2019 saw the publication of MANY amazing books, and here’s a list of BPL Teen Services Staff’s favorites that came out last year!
Elizabeth Acevedo is an amazing writer, and With the Fire On High totally sucked me in. The book follows mom and high school senior Emoni as she tries to pursue her passion for cooking while also caring for her family, and it’s absolutely wonderful from start to finish.
This anthology compiles stories by and about indigenous Canadian creators. Not only are the stories beautifully illustrated and told, they are a necessary reminder of history so often overlooked in classrooms. This is an essential read!
The Lost Coast by A.R. Capetta (Hannah)
This is such a lovely, dreamy book, full of queer witches and different kinds of love and questions about finding yourself. Danny’s adventures with the Grays among the California redwoods kept me spellbound and have stuck in my head long after I finished this book.
Color Me In by Natasha Díaz (Quinn)
The cover of this one grabbed me, and the story never let me go. This debut from Natasha Diaz was eye-opening, and Nevaeh is a flawed, yet relatable main character. I can’t wait to see what comes next from this author!
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly (Quinn)
I’m not normally a fantasy reader but when I saw that a book about Cinderella’s villainous stepsisters was coming out, I had to pick this up….and it did NOT disappoint! Everything in this book was not as it seemed or was expected to be, and I literally couldn’t put it down!
Claire Kann grabbed me with Let’s Talk About Love, but she made me fall head over heels for her with If It Makes You Happy. Not only is this a perfect summer read, but the way in which it addresses relationships, love, and body positivity make it one of the best books of the year. Also yes, Winnie is #goals.
When Rukhsana is caught kissing her girlfriend and dragged off to visit her family in Bangladesh, it takes her a while to realize she’s being prepared for an arranged marriage. I was riveted by her journey as she finds surprising support from a new friend and her grandmother, and tries to find the courage to be who she is.
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (Hannah)
I love a really quality historical fiction novel, and Stacey Lee writes some of the best. The Downstairs Girl is my favorite so far, centered on a completely compelling main character in Jo, and set in a time and place (late 1800s Atlanta) that I knew almost nothing about.
This book was everything I ever wanted from a fantasy/dystopian novel. A strong, flawed, fascinating main character, a slowly more terrifying setting, excitement and spying, and an unlikely friendship and romance. We Set the Dark on Fire is a total winner.
There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (Quinn + Hannah)
I loved When Dimple Met Rishi, so I knew I was going to pick up this title when it came out. It ended up exceeding all of my wildest expectations and gave me the body positive heroine I needed as a teen in Sweetie Nair. I can’t recommend this romance enough! –Quinn
This book can be summed up in one word – “charming.” Rosa is a delightful main character, quirky without being annoying, and Port Coral is a ton of fun to read about. But that doesn’t mean this book doesn’t deal with very real emotions like anger, fear, grief, and love.
Bloom is a beautiful, sweet story of two boys falling in love in a bakery together over a summer. Everyone can identify with the pains of growing up and growing apart from friends, family, and everything you’ve ever known, and it’s recommended to have a baked good nearby while reading- you’ll get really hungry 😉
I fell head over heels for this beautiful, emotional story about two teenage girls finding each other during a tough time. Audre and Mabel create love, magic, and hope despite the specters of family rejection and serious illness. As cliché as it sounds, I really did laugh, cry, and everything in between.
Rainbow Rowell rarely ever makes a bad book, and this is no exception. Pumpkinheads will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love…and miss the blistery days of fall. This one is an artistic masterpiece!
This was the diverse hating-to-dating queer romance that I’ve wanted for years (ever since I first shipped Rory and Paris from Gilmore Girls,) and I loved every second of it. Sana and Rachel are both great characters, and watching them learn to understand each other was 100% enjoyable.
Don’t let the minimal color palette of this volume fool you- Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me addresses the serious topics of toxic relationships, first love, friendship, and more with stunning graphics and Mariko Tamaki’s signature style. This one is a real treasure.
Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer (Quinn)
The summary of the book begins with “ragtag band of space gays”, so I was sold IMMEDIATELY on this volume. If you loved Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam, you’ll adore this gorgeous queer feminist tale of sticking it to the patriarchy in space.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Hannah + Quinn)
I’m far from unique in loving Angie Thomas’s blockbuster debut, The Hate U Give. I’m thrilled to say that On the Come Up didn’t disappoint. Bri is a very different character from Starr, but just as relatable and loveable, even when she struggles. This is a must-read! –Hannah
The title may imply a fluffy romance about kissing, but that couldn’t be less of the case with this one. Kiss Number 8 is a sensitive exploration of identity, sexuality, faith, and friendship that anyone and everyone can empathize with.
Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (Hannah)
Dragons, adventure, daring rescues, and did I mention dragons? Shatter the Sky warmed my fantasy-loving heart, and Maren’s adventures kept me turning pages as she questions her home’s colonial past, trains at the dragon citadel, and plots to rescue her girlfriend Kaia!