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Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
Selected by the Books for Youth editors, the following titles constitute the year’s best personal reading for teenagers among adult books published in 2018. More on each book’s content and suggested audience can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
American like Me: Reflections on Life between Cultures. By America Ferrera. Gallery, $26 (9781501180910).
An impressive roster of contributors makes this collection of essays exploring multicultural identity in the U.S. particularly strong, and the themes of belonging, family, and what it means to be American come through in each entry.
Eat the Apple. By Matt Young. Bloomsbury, $26 (9781632869500).
In atmospheric and gut-checking essays, Young’s memoir of his three tours in Iraq is rich with visceral prose, which confronts shame, guilt, and pain without flinching, yet it’s beyond sympathetic to its subject.
The End of Chiraq: A Literary Mixtape. Ed. by Javon Johnson and Kevin Coval. Northwestern Univ., $20 (9780810137189).
This multigenre anthology features work from a wide variety of Chicago-based contributors, including teens, writers, academics, and activists, and the wickedly funny, fiery, intelligent poems are the star of the show.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. By Rebecca Traister. Simon & Schuster, $27 (9781501181795).
Traister’s deep dive into the current political climate explores how a double standard about anger and emotion results in negative connotations for powerful women and praise for “passionate” men. Galvanizing and timely.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World. By Steve Brusatte. Morrow, $29.99 (9780062490421).
With both dino-geek glee and science-writer exactitude, Brusatte tells the story of the dinosaurs, utilizing up-to-date information and wonderfully readable prose. Superbly illustrated with photos and art, this is popular-science writing at its best.
Bash Bash Revolution. By Douglas Lain. Night Shade, $14.99 (9781597809160).
While Matthew helps his dad perfect Bucky, an AI, the post-singularity world slowly disintegrates around him. Entertainingly told, this smart sf novel explores thought-provoking questions about humanity and intelligence.
The Electric State. By Simon Stålenhag. Atria, $35 (9781501181412).
Hyperrealistic paintings of a dystopian, robot-filled future add enigmatic atmosphere to this haunting, suspenseful, and densely illustrated near-future road-trip novel, which captivatingly doles out snippets of protagonist Michelle’s backstory.
Girls Burn Brighter. By Shobha Rao. Flatiron, $25.99 (9781250074256).
Poornima and Sarvitha’s friendship is put to the test when a terrible crime rips them apart. Set largely in India in 2001, this magnificent coming-of-age novel is a sharp reminder that modern ideas of gender equality do not exist everywhere in the world.
Mina. By Kim Sagwa. Tr. by Bruce Fulton and Ju-Chan Fulton. Two Lines, $14.95 (9781931883740).
Award-winning Korean author Sagwa’s first novel to be translated into English is a powerful portrayal of teenage angst, confusion, and the incredible pressures on Korean teens to achieve.
The Parking Lot Attendant. By Nafkote Tamirat. Holt, $25 (9781250128508).
The unnamed, 16-year-old narrator of Tamirat’s mysterious and exciting first novel begins her story on the island of B—before backtracking to explain how she and her father, an Ethiopian immigrant, ended up there.
The Queens of Innis Lear. By Tessa Gratton. Tor, $25.99 (9780765392466).
Gratton’s fantasy reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear places the story’s women at center stage for a darkly rendered epic of old magic, hard hearts, and complicated choices. Teens will gravitate to this twist on the classic tale.
Sea Prayer. By Khaled Hosseini. Illus. by Dan Williams. Riverhead, $15 (9780525539094).
Hosseini’s eloquent tribute to the thousands of refugees who have fled war and taken a chance on the sea, praying it will lead them to safety, is written as a letter from a Syrian man to his son. The poignant words are matched by sweeping watercolor illustrations.
Space Opera. By Catherynne M. Valente. Saga, $19.99 (9781481497497).
Glam-rock band Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes is forced to reunite when aliens recruit them as contestants for a galactic musical competition, with the survival of the human race at stake. An uproariously funny, sweet, and hopeful book.
Speak No Evil. By Uzodinma Iweala. Harper, $26.99 (9780061284922).
When Harvard-bound, prep-school senior Niru’s parents discover a gay-dating app on his phone, his world shatters. Niru struggles to rectify his queerness with his Nigerian parents’ beliefs in this essential tale of cross-generational and -cultural misunderstandings.
Summer Hours at the Robbers Library. By Sue Halpern. HarperPerennial, $15.99 (9780062678966).
Sunny, 15, who is being haphazardly raised by secretive, off-the-grid parents, is caught attempting to steal a dictionary. Intrigued by her unusual crime, the judge sentences her to a full summer of community service at the local library.
Washington Black. By Esi Edugyan. Knopf, $26.95 (9780525521426).
Enslaved on a Barbados sugar plantation, teenager Wash escapes with his master’s brother via hot-air balloon. Wash’s unforgettable, adventure-filled journey is peopled with vivid characters and tangled relationships that will enthrall YA readers.
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