June just keeps on crushing it with the new releases, and this particular week is an intriguing mix of books that look like the most fun you’ll have all summer and books that look like they will utterly destroy your soul. Which is which? Here’s a handy guide to what’s coming up to help you figure it out!
Tell Me How You Really Feel, by Aminah Mae Safi
Let’s all take a pause while we mentally wallpaper our homes in that cover. Okay, now, take another one while I tell you that yes, this book is every bit as good as it looks and then some. Sana is the perfect girl—smart, well-achieving (including an early acceptance to Princeton), athletic (a cheerleader!), and…uncertain. All she wants is to make sure her path toward becoming a doctor is the right one. She decides the best way to do that is to apply to a fellowship in India she doesn’t tell a soul about. Then there’s Rachel, a type-A student who needs to make the perfect film so she can win scholarship money for NYU film school. Too bad absolutely nothing on Earth meets her standards, including the gorgeous, peppy cheerleader who pretended to ask her out years earlier and earned her ire forever. When a literal crash landing has them working together on Rachel’s final film attempt, the two realize they have a lot to learn about each other and the ways they view themselves.
The Grief Keeper, by Alexandra Villasante
Marisol dreams of being an American; from everything she’s seen on TV, it seems like paradise. Getting there illegally was never her plan, but when her brother is killed and it looks like her sister is going to be next, Marisol doesn’t have a choice, especially since falling for Liliana is what put her brother in jeopardy in the first place. But Marisol is caught at the border, rendering her asylum request all but pointless…until she’s offered an opportunity to stay in the U.S. All she has to do is become a grief keeper, someone who takes another’s grief into her own body to save a life. It’s tough and risky and guarantees unbearable pain, but saving Gabi’s life is worth everything to Marisol. Even if it means putting her heart on the line.
Screen Queens, by Lori Goldstein
Comparing something to The Bold Type is the easiest way to shoot something to the top of my to-read list, and the fact that this has Good Trouble vibes too, with its designing and coding heroines, is just icing on the “I need it” cake. Lucy, Maddie, and Delia are the Screen Queens, and they’re ready to kick butt at a five-week high school tech incubator competition that would land them incredible internships…if they can become the first all-girl team to win in the competition’s entire history. They’ve got romantic distractions, a mentor they can’t trust, and so many odds stacked against them, but they’ve also got the talent and the drive to show Silicon Valley that it isn’t just a boys’ club anymore.
Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon, by Mary Fan
In an epic fantasy that comes out swinging, Anlei is chosen to be the bride of the powerful viceroy who saves her village, and knows she must accept in order to save her people. It’s part of the bargain they make: he marries a village girl, and they give him their sacred River Pearl in exchange for protection. Then a thief steals the enchanted pearl, throwing the plans off course and forcing Anlei to find the thief herself. But when she does, she discovers he needs the pearl, too, and together they quest into the Courts of Hell on a journey that opens her eyes to what’s really at stake.
Rise, by Ellen Goodlett
All hail Ellen Goodlett for not even making us wait a year after the royal rivalry of Rule before pulling us right back into the contentious competition between sisters Akeylah, Ren, and Zofi for inheritance of the crown of Kolonya. But the secrets they each hide threaten to be the downfall of any one of them, especially when King Andros discovers what’s in their pasts. Now the sisters must make allies of each other if they’re going to protect Kolonya and everyone they love from the threat growing nearer.
The Language of Fire, by Stephanie Hemphill
This novel in verse looks at the life of Joan of Arc, aka Jehanne, an illiterate peasant who never really fit in at home. Then she hears a voice calling her, telling her she’s destined for greatness, and realizes it’s God summoning her to save France. She runs away, disguises herself as a man, and convinces an army to let her lead them, promising a victory for France despite the odds against her. If you’re a fan of a category where teens are the heroes, how can you not love and read all things Joan of Arc?
The Exact Opposite of Okay, by Laura Steven
Izzy’s biggest worry used to be getting out of their small town after graduation, but when a compromising picture of her with the son of a politician is posted online, even being an aspiring comedian can’t make her laugh her way through being slut-shamed and centered in a national scandal. Still, Izzy finds her way into making her voice heard, no matter what she has to weather to get there.
Teeth in the Mist, by Dawn Kurtagich
Who says spooky books have to wait for the spooky season? In this multigenerational horror-fantasy mashup inspired by Faust’s bargain, two different storylines unite girls nearly two centuries apart as it explores the unholy source of the magic surrounding Mill House, borne of a decision made centuries before either of them were even born.
Rules We’re Meant to Break, by Natalie Williamson
Amber knows the most important rule for protecting her heart is never to get attached to her mom’s boyfriends and the living situations that come with them. They never last, and losing people that matter will only break her heart. But moving in with Kevin is the biggest trial yet, when it comes with a “sister” who’s determined to be friends and a hot boy who just keeps showing up and worming his way into Amber’s heart. She has to decide if she can afford to take a chance on friendship, love, and most importantly, hope.