New Release Spotlight: April 14, 2020 (Young Adult)

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I started this week’s list as only one list, but by the time I finished adding middle grade titles, I knew I’d need to split it into three lists again. The YA list this week is a pretty normal week–it’s actually the weakest of the three–but middle and elementary school librarians won’t want to miss the middle grade and picture book lists! They are both linked at the bottom of this post.

As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. All titles below have been added to The Ginormous book list, which surpassed 600 titles this week!

*Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

The gods are dead. Decades ago, they turned on one another and tore each other apart. Nobody knows why. But are they really gone forever? When 15-year-old Hark finds the still-beating heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt. But with the heart, Jelt gradually and eerily transforms. How long should Hark stay loyal to his friend when he’s becoming a monster–and what is Hark willing to sacrifice to save him?

Kirkus and Publishers Weekly starred, but SLJ calls it “not recommended” and calls the story “clumsy” and “confusing.” I would love to read this one though! Does it sound a bit like Ship Breaker to anyone else? Not the same storyline for sure, but for some reason, I’m reminded of it.

  • Genre(s): fantasy, mythology, thriller
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: gods, sea monsters, scientists, magic, orphans, storytelling, fear, strong females

This Boy by Lauren Myracle

Paul Walden is not an alpha lobster, the hypermasculine crustacean king who intimidates the other male lobsters, beds all the lady lobsters, and “wins” at life. At least not according to the ego-bursting feedback he’s given in his freshman seminar. But Paul finds a funny, faithful friend in Roby Smalls, and maybe–oh god, please–he’s beginning to catch the interest of smart, beautiful Natalia Gutierrez. Cruising through high school as a sauced-out, rap-loving beta lobster suits Paul fine, and if life ever gets him down? Smoke a little weed, crunch a few pills…it’s all good.

But in the treacherous currents of teenage culture, it’s easy to get pulled under. With perfect frankness, Lauren Myracle lays bare the life of one boy as he navigates friendship, love, loss, and addiction. It’s life at its most ordinary and most unforgettable.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: drug abuse, friendship, addiction, detoxing, recovery, high school

*This Is My Brain in Love by I. W. Gregorio

Jocelyn Wu has just three wishes for her junior year: To make it through without dying of boredom, to direct a short film with her BFF Priya Venkatram, and to get at least two months into the year without being compared to or confused with Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade.

Will Domenici has two goals: to find a paying summer internship, and to prove he has what it takes to become an editor on his school paper.

Then Jocelyn’s father tells her their family restaurant may be going under, and all wishes are off. Because her dad has the marketing skills of a dumpling, it’s up to Jocelyn and her unlikely new employee, Will, to bring A-Plus Chinese Garden into the 21st century (or, at least, to Facebook).

What starts off as a rocky partnership soon grows into something more. But family prejudices and the uncertain future of A-Plus threaten to keep Will and Jocelyn apart. It will take everything they have and more, to save the family restaurant and their budding romance.

Publishers Weekly and SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): romance, realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: Chinese-Americans, film directors, marketing, advertising, family businesses, restaurant business, best friends, mental illness

The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Dante is desperate for something in her life to finally go right. Her father was a famous stage magician until he attempted an epic illusion on live TV–and failed. Now Ellie lives with her dad in a beat-up RV, attending high school online and performing with him at birthday parties and bars across the Midwest to make ends meet. But when the gigs dry up, their insurance lapses, leaving Dad’s heart condition unchecked and forcing Ellie to battle her bipolar II disorder without medication.

Then Ellie receives a call from a famous magic duo, who offer fifteen thousand dollars and a shot at redemption: they want her father to perform the illusion that wrecked his career–on their live TV special, which shoots in Los Angeles in ten days. Ellie knows her dad will refuse–but she takes the deal anyway, then lies to persuade him to head west. With the help of her online-only best friend and an unusual guy she teams up with along the way, Ellie makes a plan to stage his comeback. But when her lie is exposed, she’ll have to confront her illness and her choices head-on to save her father–and herself.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: mental health, bipolar disorder, magicians, poverty, parent with chronic heart condition, performance arts, lies, fathers and daughters

Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons

Mega-fan June Blue’s whole life has been leading up to this moment: ZombieCon! She and her two best friends Imani and Siggy plan on hitting all the panels and photo ops, and meeting the heartthrob lead of their favorite zombie apocalypse show. It’s going to be the best time of their lives–and one of their last adventures before they all split up for college.

And when they arrive, everything seems perfect. But something’s not quite right at the con–there are strange people in hazmat suits running around, enthusiastic cosplayers taking their shambling a little too far, and someone actually biting a cast member. Then, at a panel gone wrong, June and her friends discover the truth: the zombie apocalypse is here.

  • Genre(s): horror, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 7+
  • Themes: zombies, apocalypse, best friends, cosplay, conventions

Redemption Prep by Samuel Miller

Everyone knows Emma. Neesha’s her best friend, Aiden’s her basketball star boyfriend, and Evan’s her shadow, following Emma’s every move. Emma stands out, which is hard to do at Redemption Prep, a school where every student has been handpicked to attend its remote campus in the forest of Utah. So when she goes missing in plain sight during mass, everyone notices.

And everyone becomes a suspect, especially at a school with so many rules: Don’t skip mass. Don’t break curfew. Don’t go into the woods.

Emma’s disappearance ignites an investigation, and Neesha, Aiden, and Evan all want to find her–for different reasons. But they each have their own secrets to hide, and not everyone wants Emma to be found.

As the search continues, the students start to realize that they’re not the only ones trying to hide something. Redemption Prep has secrets, too–secrets bigger than any of the students could have imagined, and Emma could be the key to finding out the truth…if anyone can find her.

  • Genre(s): mystery
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: missing persons, prep schools, Utah, mid-1990s, Christianity, multiple viewpoints

Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky

Lelek is a witch. That’s all Sanja knows when she meets Lelek in the marketplace. But Lelek is hiding something– and as her life begins to intersect with Sanja’s, all that she’s kept to herself starts to come to light.

Secrets, friendship, and magic all come together as Lelek gets closer and closer to uncovering the truth about her past.

  • Genre(s): graphic novel, fantasy, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-10
  • Themes: witches, secrets, magic, friendship, LGBT+, strong females





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