Picked by Elizabeth Eulberg, author of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB.
I've been raving all year about Pam Muñoz Ryan’s brilliant novel Echo. The book starts with a magical tale before launching into three riveting stories surrounding a harmonica with extraordinary powers. Each story is unforgettable and gripping on their own. You meet Frederich in Nazi Germany, Mike during the Great Depression, and Ivy, a Mexican girl dealing with racism in California. All three come together in an ending that's inspiring and hopeful. Even though Echo is for younger readers, this novel defies genres and age categories. It's one of my favorite books of the year, period.
CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman
Picked by Rebecca Stead, author of GOODBYE STRANGER.
The winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, Challenger Deep gently steers readers into fifteen-year-old Caden's harrowing yet meditative journey though serious mental illness. A suspenseful and affecting look at the world of the mind, this book changed me in ways I'm still discovering.
ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers
Picked by Dahlia Adler, author of BEHIND THE SCENES.
This was my most highly anticipated release of the year, and it more than lived up. It's fearless, brutal, cynical, honest, and cuts to the bone about the truth of what it is to be a girl in this world, in ways I think many of us would never have been able to articulate to ourselves. Summers doesn't rely on shock tactics or complete character isolation to get her points across; she doesn't have to. Romy's situation is perfectly typical, and that's perhaps the starkest harsh reality of the entire book, and what makes it such a valuable addition to YA canon.
HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Jennifer E. Smith
Picked by Melissa Walker, author of SMALL TOWN SINNERS.
Should high school loves Clare and Aiden stay together, or break up since they're going to different colleges? It's the night before they say goodbye and they still don't know! The summer after high school graduation is an emotional roller-coaster of endings and beginnings, and the angst is real in this lovely, fun, fast-paced book that captures the ride over the course of a single night — you’ll fall in love and get your heart broken simultaneously.
MOSQUITOLAND byDavid Arnold
Picked by Estelle Laure, author of THIS RAGING LIGHT.
Displaced and medicated, Mim has had enough of Cleveland, Ohio, of her father and her step-mother and the entirely unacceptable news they just laid on her without warning so, in defiance, she boards a Greyhound bus bound for Mississippi, for home. Of course, as in all great odysseys, she will face much more than a thousand mile bus ride. Mim's entirely brilliant and unique voice, great music, some true love and a whole lot of life’s real magic are only the first layer of David Arnold’s Mosquitoland, a book so rich in flavor and humanity in all its weakness and glory that it is a read not only impossible to put down, its wisdoms are tattoo worthy.
EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon
Picked by Eric Smith, author of THE GEEK'S GUIDE TO DATING.
Sweet, surprisingly funny, and utterly heartbreaking, Nicola Yoon's debut Everything Everything isn't just a wonderful read, it's an absolutely beautiful book. Full of illustrations that illuminate the life of her fantastically brave protagonist, a girl dealing with a disease that prevents her from experiencing the outside, it's an wonderfully immersive read. From the blog entries to the hilarious (and sometimes devastating) graphs, this book will pull you in and won't let go. Now excuse me while I anxiously await her followup.
TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE by Stephanie Tromly
Picked by Cindy Pon, author of SERPENTINE.
One of my favorite YA reads of 2015 was Stephanie Tromly's debut Trouble Is a Friend of Mine. It was different than anything I have read in a while. This book made me laugh out loud multiple times with its dark humor, great dialogue, and absurdity. But at the same time, Tromly manages to create fascinating characters, none of whom are perfect, but most of them very likeable. She also tackles hard topics well, and I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story on top of everything else. I can't wait for the sequel!
ALL AMERICAN BOYS by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Picked by Meg Medina, author of BURN BABY BURN.
Two ordinary boys attend the same high school. Rashad is an ROTC kid and the son of a former cop. Quinn is a basketball player whose college scholarship is on the line. But when a chance encounter at a fast food mart ends in an act of explosive police brutality, each boy has to grapple with race, justice, loyalty, and most important, with what it truly means to be a man. For me, one of the most honest and critical books for young people this year.
THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma
Picked by Kim Liggett, author of BLOOD AND SALT.
A haunting tale of injustice, jealousy, betrayal and murder, all centered around two girls -- one, a prima ballerina, the other, behind bars at a maximum security juvenile detention facility. Dreamy and disturbing, this book left me awestruck. Orange is the new Black Swan.
PAPERWEIGHT by Meg Haston
Picked by Sara Shepard, author of THE PRETTY LITTLE LIARS series.
Set in an eating disorder recovery clinic, you'd think Paperweight, by Meg Haston, would be grave and emotional -- and it is. But it's also funny and poignant, and the writing is so graceful and spot-on that it's easy to connect with Stevie and her troubles. It's a good pick for anyone who's gone through something -- which, let's face it, is all of us -- and it has a healing and redemptive message at the end.
TINY PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaipotra
Picked by Frances Zappia, author of MADE YOU UP.
Tiny Pretty Things was the cutthroat ballet book I never knew I wanted. Told in the alternating narratives of Gigi, Bette, and June, three ballerinas vying for top spot at a New York ballet academy, the story covers a year of lies, backstabbing, and sabotage. From the very first page the story is told with such a clear focus and strong guiding hand it’s impossible not to get sucked in, and the cast of characters is so diverse and fully realized, you root even for the nastiest of them. It was one of the few books of 2015 that had me desperate for a sequel before I’d even finished. Highly recommended not just for teens but for anyone who enjoys complex social hierarchies, characters who will do anything to get what they want, and just plain good storytelling.
SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIEN AGENDA by Becky Albertalli
Picked by Tim Federle, author of THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER.
One of my favorite YA novels of 2015 first crossed my path in 2014, when an early “galley” of Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was sent to me by its editor, Donna Bray, for a possible blurb. One page in and I was hooked on debut novelist Becky Albertalli’s geeky romance pitched as "You've Got Mail starring teenage boys with really good grammar.” With a deft touch and just enough drama, Becky’s book didn’t just capture my heart—it also got long listed for the National Book Award and earned a devoted readership, all of whom became obsessed with Oreos (you’ll have to read Simon to find out why).
BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
Picked by Gwenda Bond, author of LOIS LANE: FALLOUT.
Laura Ruby’s gorgeously-crafted portrait of a small town and a handful of its inhabitants, new and old, when they become snared in a story of mythic darkness that feels utterly real, is one of the most startling, original books I’ve read in ages. Finn and Roza, and all the characters surrounding them, continue to resurface in my brain on a regular basis. The story of a girl kidnapped and the boy who saw it, who no one believes, is so human, so hopeful.
Originally posted at Parade. See the full list at the link.
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