There is so much to love about April’s YA books—especially because so many of them are about love, both queer and straight. Whether you prefer fantasy quests, realistic contemporary dramas, rom-coms, or historical fiction (the 1990s!), you’re certain to find the perfect spring read to make your heart pound from excitement, mystery, and feels.
Rebound, by Kwame Alexander (April 2)
A prequel novel in verse to 2015 Newbery winner The Crossover, Rebound invites us to spend a pivotal summer in the life of Chuck Bell (Josh and Jordan’s father) when he was growing up in the 1980s. Long before he became the twins’ basketball-and-jazz-loving dad, young Chuck was sent to stay with his grandparents in Washington, D.C., to help curb his grief over his own father’s death. The last thing he feels like doing is playing basketball with his cousin, Roxie, but Roxie isn’t about to give up easily in this touching coming of age story.
Folded Notes from High School, by Matt Boren (April 3)
Let’s all go back to the 1990s, before the internet and before texting, when teens communicated their most fervent hopes and dreams via…notebook paper! (I remember. I was there.) This epistolary, nostalgia-soaked look at a very specific time period (’91–92) nevertheless feels painfully, hilariously universal. Teen tyrant Tara, a senior with big Broadway dreams, is bowled over when a preternaturally talented freshman earns the role of Danny Zuko in South High’s production of Grease. Obviously, this injustice cannot stand, especially since Tara was NOT cast as Sandy. Tara’s backstage backstabbing rises and falls as her obsession with the frosh in question grows.
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The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles), by Amy Spalding (April 3)
In this adorable romcom featuring two gay girls, Abby and Jordi compete for a coveted position at a boutique clothing store that can only afford to hire one of them. A funny, cute, plus-size fashion blogger, Abby never expected to fall for Jordi, a talented photographer who happens to be the other intern at Lemonberry this summer. But their connection can’t be denied, even as Abby struggles to deflect her mom’s veiled criticisms and come to terms with an aspect of Jordi’s art that she’s not fully comfortable with. A tale of first love that will keep you grinning and swooning.
Defy the Worlds, by Claudia Gray (April 3)
Gray has written some of the very best Star Wars novels recently, including the extraordinary YAs Lost Stars and Leia, Princess of Alderaan. Outside of a galaxy far, far away, she has her own amazing series, which started with the poetic and epic space adventure Defy the Stars, and continues in April with Defy the Worlds. Noemi is now a pariah on her homeworld of Genesis, while Abel is off in the stars captaining his own ship. When Genesis is threatened, it falls to Noemi to try to save it. Big bad Burton Mansfield has plans for Noemi, however, and when Abel tries to intervene, he and Noemi discover a way to save Genesis (and—bonus!—Earth) that might also destroy them. High-stakes intergalactic adventure from one of the best.
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland (April 3)
Jane is the daughter of a rich white mother and a slave father, but it’s her father’s blood that determines her future—that and the new world order that was imposed two days after her birth, when the dead rose from the Gettsyburg battlefields. A now-teenaged Jane is studying to become an Attendant, fluent in both combat and the ways of the genteel southerners she’s meant to protect against the undead. But she’s not sure that path is the future she wants—and when the disappearance of entire families points to a threat even bigger than zombies, it’s unclear whether Jane will have any kind of future at all.
The Window, by Amelia Brunskill (April 3)
A debut mystery-thriller, Window centers on a sister’s quest to understand how and why her identical twin died climbing out their second-story window. Living in small-town Montana, awkward, troubled Jess always assumed she and her outgoing, athletic sibling Anna were best friends who harbored no secrets from one another. But the truth is far more complicated, and Jess may need to look inward as well as outward for answers about Anna’s tragic fall.
Someday, Somewhere, by Lindsay Champion (April 3)
Struggling New Jersey junior Dominique doesn’t expect anything from the concert at Carnegie Hall she attends with her class, but finds herself intensely drawn to the talent of the violinist in the first row. She pretends to be an NYU student to track him down, and what follows is a whirlwind courtship of music and magic with Upper East Side piano prodigy Ben. But between her secret and his obsession with perfection, it’s only a matter of time before everything crumbles.
Starry Eyes, by Jenn Bennett (April 3)
Zorie and Lemmon used to be best friends, but since last year’s homecoming dance, they’ve become enemies, just like their families have always been. But avoiding each other becomes impossible when they get stuck alone in the wilderness, forced to fend for themselves, after a group camping trip goes awry. Amid the fighting and struggle for survival, true feelings come to light, making them more like Romeo and Juliet than ever. But can that closeness last beyond the state of emergency? Friends-to-enemies-to-lovers plus a forced proximity scenario from one of YA’s reigning queens of contemporary romance? Yes, please!
The Diminished, by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson (April 10)
In a world where nearly everyone is born with a twin, those who move through life alone are either royalty or outcasts. Those born twinless are considered anointed, including Bo, destined to rule the Alskad Empire. Then there are those, like Vi, who lose the twin they’re born with, and are therefore “Diminished,” doomed to die of grief. As the two come of age, speeding toward radically different destinies, they’re also heading toward an unlikely collision that will change their lives.
Beyond a Darkened Shore, by Jessica Leake (April 10)
Ciara is a princess of an ancient northern land who protects her people by way of her ability to control the bodies and minds of their enemies. But she’s being chased by a dark omen that portends an evil even her powers can’t vanquish: a crow bearing dangerous tidings. When the crow unites her with an enemy leader who shares her visions of a coming darkness, the two must pair up in the hopes of saving their world.
Isle of Blood and Stone, by Makiia Lucier (April 10)
Full of intrigue, mythical creatures, and astonishing surprises, this historical fantasy by the acclaimed author of A Death-Struck Year will keep readers guessing from the very first page. Two newly discovered maps bring together a young king, his enigmatic cousin, and their friend—whose father, the Royal Cartographer, bequeathed to him a talent for mapmaking—in order to uncover the truth about the kingdom’s worst tragedy. Eighteen years ago, King Ulises’ older brothers were snatched by an enemy and presumed murdered. But what if that’s not true, and the maps will lead Ulises to their whereabouts? If the past is a lie, what will that mean for the future of del Mar?
Ace of Shades, by Amanda Foody (April 10)
Enne Salta follows her missing mother to the sinful city of New Reynes, hoping to find her and get out with her reputation intact. But her only clue to her mother’s whereabouts—a name, Levi Glaisyer—ends up attached to a street-level con. She needs his expertise and he needs her money, so the two join forces on a hunt through the city’s seedy, glittering underbelly, where Enne will learn the rules of a game she never wanted to play.
Devils Unto Dust, by Emma Berquist (April 10)
A gripping debut set in an alternate-history Texas post-Civil War, Dust combines elements of old westerns and zombies (here called shakes) with the grit of Winter’s Bone and The Road. After the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Willie has become a surrogate mother to her siblings, but a debt left by her irresponsible, absentee father forces her to set off in search of him or risk losing what little protection she and her family have left.
Fly Trap, by Frances Hardinge (April 10)
Set in a sort of parallel 17th-century Britain, this sequel to Fly By Night, in which books are “dangerous, regulated things” that drive readers “wicked mad,” finds intrepid heroine Mosca Mye and her homicidal goose Saracen in a strange new realm called Toll. Joined once again by con artist Eponymous Clent, word-loving Mosca can’t resist the lure of adventure in a town whose criminals are only let loose at night.
Lizzie, by Dawn Ius (April 10)
Read it with all the lights on! Lizzie is a modern take on one of true crime’s most gruesome mysteries. The real Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted for the axe murders of her father and stepmother in the late 1800s, while Ius’s Lizzie is a contemporary teen living under the rule of tyrannical parents. When a charming new maid joins the family’s B&B staff, Lizzie decides to take control of her own life, and not even her parents can get in the way.
Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (April 10)
It’s a fab fifth collaboration from the duo behind Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List! Cohn & Levithan’s latest NYC-set romp takes place in one night—the night of twin sibs Sam and Ilsa’s high school graduation. While their aunt, Czarina, is in Paris, the twins are allowed to throw their friends (three secret guests apiece) a lavish dinner party at Czarina’s Upper West Side apartment. The people they invite are, shall we say, conflict-prone, and before the evening is through, Sam and Ilsa may have completely altered their plans for the future.
The Summer of Broken Things, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (April 10)
Avery and Kayla haven’t been friends since they were little. So it’s beyond awkward when Avery’s wealthy dad decides Avery will forego soccer camp this year (where all her cliquey friends spend the summer) and accompany him on a trip to Spain—with unpopular Kayla, who could never otherwise afford the trip, as her companion. Written from both girls’ points of view, it’s an intricate look at friendship dynamics, family relationships, and what happens when a shocking secret threatens to unravel the lives they thought they knew.
Stay Sweet, by Siobhan Vivian (April 24)
Meade Creamery, owned and operated by women and girls since the ’40s, is the best ice cream stand in Sand Lake, and Amelia should know: she’s spent the last three summers working there. This year, she’s been elevated to “Head Girl,” but the thrill is mitigated by the passing of the stand’s beloved creator, Molly Meade, who opened it during World War II. And When Molly’s grandnephew Grady shows up with big changes in mind, Amelia finds herself torn between her burgeoning romantic feelings for the college student and her own determination to keep Meade Creamery focused on what it does best. This looks to be a charming, feminist, and, yes, sweet read, best enjoyed with a triple cone.
Trouble Never Sleeps, by Stephanie Tromly (April 24)
Trouble never sleeps and neither does the chemistry between Zoe and Digby, the will-they-won’t-they detective team at the heart of this hilarious mystery trilogy that opened with Trouble is a Friend of Mine. Now that Digby’s back in town, hooking their whole gang back into the hunt for his kidnapped sister, things are about to get messy as all get out and next-level dangerous. But there’s nothing as shocking as what they never saw coming…
White Rabbit, by Caleb Roehrig (April 24)
It’s the Fourth of July, but instead of enjoying fireworks and maybe a tortured reunion with his ex-boyfriend, Rufus is thrust into a murder mystery involving his half-sis, April, who can’t figure out how she wound up next to her drug-dealer boyfriend’s stabbed-to-death body. In dire need of cash, which April offers him in exchange for clearing her name, Rufus sets out to solve the mystery. Along for the tense ride is Sebastian, the ex Rufus wishes he didn’t still love. Set aside time for this one—once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop.
Ash Princess, by Laura Sebastian (April 24)
Kicking off a debut fantasy series, this tale of punishment and vengeance sees a former princess, Theodosia, imprisoned for ten years after her mother, the Fire Queen, Is murdered—a murder Theodosia herself witnessed. Demoralized and humiliated on a daily basis, Theo is finally pushed too far and summons the strength of will to fight back, intending to jumpstart the (magically enhanced) resistance, reclaim her rightful place on the throne, and destroy the cruel Kaiser once and for all.
Leah on the Offbeat, by Becky Albertalli (April 24)
With Love, Simon (adapted from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) a hit in theatres, Albertalli’s sequel—all about Simon’s bestie, Leah Burke—comes at the perfect time! Unfortunately, things don’t feel perfect to plus-size Leah atm. It’s senior year, and she’s struggling with outsider feelings even among her group of friends. Class distinctions, self-esteem, post-high school plans, and even her beloved musical outlet of drumming aren’t quite gelling, so how can she possibly come out as bi? Expect love, friendship, angst, and wry humor to spare.
Love Songs and Other Lies, by Jessica Pennington (April 24)
When college student Vee agrees to join her longtime pal Logan on the road as part of a nationally televised battle-of-the-bands competition, she never expects to be confronted with her high school boyfriend, Cam, aka the guy who ripped out her heart. For his part, Cam would love to mend things between them—but how can he go about fixing their relationship when every move they make occurs in front of a camera?
Sky in the Deep, by Adrienne Young (April 24)
Gobsmacked to see her supposedly deceased brother in battle, fighting for the opposite side no less, teenage warrior Eelyn cannot cope with the perceived betrayal. Her own clan, the Aska, have been fighting the Riki clan for centuries, due to the separate gods they worship. But now, both clans must face an enemy known only from legend: the Herja. Can they put their differences aside to fight a common foe? This historical fantasy debut drawn from Norse mythology is poetic, brutal, and full of derring-do.
The Fandom, by Anna Day (April 24)
Ever wondered how it would feel to be a character in a dystopian YA franchise? Now’s your chance to find out! When superfans Violet, her friends, and her little brother arrive at Comic-Con to celebrate all things “Gallows Dance” (a Hunger Games-esque book and film), they’re unexpectedly transported into the world of the story, and forced to play out the frightening scenarios they previously only imagined.