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Find more Top 10 Quick Picks
Below, you will find the top 10 choices from the full list selected by the 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). All titles were published in 2020 unless otherwise noted. For the complete list, visit http://www.ala.org/yalsa/2021-top-ten-quick-picks-reluctant-young-adult-readers.
#NoEscape. By Gretchen McNeil. Disney/Freeform, $17.99 (9781368026260).
Persey solves an unbeatable escape room and gets invited to an escape-room competition in which the winner can walk away with ten million dollars. However, when she and seven other contestants start playing the game, they find the challenges are more serious than anyone realized—especially when things get deadly.
Be Not Far from Me. By Mindy McGinnis. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062561626).
After finding her boyfriend cheating on her during a party, Ashley takes off in anger and ends up lost in the woods, acquiring a serious foot injury and relying upon her wits and survival skills to make it out alive. A 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Found. By Joseph Bruchac. 7th Generation, $9.95 (9781939053237).
After a Native American teen witnesses a murder on a train, he’s thrown down a ravine and left for dead. Will his wilderness survival skills and his grandfather’s wisdom be enough to help him outwit the men hunting him?
Golden Arm. By Carl Deuker. HMH, $17.99 (9780358012429).
When Lazarus’ school baseball team is disbanded, he is given the opportunity to pitch for ritzy Laurelhurst, across town and a world away from the soon-to-be-demolished trailer park where his family lives. Rising-star Laz aspires to be drafted to the major leagues, but his brother’s drug-dealing threatens Laz’s chances of success. A 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Heartstopper, v.1. By Alice Oseman. Illus. by the author. Scholastic/Graphix, $24.99 (9781338617443).
This manga-influenced graphic novel recounts the story of Charlie and rugby-player Nick’s friendship as it grows into something more. While Charlie is openly gay, this is Nick’s first relationship with another boy, and it comes with its share of soul searching.
Long Way Down. By Jason Reynolds. Illus. by Danica Novgorodoff. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $19.99 (9781534444959).
The Rules: 1) Don’t Cry. 2) Don’t Snitch. 3) Revenge. When Will’s older brother, Shawn, is shot and killed, Will plans to follow rule three. This graphic-novel adaptation shows Will’s elevator journey, wherein he encounters ghosts and old memories that weigh on his decision and the gun that he carries.
The Loop. By Ben Oliver. Scholastic/Chicken House, $18.99 (9781338589306).
In a near-future dystopia, 16-year-old Luka Kane has spent 736 days in the juvenile prison known as the Loop, enduring torture and medical experiments in exchange for a delayed execution date. When war breaks out, Luka and fellow prisoners escape and are hunted through the fallen city by dangerous foes. A 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Punching the Air. By Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $19.99 (9780062996480).
Convicted of a crime he did not commit and incarcerated, Amal Shahid deals with the injustice of his circumstances by leaning on his mother’s support and expressing himself through his art. A 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Snapdragon. By Kat Leyh. Illus. by the author. First Second, $12.99 (9781250171115).
Magic happens when Snapdragon (Snap) befriends Jacks, the town witch. They bond over their shared love of animals but soon discover their lives are intertwined in ways they could not have imagined. This is a sweet graphic novel that combines magic and realism with stories of self-acceptance. A 2021 Notable Children’s Book and a 2021 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
You Should See Me in a Crown. By Leah Johnson. Scholastic, $17.99 (9781338503265).
Liz feels different as a poor, Black, queer, awkward, not-part-of-the-in-crowd senior in high school. In order to get the scholarship she needs to attend college—and so fulfill her dreams—she must step far outside of her comfort zone. So she runs for prom queen! A 2021 Stonewall Honor Book, a 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults, and a 2021 Top 10 Rainbow List selection for Teens.
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