Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime by Candace FlemingWhat it is: the compelling true crime tale of two young men who plotted the murder of a child in 1924, only to be caught and narrowly escape the death penalty.
Is it for you? This well-researched nonfiction book blends the suspense of a thriller with the drama of courtroom proceedings, all while examining social issues.
Author alert: Fans of gripping historical narratives will also appreciate author Candace Fleming’s The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh and The Family Romanov.
Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea KempStarring: Aarón, experiencing hallucinations of his favorite musician in the wake of his mother's death; and Mia, raised in a violent household and mourning the loss of her father.
Their pact: to not give up on auditioning for the Acadia School of Music even as they fight for the soul of their San Antonio community, threatened by ICE raids, gentrification, and police brutality.
Read it for: a moving and lyrical account of healing from trauma.
Kiss & Tell by Adib KhorramHunter’s fantasy: to be out and proud as megafamous boy band Kiss & Tell’s only queer member -- leaving him free to pursue a relationship with the drummer of the band they’re currently touring with.
Hunter’s reality: under scrutiny from both his label and society after his vindictive ex leaked their sexts, Hunter feels compelled to play the perfect queer role model.
How it’s told: Hunter’s angsty, thought-provoking story is interspersed with interviews, gossip, emails, and texts from outside perspectives.
An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. PanStar-crossed lovers: When Hunter Yee transfers to Fairbridge High, Luna Chang catches his eye. They’re drawn to each other, even after discovering their families’ feud.
What happens: Hunter and Luna’s secret relationship prompts mysterious fireflies to follow Luna and an ominous crack to split the earth. Understanding these developments and ending the feud requires turning to Chinese lore.
Read it for: the lyrical, contemporary reimagining of the tale of Houyi and Chang’e, with shades of Romeo and Juliet.
Alone Out Here by Riley RedgateWhen the apocalypse came early: First Daughter Leigh Chen and about 50 other teens from around the globe were touring the prototype of a ship made to escape the imminent and world-ending volcanic eruption. Now they’re in space with minimal food, searching for a habitable planet.
Is it for you? This bleak, suspenseful survival tale tackles grief and trauma alongside the riveting plot pitting the need for cooperation against impending social breakdown.
A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix by C.B. LeeA golden pendant: holds a map to pirate treasure. Quick-fingered sailor Anh returns the stolen item to Xiang, its original owner. Xiang then realizes her deceased father must have sailed with the Dragon Fleet.
Setting sail: to locate the treasure and fabled female pirate Zheng Yi Sao, the two young women also find romance blossoming between them.
What’s inside: vivid descriptions of Qing Dynasty China, found family, and a swashbuckling story inspired by historical pirate Zheng Yi Sao.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. MorrowIn a world... where mythical beings exist alongside and among humans, teen siren Tavia longs to proudly claim her identity, even though sirens are demonized for their powerful voices; meanwhile, Tavia's best friend/chosen sister Effie wonders if the curious symptoms she's having might reveal a powerful heritage of her own.
Try this next: Darcie Little Badger's Elatsoe, another contemporary tale that uses a fantasy lens to sharpen its focus on prejudice, marginalization, family, and solidarity.
The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox OstertagOn dry land: Morgan Kwon is drowning. She’s closeted and desperate to escape her tiny island and tense home life.
Underwater: Morgan nearly drowns after slipping off a cliff, but Keltie, a shape-shifting selkie, rescues her. Morgan’s kiss bestows Keltie with her human form. With their fates suddenly changed, Morgan and Keltie navigate a relationship buoyed by hope and laden with secrets.
For fans of: Neji’s Beauty and the Beast Girl, Suzanne Walker’s Mooncakes, and other sweet sapphic graphic fantasies.
Seafire by Natalie C. ParkerWhat it's about: After losing their families to the brutal warlord Aric Athair, Captain Caledonia Styx and her all-female crew sail the seas in search of vengeance. When her best friend is rescued by one of Athair's soldiers who claims to support their cause, Caledonia has to decide how much she's willing to risk to get her revenge.
Series alert: Filled with high-adrenaline action and a diverse cast of girls, this futuristic seafaring adventure is the 1st in a trilogy.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-HallStarring: Florian, born Flora, disguised as a young man to fit in on the pirate ship Dove; and Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, aboard the Dove to travel to her arranged marriage.
What happens: Florian and Evelyn fall in love, enlisting a mermaid, a witch, and the sea itself in their quest for freedom.
What sets it apart: This gruesome yet romantic tale weaves examinations of the horrors of colonialism and misogyny into a fierce seafaring narrative.
Contact your library for more great books for ages 14 and up!