chaos when she learns, via the college application process, that her social security number is a lie—and so is her entire identity. Allison’s always had a fantastic, loving relationship with her dad, but it turns out fifteen years earlier, he kidnapped Allison from her mother. Not only does her mother want her back, she wants Allison to be the girl she might have been without the lie that defines her. Fans of The Deep End of the Ocean and other complex family dramas will tear through this brilliant contemporary.

Heartwood Box, by Ann Aguirre (July 9)
Once you’ve binged Stranger Things on July 4th, this suspense-filled horror story should be next on your list. Araceli Flores Harper is new in town, sent to spend senior year of high school with her great-aunt in upstate New York. Mysterious disappearances, a fiendish research lab in a far-flung location, and unexplained phenomena that the locals refuse to discuss compel Araceli to search for answers. This looks to be an intriguing mixture of sci-fi, supernatural, and romantic thrills.

Please Send Help, by Gaby Dunn, Allison Raskin (July 16)
In their debut novel I Hate Everyone But You, real life BFFs Dunn and Raskin introduced readers to best friends Ava and Gen, college freshman who stayed in touch via email and text during their tumultuous first semester apart. In Help, the duo has graduated college and begun the next phase of their lives. Now working in the fields of journalism and television, learning the difference between dreams and reality, navigating tricky new relationships, and coping with financial constraints, they wonder if their friendship can go the distance.

Just My Luck, by Jennifer Honeybourn (July 16)
Set in Hawaii, this looks to be a breezy and fun summer romance. With her penchant for lifting items out of rude, wealthy guests’ hotel rooms, teenage housekeeper Marty knows her sticky fingers are to blame for her recent spate of bad luck. Maybe if she returns every stolen item, karma will cut her some slack. When she meets Will, a new guest who’s on vacation with his parents and little brother, she knows he’s just another rich snob, but her assumptions are tested when Will asks her to show him around the island.

Arrival of Someday, by Jen Malone (July 23)
High school senior Lia is tough, athletic, and full of spirit, a combination that’s served her well as a jammer on the local roller derby team. She rarely thinks about the rare liver disorder she was born with until it takes control of her body with frightening consequences at a derby bout. Suddenly, the future looks fragile. While waiting for a transplant that may never come, Lia and her family and friends must take stock of what matters most to them in this realistic and heartfelt contemporary.

The Spaces Between Us, by Stacia Tolman (July 23)
In this YA debut full of quietly powerful moments, town outcasts Serena Velasco (whose fierce intelligence doesn’t seem to get her anywhere) and Melody Grimshaw (daughter of the poorest family in town, suffocating under her family’s reputation) know their only hope of a better life is to leave their hometown of Colchis in the rearview mirror. But how much are they willing to risk in order to escape, and will they need to become completely different people to achieve their goals?

The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen (July 30)
As future chieftain of the Crows, Fie is well-versed in bone magic and mercy killing; her low caste group is both necessary and despised for the work they do in handling the unpleasant consequences of the Sinner’s Plague. To her shock, Fie discovers amongst the plague victims a very-much-alive Prince Jasimir and his lookalike bodyguard, who are on the run from the queen. She agrees to protect the duo from their pursuers in exchange for a better life for her people once Jasimir’s crown is restored. This exquisite, creative, and detailed debut fantasy is part one of a duology.

The Year They Fell, by David Kreizman (July 30)
When their parents all die in a plane crash, Dayana, Josie, Jack, Archie, and Harrison find themselves desperate to connect with the only other people who might understand what they’re going through. However, more than their tragedy bonds them—in preschool, the five were best friends, but the intervening decade wasn’t always kind. The years they’ve spent on one another’s peripheries define them almost as much as their new status as orphans. Can they reconcile their current heartache with the renewed kinship they feel toward those they never expected to feel close with again?

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