American Girls, by Alison Umminger
Fleeing a childish mother, a stalled life, and a guilty conscience, 15-year-old Anna runs away to Los Angeles to live with her D-list actress sister. She spends her days chasing down donuts, trailing her sister around town, and hanging out on the set of the universally despised kids’ show where her sister’s boyfriend is a writer. Her outsider’s view of Hollywood’s has-beens and never-weres winds together with her background research on the Manson girls, at the behest of her sister’s creepy director ex. Like Manson’s followers, Anna is hungry, lost, and stuck on the fringes, watching her sister’s life crash while she avoids the wreckage of her own. And her voice is perfect: forthright and earthy, equal parts wistful beauty and teenage truculence.
Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar
Aspen Quick is a thief, able to skim a different kind of valuable from his victims: hidden, intangible things, like memories, secrets, and even emotions. Along with the rest of the Quick family, he’s able to use his magic for good, too, keeping the rocky cliff over their town from collapsing onto the people below. This intriguing paranormal promises to be the coming of age of a boy born to a secret-hoarding family, and possessed of a terrible power he doesn’t fully grasp the consequences of. (Also, irresistible title is irresistible.)
My Lady Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Don’t miss this cowritten take on the short life and shorter rule of Lady Jane Grey, which adds shape-shifting and other delightful oddities to the historical record. In 1553, a tangled web of succession led to Grey’s being crowned Queen of England, a title she held for just nine days, all of them spent imprisoned in the Tower of London (she was beheaded for her trouble the following year). But enough about the actual history: My Lady Jane promises to be irreverent, deliciously anachronistic, and not at all beholden to the facts, described as a fantasy “in the tradition of The Princess Bride.” SWOON.
The Leaving, by Tara Altebrando
The concept is total catnip, and Altebrando fully delivers. Eleven years after six kindergartners disappeared from school, leaving no clues behind and decimating their community, five of them return. They have almost no memory of where they’ve been, and drift back to families transformed by their loss. Narration alternates among returned teens Lucas and Scarlett and Avery, sister of the boy who didn’t come back. Scarlett picks at the edges of what she remembers, including a bright, unlikely image of a carousel, Lucas deals with intense and disorienting flashbacks, and Avery bears the weight of her mother’s depression as they move closer to the secret at the heart of why the six were taken, and why they came back.
You Know Me Well, by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
Taking on the voices of Kate and Mark, respectively, LaCour and Levithan spin a story about two teens who meet in San Francisco during Pride Week, where Kate is finally meeting the girl she’s crazy about from afar, and Mark is trying to get up the courage to tell his best friend he loves him. When the two meet at a bar, they become fast friends, and embark on an emotionally action-packed adventure over the following days. LaCour and Levithan are amazing alone, and we can’t wait to see what they do together.
With Malice, by Eileen Cook
When Jill wakes up in the hospital with a broken leg and no memory of what landed her there, she wants to know two things: if she’ll still be allowed to go on her planned trip to Italy, and when her best friend Simone is going to visit. But the trip has already happened, and Simone is dead. Over the following weeks, Jill grieves her bestie while trying to put together the pieces of what exactly happened in Italy, while becoming the object of an Amanda Knox–esque witch hunt. The media circus plays out through transcripts, comments sections, and blog posts, offering a wider perspective on Jill’s story.
The Loose Ends List, by Carrie Firestone
After her grandmother’s diagnosis with terminal cancer, Maddie swaps a carefree summer spent with her besties by the pool for eight weeks with her motley family on a “death with dignity” cruise, at her beloved grandma’s command. There’s no shortage of cruise ship decadence (and romance), but as the cruise, and the lives of the dying loved ones on board, near their end, the story grows wistful, its sweet funniness tinged with an aching sadness.
The Long Game (Fixer #2), by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
In The Fixer, teenaged Tess followed in the footsteps of big sister Ivy, a powerful “fixer” among D.C.’s political elite, getting drawn into a dangerous conspiracy that started with a classmate but ascended far beyond the confines of her prep school. In The Long Game, she agrees to help out with a student government campaign, as Ivy deals with the fallout of a terrorist attack—but they find their worlds colliding yet again when Tess is targeted by an international terrorist organization.
How It Ends, by Catherine Lo
Lo takes an in depth look at the life span of a friendship between two very different girls, outgoing Annie and shy, down to earth Jessie. The two are drawn to each other despite their differences, but it’s those differences that later start to chip away at their bond. The rise and fall of the relationship is told through their alternating perspectives, as betrayal lead them into dark places, the kind anyone who has ever lost a friend might recognize.
Julia Vanishes, by Catherine Egan
Sixteen-year-old Julia, a witch’s daughter with the uncanny ability to go unseen, has been embedded by her thieving adoptive family as a spy in the household of a rich eccentric. But there’s more to her new mistress than meets the eye, and soon Julia learns enough about the nature of her work to have serious questions about wanting to complete it. But she’s in too deep in an unpredictable world of magic and betrayal, set against the Victorian-inspired background of a fictional steampunk city where witchcraft is punishable by death.
All the Feels, by Danika Stone
After fangirl Liv watches her favorite film series, Starveil, kill off her favorite character, she’s thrown into a tailspin. Depression turns to action as, with the help of best friend Xander, she rallies the troops of her fandom around campaign to bring her beloved Captain Matt Spartan back to life. As her online fight takes off, her real life of disappointing family encounters and zero love life sputters to a near halt—until a DragonCon trip with Xander that just might add some action to her non-internet life.
My Brilliant Idea (and How It Caused My Downfall), by Stuart David
Belle and Sebastian frontman and cofounder Stuart David makes his YA debut with the sweet and funny story of Jack, a daydreaming boy who dozes his way to a million-dollar (maybe) app idea: one that stops you from daydreaming in class. Jack seeks out the help of programming genius Elsie, who can’t stand him but is willing to come through for a price. In order to get her what she wants—an inappropriate request regarding her secret crush—Jack sets off on a hilarious and tangled journey of promises made and favors paid, ensuring maximum absurdity.
True Letters from a Fictional Life, by Kenneth Logan
Logan’s warmhearted debut centers on a comfortably popular high school athlete with a semi-girlfriend and a decent home life, who’s hiding the truth about himself in the letters he writes but never sends. James is gay, but in a world permeated by homophobia that ranges from casually thrown slurs to a gay-bashing incident at school, he can’t admit the truth outside the unsent letters to his friends, his family, and God. His secret stash is a narrative ticking time bomb, and when someone steals and sends them, just as James is starting tentatively to come out on his own terms, he fears losing everything, including the boy he’s falling for.
The Museum of Heartbreak, by Meg Leder
Leder’s debut centers on Penelope Marx, who curates her own little Museum of Heartbreak in response to her first, painful taste of that particular rite of passage. Thrown into a tailspin by confusing crushes, friends, and frenemies, she populates her museum with objects both mundane (a party invitation, a matchbook) and kinda magical (red cowboy boots, beat-up paperbacks). Each chapter begins with a sweetly illustrated object from the museum.
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen, by Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings is among the world’s most visible transgender activists, even though she’s still in her teens. Jennings shares her story of transitioning at the age of five and the inspiring, complicated path she has followed since, illuminating both her struggles for acceptance and her family’s unerring support. Jennings’ moving story will help teens and families embarking on similar journeys, and will foster compassion in readers looking for personal insights on a trending topic.