As soon as August arrives, you know that cozy weather and beautiful scenery, warm beverages, and the best books of the year are right around the corner. Fall and a YA novel – can you name a more dynamic duo? Remember back when you were so excited to wear your first day of school outfit that you couldn’t even sleep? Or when the hardest decision you had to make was deciding which gel pen color you were going to use to take your math notes? (Just us?) August is the perfect time to find your new favorite YA author so, get ready to feel all the feels with this list of debuts that will have you begging your parents for a ride to the mall.
They Wish They Were Us
Senior year of high school is the big leagues – you’re at the top of the food chain, throw the best parties, get the best grades, not to mention – all the “undies” (underclassman) look up to you. Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying, in this debut novel by Jessica Goodman set in an exclusive prep school on Long Island. This pulse-pounding murder mystery explores friendship, grief and the often-crushing expectations placed on teens today. Its twisty plot will have you on edge from start to finish. How far are you willing to go in order to fit in?
“Seductive and slick, They Wish They Were Us is a searing novel about power, privilege, and the dangerous pursuit of perfection. You’ll remember the girls of Gold Coast Prep Long after the last page.”—Jessica Knoll, author of The Luckiest Girl Alive and The Favorite Sister
Fantasy novels by Black authors are like finding a unicorn amongst horses; a genre that has historically been less commonly occupied by these voices is becoming increasingly diversified and we couldn’t be more excited. Fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir will love this epic fantasy by Nigerian American author Jordan Ifueko. Follow the beautiful and mythical story of Tarisai, a young woman on a journey to decide if destiny or her own desires will rule her life. Don’t worry, though – after you finish Raybearer, you can be at peace knowing that the second book in the series is set to release next year!
This is My America
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three Black men will spend time in prison at some point in their lives. The racial inequalities in the American justice system are a harsh reality explored in Kim Johnson’s debut novel when 17-year-old Tracy Beaumont is faced with back-to-back unthinkable acts: her father’s unjust death row sentence followed by her older brother being wrongfully accused of killing a white girl. This is My America is unflinching, provocative, timely and a must-read book this fall and one that Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin called “An incredible and searing examination of the often-tragic collision of racism and a flawed criminal justice system. Read and reread…and reread again.”
The Black Kids
Christina Hammonds Reed
Whether you were an adult, a child or just a thought, the 1991 beating of Rodney King by the LAPD was undoubtedly one of the earliest displays of racial injustice to be televised since the civil rights movement. With honesty and heart, this indelible coming-of-age story explores issues of race, class and violence as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl within a city on fire. Christina Hammonds Reed’s debut novel The Black Kids is perfect for fans of The Hate U Give and Dear Martin.
The Dark Tide
Sometimes traditions are meant to be broken, and the outcome may transpire as something even more fulfilling. Alicia Jasinska creates a world where acceptance and the nontraditional are a reality in this LGBTQ fantasy fairy tale. This gripping and completely immersive debut displays beautiful world-building, setting the scene to captivate readers and dive into the city of Caldella. Perfect for fans of The Wicked Deep and A Curse so Dark and Lonely, The Dark Tide is a gorgeously written story of love, magic, duty and sacrifice.